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Siggraph from Beyond

Life, death, the Mac and other points of interest from the exhibition By Dave Nagel
Here's the problem with being a Mac journalist for the creative professional market. You go to a show like Siggraph; you see about a billion new and fantastic pieces of software months before they're released; and you can't say a word about these things to your readers ahead of time, so the pressure builds up until your head explodes. And so, dear reader, I write my report on the Siggraph 2003 convention to you from beyond the grave, for the pressure was just too much to bear.

Yes, once again, I return from a trade show burdened with the knowledge of things to come and unable to share much of this knowledge with you. And this time around, the burden is really just too tremendous. To quote my favorite movie, "I've seen things that you people wouldn't believe." Not attack ships off the shoulder of Orion, but serious production tools that will make you soil your linens, cripple your motor skills and cause your mind to ooze out your nose.

"O, Dave," you say, "please have mercy and tell us what these wonderful things are. How can we bear the wait? Do you want us to die from the suspense?"

Yes, dear reader. I call that justice. If I have to suffer, so do you. Of course, my suffering might be eased a bit as I sit here on my gold-encrusted executive chair tooling around with the alpha and beta versions of these wonderful applications. So I guess there are advantages to being in my position rather than yours.

"You are both handsome and cruel, David Nagel."

I know, sweet reader. I know.

"But tell us, Dave, how you're writing this article from beyond the grave. Isn't it a bit tough to type when you're incorporeal?"

Not difficult at all for someone like me who practiced kung fu diligently before he died.


Just drop it, reader, and let's move on.

At any rate, I don't want to give the impression that all of the great Mac-related things that happened at Siggraph are a big secret. That's not the case at all. Traditionally, Siggraph isn't the biggest Mac show of the year. Nevertheless, software developers do recognize the value of our little platform in the black ink in their columnar pads, and they're responding with more and more offerings--in 3D, graphics, compositing and effects.

Alias Systems, for example, said that the Mac platform now accounts for 25 percent of commercial sales of Maya in North America, and, astonishingly, 20 percent globally. Company representatives I spoke with said that, at times, downloads of the Maya Personal Learning Edition for the Mac actually outpace PC downloads. At this year's show, Alias launched a new 5.0 version of Maya PLE for Mac OS X and Windows, along with 10 new learning tools--six DVDs and four books covering everything from a beginner overview to higher-end modeling, animation and scripting techniques. After speaking with the good folks at Alias, I'm happy to report that you'll soon be seeing more Maya-related tutorials on our sites in the near future. More info: http://www.alias.com.

Anark too sees a brighter future with an Aqua interface. The multimedia software developer launched Anark Studio 2 for Mac OS X at the show, the first version of the authoring suite to make its way to the light side. I had a chance to get my clammy paws all over this software, and I can say it's nothing short of remarkable for those of you working with interactive content--especially 3D. I'm not going to expend my info on this software right here, since I'll be doing a full review of it shortly. Check it out at http://www.anark.com.

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