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Mixed Media

interacting with the future

Article from The Mix, December 1994

Tomorrow’s ideas with today’s technology

As technology continues its exponential curve into cyberspace, keeping abreast of developments can be a nightmare. Rest easy as Mixed Media takes you by the hand and tiptoes through the tulip field of sound and vision that is Multimedia

Don't touch that dial!

If the prophecies of multimedia maniacs ever come to fruition, then it shouldn't be too long before the human being has evolved itself into a huge information-receiving blob, with little better to do than to sit at his or her PC and guzzle vast amounts of rubbish. Fortunately, we are a long way off from complete multimedia overload, although many products currently being released hope to change the way we use the technology. A Day at the Beach Productions recently released their contribution to the infestation of CD-ROMs with an 'interactive' number that has in addition an audio part.

Don't Play Track One is a mixed mode CD/CD-ROM, filled with music and art from a number of as yet unsigned acts. You can use the CD in any normal CD player, but for heaven's sake, take heed of the title! To access the data partition of the CD, you need a PC (at least a 486sx/33), and a good deal of hard disk space. It takes a bit of time to install, and once you access the different music titles from within the main menu, there is some more time to wait while it takes the data from the CD-ROM and temporarily writes itself to your hard drive.

For this reason, you will need about 15Mbytes of free space to load any of the graphics. You could, on the other hand, pre-install everything (or choose certain tracks), but this takes up a huge 77Mbytes of hard disk space, which is incredibly silly! Usually, after the song plays, and you return to the main menu, the data on the hard disk is erased, though you can specify it not to when you initially set up.

The graphics vary, as does the quality of the music, 'though by and large it is all reasonably listenable. Some of the best artwork is featured on the 'Superman' track, with a po-faced chap mooching around various places. Also the amusing animations accompanying Jon Thomson's 'Eat Within Two Days of Opening' poke a satirical rapier at consumerism. The best tracks are from Puffy, whose 'Wish' is an almost-love song, and Defoe's 'Too Deep to Touch' with its subtle melancholy tones.

Playing back music from the audio part of the CD-ROM whilst the computer crunches through some full screen imagery and animation is certainly a brave concept. What DPT1 represents is a new standard by which everything subsequent may find itself judged. For example, games,on CD-ROM could have an audio partition on the CD, freeing memory space that would otherwise have to have been used for samples. An innovation if ever there was one.

More from: Day at the Beach Productions, (Contact Details).

Floppy Videos

It was my lecturer at college who said that the floppy disk was the notepad of the future (and lived to regret it when all his essays arrived on bits of 3.5" plastic), but could it also be the future of video? CD-ROM has proven itself already as a media for film and video because of its data storage capacity, but not everyone, nor every computer has access to a CD-ROM drive.

But everyone has a disk drive, and so Urban Shakedown, (who are a hardcore/jungle group) have teamed up with Tony Horgan (most notably of a certain computing magazine fame) to produce a demo audio/visual product to promote one of their single releases. The piece, "Some Justice", is actually free if you have access to the Internet (and can find it), and features an exclusive remix accompanied by plenty of flashing, brightly coloured visuals, and a liberal help of textual interruptions. The graphics sweep about, zoom in and out in a completely insane manner, and generally make you utterly 'nautious' as the Americans say, which is no bad thing really. The demo works on a standard A1200, though there is a version available for 68030 or 040 Amigas, that's even better.

If you want a copy for yourself, but don't have access to the internet, then you can order one direct for £1.40.

Write to: Roberta Smith DTP, (Contact Details).

Piccies for Pixels

I never quite convinced my art teacher that the use of computers in art wasn't cheating, and that it required just as much work to whizz a mouse around the screen as it did to splatter paint across a canvas.

Fortunately, computer-generated art has since become very popular, and is now used widely in things like television, music video, and all manner of art galleries across the planet. The Computer Graphics Expo show, which happened alongside the LEAF animation festival at the beginning of November, proved conclusively-that computer art is a force to be reckoned with. Now you can't even dip a toe in the realms of computer graphics without slipping in a puddle of raytraced balls...

Perhaps the most impressive stand at the show belonged to Silicon Graphics. Their 'Planet SGI' display featured a wealth of these powerful machines churning out full-screen, real-time raytraced graphics that made most people gawp as they strolled by.

Ocean were also at the show, scouting for new artistic talent for forthcoming titles. They were also promoting the new PC CD-ROM game Inferno, proving that there is more to graphics and music than just passive viewing. The soundtrack for the Inferno game is furnished by those cheeky tunesmiths, 'Alien Sex Fiend'.

Superscape was promoting its virtual reality software, designed to actually generate worlds on a 486 Pentium PC, as used by a number of companies including Broadsword Television (those people who make all the computer gaming programs).

There was a gallery full of some of the most spectacular computergenerated imagery (and yes, raytraced balls too..), hosted by Raytech BBS. For those who couldn't bear to leave the pictures behind, you could buy posters or postcard versions from the stand, which proved very popular indeed. Raytech themselves offer a specialist support service for people whose lives revolve around reflective, shiny balls and bizarre 3-D scenery. The 24 hour BBS has free access and impartial advice, especially for PC users using 3DStudio, 'though this is not say that anyone couldn't benefit from some wise words. Also available on their BBS service is a library of over 5,000 files (600Mbytes) to download.

Whatever the reason for attending the show, whether you were looking for a job, or just looking at some nice pictures, the Graphics Expo was a source of graphic heaven.

Raytech BBS can be contacted via a number of different routes: (Contact Details). The usual terrestrial methods are also possible. Raytech BBS, (Contact Details).

Superscape can be contacted at: Zephyr One, (Contact Details)

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Publisher: The Mix - Music Maker Publications (UK), Future Publishing.

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The Mix - Dec 1994

Donated by: Colin Potter

Coverdisc: Mike Gorman

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