Multimedia megashow. ('intermedia' 1993 multimedia and CD-ROM conference)(Column)
by David English
It's billed as the world's largest multimedia event, with over 10,000 attendees and 150 exhibiting companies. Last year it acquired the weighty title of The Seventh Annual Conference & Exposition on Multimedia and CD-ROM. This year, it was simply called intermedia.
On the conference side of intermedia, attendees heard a lot of talk about converging technologies (though one speaker noted that "colliding cultures" would be a more appropriate way of putting it). Everyone, it seems, is either anticipating or dreading the coming merger of computers, cable television, broadcast television, publishing, consumer electronics, telephones, movies, and the recording industry. Not surprisingly, computer and software companies are rushing to form alliances with companies in other fields, so as not to be left behind. Microsoft, for example, showed a computer-enhanced television that lets you view realtime statistics and order stadium tickets while watching a baseball game.
Meanwhile, back on the show floor, you could almost smell the optimism in the air as companies displayed their latest crop of multimedia products. Warner New Media dazzled showgoers with Hell Cab, a nightmarish ride with a New York cab driver who is out to capture your soul. Stunning 3-D graphics and sound make this Macintosh CD-ROM a ride to remember. A PC version should be cruising the streets soon.
Microsoft announced three new CD-ROM titles, including Microsoft Dinosaurs, a sumptuous look at everyone's favorite former earth rulers. Dinosaurs includes over 1000 high-quality illustrations and photograph, 200 background articles, plenty of ambient sounds and growls, and even dinosaur screen savers. Microsoft worked with The Dinosaur Society to verify the information and included a section for us old fogies which explains that many of the dinosaur facts we learned as kids are no longer true. The other new Microsoft titles are Multimedia Mozart: The Dissonant Quartet and Multimedia Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring. Like Multimedia Beethoven: The Ninth Symphony, each contains a famous work of classical music and a wealth of background information.
DeLorme showed the follow-up to its popular CD-ROM applications, Street Atlas USA and MapExpert. It's called Global Explorer, and it contains street maps for more than 120,000 places worldwide, as well as detailed topographic maps for the entire world. Asymetrix introduced a powerful multimedia presentation program called Compel, with extensive video, animation, and sound support. In a break from its usual hardware products, ATI demonstrated its new video editor, MediaMerge. It lets you edit video files, record and edit audio, and add a variety of transition effects.
Other new CD-ROM titles include Jazz: A Multimedia History from Compton's Newmedia, which lets you hear as well as read about the legends of jazz, from Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong to Miles Davis and Weather Report; Interactive Venture's Mayo Clinic Family Health Book, which includes 45 animations and 500 color illustrations, in addition to 1300 pages of interactive text; The Compleat Beatles from Compton's Newmedia, which includes the entire documentary film, The Compleat Beatles, as well as text from the book of the same name; Voyager's A Hard Day's Night (initially available only for the Mac), which includes the entire Beatles movie, the movie's script (which can automatically scroll with the movie), and a preview trailer; TestDrive Software System, a new quarterly CD-ROM from TestDrive, which lets you try out and optionally purchase major PC applications; and the 1993 edition of the New Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, which includes dynamic maps and audio-visual essays.
Adult CD-ROMs drew a lot of attention at intermedia. Popular adult movies are now available on CD-ROM. Titles include House of Sleeping Beauties, from Pixar; Hidden Obsessions, from Romulus Entertainment; and Things Change: My First-time, from PC CompoNet. At a special session devoted to the future of erotic multimedia, Penthouse wowed the crowd with its first CD-ROM title, Penthouse Interactive. It lets you become the photographer in a Penthouse photo shoot.
On the hardware front, you can now equip your PCMCIA-equipped laptop or notebook computer with St variety of multimedia options, including a sound card (Mediashare's Tempo), a video capture card (Mediashare's Focus), and a SCSI adapter (Trantor's SlimSCSI). NEC showed the first double-speed portable CD-ROM drive, the NEC MultiSpin 38 Portable CD-ROM Reader. Media Vision displayed its new Pro Audio Studio 16 package, which includes an improved 16-bit sound card, voice recognition software, and a small microphone. Creative Labs privately showed me its own voice recognition software, which will be available soon for its sound cards. Finally, Gold Disk demonstrated VideoDirector, which lets you use your computer to control both your home VCR and camcorder, allowing you to quickly and easily edit your videotapes.