THE BUZZ AROUND Apple continues after Digital World, the recent technology conference in Los Angeles.
The computermaker has launched a CD-ROM publishing arm and signed Time Warner Interactive as a partner. Under the three-year deal, Apple will peddle TWI’s titles for both Mac and MPC for IBM-compatible versions to 2,000 outlets and schools.
“Real volume for entertainment titles will be from selling through the consumer electronics channel,” TWI exec VP Craig Moody said. “That’s where Apple is going with its products.”
Also available on Apple is Radius Corp.’s new Video Vision board, which permits users to put full-motion video up on the full screen. Before, video editors wrestled between choosing full-motion on a tiny screen or stuttering images on a half screen because of the compression schemes. Users can now use a slider on the screen to set the compression level for playback.
USING KODAK’S CINESITE for restoration seems to be catching on. This spring, the entire 120,000 feet of Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” was run through Kodak’s digital scanner, refurbished and put back out to film. Now rumored is a test on Turner Entertainment’s “Ben Hur.”
Look for an announcement soon that Kodak will open a Cinesite in London.
FRESH FROM A HOEDOWN in London for a its CD-I multimedia player, Dutch electronics company Philips N.V. is making some changes. First, Gordon Stulberg is officially stepping down as chairman of Philips Interactive Media Intl. He’s been listed as emeritus for a month or so. He will consult with Philips but also head a new company called Digital Development Corp.
Also, the new name for Philips Software is Philips Media. This still covers CD-I, Philips’ investment in Whittle Communications and its European cable operations.
“The major concentration of the company will be in electronic publishing, and marketing and promotion of electronic media,” said Scott Marden, president and CEO of Philips Media.
Rumors that budgets have been slashed in the U.S. operations for Philips Interactive are patently untrue, Marden said. “We have not cut back development money, we’ve gradually shifted some money to Europe.”
There is increasing talk, however, of developing CD-I titles for other players, like 3D0.
A MOVIE VERSION of “Dungeons and Dragons”? TSR Inc., based in Lake Geneva, Wis., is ringing up sales of $ 40 million a year worldwide from selling a fantasy computer game. With Strategic Simulations Inc. in Sunnyvale penning the software, TSR has managed to corral 10 million passionate fans. The player kills the dragon, finds the treasure, or saves the princess. Now, TSR is talking movie based on the game. It’s spent $ 2 million on videos for two new games and seems pleased with the results.
WITH COMPUTERS more prevalent at work and home, they’re popping up more frequently in films that depict real life. To make them work right on cue, a cottage industry has sprung up to tame them. John Monsour and associate Brian Callier are fresh from making computer monitors in “Jurassic Park,” and “The Firm” behave for the camera.
Monsour started out in the early 1970s as a cameraman, then moved into shooting commercials for the nascent PC industry. He quickly found that computer screens run at 30 frames per second, while film speed is 24 fps.
At first, everyone simply plugged in a videotape for playback at film speed. With scripts demanding interaction with a PC, tape won’t do. On “The Firm,” Monsour opened up the Apple Macintoshes and slipped a custom circuit board he designed onto a SuperMac videocard to synchronize the monitors. When Tom Cruise scrambles to use a password that opens a critical file, it’s Monsour’s handiwork that’s onscreen.
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Following ‘Addams,’ Dutro
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“Personally, I don’t make films where the technology is used to its fullest,” director Sydney Pollack said, “but the use of computers in these real terms, he’s absolutely amazing.” Monsour and Callier plied the same handiwork on “Jurassic,” making 13 live PC screens behave properly. Director Steven Spielberg joined in on one of eight Silicon Graphics workstations that were networked to play a flight combat program. Next up is “True Lies,” for Jim Cameron.
FRANK DUTRO has moved from handling digital production on Paramount’s “Addams Family Values” to heading a new Digital Technology Center at the Connecting Point store in Burbank. He plans to demonstrate new products and also set up systems and do production work for studios and indies.
“It is a smorgasbord, a showcase of the latest software and hardware,” he said. Filled to 5,000 square feet with Apple, SuperMac, Radius, IBM and SGI gear , Dutro hopes to double the space in 1994.
THE EFFECTS community is bidding for a number of projects expected in ’94: Kathleen Kennedy’s “Smoke and Mirrors” directed by Frank Marshall, about French illusionist Houdin; and Universal’s “The Shadow,” with Alec Baldwin, after the radio detective. And New Line’s “The Mask,” a fantasy/comedy takeoff on superhero films where the star gets superpowers by donning a mask, is now at ILM.