Proving Ground

Atomic Imaging Helps De-Bug New Animation Software
By Barry Rice

Here’s the philosophical question of the ‘9Os: Which came first, the animated chicken or the software egg? That’s the question being explored at Atomic Imaging, the graphics arm of Golan Productions, where the latest animation jobs are being created on software that hasn’t even been released.

As a beta test site for four graphics and animation Macintosh software companies, the two-year-old graphics division has been testing new software on the job and reporting bugs and quirks to the makers before the products are marketed.

Testing software is beneficial not only to the companies that make it, but also to Atomic owner and creative director Ari Golan. “It gives us a competitive edge,” he says, “allowing us to have the latest tools available.”

In the most recent trial-by-fire, Atomic created 45 seconds of animation for a 20-minute Baxter International corporate video produced by the company in-house. A new version of Electric Image Animation System software that included an animated lens-flair option was used to add sparkle to text as a comet orbited around it. The effect is usually only available on high-end SGI software that costs thousands more than the Mac software used.

Atomic’s sales division is an authorized dealer of the same graphics software it uses to produce animation for clients. In addition to Electric Image, the company represents VIDI
Presenter Professional Modeler and Animator, HSC Live Picture and CoSA After Effects.

“Suppliers like the fact that we’re film and video people getting into computers,” says Golan, who started creating graphics and animation six years ago. “We also find that clients really like the fact that we gain valuable knowledge testing the software for the maker.”

All four software makers are rewriting their programs to make them compatible with Macintosh’s new PowerPC processor, to be unveiled March 14 at the National
Design and Engineering Show at McCormick Place. Atomic Imaging also will be at the show, unveiling VIDI’s PowerPC version of Presenter Professional Modeler and Animator.

The PowerPC, Golan says, will help close the gap between Macintosh computers and high-end RISC workstations such as SGI and Sun, which can go for as much as $100,000. Rendering times for electronic images on the PowerPC will be four to five times faster than Mac’s current high-end line, Quadra, and the new computer will start at less than $3,000.

FEBRUARY 28, 1994
VOL 16 NO. 8
PG 20

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