From ST REPORT No 642
CIS ONLINE CONFERENCE with LEXICOR & LEE SEILER
Please, join me in welcoming LEE Seiler of Lexicor Software to the first of many AtariArts Thursday night conferences with developers here on CompuServe.
Lexicor has recently joined the AtariArts Forum with their own message and download areas (Section 11). Currently, Robert Birmingham, David Ramsden, Mark Kimball and Paul Dana are helping LEE provide official online customer support, and this will continue when Lexicor joins the Atari Vendors Forum soon. Lexicor has some “animating” ideas for their area when they do join the Vendor Forum.
Lexicor has some exciting new products for the ST including their Phase-4 and Prism series. I’ll let LEE tell you about them, but before we get started, let me ask the CO-ers to not type while LEE is talking. Also, if you’d like to ask a question, please /sen me a message, and I’ll take the questions in the order received. To /send a message, type /sen 1 PATTIE, I have a question for Lexicor. To start off ... LEE, can you tell us more about your products and Lexicor itself!
Yes...First let me warn all that I am an artist and take comfort in the idea that all of you can spell! I can’t...with that said.. Lexicor is, in fact, the product of Antic’s decision to stop supporting the Cyber line of products. All of us save Robert Birmingham stem from this source. We are a group of developers that formed a corporation for developers to have a safe place to work from and create new software.
The products really speak for themselves, they were designed by some of the best programmers in the Atari computer field. At this point in time, their programs have been impressive enough that no less than three (3) international ATARI corporations have requested that we supply our programs for bundling with ATARI computers.
Our products are designed to allow the ATARI computer owner to use his machine as a true “Off-Line” graphics workstation. The first of these products is PHASE-1, called Rosetta-3D. This program is the link or linchpin to the “outside world.” With it, the user can import and export CAD objects for use as animation subjects. Written by and the Brain child of David Ramsden, this program is truly one of the fastest interac- tive programs ever written for the ATARI.
This program does much more than just translate. It is more properly a library and housekeeping program that provides an uninterrupted platform to begin serious animations. In addition to all this, Dave’s program is a remarkable “Draft Animation Tool.” I have done some seemingly impossible animations already, and in the hands of a dedicated animator, I suspect it could do commercial animations.
Shawn Gordon has a question for you...Shawn, GO ahead!
LEE, is the Nov. 1 release date a go?
Yes and NO...we have confirmation on hardware deliveries for the 1st and 15th of November, which means that I will release to our USA and European Distributors, from there it may take up to three weeks for them to process and ship product. We are all working ’round the clock on the documentation and final feature or two. So, barring some disaster, we hope to make our deadline.
So the hang up would be with the hardware protection key? I did want to say that I DL’d all the stuff in the Lexicor library and it is amazing.
Bill, you have a question for LEE?
LEE, I understand Lexicor is officially coming online with an area in AtariVen. What kind of things can we expect to see there? PATTIE’s opener hinted at something special?
Yes there is something special coming, but first let me comment that I missed Shawn’s question about the safe key. We have had some serious problems in that area, but this should not delay release??? We hope....
Something special indeed. We will be offering to any interested user a one-year-long tutorial on computer graphics and computer animations. This course will consist of monthly topics with weekly lectures, files for downloading and homework assignments. We will be covering many aspects of contemporary computer graphic applications. “THIS” means that it will not be an ongoing sales pitch for our products. We will be demonstrating many other products and teaching the user how to combine an assortment of applications to create both desktop graphics and animations.....rest time.
Could you give us an overview of the 16 million colour board for the ST?
The 16 million color board is a true 24-bit board which will be usable with any ST and SC1224 color monitor. At this point it is designed for fast animation graphics. It will have two resolutions, 1) 256X256 and 2) 512 X 512 when installed with a “pixel stretcher board.” This is a new device just incorporated to support NTSC and PAL full screen on the ATARI- !!!
LEE, that’s great news! Let’s move on to JR Wenzel....
J R Wenzel)
LEE, I have 2 questions and a followup comment...
1) To what extent will the Phase 4 products support the special features and added resolutions of the TT?
Pattie if you don’t mind, I would Like Paul Dana to address this question??
The Phase 4 products support all of the new TT resolutions for starte- rs! Prism Paint is a beautifully device-independent program. It will configure itself to the number of colors and the current screen resolut- ion. It also does not require “double buffering” techniques and will therefore also run on a Moniterm and an ISAC high res 16 color. Rosetta-3D also supports the high-res ISAC board and makes beautiful depth cued images on it. It can also run in the 640x480 TT mode which is another nice high-res 16 color resolution.
Chronos, the Key Frame Animator, is also device independent and will make use of however many colors your computer has. It makes use of all of the new TT resolutions and also runs on the ISAC 16-color board.
Also I should mention that Rosetta-3D and Chronos both make use of the new TT system calls to use TT “Fast” RAM to speed up handling data.
J R Wenzel)
2) There was some mention of a service being offered by Lexicor to produce hard copy of graphics produced by your products...could you expand on this?
At this point there are only two possible approaches, The 1st is using an “AIR” interface to get the image on any other medium than Disk.
The 2nd is through file translation. I have not addressed this, but if any of my LEXICOR team has a comment as to PageStream or other desktop publishing format....comment...
J R Wenzel)
Comment - Thank you for your answers to my ?s ... I would just like to express my best wishes for Lexicor in its endeavors.
We’ll let Rob R. ask LEE his question!
Is the Phase series mainly an improvement on Cyber? Is this a replacement for Cyber?
Yes in a way it is...but not directly.... Phase-4 really picks up where the Cyber series left off. The biggest problem with the Cyber Studio for the non-computer artist was the requirement of a “scripting” language.
What we have done is build on the solid foundation of the Cyber programs and provided tools that allow “anyone” to do animations without the requirement of programing or artistic skills. Although both of these skills can only help the aspiring computer animator.
Harjinder has another question, LEE...
Going back to the colour board. Does it have overscan? Will it work in a TT? How difficult is the installation? And finally, when can I buy this baby?
Overscan is really an misnomer these days. The Atari just does not have the right frame around the screen? Seriously, the color board and a little adjustment of the sc1224 will create a “full screen” of 512x512. The screen ratio will never match commercial film or TV, so the animator must plan his “actual screen” size based on the intended end use.
So far as I can tell there are an assortment of screen shapes for dif- ferent end use. I understand what you are asking and, in comparison to say the Amiga screen, “No.” This means you will see some borders depending on how you use the palette.
As to when it will be ready, that is uncertain at this point. Mark is doing our engineering and as soon as we can finish the prototypes and software they will be made available. Mark, this is really your area...if you wish to clarify or correct my understanding of our board please do so...
I got in late, so I can’t comment on specifics. But the timeframe is right.
Is the board TT Compatible?
Mark we have never discussed this, but I think NOT?
The board right now occupies only about 16 bytes of memory space. That memory can be mapped anywhere, so it can be MADE compatible, since it’s not a part of the TT OS. The actual graphics are handled by the graphics coprocessor...so the display in itself is independent of what kind of 680x0 it runs on.
We have time for only a few more questions ... Jim...
LEE, it sounds as though you have a solid and complete package coming...I am wondering how reasonable it would be for a young artist/animator (a Birmingham wanna-be) to try and get into this with just a base ST system. No extra hardware, just software. How decent a piece of work could he do?
Well in fact R.B. is going to be doing just that in our LEXICOR ONLINE. Very professional results can be had with the stock ATARI. If you look at our Butterfly demo you will see an example of pure vanilla 520ST animation using all three Phase-4 programs...
Okay, thanks. Gotta d/l that stuff.
If Jim is done... Keith had a question!
LEE, I heard somewhere that the 24-bit board would allow for RAM expansion beyond the current 4 meg limit of the ST/Mega/STe series...is this true or wishful thinking?
You almost heard right, We are also developing a 15-bit true color capture board that will have 3.5 MEGs of RAM... Dave, you were in on the technical development. Could you field this last one...PLLLLLLEEEEAAAAASSSSEEEE...
Sure... The 24-bit graphics board (this includes our own board and the Parsec 24-bit board, by the way) has its own internal memory; however, in its current form (unless it changes), this memory is not directly addressable by the 68000 on an Atari ST. Theoretically, you could use the memory on the board for other purposes, but it would just be for temporary storage (you could possibly use it as a giant RAMdisk...a slow one, that is.)
If a special TT/VME-bus version of the board is created then you could address the memory on the board from a TT since VME RAM is acces- sible by the 68030.
Dave, I thought it was too good :-) Thanks!
Thank you Keith, Jim, Harjinder and JR for your questions ...
Thanks....PATTIE I would like to make a few closing comments to all?
Go ahead, please!
Thanks again, and thank you all for joining us this evening. I would like to let all of you know that we have some very good news for all Atari users and that we hope we will be able to not only sell our programs but begin to share the vast body of our joint experience with the general Atari user. We are the future of the ATARI.. that is the users and developers... Everyone else is just along for the ride... TTFN.
Thank you all for participating, and thanks to the staff of Lexicor (Dave, Mark, Paul and Robert) and LEE Seiler for being here with us tonig- ht! Join the crew of Double Click Software on Thursday, Nov. 1st here in AtariArts!
Lexicore holds a great deal of promise for the future of Atari and the Atari userbase. Their R&D represents the attitude of the developemnt community for the Atari platform; they want to push envelope at all times in an ongoing effort to produce superior programming and hardware. Bar none!
Last, as of two days ago, Lee Seiler informed us that even though he and his crew of developers have all paid their developer fees, they have yet to gain access to the developer area on GEnie, this stems from the time A. Salerno decided, for whatever reason, to have everyone locked out and force them them re-apply. Seiler said. Also, he affirmed that he was assured by Leonard that the problem would be corrected. It has not been as of yet, he sadly added.