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Macs: Not Just For the Artsy Anymore

Just a Thought - Macs: Not Just For the Artsy Anymore

by , 1:00 PM EST, March 28th, 2003

How many times have we heard people say that Macs are for the creative types? I remember when I was demoing iMacs during Apple Demo Days a few years back and a grandmotherly lady came up to me and asked if Macs could handle e-mail. She was told that she didn't want a Mac because only artists and film people used them. Not being particularly creative, she assumed that Macs were not for her.

"Not so," I told her. "A Mac is a computer basically like any other computer. Creative types like Macs because they don't want to have to deal with IRQ settings or worry about register conflicts. They want to concentrate on their art, so they normally choose a Mac."

The truth is that creative types do tend to pick Macs. Why that is I can only speculate. Maybe I wasn't blowing smoke up granny's skirt, maybe artists do tend to gravitate to Macs because the machine does not get in the way of creating. I know that when I write I expect everything to work as reliably as my telephone. The last thing I want to have to deal with is some stupid setting that won't stay set when I have a good idea for a story in my head. Art seems to be as much about spontaneity and inspiration as it is skill. If your medium isn't available when you are, then it is in the way of creativity.

Take movies for instance: It used to be that the vision the script writer sees seldom made it fully intact to the eyes of the viewer of the final product. So many hands added and subtracted from that initial inspiration that many writers scarcely recognized the resulting film. With the advent of applications like iMovie and Final Cut Pro, people with ideas to express on a screen, be they professional or amateur, can see their vision realized with greater accuracy because they can now control the whole process of creating the film.

An excellent example of this is a little animated movie called Java Noir, which was put together by Raf and Steve Anzovin on a Mac in their basement in 1997. At the time Raf and Steve were in their early teens so they had relatively little experience with putting together a feature with the professional polish that Java Noir has, yet they were able to pull it off.

Another example of this can be seen in a new 30 minute feature movie that was entirely created on a Mac, but you'll have to pay to see this one. The movie, Voices of a Distant Star, is the brainchild of Makoto Shinkai, a rising star on the animé scene. Voices of a Distant Star has received numerous awards and I believe that it rivals the quality, both in content and in presentation, one would expect from a studio. says it best in their preview of the movie:

A surprisingly sophisticated tale of two lovers torn apart by the tides of war and millions of miles of interstellar space, Voices of a Distant Star won its creator the "Most Valuable Newcomer Award" at last year's Tokyo Animé Fair. The fact that the film was written, directed, and animated by Shinkai, using only a Macintosh G4/400 computer and assorted consumer and professional level animation programs is simply stunning considering the final result. Shinkai did everything on this film except create the music (composed by Tenmon) and provide all the voices. What one otaku can do with his trusty Mac is truly amazing. Will this be the future of animé as personal computers become more and more powerful?

It should not be surprising that a lot of semi-pro and professionally made movies are appearing in QuickTime on the Web. The AniMatrix, a series of short movies based on the Matrix, are currently available only in QuickTime. These are extremely high quality movies, the first 2 of which are available now with others appearing during the next 3 months, as free downloads.

It not just the pros and semi-pros who are having all of the movie making fun; Apple's iMovie makes the back end of making a movie easy for just about everyone. To prove it, Apple hosted a Homepage Contest for .Mac users. One of the categories was Humorous iMovie where Kennon Hines showed his little ones frolicking in the snow. Sure, the movie could have been put together with more conventional equipment but digital video and iMovie makes it easier and a lot more fun. Little movie's like Mr. Hines would probably have only gotten shown whenever the relatives showed up, perhaps for a holiday dinner. Now everyone can appreciate how cute his kids are.

It's not just movies either. Check out Kyohei Abe's poignant slide show Immigrant and you can begin to see that creativity finds few boundaries on a Mac.

Does this mean that creative folks don't use PCs? Of course not. There could well be more artsy people using PCs to produce their work than there are Mac users, but creative people historically have been Mac users, and that trend still seems to be valid, and will probably stay valid as long as Apple keeps producing machines that do what they are supposed to do without getting in your way. After all, computers exist to make our lives easier, it really shouldn't be the other way around.

Vern Seward is a writer who currently lives in Orlando, FL. He's been a Mac fan since Atari Computers folded, but has worked with computers of nearly every type for 20 years.

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