|[Editorial] MetaCreation's Move Could Be Disastrous For Mac Users
by Peter Rapp
I am in the process of purchasing Carrara, the new MetaCreations product for 3D graphic development, and am trying to understand the unfortunate recent turn of events within the company. Carrara seems to be a revolutionary product, bringing the interface paradigm that MetaCreations is known for to the combined assets of Infini-D and RayDream to form a new program that is more than the sum of its parts.
There are several disturbing press releases on their site, specifically the one about canning some of their talented graphics teams in favor of moving to an all "e-commerce visualization solutions for the web" company! Since MetaCreatoins gobbled up companies ranging from Fractal, Specular (Formerly HSC), and Ray Dream, I have been yearning for a unified 3D solution for my mac. With Bryce (Landscapes), Canoma (Buildings), and Poser (Figures), I was getting very excited that Carrara would top off the product strategy, but it seems that this may all be in jeopardy.
After spending part of the day on the telephone, I have learned three things:
1) Most of the MetaCreations staff members were caught by surprise by these announcements, of course. (Did I mention that the CEO also resigned?)
2) They are still pushing Carrara as a viable product, but my primary concern is that it will never be updated, and suffer the same fate as Infini-D.
3) Nobody really knows anything, but many graphic artists will be out of work by the end of the year there.
In my humble yet fervent opinion, the lack of a strong 3D product in the same category as Carrara would be disastrous! It is certainly frustrating to see all of their competitors bought up and effectively handed pink slips. Perhaps it would be advantageous to have some readers write in to MetaCreations and voice their opinion, while the discussion is still open. This is certainly a watershed moment for 3D on the mac, and I do not think that I am overreacting. Several of the representatives sounded nervous over the phone, and had that "I-can't-tell-you-much-but-take-the-hint" tone.
Back in the day (Actually only a few years ago) I remember walking wide-eyed into the MacWorld Expo show floor in New York, where Specular (Makers of Infini-D) and Strata (Remember StudioPro?) always had huge stage setups, full of CEO's juggling giant knives, and plenty of grand giveaways. This past year at the Expo, I couldn't even tell you if Strata still existed. MetaCreations was tucked away in a corner with two guys giving a demo of Canoma. I could tell the guy really wanted to tell me about Carrara, but It wasn't announced yet, so he kept a tight lip. Sometimes I don't understand. Nobody makes products like these guys. Is there anyone else out there who remembers when Bryce was released, and you couldn't wait to get your copy? I'm talking about revolutionary software here. Sure, it isn't the absolute high-end, movie-making powerhouse, but it lets ordinary people make extraordinary things.
As any longtime Infini-D user can tell you, we are tired of waiting. Very tired. I remember years ago when Infini-D was actually updated. New features came rolling in that didn't always meet our wildest dreams, but at least they kept us addicted. I love Photoshop, but there is something genuinely satisfying about making your own little 3D movies. For the longest time, my trusty little Quadra 650 just couldn't keep up when it came to rendering. Even my PowerCenter 150 was a little pokey. When I got my brand-spanking new Blue & White, I was really looking forward to getting back into the world of 3D animation. (Of course the G4 came out the next day, so I remain incredibly bitter!) I went ahead and put in my order for Carrara. After all, what other real choices do I have for a modern product? My bet is that we'll get at least a few initial updates, but who knows what will come out of this "Creative Web Company"? Hopefully the clouds will clear within the next few weeks when Carrara starts shipping, and I can get something other than cryptic responses from the folks over at MetaCreations. My concern is with Carrara, but I'm sure there are plenty of Observers out there with their heart set on KPT, Canoma, Bryce, Poser, and god knows what else may be cut. Please don't throw out the baby with the bath water, that's all I ask. I'm starting to feel like a HyperCard aficionado.
MetaCreations offers a page for contact info. Press inquires go through "firstname.lastname@example.org." I guess readers who own stock should go through investor relations, while the rest should go through customer support or call 1-800-846-0111. Please note that the number for corporate is 1-800-573-4940, which may not be listed on the web page.
While I hope the best for the company, I don't want to see these great products eliminated because they don't bring in as much as their internet cousins. I would love a spin-off, or anything besides what has been going on for at least a year!