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Driving a Stutz Bearcat, Jim

30 January 2001

Pay no attention to the fat leatherman behind the sofa! The Gay Blade may be down – his all-time favorite adverb, in fact – but he’s far from out.

Granted, the sheer corrosive power of this utensil’s dissolute lifestyle would have propelled lesser implements down a path more twisted than George W. Bush’s walk after a routine traffic stop.

Indeed, the Blade launched his traditional New Year’s bacchanalia well before the winter solstice, achieving cruising altitude (despite some psychic turbulence) at some point between the passing of abbreviated thespian Billy Barty and the moment when his “frequent flyer” miles on qualified him for a victory lap around the site’s decongestant section.

But never fear, Dear Reader! The Blade’s leathery frontal lobes are unscored by their latest trip through the mangler. Indeed, as soon as he can find a orthodontist qualified to remove this cumbersome bocce ball, he’ll be ready to hit Macworld Expo/San Francisco with the kinetic energy of Marc Bolan riding shotgun in a purple Austin Mini. Tuck and roll, Steve and Avie! Help is on the way.

Ride a white swan

Speaking of quickly accelerating show-biz vehicles, Adobe is reportedly putting the final racing stripes on After Effects 5.0, the next major version of the video-effects package that’s as much fun to make as it is to eat.

Click for larger view According to a spec sheet waggishly duct-taped to the Blade’s hirsute trunk sometime during his month-long lost weekend, the forthcoming rev to AE hews rather closely to the streamlined GUI chassis of this year’s model, but it packs a whole new 3D engine guaranteed to go zero to 360 in milliseconds. Movie-clip and solid layers can now be converted into 3D layers and manipulated; meanwhile, new lighting and camera layers and objects will be able to point and cast or shoot on video layers. Rendering is faster, and the software offers better control under the playback transport for RAM previews.

Other under-the-hood goodies: A vector path-painting tool can record motion and animate paths, and Version 5.0 will include new tools to control path animation of layers. A motion-capture tool will control clip layers in real time, and other tools smooth and align layers. A new “Animations” menu gathers together all path-control menu items.

Control freaks will palpitate over the latest project- and import-management features: In addition to the timeline window, there is also a layout window that shows the cascading relations between layers and filter and composition. The upgrade will also pack a trunkload of new plug-ins, some for manipulating the 3D engine and several that will let users control audio: Parametric EQ, Modulator, and Tone Generator.

Sweet Jayne Mansfield in a head shop! Now that’s a smooth ride.

Attention Mac road warriors: Fuel the Blade’s imagination with an industry tip to The NMR Report, and a commemorative naked mole rat can be yours!

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