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Talking with Eovia
What happens when former Metacreations people get their product back, by Daniel Turnes


I supposse you remember those applications that used to catch our eyes because of its interface.Those plug-ins that stood out because of its extreme ease and bright visual attractiveness. That first Bryce or that Poser 3, those mythical KPT 3 modules. All of them arose from a firm called Metacreations, a firm that came and brought a bit of colour to our displays.

Besides, it had other applications that, in that moment, were a real bulkward of simplicity and power in 3D design: Infini D and Ray Dream.

With time, Metacreations searched other bussiness ways, leaving all those products that had become famous among graphic designers. One of those forgotten applications was Carrara: the fruit of merging Infini D and Ray Dream merge. A poduct that, visually, looked as the antechamber of MacOS X.

Luckily, that application never disappeared and now it's on Eovia's hands... and we've been talking with them.

Macuarium: Our readers would like to know a brief history of Eovia. What could you tell us?

Eovia: Eovia has been incorporated in November 2000, in Sunnyvale &endash; California, and its founders are the Product Management team of Carrara at Metacreations.

The team felt disappointed when Metacreations decided to move to the Web industry and created Eovia to pursue the vision initiated by the creators of Ray Dream and Infini-D : bringing to artists and enthusiasts, powerful yet affordable 3D creation tools.

Macuarium: Last year, Eovia was adquired by another 3D firm: TGS. What does Eovia expect to get with this movement? What has Eovia won or what does Eovia expect to win? What has changed since then?

Eovia: The Eovia creation is highly linked to the merger with TGS. TGS is the owner of the famous 3D modeler Amapi 3D and wanted to complete its product line. On the other side, the Eovia founders were looking to a strong strategic partner. The Eovia / TGS merger is not mainly a "financial movement", but much more a strategic join venture which associates two teams with similar goals.

Macuarium: Please, introduce Eovia products to our readers by yourself, what Amapi 3D, Carrara Studio and 3Space are and what kind of beneficts they can bring forward potential costumers? What can they find in both Carrara Studio and Amapi that can't be found in other packages?

Eovia: Our mission is to provide accessible 3D creation tools to graphic artists and designers. While Amapi 3D is a high-end, fast and user-friendly modeler, Carrara Studio is an all-inclusive 3D solution dedicated to graphic artists and enthusiasts, who want to create 3D artwork without having to spend many time and money in expensive and heavy solutions.

Macuarium: 3Space is Eovia's next product. Is it a product designed to strive against other solutions as Viewpoint Datalabs, for instance? When will 3Space ship and be available for Mac users?

Eovia: 3Space is not a product. It's the name for a technology which delivers animated interactive 3D graphics to the Web. Today, considering strong players like Viewpoint and Macromedia with Shockwave 3D, the 3Space strategy has been adapted. Our goal is not to compete against other Web 3D players but is to sell 3D content creation tools, that can communicate with industry-standard online deployment technologies. The next product will be released in summer 2002 and will be a Web 3D authoring tool dedicated to create simple and efficient 3D scenes, which can be published both in VET (Viewpoint), Shockwave 3D (Macromedia) and 3Space formats for a broader audience.

Macuarium: What's the current status os Eovia's products in the world: Europe, USA, Japan…? Is it profitable for Eovia to release 3D products for Mac OS?

Eovia: The current users database of Eovia products, including the predecessors of Carrara Studio, Ray Dream and Infini-D, exceeds 300 000 users. Most of them are designers, artists, creative people … and many of them use a Mac. Thus, it is definitively strategic for Eovia to strongly address the Mac community.

Macuarium: Eovia's products aim at Windows and Macintosh users. What's the current rate between mac and PC users of Amapi 3D and Carrara? Has Mac average grown or declined over last year?

Eovia: At least 35% of our users are using a Mac. To be honest, this average has declined over the past 3 years but since the new G4 have been released, and especially since Mac OS X is out, this trend seems to change …

Macuarium: The best known 3D app from Eovia (previously from TGS) is Amapi 3D. What's the current development situation of this 3D modeler since it's in Eovia's hands?

Eovia: Eovia has decided to strongly enhance Amapi 3D in term of modeling features and the next release, planed for September 2002, will come with unbelievable new capabilities, while keeping the unique user's friendliness which has made part of the success of this product.

Macuarium: Amapi 3D is known because its powerful modeling tools. In a market where there are so many 3D modeling-animation-rendering solutions, which kind of user is Amapi's user? Has Eovia got any agreement with other developers (or has any intention) for merging Amapi with other solutions?

Eovia: Hum. This is a pretty pertinent question. We at Eovia do think that it is better to have a generic positioning with Carrara Studio, the affordable complete solution, while Amapi 3D remains a modeler. Amapi 3D users are both designers and architects, who want a versatile, accurate yet intuitive modeling tool, as well as advanced 3D artists, who use Amapi 3D to create easily complex models, that they will render and animate in high-end 3D systems.

Macuarium: Let's talk about Eovia's other product: Carrara Studio is next version of Carrara, the 3D package Eovia bought from Metacreations. Could you tell us why this purchase?

Eovia: As I mentioned, Eovia has been created by the former Product Management team of Carrara at Metacreations. So the goal of the creation of the company was to continue the development of this wonderful product, as Metacreations decided to move its activity to the Web technology area.

Macuarium: What are the main and substancial differences between Carrara and Carrara Studio?

Eovia: First, Carrara was released a little bit fast, just before Metacreations decided to move to a different business, and was honestly unperfect. So the first difference between Metacreations Carrara 1.0 and Eovia Carrara Studio 1.1 is … the quality. This has been unanimously recognized by the users and the press, which pointed out that this release is very reliable.

Secondly, we have included 25 third-party plug-ins, which add unique features to the product, such as cartoon rendering, advanced shaders, global environments, etc … Then, 8 animated tutorials have been added to the package, to boost up the learning curve of the product.

Last but not least, Carrara Studio's package includes Amapi 3D v5 for free !

Macuarium: Plug-ins from thrid party developers are a must-have in this market. How could Eovia appeal to third party developers so quickly with such a young application?

Eovia: Remember Carrara is the successor of Ray Dream, which has hundreds of thousands users and addicts, and which already took advantage of being an open application for third-party contributors. Carrara framework has been designed in the same goal, and Carrara community is strong and active.

Macuarium: What can we expect for the immediate future in Carrara Studio?

Eovia: Hum. It's a little bit early to talk about, but next release of Carrara will bring even more powerful rendering features, as well as state-of-the-art animation techniques. Plus a bunch of nice surprises …

Macuarium: And talking about development. Can you explain me a bit about your development system? Do you have only one team… several teams, maybe? Is it the same aproach for every application? what platform and tools do you use for development?

Eovia: In fact we do have one development team dedicated to Amapi 3D and one dedicated to Carrara Studio. For historical reasons, the Carrara Studio development team is based in California, while the Amapi 3D one is based in Europe.

We are developing on Mac and Windows platforms in parallel, first because we use cross-platform development frameworks, and because we need to evaluate performances and problems on both platforms at the same time during the development cycle.

We use standard PCs and Macs to develop, with Microsoft VC++ for the Windows environment and Metrowerks CodeWarrior for the Macintosh.

Macuarium: What's your opinion about current situation of Apple?

Eovia: Apple has always tried to provide powerful hardware and innovative OS. It has so gained the confidence and enthusiasm of millions of creative people in the world. From our point of view, Apple has maybe waited too long to deliver a really reliable and modern OS to support high-level applications. Price of Apple systems remains as well still relatively high …

But we do think Apple will remain a strong player in the future.

Macuarium: How's the relationship with Apple? Doe Eovia have any help from them?

Eovia: We are working with Apple as "regular" developers. We don't receive any particular help from them but we get all appropriate support when we need it.

Macuarium: Mac OS X is the last and totally new OS form Apple. Has Eovia got any intention of supporting it? If yes, when and what can we expect to see?

Eovia: Of course Eovia applications will support natively OS X ! When ? It's a matter of development schedules regarding our next releases of Amapi 3D (v7) and Carrara Studio (v2). Amapi 3D v7 will be released October 2002 (supporting OS X) and Carrara Studio v2 in June 2002.

Macuarium: What's Eovia's point of view about this new operating system and its technologies such as OpenGL native support, Java2, Quicktime, Quartz...?

Eovia: First of all, OS X is a great OS, powerful, flexible, robust. Then, the fact that it supports natively OpenGL is a fundamental advantage for 3D application developers like us. Quicktime support is also very valuable, since it is one of the very best multimedia format. For now, we don't take really advantage of other built-in technologies like Java2 or Quartz but their support in OS X proves that this Operating System is modern and looks to the future !

Macuarium: How do you see 3D market? do you think Apple could gain marketshare? In your opinion, what should Apple do to change this situation?

Eovia: Mac is a must-have platform for creative people. And 3D is one field of the creative business and, combined with paint, compositing and publishing tools, it fits naturally with all the other components of the digital artist. As long as Apple will continue to deliver powerful hardware and reliable OS, all the graphic creation products will remain strong and powerful on the Mac, including 3D !

An afterword

Eovia seems to be doing a very good job of updating Carrara Studio: they've got elegance, third-party support, and possibilities, which you can expect of the offspring of Ray Dream e Infini D. But its suport for Mac OS X may come a bit late. Considering 3D is one of the first areas which have opted into Apple's new OS, releasing a native OS X application in six months time (counting from now) means being practically the last to arrive.

And if Carrara Studio is arriving late, Amapi 3D seems to need even longer, and it's a pity since it's possibly (together with Lightwave and FormZ) the best modeller to be found on our platform. And it has virtues that are hard to find in a similarly-featured modeller, and specially one: the interface. Ease of use and usefulness is what we all ask for, but we also want to take advantage of OS X, don't we?

So, what will Mac users of these applications, which are waiting to jump onto the OS X wagon, eventually do?


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