Macromedia unveiled the latest upgrades to its Shockwave technology and Director authoring tool last week.
Director 7 Shockwave Internet Studio has been rebuilt for the Internet, and includes the ability to optimise multimedia for both narrowband and broadband connections, as well as integrated audio streaming and support for XML. The rendering engine in Director has been redesigned and Macromedia claims a potential frame rate of 999fps (frames per second), compared to the previous figure of 500fps.
The playback engine has been optimised for the Internet to handle low-speed connections, although Director is still used to create multimedia for CD-ROMs and other media. The number of elements that can be displayed on-screen has also been increased from 120 to 1,000.
Director 7 also includes support for more media types, and special effects such as alpha channels and dynamic scaling and rotation. Animation has been simplified. Making an animation used to involve creating several seperate images which would then be sequenced. Now users can manipulate a single image to give the same effect, which saves on download times too.
Director 7 now supports standard Internet protocols such as HTML, with links to all Director-supported media types (text, graphics, sound, video and animation); HTTP for media distribution; HTTP-S for secure Ecommerce transactions; XML for data exchange; the CGI 'POST' method for two-way communication; and updated support for Java.
Shockwave 7 promises faster and smoother playback due to its optimised event processing, smart media streaming and faster startup. An auto-update feature has been added to make it easier to keep up with new versions.
Macromedia claims that Shockwave has become the de facto standard in Internet multimedia, with over 30 million downloads and bundling deals with Windows 98, MacOS 8.5 and AOL 4.0.
Director 7 Shockwave Internet Studio runs on Windows 95, 98, NT and MacOS 7.6.1 or later, and will be available in December for #799. Registered users can upgrade to the Internet Studio version for #329 or the standalone version for #299.
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