Yarc Man in The Net

Multimedia Reporter, June 1993

There he is again on the screen, sporting an elfish grin, a silky goatee, and probably a stocking cap. Thanking you for thinking. Or introducing the legendary Media Man, the star of his soon-to-be-an-epic cartoon action-adventure serial, Media Man in the Net.

You get the feeling there's a lot of Nathan Vogel in Media Man, who is an animated Guardian of the Communications Net.

It's 2025, and all broadcasting and information systems are finally fully integrated into one huge network. We're all on-line and digging it. A renaissance of learning and communication is underway.

When the Net is threatened by government subversion, a mild mannered A.I. help system is upgraded to Media Man, and turned loose to ferret out viruses in far-flung corners of the web. Like all good heroes he moves fast, thinks on his feet, and out smarts the sinister Terebot. His head is a television monitor. A collage of images on the screen reflects his interactions and emotions, and the nature of the information transfer underway.

We're watching Nate's action adventure in a tower in Park Merced where he lives with his Grandmother. Computer and video equipment take up at least half of his bedroom. There is a collage on the wall behind his computer. Pages from magazines and comic books. Some of the images turning yellow. Over them he has tacked up a brochure of InfiniD, and other product literature from tools he uses in his work. These days the images in his head are reflected in the images he creates in his desktop production studio.

Nate Vogel is a Cybernaught too, a 20 year old Multi-Media Man, you should pardon the expression, who has his own take on saving the world with art and high tech toys. Better living through Cyberspace. Integrating new power tools that take desktop DigVid to new levels: Software art packages and digital effects. Accelerator boards to make rendering time acceptable for the rest of us. And dreams of the future. The Net is the new frontier. Nate is a pioneer.

The concept of his cartoon is still developing, and it's definitely still a work in progress. The action moves very quickly, and it's a little hard to follow without a scorecard. Plugging in more dialogue and narration will make it easier. But there's no mistaking the fact that Nate is onto something interesting. Combining characters and elements created in 3D modeling, animation, and rendering programs with some startling digital video effects, he is demonstrating a new genre of Quicktime cartoon art: Free-form many-layered animation done right on his Mac CI in a Quicktime format. Talk about a desktop production studio. This is not your Father's media technology.

He edits his movies with Adobe Premiere, adding punch to his images with Video Fusion and CoSa After Effects, which offer digital video effects only available on workstations until last year. "Video Fusion offers Yarc support and is more creative," he explains. "It fuses images together. After Effects is better for compositing and layering."

"No longer is there is a line between digital video and three-D animation, he adds, "Now it is all just computer imaging."

Of course, creating your own vision of Cyberspace in the late/early hours is much more fun when you're not constantly waiting for images to render. Waiting can be tortuous. Nate had to find an accelerator to speed up rendering.

The Yarc NewSprint board that has now taken up residence in his computer utilizes a RISC chip that gives it the punch of a Power PC when it comes to compiling and rendering. 4 times faster than the Radius Rocket, it kicks a CI into the workstation realm where rendering is concerned.

"You can get your ideas out much faster, "says Nate. It's $3000, but the cost of the board equals a lot of freedom."

The Yarc is really a self-contained add-on computer on one board. It will work quietly in the background like Specular's software accelerator Backburner. The two can also work together harmoniously, and do so on Nate's system. There is also a PC version available.

Yarc's New Sprint is currently only compatible with a few programs, and Nate uses nearly all of them. His bedroom desktop production studio is a beta site for the Yarc, and Backburner as well as Video Fusion, Macromedia 3D, Macromodel, and Macromedia 3D: The toys of Multi-Media man; The tools he uses to give birth to his whimsical, prophetic visions of the future.