Microsoft Announces Chromeffects Software Development Kit

ORLANDO, Fla., July 21, 1998 — At SIGGRAPH 98 today, Microsoft Corp. announced plans for the release of the Chromeffects
software development kit (SDK), available for download on Aug. 17, 1998. Previously code-named
“Chrome,” Chromeffects interactive media technology is an add-on feature to the Microsoft® Windows® 98 operating system that unlocks a new range of high-performance interactive media content for applications, multimedia titles and Web sites. The Chromeffects SDK allows Web authors and application developers to leverage the ease and flexibility of HTML to take full advantage of the DirectX® API-based multimedia power of the Windows 98 platform. Developers can deliver compelling new content enhanced with Chromeffects and powerful new tools and capabilities to catalyze innovation and new market opportunities. In support of the Chromeffects SDK, leading vendors, including Live Picture Inc., MetaCreations Corp. and Zapa Digital Arts, are offering tools and add-in components to enhance the use of Chromeffects.

The Chromeffects SDK includes technologies to benefit a range of developers, from Web and title designers to professional application and interactive media tool developers. Designers with skill sets ranging from point and click to scripting and programming will be able to easily create interactive content using Extensible Markup Language (XML) in Chromeffects for simple integration with HTML. Designers using Chromeffects can take advantage of sophisticated 2-D, 3-D, audio and video effects to differentiate their HTML content in a single 3-D composition space.

“Chromeffects is one of the most exciting media technologies we’ve seen,”
said Rob Enderle, director of desktop and mobile technologies at GIGA Information Group.
“Chromeffects provides the ability to work around bandwidth limitations and use the power of the performance personal computer, much of which would otherwise be wasted. This technology, while clearly on the cutting edge today, is expected to be mainstream in Web time and will help open our eyes to even more of the as yet untapped potential of the Internet before the end of 1999.”

Chromeffects Delivers a Fast, Flashy and Functional End-User Experience

Chromeffects interactive media technology gives developers the power to dramatically improve the end-user computing experience by adding visual impact and unique real-time functionality without the lengthy downloads of current bulky multimedia. Chromeffects takes advantage of the latest multimedia enhancements to the Windows operating system and leverages the power of the latest PC hardware to deliver an end-user experience that is uniquely entertaining and efficient.

  • Fast. Chromeffects introduces a host of new interactive media data types to achieve richer interactive graphics with smaller, faster downloads, increased frame rates and real-time performance. XML tags in Chromeffects allow lightweight descriptions to be sent over the Internet for the Windows 98-based client to render and process the media, exploiting the latest PC hardware for acceleration gains in performance and real-time interactivity.

  • Flashy. Developers can now easily create high-fidelity, television-style effects and animations never before seen on the Web. By utilizing the 16-bit color and 3-D compositional space of Chromeffects, designers can create a more entertaining, engaging and memorable viewer experience.

  • Functional. Content optimized for Chromeffects can be used to improve overall navigation and communication of information. Mapping HTML text or images to a cube can multiply the effective real estate of a page. Rather than navigating through pages, the user can mouse-over a cube to bring a new side of information to the front. Chromeffects also enables bend-away menu bars, to increase focal area on the screen. The Chromeffects SDK provides many interactive examples of how the technology can be applied to greatly improve functionality. The documentation on the SDK itself is an actual example of how the Chromeffects technology inspires viewers to interact and explore concepts.

“The Chromeffects SDK puts the ability to create compelling interactive media content in reach of a far broader community of graphic and publishing designers,”
said Eric Engstrom, general manager of multimedia at Microsoft.
“By making it simple for third-party developers to design and adapt add-in enhancements to Chromeffects, we intend to fill the huge void in the easy-to-author tools space.”

Benefits of Chromeffects

Chromeffects is designed to make interactive media authoring simple to gain widespread adoption:

  • Ease of use. Because Chromeffects technology exploits the DirectX multimedia services in Windows 98, developers and content authors are spared the labor-intensive aspects of media integration, animation, interactivity and distributing a run time. Developers can add real-time 2-D and 3-D rendering and animation – synchronized with audio – to HTML content via simple XML tags and popular Internet scripting languages. Chromeffects offers the ability to scale content, so viewers on systems without Chromeffects are able to see standard content.

  • Extensible architecture. Through DirectX Transform, third-party developers can extend and enhance the functionality of Chromeffects. Transforms are add-ins to create effects beyond those provided by the default library.

  • Built-in run time. With the run time built into Chromeffects-enabled systems, independent software vendors (ISVs) save the significant development, distribution and support costs associated with building a run time. In addition, end-user downloads are no longer a factor in developing an application or add-in.

Rich Design Elements of Chromeffects Expand Capabilities for Developers

Chromeffects enables different forms of media to be integrated in one seamless composition space encompassing an entire Web page, rather than being limited to a specific area of a page. Core elements of Chromeffects include the following:

  • 2-D. A set of XML tags, based on the Vector Markup Language (VML) proposed standard, can be used to generate complex animated artwork integrated with HTML content without using script. Chromeffects also delivers flexibility so that scripting languages like the Visual Basic® development language Scripting Edition, JScript
    development software, Visual Basic and Java can be used, if desired, to create dynamic graphics that respond to user input.

  • 3-D. Chromeffects provides a library of XML tags and a real-time 3-D rendering engine for adding 3-D objects, scene objects, textures, animations, interactivity and lighting to content. Two-dimensional surfaces can be wrapped around 3-D objects in real time, including live HTML Web pages with active hyperlinks.

  • Sound. Chromeffects allows developers to use XML tags to insert wave audio and MIDI into a scene with controls for various playback methods, volume, pan and muting. Developers can use multiple sound sources at the same time to combine or synchronize their playback.

  • Video. Chromeffects allows developers to map video onto 2-D objects and 3-D surfaces while providing a standard set of video playback controls.

Additional Features

For additional functions, the Chromeffects SDK will provide a library of image and 3-D effects. Effects can be applied to objects (dissolve, explode, ruffle, etc.) and to images (wipe, composite, fade and more). Through DirectX Transform, third parties can also add effects to enhance the capabilities of Chromeffects. A robust set of third-party effects and add-ins on the SDK will include the following:

  • MetaCreations Corp. MetaStream for progressively streaming scalable 3-D graphics over the Internet; MetaCreations image effects – liquid, vacuum, page curl and many more – for eye-catching image transitions

  • Squishy FX. A new genre of interactive, continuously generated organic effects and music integrated into reusable art forms

  • Zapa Digital Arts. A library of Zapa Characterz with human behaviors and personalities to liven up 2-D, 2-D animated and 3-D environments

  • Live Picture. Award-winning software for fast interaction with photographs, illustrations and 3-D objects

By utilizing standards and familiar authoring formats, the Chromeffects SDK provides flexibility and ease for application and content developers to innovate now and in the future.

For More Information

More information about Microsoft Chromeffects can be found on the Chromeffects Web site at . For software developers and Web site designers, the Chromeffects SDK is scheduled to be available for no-charge downloading (online connect charges may apply) on Aug. 17, 1998, from The Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN
), or from the Microsoft Site Builder Network (SBN) Web sites ( , and , respectively). In addition, the Chromeffects SDK will be sent on CD-ROM to all MSDN Professional- and Universal-level subscribers in the scheduled October shipment. The MSDN developer program is the essential resource for developers, bringing together everything they need to be successful, including tools, technologies, education, information and technical events. The Microsoft Site Builder Network is the leading online resource and membership program for Web professionals, with more than 800,000 registered members.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

Microsoft, Chromeffects, Windows, DirectX, Visual Basic, JScript, MSDN, Visual InterDev and DirectAnimation are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

Softimage is a registered trademark of Softimage Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft Corp.

Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at on Microsoft’s corporate information pages.

Industry Supports Microsoft Chromeffects Interactive Media Technology for Windows 98

3D Planet Inc.

“Chromeffects provides 3D Planet with a faster way to bring our 3-D interactive character tools to market because it allows us to concentrate on the development of an application instead of creating the complete run-time environment.”

– Kevin Bromber
3D Planet Inc.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD)

“AMD applauds the introduction of Microsoft Chromeffects and is especially pleased that it is optimized for the AMD-K6-2 processor with 3DNow! technology. The powerful combination of Chromeffects and the K6-2 with 3DNow!, along with the forthcoming DirectX 6.0 API, now provides the optimal solution to bring users the best 3-D-enhanced Internet experience.”
– Rob Herb
Senior vice president and Chief Marketing Officer

Crawford Software Design

“Crawford Software Design is using Chromeffects as a base for the development of our new, easy-to-use electricFX interface-design tools, enabling Web designers to transform their sites with exciting multimedia special effects. Media-savvy consumers will gravitate to sites that use Chromeffects because they are appealing, lively and fun.”

– John Crawford
Crawford Software Design

flashCast Communications Corp.

“Chromeffects is easy to learn, and it allows Web designers to build cool 3-D graphics without long download times or the need for annoying plug-ins. With Chromeffects, designers can deploy a site tailored to the upscale audience while supporting legacy browsers. Interactive 3-D Chromeffects will boost creativity and achieve marketing objectives.”

– Paul Scholz
Chief Internet Architect
flashCast Communications Corp

Gloss Media

“Before the availability of Chromeffects, we had to ask our end users to do a lot to experience a little. Chromeffects is quite revolutionary; we can create compelling high-fidelity effects for our clients’ Web sites without retooling our staff. Chromeffects immediately differentiates our clients’ Web sites with high-impact, fast-loading 3-D effects without the need for a plug-in. Chromeffects is the first application that moves the Web closer to the television experience – integration we have all been waiting for.”

– Mark Lacey
Gloss Media

Hunt Interactive Inc.

“Our WebTools for Chromeffects complements Microsoft Visual InterDev by making it easier than ever to create sophisticated Web applications. With WebTools for Chromeffects, Web authors can incorporate the latest 3-D technology into their Web sites through a very simple interface. Developers are now able to develop a compelling interactive experience without learning a new scripting language or programming. Our clients are very excited about Chromeffects and how it can differentiate their sites.”

– John Hunt
Hunt Interactive Inc.

Intel Corp.

“Applications such as Chromeffects will enable a richer connected experience through scalable 3-D and multimedia for users of high-performance PCs. Intel’s efforts help ensure that consumers have an optimal experience viewing Chromeffects-based content on Pentium II processor-based performance PCs.”

– Toshi Takahashi
Director of Consumer Desktop Marketing
Intel Corp

KATrix Inc.

Chromeffects provides the ideal platform for showcasing our unique WebCharacter animation technology because it allows us to deliver fully interactive humanlike 3-D characters over the Internet that can function as hosts, tour guides and salespeople. With Chromeffects, the character animation is seamlessly integrated with the contents of Web pages.”

– Stephen Lane
KATrix Inc

Live Picture Inc.

By incorporating our Zoom image technology into the Chromeffects SDK, Live Picture is bringing resolution-on-demand imaging to millions of PC users on the operating system level. As a result, developers will easily add zoomable images and textures to their Web content, enabling a dynamic new experience for users of high-performance, media-enhanced PCs.”

– John Ison
Vice President of Marketing
Live Pictures Inc

Luxent Webworks

“Our corporate developers’ requirements for the visualization of critical data have moved way beyond four-color bar charts. Chromeffects lets us move the real power of our 3-D Business Graphics Server directly to the client – where it belongs – with no learning curve.”

MetaCreations Corp.

The combination of Chromeffects and MetaStream is a developer match made in heaven. Developers can now easily create, edit and manipulate scalable interactive media for the Web and the desktop. Scalability of software created with Chromeffects will give users a consistent and engaging experience on a wide variety of computer systems.”

– Bob Rice
Vice President of Strategic Affairs
MetaCreations Corp

MGI Software Corp.

MGI Software is very excited about Chromeffects. Our PC photography software, PhotoSuite II, is the only application utilizing Microsoft Internet Explorer as a development platform, so the injection of Chromeffects in this environment opens up a wealth of interface-design possibilities. We are able to quickly prototype and redesign our interface to give users a new, compelling, interactive 3-D experience without their having to learn a new scripting language or engage in heavy-duty programming.”

– Thomas Nielsen
Director of Development
MGI Software Corp

Monolith Productions Inc.

One of the most exciting aspects of Chromeffects for us is the capability to texture 3-D objects with fully active HTML, Dynamic HTML, DirectAnimation
™, etc. This opens up incredible new ways to present information, improve navigation and engage the user in a more interactive experience than is possible with flat Web pages.”

– Joel Reiff
Monolith Productions Inc.

PLATINUM technology inc.

Chromeffects is an important new platform for Web-based media that makes significant strides in ease of authoring and run-time deployment, both of which are key to widespread adoption. PLATINUM technology looks forward to working with Microsoft to bring this technology to our global customer base through our product and services offerings.”

– Toni Parisi
Director of Business Development
Visual Computing Group PLATINUM technology Inc.

Softimage Corp.

“We are pleased to see a product such as Chromeffects, which allows 3-D content to be delivered in a broad context. Now developers can take native content created in Softimage® that has been developed for broadcast, games or feature film and repurpose that content for the desktop or the Web.”

– John McQueen
Director of Marketing
Softimage Corp

Squishy FX

“Developing effects for Chromeffects has been an easy choice for us. Before Chromeffects, there was no platform that would support our interactive, 3-D effects in the browser. With Chromeffects, users can now create content using our interactive, 3-D special effects in the same way they would build their HTML pages.”

– Joe Bilman
Founding Partner
Squishy FX

TGS Inc.

The integration of Chromeffects into our 3-D art and animation products takes 3-D to the next level. By delivering a robust and high-level run-time environment, Microsoft has enabled us to focus on making it easy to create totally cool effects for the Web and for the dektop. Chromeffects is a big win for developers and an even bigger win for PC users.”

– Terry Baker
TGS Inc.

Vertigo Technology Inc.

“The Chromeffects SDK will allow us to quickly and easily develop high-quality 3-D software. Lower development costs and a quicker development cycle make the Chromeffects SDK an essential tool. Having a comprehensive SDK will allow our engineers to do what they do best – develop compelling 3-D and animation tools.”

– Kevin Jampole
General Manager
Vertigo Technology Inc

Viewpoint DataLabs International Inc.

We believe this represents the entertainment and communication platform of the future. With Chromeffects, our library of digital objects and 3-D art styles will help mainstream communicators and professionals create powerful documents, Web sites and entertainment.”

– Ben Wen
Director of Business Development
Viewpoint DataLabs

Zapa Digital Arts

I founded Zapa with a vision of bringing life to the Internet. We have been waiting for the day when processor power and Web browsers were capable of bringing Web users the kind of dynamic media they could only dream about. Microsoft Chromeffects is the platform leading this revolution, and we are absolutely thrilled and privileged to be included with this technology.”

– Eyal Gever
CEO and Founder
Zapa Digital Arts

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