The milieu at Milia


AROUND 30 Irish companies, double the number who went in 1995 to joined 7,000 delegates listen to best selling author Nicholas Negroponte and performer Laurie Anderson proclaim that the future of multimedia will be inextricably linked to the Internet.

It is a view supported by many of the Irish delegates who attended the conference. "Unless your idea had some online component, a lot of the major publishers didn't want to hear," said Jonathan Parks, a director of Dublin based Electric Paper. I think that CD Rom will be the equivalent of video tape and online will be like broadcast television. Online is where you see everything, but it costs you for every minute you're there. So if there's something you like, a book or a game, you will order the CD Rom and keep it on your shelf like a book."

Several of the Irish companies took advantage of the presence of major publishers to negotiate distribution deals. "It's a good place to make connections," said graphic designer Derek Carroll of Dublin based Spectrum Productions. Spectrum has produced The Courage to Create, a CDi training package on television techniques which allows users to edit sound and video clips into their own linear presentation.

Carroll believes that CDi was the right platform for this disc, despite the difficulties Philips has had establishing the format outside the professional training market.

"CDi was the only platform which offered MPEG video as standard, and since video is very important to the project that's the way we went. We decided what we wanted to do and then we did it," he said.

Spectrum's managing directors Ainne Burke believes Irish multimedia companies will have to become more active in marketing and promoting their wares. "We are very good at the hard grafting, we are very confident in our: craft, but we are generally not in the market for generic, international titles. We should aim to be secular rather than insular."

One of the conference themes was the development of Internet and multimedia art, a particular interest of Barry O'Neill, production and training manager of Arthouse. The centre in Dublin's Temple Bar intends to bring international artists working in the interactive and multimedia fields to exhibit in Ireland.

"Many of the companies at the conference were not in existence this time last year and will probably not be around this time next year. The world is simply not big enough for 25 interactive Van Goghs," he said.

O'Neill welcomed new online technologies like Macromedia's Shoekwave and Sun Microsystems' Java, which featured at Milia. Both packages allow multimedia authors to post their work on the Internet and have it used online. Shockwave is compatible with Macromedia's Director and Authorware software which are the most commonly used multimedia authoring tools. Java, while extremely powerful, is a more involved interactive programming language for the Internet.