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Millennium Is Coming...
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Author:dhomas trenn
Published by:NewTekniques magazine (US)
Date:August 1999

By now, you've probably heard the whispering. Millennium is said to hold surprises and major changes for many of us. It's been a big secret for awhile, but the truth is finally out in the open. It's going to be far more momentous than you might have believed.

What we're talking about, of course, is a long awaited upgrade for the Amiga Toaster and Flyer. It's called Millennium, and it is probably the biggest upgrade for Toaster and Flyer users in years.

A Brief History
Before we start spilling the beans and telling you the details of the Millennium package, let's go back a few years to a developers meeting at NewTek head quarters. Here is where the discussion began about NewTek putting together a major Toaster/Flyer upgrade, involving third-party developers and including as much content as possible. The idea was good, but nothing really came of it until the 1999 San Diego Toaster Symposium. Late one night the topic came up again, and those present began spurring Tim Jenison to make it happen. Suffice it to say that Tim was convinced, and the project began.

Several guidelines were put in place to insure that Millennium covered the most ground possible. The main rule was that the package must be as useful to a Toaster user, as it would be for those who also have a Flyer. This meant Toaster specific tools and effects, and compatibility for Switcher 3.x and 4.x. While every Toaster owner should have a Flyer, those that don't will still find a lot of cool stuff in Millennium.

Old Becomes New Again
Included in Millennium are numerous great products that are no longer available or never made it to market, but will still provide valuable additions to the Toaster/Flyer toolkit.

One of the first products added to Millennium was Byrd's Eye Software's Swipes! Toaster effects. These were never readily available to Flyer owners, since they went off the market before the Flyer was released. Similarly, Matrix Production's Prowipes had been taken out of production. Both products also had many unreleased effects intended for future volumes that were never realized. Millennium has them all.

Also gathered were various collections of backgrounds, fonts, animations and video sequences. In some cases, developers have been encouraged to re-release those products and provide samples in Millennium. In other cases, such as with Digital Motions, Millennium contains entire sets. This means more content for Millennium and more products back on the market.

Should Have Beens
There are a lot of great products available that should have been in the basic Toaster/Flyer toolkit from the beginning. To remedy that, many are included with Millennium, such as Control Tower, Wipe Studio, RenderFX and Promix.

It's important to realize that these are not stripped down or lite versions. In some circumstances, programs have also been updated to give better performance and new functionality.

Wipe Studio is essential for those times when you just have to have a custom wipe effect. It is the only software package available that allows you to create 4.0 style wipes (it also creates 3.x style). Matte, color and overlay wipes can all be created with a little work and imagination. Additional utilities to aid in the wipe making process have been added as well; for example, adding transparency to color wipes is now only a click away.

RenderFX allows you to render an entire project down to a single clip. At a very basic level. this is handy for archiving completed projects. More valuable, though, is the ability to layer CG effects, and perform other functions that Flyer limitations make impossible. Support has also been added for ChromaFX effects, which makes this tool even more powerful than ever before.

Promix provides a fantastic set of sound tools that add much needed sound editing capability to the Flyer. Full audio mix-downs and audio inserts on either single or stereo channels are now available with the ease of a pull-down menu. StealAudio lets you take the audio from any Toaster Effect and use it as a Flyer audio clip. ShiftAudio allows you to adjust audio synchronization with a video clip to get that perfect lipsync.

Lots of New Content
In addition to previously existing products, Millennium adds new content too, including over a hundred completely new wipes. Added to the Swipes! and Prowipes collections, previously mentioned, this gives Millennium a collection of over 200 wipes. These range from basic animated and gradient wipes to fully rotoscoped motion matte wipes. All these wipes are available for either 3.x or 4.x systems.

Also included are new fonts and background graphics for use in ToasterCG and other applications.

There are some exciting new software utilities, too. Most Flyer users already know how difficult it can be to backup projects. To improve on this, new scripts are included that allow backup directly to a hard drive or removable media drive. You will also be able to do basic video deck control directly from the Flyer interface - including support for many professional recorders and players.

There are some other nice utilities, but one of the most exciting has to be Electric Scene Knife. Currently, after you've recorded footage on camera, you then transfer it to FlyerClips by carefully recording each scene to the Flyer separately, or recording everything as one large clip and then breaking it up into smaller clips manually. That can take a lot of time, and it is often a very tedious and boring job. The advantage of the Knife is that it can automatically detect scene changes in a FlyerClip. After scanning your clip, it shows you the positions of all the scene changes, each with their own croutons. Then you just tell it what scenes to separate, and it will split those scenes into their own clips. With much less effort, you're ready to start editing.

A Benefit to Developers
Another important area that needed to be improved on was the programmability of the system. To address that, Millennium adds the vifly.library, from Visual Inspirations, which adds over 300 new ARexx commands for the Toaster and Flyer. Among other things, it allows you to add pull-down menus and menu dialogs. Now that this will be included in Millennium, developers can count on having a richer ARexx command set for Toaster and Flyer development. It's also presents an easy way for the advanced user to be able to put tools of their own, directly into the Toaster/Flyer interface.

In addition, a programmers manual for the all the Promix and RenderFX tools is included for the first time anywhere. So, anyone wanting to roll there own ARexx scripts using these tools, will have all the information they need to do it.

What You Get
Over a dozen companies were involved in the development, production and organization of Millennium. This includes a lot of people whose names you are sure to recognize: Kermit Woodall, Bill Evans, Bohus Blahut, Paul Lara and many more. With that kind of talent involved, it's sure to be a high quality package.

The resulting product will include three CDROMs filled with wipes, fonts, backgrounds, software and more; full documentation, professionally printed and designed to integrate into your current Toaster/Flyer manual; a video tape overview of the Millennium package; and a comprehensive, full-color catalog of other Toaster/Flyer products.

More information is available here: Nova Design or NewTek.