Int’l. Digital Media Awards

‘It’s a real trip to be here,’ declared Mainframe Entertainment producer Chris Brough upon accepting a Special Achievement award for ReBoot at the International Digital Media Awards on May 24. The sentiment was no doubt shared by many in the audience as they beheld the decidedly offbeat spectacle of a live, life-sized Enzo, cheesecake physics and dancing cursor heads; all representative phenomena at the third annual idma which punctuated the Multimedia 96 show in Toronto from May 22-25.

The awards show, produced by the Canadian Academy of Multimedia Arts & Sciences and its International Digital Media Foundation, is an international forum for recognizing achievements in the emerging fields of multimedia, and the show reflected the youthful enthusiasm and growing pains of the industry itself.

Between award presentations, the geek-infested audience was treated to live and online entertainment including live sketches by artist Jeremy Sutton, who rendered digital portraits of audience members on a computer tablet over the course of the show, and a live networked performance via isdn line by a band called the Wild Colonials from Santa Monica, accompanied by two musicians on stage in Toronto.

Over 125 multimedia products from Canada and around the world were entered in this year’s competition, representing all formats including cd-roms,cdis, installations and Web sites.

Two ytv on-air personalities and a delightfully mute Enzo were on hand when Alliance/Mainframe`s ReBoot was lauded for its accomplishments as the first 100% cg tv program.

The presentation was accompanied by a video look-back at the first ReBoot tests from 1990, complete with primitive renderings of Bob and the crew.

Brough invoked a natal metaphor in his acceptance speech to encapsulate the state of the industry: ‘The water has broken; it’s the birth of a new digital age, welcome to a new world.’

The show also featured a People’s Choice Award, which was determined with the use of an interactive ‘voting booth’ at the CN Tower and at Multimedia 96. The Silk Road, a cd-rom title from Vancouver’s DNA Multimedia, took the popular prize as well as scoring the best consumer/enrichment product and a craft award for best photography and digital enhancement.

The best games/entertainment award went to l.a.’s Inscape for The Dark Eye, a role-playing game inspired by the work of Edgar Allan Poe. Discovery Channel Multimedia earned a craft award for best graphics for its Connections title, based on James Burke’s Connections series on The Learning Channel. An award for the best Web site was presented to Molson Breweries for its I Am Online site, designed by u.s. developer Cyber Sight.

The show was sprinkled with the expected technical glitches and some painful one-liners delivered by host Paul Chato of ElectraMedia, but what was possibly the zenith of weirdness in an evening with no shortage of the commodity were the performances by Dr. Fiorella Terenzi.

Terenzi, a doctor of physics, multimedia developer and performance artist, appeared on stage twice to deliver a pair of inexplicable songs about physics and near-earth objects. In a possible attempt to demonstrate that the cultures of the mind and of the flesh could be reconciled, she appeared in her second number in sky-high silver platforms and an eye-popping space dress to musically urge the audience to dance the quantum mechanic, accompanied by four cosmically clad dancers.

Multimedia Expo

The show fell in the middle of the four-day Multimedia 96 expo at the Toronto Convention Centre where 86 seminars and 300 exhibitors catered to every aspect of multimedia – from graphics and photography to software and high-end equipment heavies.

Long lineups formed outside the Silicon Graphics Magic Bus, which featured a display of sgi tools specially configured for the show to focus on multimedia solutions.

Mississauga’s WARP 10 Technologies made the scene with its demonstrations of uncompressed video transmission. Warp 10 vp of marketing John Mitchell also says the company will run a seminar series on network technology at Sheridan College in the coming months.

Avid concentrated its efforts with a display featuring solely the mcxpress entry-level digital editing tool, which was set to begin shipping at the end of May. The system is targeted at the ‘media entrepreneur,’ with full turnkey systems available for about $40,000 and pc and software configurations for around $14,000.

The Interactive Multimedia Arts and Technologies Association presented the New Media Theatre as a forum for discussion of relevant industry topics, including copyright issues. The exhibit, says an imat spokesman, was to ensure that the all-important human element is accounted for amid the technological vanity fair at the show and in the industry at large.