Commodore stepped out in 1984 when it bought a little company with a revolutionary personal computer. It saw in this machine a price/performance potential offered by no other PC and successfully brought it to market in 1985. The Amiga has since made interesting inroads in video production, but it has really stayed alive thanks to the enthusiasm of evangelists and a couple of zingers like DeluxePaint and DigiView—splendid products but not quite strong enough to push the Amiga ahead.
Commodore just made another innovative move, this time in software. AmigaVision, which has been two years in the making, may well do for the Amiga what desktop publishing did for Apple's Macintosh—put it on the map.
AmigaVision is an authoring system. It's designed to help people with no programming experience put together interactive audiovisual presentations, the component parts of which have been produced with other tools. It helps you put together things like touchscreen information systems, corporate business presentations, educational reports, quizzes and documentaries, and even animated Christmas cards with MIDI-produced background music. It does this by combining data stored on floppy and hard disks, videocasettes, and videodiscs.
This technique is called multimedia (the industry's latest buzzword) and involves melding components from various sources into a single presentation. You'll need paint and animation programs, digitizers, and music composition and word processing software in order to create those presentations. You can also include prerecorded sounds and images from videodiscs, videocasettes, and MIDI synthesizers. AmigaVision helps mold these elements into a unified presentation by tying them together; organizing their sequence, flow, and timing; and adding mouse-selectable hit boxes so that users of your presentation can control it interactively. AmigaVision presentations can also accept input from the keyboard.
AmigaVision helps you do all this with surprising ease. In general, after you've created your components and decided how you want to present them, you select appropriate AmigaVision icons by dragging them from a box at the bottom of the screen to a large, scrollable grid above. It's on this grid that you arrange the icons in logical groups (called parent and child), tying them to your components with specific parameters entered through requesters and pull-down menus. You must know what you want to do and which icons do what, but AmigaVision comes with one of the best manuals I've ever seen and two tutorial disks.