Alias|Wavefront presented its 3D festival yesterday, December 3.

The London event was well attended, with up to 1,000 visitors during the day. Feedback from 3December exhibitors was positive; attendees were well educated in 3D, and were hungry for more information to improve their work.

The show also attracted new users, eager to gather the knowledge they needed to work within the 3D industry. Large crowds enjoyed the seminar events, which featured a host of world-class speakers from within the industry.

Da bomb Bournemouth University senior lecturer in computer graphics Lucy Childs underlined the importance of the event: "We've had a lot of intelligent questions and have been very busy."

She dropped her bombshell: "And I got my job as a result of coming to a 3D event in 2000," she added. The University was among several educational vendors exhibiting at the show.

Alias|Wavefront's global strategic marketing manager Karen Eisen spoke with Macworld: "The 3D events are a celebration for 3D graphics practitioners worldwide – a chance for the industry to meet the clients, for people to network, and share ideas."

Shrinking attendance at many IT industry trade shows (with the exception of MacExpo 2002, which saw numbers climb 5 per cent) encourage Eisen's belief that niche events are the way ahead for the industry: "People know what they are getting when they attend events like these, and exhibitors know they will meet customers who are enthusiastic about their industry."

Looking forward, Eisen said: "For Alias|Wavefront, the challenge is to make computer graphics as approachable as it can be. The company is doing everything it can to bring users to 3D."

This includes a 73 per cent price cut for Maya earlier in the year.

X opportunity The company's move to bring its industry standard application Maya Complete to Mac has been a shrewd one, agreed Eisen: "Macintosh has become the fastest growing segment we have," she said.

Mac users currently account for a growing 18 per cent of the company's business. The company had wanted to produce product for the Mac for some time, but was frustrated in its ambition until Apple released its Unix-based operating system, Mac OS X, she confirmed.

Maya Complete now offers complete feature parity between all platforms, she said: "Each platform has its pros and cons" but describing Maya on all platforms "as all strong".

Eisen discussed the extent to which Maya has become a standard across the movie industry: "The application has been used in making the new Harry Potter movie, the new Lord of the Rings title, Men In Black II, Stuart Little, The Matrix Project, and the Star Wars movie that's scheduled for release next spring, and others I can't discuss yet."

Keeping customers close Events like 3D matter in terms of building business, but there is another less money-minded reason they exist. Eisner explained: "There is nothing like talking to your customers to help you remember what the business is all about.

"It is so easy to forget what it is all about when you just sit behind your desk all day," she remarked.

Her statements echoed those by Apple PR manager David Miller during MacExpo 2002 in November: "Attending shows like this one creates a buzz within Apple as well, it is exciting for Apple staff to meet their customers," he explained.

As graphics and computer technologies advance, and digital processes become acceptable tools within the movie, television and gaming industries, the 3D industry could be said to stand at the edge of an explosion, as demand for skilled operators and ever-more powerful solutions appears set to grow. There is a number of 3D applications in the market now – including Lightwave, 3D Studio Max, Maya and more.

Eisen took the opportunity to discuss Maya's competitive advantage: "Maya is by far the deepest and most powerful 3D application. It’s the most integrated and the most extensible application on the market," she claimed.

"No other competing product has the range of tools Maya offers," she claimed, but noted that “many tools have different strengths."