(1996 interview with Black Box Creators
Alien Skin Software
I thought it would be interesting to get some comments from Alien Skin, makers
of Black Box plug-in for Photoshop. Although brief, here are some interesting comments
from Michael Pilmer, of Alien Skin...
DT&G: Michael, how did Alien Skin get started?
Pilmer: Alien Skin Software was started in 1993
by Jeff Butterworth.
He was a graduate student at UNC-Chapel Hill, where he published papers on virtual
reality and supercomputer simulations of fluid flow. He has degrees in Physics and
Computer Science, but has chosen to abandon an academic career in favor of applying
his knowledge to concrete problems. He also enjoys hiring his friends to work for
him, and revels in their loyalty.
DT&G: I know many of our readers are really curious --
Where did the name "Alien Skin" come from ???
Pilmer: Jeff and a former partner came up with
a product called Alien Skin
Textureshop before he formed the actual company that exists today. After doing the
core technology, they sold the idea to a company called Virtus who sells the product
under the same name. Jeff decided that he liked the name Alien Skin and used it for
the name of his own company which he started shortly after the deal with Virtus.
We like it 'cause it makes people ask questions. It's also amusing to see how people
get the name screwed-up. We've received letters to "Allen Skin Software",
"Alien Skins Software" (as in 'skin heads'?), and "Alien Skin Care"!
DT&G: What do you consider Black Box's strongest feature?
Pilmer: Well, I don't consider myself a Photoshop
pro, but I use it enough
to know that The Black Box saves a hell of a lot of time. I especially like the user
friendly preview window and the fact that you don't need channel recipes to do effects.
DT&G: Since Black Box is destined to be a classic...
any new products in the pipeline?
Pilmer: The only one that I can tell you about
now is a
product called "Stylist". It's a plug-in set for Adobe Illustrator 6.0.
It will be the first product to add "live" effects and style sheets to
Adobe Illustrator. We are currently beta testing and should be ready to release it
soon. We are also planning on doing other Photoshop plug-ins sometime in the future.
DT&G: your FAVORITE thing about Photoshop?
Pilmer: It's probably got to be the use of layers.
It really helps out
when I'm doing ads or brochures or whatever.
DT&G: ...and, the LEAST thing you like about Photoshop?
Pilmer: The fact that you can't legally run filters
outside of a
selection without the selection disappearing after the effect is applied. This is
something that we have been trying to get the folks at Adobe to change.
DT&G: Now, if I had just opened Photoshop
a couple of days ago,
what would you recommend as the most important feature of Photoshop that a beginner
should study, and learn?
Pilmer: It's hard to pick one favorite feature,
since Photoshop is
so useful in so many ways.The most important aspect of understanding Photoshop 3.0
as I see it is the whole idea of layers. Once you understand that you can make selections
and work on layers, then the rest should be easy.
We'd like to thank Michael for taking time to chat. We're looking forward
to "Stylist" for Illustrator, and you can bet, we'll pass along information
about it as soon as we get it in our hands!
Alien Skin Software, Raleigh, NC -- 919-832-4124 --
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