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CYBERCULTURE | DIGITAL HOLLYWOOD / PAUL KARON

Projecting a Different Future for Film, Video

July 08, 1996

During the 12 years that she ran Quarterdeck Software, Terry Myers lived in a state of perpetual paranoia. It's a condition found frequently among CEOs of small software companies that have the bad luck to be in competition with the marketing tsunami known as Microsoft Corp.

Tiring of the software wars, which had taken a turn against her, Myers left a Quarterdeck (which recently moved from Santa Monica to Marina del Rey) in 1994, gradually cashed out most of her stock, and lay low for a while. A short while.

Today, Myers has a new company, a new industry and--for the moment--a respite from her case of Microsoftophobia. The new firm is called Bouquet Multimedia, and though it may sound like another software firm, it's really a film and video post-production and special effects house directed at a low-end niche.

Myers aims to work with young and independent filmmakers and video artists and anyone else who, for whatever reason, can't buy his or her way into the higher-priced echelons of the entertainment business.

"The only filmmakers that can afford the more expensive stuff are the rich ones," says Myers. "If you're trying to do a low-budget film, there's no way you can let yourself think about spending that kind of money."

State-of-the-art editing and image compositing machines, such as Quantel's Henry and Hal systems, can cost hundreds of dollars an hour to use. Use of a Discreet Logic Flame system--a software package that runs on costly Silicon Graphics workstations--runs about $875 an hour.

But Bouquet thinks it can provide a much more cost-effective solution through clever use of less expensive technologies. The continual advances in digital technology are yielding relatively cheap but very powerful tools, for one thing. And Bouquet has linked together all of its computers--Apple Macintoshes, Silicon Graphics workstations, and Windows-based PCs--with a high-speed network that lets machines operate in concert on tasks that would be too big for any one of them.

"We can spread out big jobs across the smaller computers," Myers says. "In lot of cases, we can do the same kind of work as the giant expensive editing machines, but much more cheaply."

Myers, who declines to give her age, graduated from Carnegie-Mellon's Graduate School of Industrial Administration in 1968. After a working as a computer systems manager--she helped design the first automated teller machines--she launched Quarterdeck in 1982, around the time the the IBM PC was establishing itself as the desktop computing standard.

"We had this idea to do multiple windows for DOS-based PCs," Myers said. "People thought it was crazy." The windowing product Quarterdeck developed was called DesqView. It turned out, of course, that Myers wasn't nuts. But all too soon "windows" became "Windows" and Quarterdeck was battling Microsoft toe-to-toe.

DesqView was quickly overwhelmed, but one of its main component software technologies, the Quarterdeck Expanded Memory Manager, or QEMM, was a long-running hit. Still, by the time Myers left, the company was struggling to survive. (Quarterdeck enjoyed a resurgence last year on the strength of some Internet software products but is now struggling again.)

Bouquet now has about 30 employees, and so far it has produced several music and product videos, edited a feature film video and done the audio engineering for those projects. "We're really just perfecting our skills now and pushing the ability to go across these mediums," Myers says.

The other half of the "we" that Myers refers to is Stanton Kaye, her partner. Kaye was involved with Quarterdeck from its earliest days and eventually became its head of marketing and international sales, but he left with Myers to start Bouquet, where he's president to her CEO. He's also her husband.

Kaye is a filmmaker himself who's won awards for his movies "Brandy in the Wilderness," made in 1968, and "Georg," in 1963.

Bouquet's offices are in Pacific Palisades, but last fall Myers and Kaye took possession of a nine-building 26-acre site--a former missile guidance center--along Pacific Coast Highway at Point Mugu, a few miles south of Oxnard. They're converting the site to an extensive film and video post-production facility, and they're thinking of turning one of its buildings into an "incubator" where fledgling companies and individual artists could set up shop at nominal rent, exchange ideas and help one another.

The goal, says Kaye, is to "democratize" film and video technology. For every billionaire movie mogul or major studio employing an over-muscled action star, Kaye would like to see a hundred new visions from filmmakers who don't want--or can't get access to--the money and machinery of Big Studio movie making. He believes the visual media need to be pushed if they're going to get beyond the current, stagnating styles of cinema.

"New containers need to be found if we're going to express new realities," Kaye says. "But the technology to do this expression should be cheap because we're in a mass democracy, and there's so many new realities that need to come out."

Myers adds: "Stanton and I are at a point in our age when we want to help new filmmakers get started." And her professional trajectory, she says, is really not so surprising.

As the entertainment industry becomes more technologically inclined, much of the PC industry is moving to become what she calls "facilitators of content." The actions of Myers' old nemesis, Microsoft, with its investment in Dreamworks SKG and other moves toward Hollywood, bears out her view.

"We decided to make this gamble because we thought the whole world was changing," says Myers. "It's changing in the way we make and distribute films, do advertising . . . everything."

Freelance writer Paul Karon can be reached pkaron@netcom.com

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