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Visionary Thinkers:
Marc Canter

Marc Canter is one of the founding fathers of multimedia. Marc and his partners founded Macromind (now known as Macromedia) in the late 1980s, after creating a product called VideoWorks, which later evolved into the program that we now know as Macromedia Director. Marc graciously granted ClickMedia the following exclusive interview.

Date: Thu, 24 Jul 1997 13:26:20 -0700 (PDT)

What have you done that many people feel is ground-breaking? What is your special talent, vision or claim to fame?

I helped invent a product called Director. I was driven by the fact that programmers were the only ones who could control computers to do music, video or animation - so I (along with Bill Atkinson) invented the concept of authoring - which enabled creative people to create multimedia applications. Some folks calll me the father of multimedia - as I had to slug it out in the trenches bringing the word to the people - while Bill Atkinson sat on his virtual butt - watching Apple screw it all up!

As for my special talents I'm a trained performer and musician - so I applied all my skills to a rather boring, staid industry - and surpirse, surprise - I stuck out! I'm a people person and focused on customers and the end result - i.e. what do you do WITH the technology!

How would you describe your contributions to the creation of art and cyberspace?

Director is used to create 65% of the world's multimedia. I think that's a decent contribution. As far as Art is concerned - it'a always a battle between art and commerce. See my article:


Cyberspace doesn't exist. It's hype that the press propogates to sell magazines - especially Wired!

What has been the harvest of your original vision? Describe the years that you were developing your idea.

See above. See MACR on the Nasdaq.

What is your favorite story from the times you were riding highest? You can drop names if you'd like.

Me on stage with Bill gates announcing the licensing of Director for Windows 3.0. It was the first time anyone saw Director running on a PC.

What role do you hope and expect to play in the future?

See canter.com. mediaBar. Scalable content tools.


http://www.scripting.com/brainDumps/marcCanter/0001.html (this one is really on chat - but also relevant)


What do you hope to accomplish next?

Continue to change the world and make it a better place:-)

Life, Art and Cyberspace

Where and when were you born and how did your upbringing...and the times during which you grew towards adulthood... influence your artistic self?

I was born on the South side of Chicago - ba da dah dum - 'round 1957 - ba da dah dum - ooooo child - ba da dah dum - mmmm lord......

My grandfather was a famous communist (Sacco and Vanzetti case), my father an organizer for the meat packers union, and politician - worked with Martin Luther King and Jesse Jackson - helped get Harold Washington get elected (first black mayor of Chicago.)

So I took their idealism and applied it to capitalism - but with a creative bent.

Did you find a calling to your art early on? What called you to your art and vision?

I was a boy soprano, studied cello, piano and guitar and played in a rock and roll band early. I was raised in the Chicago Children's choir and studied voice during high school days. Went to Oberlin for Opera and Electronic music.

Was this calling actively encouraged by your family and friends?

Yes. But my father was pissed when I didn't want to be lawyer.

Did the place you were born inform your desire to be an artist and/or your art?


How would you describe yourself insofar as your relationship to the arts goes?

Most people think of me as an artist.

Do you feel that the future of the arts is encouraging?

No. The NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) deal is ominous.

Art pour la art - is pretty boring - too much indulgence.

Do you think that the present state of the arts is as good as it should be? As good as it was in whatever you might consider to be a "golden age"? (Is the future so bright we gotta wear shades? :-)

Things will get better when we have broadband.

What inspires you personally?

Love - my children

Whom do you admire/strive to emulate (in terms of accomplishment and artistic vision?)

Brian Eno
Rick Smolen
Michael Naimark
David Levitt

What works touch and inspire either your art or your own being? If pressed, what do you claim as your favorite works/artists/ performers?

Citizen Kane (Movie by Orson Welles)
Anything by Devo
Marc Chagall
Harry Partch
Snowcrash (Fiction book by Neal Stepenson)

How would you describe your outlook on life in general? Is the glass half full or half empty?


Do you have "guilty pleasures" that you know you "shouldn't" enjoy but do?


Considering the medium we are dealing with here, what type of role do you envision for computer technology and cyberspace in the arts?

A way for poor people to pick themselves up and move forward!

Do you think that cyberspace is a viable medium for the arts? Is it, in your opinion, an appropriate medium for the arts? Which of the arts, if not all?

There's no such thing as cyberspace - but if you mean cyber art - then yes, it's cool for art. Everything is appropriate for art!

Is the concept of a virtual community for creative people something you think has merit?

Yes - think of them as afinity groups - just like any other afinity group!

Anything we haven't asked? Tell us!


Thanks, Marc!

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