Once upon a time, there was a software package that could destroy Photoshop in nearly every way. Even today, if it were still available, it could hold its own in a race for giant images.
That amazing software was called Live Picture. It used 48-bit color, was extremely fast yet it only required very small amounts of ram. It had image distortion, unlimited undo and an amazing interface with hidden menus. The images could be output to any size any time. It had nondestructive layer imaging.
Everything you do in LP is a layer (long before Photoshop had layers). It had instant brushes that were huge in scale, great soft edge brushes, cloning tools and amazing masking capabilities. There was no banding in gradients because they were 48 bit gradients as opposed to Photoshop’s 24 bit gradients.
In 1993 when I first started to use Live Picture, the program was way ahead of its time. In the early nineties when pixels were in their infancy, Live Picture was a direct competitor to Adobe Photoshop.
Geared to the high end user, this program used a unique method for controlling the amount of data that needed to be processed at any given time. To do so, the program required that an image be preprocessed into a proprietary format called an Ivue file.
According to the original sales data:
- Composite, resize, and rotate in real time regardless of image size or number of layers.
- Output image files to any resolution without changing the original resolution.
- LP was one of the first if not the first programs to use nondestructive
- image processing.
- Perform unlimited undos.
- Works in 48bit
- Banding free gradients, blends and opacity masks.
- Complex masks in seconds.
- Files are resolution independent.
- Output to RGB or CMYK
- Real time image distortion
- Wacom tablet support
- Vector and bitmap layers in same document
- Bezier curves
- Create textures.
- Instant gradients
- Works extremely fast with only 24 megs of ram on an old PowerPC (48 megs were recommended)
- The list goes on and on.
As stated above, everything you do in Live Picture becomes a layer. Layers can be turned on and off without damaging the file. An image may have as many layers as needed. Several different compositions can be produced in the same document. This was great for showing variations to a client.
Masking in Live Picture instantaneous and truly amazing!
Live Picture was originally produced by HSC Software, which became MetaCreations and is now owned by a Canadian software company that has not yet reissued it. I believe that the original cost was in the thousands of dollars and was aimed for use by high end imaging service bureaus. If anything killed it, it was the price.
Unfortunately, this software is very difficult to find these days. There are the occasional eBay listings and perhaps a few on Craig’s List. If you ever want to use the program, you will need to run it in the old Mac Classic OS 9 or some people have been able to use it with a Classic emulator on the new Intel Macs. Sheep Saver is one emulator that is supposed to work. I am keeping my G5 PowerPC as a Live Picture box. The G5 PowerPC is the last Mac to allow the running of Mac Classic software.
Why would I be interested in a 20-year-old photo application that has been off the market for a decade or so? It is still an amazing program to use and can create imagery that is impossible to do in Photoshop. Believe it or not, Live Picture is such an amazing program, that there are still avid users across the globe. I am one of them.
I wish that this software could be reborn to run on the latest operating systems. It would be a killer application even today!
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