OTTAWA — At 30 tons and 65 feet long, DaVE might seem a bit heavy set for superstar status, but he’s already causing a big splash among the glitterati. He’ll be appearing at an upcoming Moby concert in Chicago and plans to pop in at next year’s Sundance Film Festival.
a film star, he’s got personal assistants — seven, to be exact. If he were human, you’d be tempted to think such attention has gone to his head. It takes anywhere from four to six hours to prepare him for his adoring public.
Still, Ottawa’s Corel Corp. hopes that DaVE’s artsy high-tech charm will outweigh his ego. The graphics software company hopes this marketing tool — an 18-wheel tractor trailer — will help drive a new line of graphics software called Procreate to profitability after years of scandal, layoffs and major leadership changes.
“We think that the private sector needs to pitch in, help do interesting things with art and get people feeling better when the economy’s in the tank,” Corel president and CEO Derek Burney said late Thursday. After debuting DaVE at MacWorld 2002 in New York last week, Corel brought him home to Ottawa for a three-day stop at the National Gallery of Canada. “We’ll be going to schools (with DaVE) and giving them money to buy computers.”
DaVE’s office blue-hued interior is divided into five workstations or pods. Each pod showcases Corel software and digital art geared towards graphic designers and fine art students. For instance, DaVE gives people the hands-on opportunity to dabble in Procreate Painter 7 and Corel Draw 11, or look at pictures onscreen in a digital gallery.
DaVE will roll into Vancouver sometime this fall, though a planned visit to Toronto early next week has been indefinitely postponed due to scheduling and planning problems.
Company officials were mum on DaVE’s price tag, but the truck is fully loaded with tech goodies. Burney said that Nikon donated a $10,000 digital camera. Other industry partners like Sony, Intel Corp., Wacom Technology and Alias|Wavefront all contributed equipment or software
DaVE might help Corel save money in marketing and sales costs in the long haul, too. When the vehicle travels the highways at night, a rabbit logo for Corel’s Procreate graphic design software will light up on one side of the truck.
“We’re still very much controlling our spending and this is an example of how we’re getting a bigger bang for the same buck,” Burney said. “What people may not know is how expensive it is to attend trade shows, for example. So our ability to bring DaVE to the same city in which a trade show is, but not actually pay for a booth space on the floor, will pay for itself in four or five trade shows.”
Corel officials are hopeful that DaVE will help put the firm’s recent woes into the media’s rearview mirror. When founder Michael Cowpland was at the helm during the late ’90s, Corel made ill-fated attempts at marketing a brand of thin-client computers and its own distribution of Linux.
Corel took the opportunity Thursday to donate $25,000 to the National Gallery. The money will go toward digitizing 3,600 works of art in its permanent collection within the next year. The art will be then posted on the gallery’s Cybermuse educational Web site and main gallery site. Almost 4,000 works out of 36,000 have been digitized so far.
“This is a new thing for an art gallery to be doing, we’ve never had the money to do this in the past,” says Daniel Amadei, the gallery’s director of installation and exhibition. “There’s a lot of organization needed, capital expenses and salary expenses, so we need new money to do it.”
DaVE will be stopping in some of Canada’s large city centres, but there are plans to visit smaller burghs that offer less glitz and less pizzazz.
“What we have the opportunity to do is bring DaVE to people who otherwise might not be able to see what we’re doing,” says Burney. “And that’s really the key. This is the best way we can take (our products) around and show people exactly the kinds of things that we do.”
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Ottawa correspondent Zachary Houle recently covered a public sector Web content conference for ITBusiness.ca.