First hands on with computer generated images

What was your first experience with computer generated images?

Mine was on a Commodore 64 when I was 14, in 1985. Commodore Magazine (which 5 years later I baceme the editor of) had a programming supplement. You had to type in the program listing with its supplied checksum generator.

The first issue had an application that could do phong renderings of primitives. You could render still images and adore them.

But the magic started with the second issue. With the program provided you could do 3D animation. It was my first usage of millimetric guided sheets. I would plot a wireframe model from the front/top/side, try to draw it as an isometric image, and try to visualize the animation…

  1. Enter x, y, z coordinates of vertices
  2. Enter v1, v2 line definitions
  3. Enter x, y, z local rotation; x, y, z global translation and x, y, z global rotation
    Then render…

Oh, what a joy when I saw my name in all its wireframe glory rotating on the screen…

For me it was Lightwave 3D on the Video Toaster in an Amiga 2000 HD. I worked part time at a computer store when I was in high school. They sold PCs and Commodores and that was the first place I saw the Toaster & Lightwave. I remember playing around with Lightwave on my lunch break. It was the start of a love affair…

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I had a Commodore Amiga 500 and then a 1200 with a 68040 accelerator and RAM expansions and had Imagine3D, Cinema4D and ImageFX and ArtDepartmentPro and obviously Deluxe Paint V running off a 180MB hard drive (also had a mac emulator on it for playing Shufflepuck and early Premiere version). We had a A4000 at University when I was a student and it had a video grabber on it for stop-frame animation that I used a bit and combined with stuff done in Imagine3D at home. I always wanted to use LightWave and the Video Toaster was mythical seeing it in Amiga mags and never to be available in the UK. I got into LightWave when I moved onto the PC and really fell in love with it. Was so much more like a tactile soundstage than I had been used to with Imagine but was always frustrated by the division of Modeller and Layout, albeit with a live connection when you made changes to the model in Modeller. Haven’t touched LightWave now for years apart from on an Amiga emulator and got hold of an old copy of LightWave again for that and was funny/nostalgic going back entirely to wireframe. Reminded me when I’d leave my A1200 rendering overnight for a few frames in Imagine and then discover that it was not at all what I wanted and had to start rendering again. I think that was the last copy of LightWave before it left the Amiga?


This thread got me alllll nostalgic. I spent a lot of time, back in the day, looking at these gold 4-up viewports and, by turn, loving the results and hate-hate-hating the long render times on my A1200 and having to change a few values and start rendering all over again. I remember thinking that I was living the future when playing with this software “AT HOME”!!!


Did you happen to work in an Amiga place in Torrance,CA? Thats where my parents bought me my first Amiga

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No, it was in South Jersey.

I think my first go was with an Amiga at college. I didn’t like it much and preferred messing in the dark room for my A Level in photography. So much so that when I finally tried flame the mattes being inverse of photography took me ages to get my head around.

My first animated experiences I’ve collected with Infini-D, C4D, Bryce, Electric Image Animation System (EIAS), AfterEffects and FormZ in the middle of the nineties were initially 32bit with Targa image formats have been used for a bungeeing of intros, loops, X-MIX, 3Lux Videos and more in Berlin and of course mainly for Techno clubs and their VJs on large screen walls at the dance floors or chill out areas. Clubs like Praxis Dr. McCoy, Fishlabor, E-Werk, Tresor, Bunker, SOS… were famous for video screens with CG. We did a lot of psychedelic 2D and 3D animations just for fun. C4D and their free network renderer was widely used in standard web design/graphic offices by knowing their system administrators and over the weekend we rendered a lot of images out of C4D from all of the office computers (PowerPCs) from some companies they didn’t know about :wink: Also in the cellars of a very old community called c-base in Berlin-Mitte video toaster and lightwave was well known next to 3DsMax, Maya and of course the beloved Softimage. All or at least most of them for non commercial and just for supporting the club culture and exhibitions (Chromapark). A golden age…


My hogh school’s technical school had tape-to-tape VHS editing and a video toaster that could apparently do 3d. They let me load it up once, but I couldn’t make it do anything.

Four years later, as a junior in college I learned Strata 3d for a semester, and then a second semester with Power Animator (I made a title sequence for my zombie movie). The next year Maya 1.0 came out and while no one taught it, they did let me do my senior project on it. I do wish someone had told me the first time Maya booted up, “NURBS are shit, you should model in polygons” but no one did. I still hate NURBS. What a shit format.


The first gig I did was a trailer for a game in After Effects back in Feb 2000. I worked as a system administrator in a game development studio and the only guy that knows AE was stuck in another town, no one knows what to do with the video and I was the only guy that has a little experience with Premiere. The first lesson of working in AE was taken on a phone.


My high school had an early AVID…I think it was MC Express 1. something. It was on a PowerPC with 80megs of ram and had like 2 2Gig striped SCSI drives. I befriended a teacher that gave me keys to the library so I could sneak in at night and learn how it worked. I created an independent study program my Senior year so that after 11am everyday I’d be done with all of my classes and I’d then work on content for the school. Worked with that same teacher to create a news show for the school and then made hype videos for athletes looking for scholarships, fire departments, and marching bands during the summer. I had it made.


MC Express was the first editing program I used too! Whenever I think Flame has a weird GUI, I remind myself that a key part of Avid’s interface is called the Hamburger Menu.


PS. As a lover of old technologies, I would love AD or someone (with permission) to make available an early version of Flame. I imagine that it would not at all be an easy thing, but one can dream. If someone could create a SGI emulator (there are Amiga emulators) and AD made the code public, then new/contemporary users could see where Flame started or got going and maybe even run old setups/projects if they were made available, like an public/archive instructive sphere? I had an Amiga emulator and an early version of LightWave and it was fun, and really kind of instructive, going back in time and reminding myself of the journey I’d been on and seeing tools and ideas in gestation. I loved playing around with ImageFX on the Amiga emulator again and Cinemorph, which used to blow my mind:

Taking it a step on, it would be fun to have a virtual museum (VR goggles) of very early versions of software that give the illusion of still using the olde 'puters without simply having them on the new ‘oputers’ screens? Those Octanes and Amiga 4000s are few and far between, so would be interesting to interact with them virtually and use the software as a kind of step-back through versions instead of new versions just rubbing old versions out?

Just a thought.

I remember this! I had Elastic Reality on the Amiga back in the day.

Why not eh? Sounds like the Science Museum’s section of early Walkmans.

(Not my first experience, but my first VFX shot…)

Right after college, first job was at VIFX in Playa Del Rey. Actually I was offered a job the day before by a subdivision of a Laser Disc distribution company run by the college-aged son of the owner. (I think it was actually in the same building where Arsenal is today…definitely in that complex) He was starting up the porn division and asked me if I can illustrate nudes and do graphic design. I said “yeah, I took life drawing classes!”. He said I had the job.

The next day, I walk into VIFX and interviewed with John Walsh. I looked at all the movie posters and asked ‘Do you guys duplicate films to VHS tapes?’ He patiently told me that they do special effects and the interview went well enough where they were willing to try me out. I called the porn guy and said I had second thoughts…sorry. At VIFX, I had to learn Cosa AfterEffects (haha) in a week and then Elastic Reality for another week. Then they said, “Morph this guy’s hair”. It was for Aerosmith’s “Amazing” video and the rest is history!

I also did my first roto on my second comp shot ever. I scanned in pictures from an Eadweard Muybridge book and roto’d the cow out for this shot:

But sometimes, I do wonder what would’ve happened in the parallel quantum reality where I took the first job…haha.


I remember clearly seeing this spot and being like dayum…I gotta go work there.



Lightsabers, seriously thats it



I went to college with the goal of being a Disney animator. Beauty and the Beast was the original catalyst. The Star Wars THX video tapes were released when I was a freshman and that led me to get more into filmmaking than animation. Also, turns out the trick to getting into Disney was the ability to draw animals, not animation skill. (not that I had much of either).

Jurassic Park got me obsessed with CG and I landed a gig as a game cinematic animator (Sonic Adventure 2, Pac Man Party). While doing that my friend Kurt told me I should learn Flame. Legend had it Flame Artists all drove ferraris. I had a very specific fantasy about earning $120k in a year and buying my mom an $80,000 Jaguar. I remember asking my parents for $3,000 so I could take a one-week flame training course.

I once took a one-week bartending course that yielded a single bouncer job and no bartending gigs.

After burning out and planning to move back east, Kurt called up and wanted to hire me to run archives. The offered minimum wage. After three months I was useful enough that they staffed me for $20/hour.

I have nothing to show for my first year making six figures. My mom still doesn’t have her Jag.
For a while I did not pay for alcohol at the Cat and Fiddle in Hollywood due to all the goodwill I fostered.

I’m very grateful for all the friends who’ve helped me get here.


All drinks cabinets now :wink:

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