POVRAY and Life

macintosh ii ray trace


Steve sent me an IM the other day. He’s been playing around with POVRAY and he was wondering about the work I did in that so long ago. He’s having the same kind of fun that I had back then. I remember the time, I must have spent a month of my life just playing around with various models and waiting for renders. Yeah, I probably spent most of my time waiting for renders.

The new stuff on Steve’s blog is really nice. I like his mockup of an mp3 player.

Here is an old render I did for fun for a company I started. This was done in 1995 on my NextStep Intel box (running an AMD 486 clone). The scene wasn’t complicated, but a good render took at least 3-5 minutes. I did this scene and all the letters out of primitive shapes (i.e. I made each letter from spheres and columns). My modeler was just VI.

I always loved Ray tracers (and graphics in general). I don’t think that was unique to me. Back in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, computer magazines loved to put up a cover that was some kind of 3d render. In fact, Amiga World had a whole issue dedicated to an animated guy who was ray traced. The guy was made out of mirror balls and was juggling 3 other spheres. (You can see the image here, but remember, those images were full screen :-)). Another big moment was when Apple released the Macintosh II. This was the first color Mac (that I can recall), which also had slots. It was big and was supposed to be a powerful computer. In their brochures, they showed the Mac II with a ray traced scene of mirror balls on a floor composed of a repeating texture of color Apple logos (just look at the image above). It was quite a good render at 640 x 480. Everybody I knew remarked about the picture. (Later it was found out the the render was done on a Unix box by one of the Apple engineers).

Now that I think about it, the Aqua interface by Apple really makes this love of shiny colors apparent as well. Moving on…


All of this leads me to another thought, though. Back then, I could spend a month playing around with various technologies. I lived hand to mouth with my paychecks, etc., but I was able to really experience some of the interesting frontier technologies happening on the internet. Today is a different story. With work and family, there is not a lot of justification for working on stuff that has absolutely no immediate value to my fellow humans. I don’t even play games anymore (which isn’t so bad since I SUCK at Counter Strike).

I miss some of the fun I used to have with computers. My goal is to change that situation.

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