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/// Rendered Reality "I Render, Therefore I Am."
By Mike Troxell
"I used to write a lot of FORTRAN,
For science it worked flawlessly.
Try using it for graphics!
Write in C."
Well, actually I used to write in COBOL, not FORTRAN. And while I always
enjoyed writing in COBOL, I would'nt quite call it flawless, and it was
business, not science and... Anyway, the point is that while every
programming language has its area of expertise, every language also has its
limitations. I'd no more try to use FORTRAN for business than I would try
to write a graphics program in COBOL. This goes for computers as well.
Each computer has its own strengths and weaknesses.
This brings me to where I've been for the last few months. I've been
looking for a new computer. During the last year I've gone from doing
animations on a 2000 with a 40 MHz 68030, 40 MHz FPU, 9 megs of RAM and a
120 meg hard drive to working on a 1200 with two megs of RAM and a 40 meg
hard drive. Obviously, I haven't been doing any animation lately. After
about two months with the 1200 I decided I had to have a bigger system.
Since I was basically going to have to put togeather a new system, I
decided to look at all the available platforms (yes, even PC's). What I
found was that for around $5000 I could put togeather the type of animation
system I wanted from any of the three main personal computer platforms,
(Amiga, IBM and Mac) as long as I was willing to put up with system and
I use IBM's at work every day so I started my search by looking at what was
available on the IBM. Not much is available in the way of (good) graphics
software under $1000. But if there is a hardware peripheral that you can
think of, IBM's probably have it. Unfortunatly, they also have MS-DOS. Of
course there are several alternative OS's for the IBM but most of them
require a memory upgrade just to run them. Oh well, maybe when they finally
get a real OS (that doesn't require 10 megs of RAM and 80 megs of hard
Next I looked at the Mac. This is where I was really tempted. True, they
don't have Lightwave, but they do have PhotoShop and several nice 3-D
programs. What the Macintosh doesn't have are custom chips to speed up
graphics, or a true multi-tasking OS (yet). I talked to one MacIntosh
salesman who admitted that while System 7 does have a "type of multi-
asking", he said he wouldn't recomend doing anything radical like rendering
an animation in the background while you were downloading a file from a
BBS, because the rendering would come to a near halt while the file was
being downloaded. Maybe having an Amiga has spoiled me, but I like being
able to run other programs while Imagine renders an animation. I proceeded
to cross the Mac off my list of possibilities.
So, where did that leave me? Back where I started, with the Amiga as the
only logical choice. By next month I should have my Amiga animation system
set up. I'm still a little nervous about spending this much money on an
Amiga when Commodore just reported a record loss (a little nervous?
Actually I'm on the verge of having a nervous breakdown!) but I don't see
any alternative short of spending $20,000+ for a Sun or SGI graphics work-
So, that's where I've been. Now, where am I going? Well, in the immortal
words of Buckaroo Bonzai "No matter where you go, there you are." So I
guess we'll just have to see what develops. Graphics is a rapidly changing
field and what is new today may be old news tomorrow (which makes me even
more nervous about purchasing a new system). In the next few months I
expect to see even more graphics hardware and software products. That's
what I expect to see. What's going to really happen? Like I said, I guess
we'll just have to wait and see, but no matter what happens I'm convinced
that with the Amiga I'll always be ready for it.
I talked to Centaur today and they said that the long awaited OpalVision
modules are being shown this week at WOC in Sydney, Australia, and that
they will be shown in America at SigGraph in early August. They said the
modules would be shipping in America by late September at the latest.
Essence II is available now to people on the Imagine mailing list, and
those who recieve the Apex newsletter. It should be shipping to stores
within a few weeks.
I'll have more information on the OpalVision modules and Essence II next