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/// Rendered Reality I Render, Therefore I am
By Mike Troxell
In August of 1992, Essence I was released for Imagine. Essence I is a set
of sixty-six algorithmic textures. These algorithmic textures add a new
dimension to working with Imagine. They range from Counter, which lets you
apply an image of an LCD display to an object, to Fractal Noise, a set of
textures which can be animated (i.e. swirling cloud cover for a planet
object). These algorithmic textures opened up a new realm of possibilities
Now, nearly a year later, Apex has released Essence II. Actually, Essence
II isn't in the stores yet. I talked with Steve Worley yesterday and he
told me that right now Essence II is being offered to existing Essence I
owners. Essence II will be in the stores in 2-3 weeks. Also, yes, Apex is
looking at converting Essence II to Real 3-D format, and no, they are not
planning a Lightwave version at the present time. This is because Lightwave
does not support external textures. So, just what is Essence II and how
does it differ from Essence I?
I guess the best source of information is Apex itself. The lattest issue
of the Apex newsletter is basically an announcement of Essence II along
with a few other projects Apex is working on. I thought you might be
interested in hearing about Essence from the person who developed it so
I asked Steve if I could quote the Apex newsletter.
"Many features in Essence Volume II are similar to Essence I. The
textures work with Imagine .9 through 2.0, have built-in capabilities
like fade control, the -1 color disabling feature, and built-in error
messages....most of the textures now include a bump mapping ability...
eighty percent of the textures have some sort of altitude effect built
into them, as opposed to Essence I in which only about ten percent of
the textures will bump-map. A second change was to decrease the use of
obscure parameters like Amplitude ratio."
"Included with Essence Volume II are well over 100 attribute files which
can immediately be applied to your objects. There's also a library of
on-disk pictures of many of these [attribute files] so you won't have to
render them to get an idea of what they look like."
"While many of the Essence I textures were based on "fractal noise",
Essence II has many textures with a different type of appearance, best
described as an organic, randomly-tiled surface. This type of texturing
is literally, state 0f the art in 1993, with Apex being the first company
to use this new type of texture basis. Nobody using an SGI or a PC or a
Mac has these!... In a year you'll be seeing textures with this style
being used by others, but right now Apex has the monopoly over these
According to the newsletter, Essence II has several groups of theme
textures. Some of these are:
"Gasplanet, Planetring, Cyclone ("It makes a great Red Spot for Jupitor..."
"A set of 'organic' surfaces with altitude mapping which will let you make
everything from snak skin to parched, leather-like hide."
I'm already trying to imagine (pun intended) what the CycleMan or Humanoid
objects would look like with a lizard-skin texture applied to them!
Stucco, Pitted, Crumpled, Burnished
Waterdrop, Raindrops, Seawaves, Caustics "The animated light patterns seen
on swimming pool walls"
Radarscope, Fiber, Faceted, Bumparray, Clusterbump, Crust, Flagstones,
Fleck, Julia, Plasma, Polkabump, Scales, Shingles, Vein, Woodgrain to name
a few of the textures.
Apex describes Essence II as "The most powerful texturing algorithms
produced for any rendering platform" and from what I've seen I believe
they are correct. Now if they will just convert Essence II to Real 3-D
"Essence II requires Imagine and an Amiga with a FPU (such as a 68881 or a