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=========================================================================
           ONLINE CONFERENCE - JIM BARDEEN, AUTHOR OF PANORAMA
=========================================================================

[Recently, Portal held an online conference with Jim Bardeen, author of
Panorama, and his publisher, Amigadget.  The edited transcript appears
below... -Jason]
 
Harv: FOR OUR FIRST HOUR OR SO TONITE, WE HAVE A SPECIAL SEMI-FORMAL CHAT
Jim: Thanks very much for inviting me.
Harv: ALLOW ME TO INTRODUCE TO YOU OUR SPECIAL GUEST, JIM BARDEEN, AUTHOR
      OF "PANORAMA".  BEFORE THAT, I'D LIKE TO ASK A TWO PART QUESTION.
      PLEASE ANSWER YY, YN, NY, OR NN AFTER I ASK IT :) PART 1) DID YOU
      DOWNLOAD ANY OF THE PANORAMA PICS THAT JIM UPLOADED THIS WEEK AND 2)
      DO YOU OWN PANORAMA?

XJumpdisk: NY
Input: NN
jcompton: NN
CarmenR: NN
Izzy: NN
JohnG: NN
PatB: NN
Lyonking: YN
jpawluk: YN
AmiGadget: YY
CarmenR: [ashamed]
Drakon: NN Yet but have seen the stuff in the mags
SBurroughs: NN what's panorama?
DonM: NN
CarmenR: I've seen some older images of Panorama tho
DonM: haven't check d/ls this week

Harv: OKAY, NEXT QUESTION: DO YOU OWN ANY AMIGA SCENERY/LANDSCAPE MAKERS?
      ANSWER V- VISTA/PRO SA- SCENERY ANIMATOR WCS- WORLD CONSTRUCTION SET
      O- OTHER

Harv: V-SA-WCS
CarmenR: N/A
ScottJ: VP & SA.
JohnG: V
XJumpdisk: V-SA
DonM: V
Jim: V-SA
Lyonking: V
Izzy: O
SBurroughs: not a one of those
SteveX: c
SteveX: v
Drakon: V-SA
jpawluk: V sa
Input: V SA
jcompton: V SA
AmiGadget: o
CarmenR: Imagine. :/

Harv: OKAY.. HERE IS A PAGE OR SO OF TEXT ABOUT OUR GUEST AND HIS PRODUCT.
      AFTER THIS WE WILL TAKE QUESTIONS.
      OK... HERE COMES THE PROLOGUE:

SBurroughs: drumroll
  Panorama is a fractal landscape generating program for Amiga computers. 
  It lets you sculpt a landscape by applying a variety of fractal
  parameters to initial data that you can edit graphically by moving peaks
  and valleys around on the screen with the mouse.  The program also
  imports data, including DEM (Digital Elevation Map) data for real places
  around the planet (or others).

  The program was written by Dr.  James Bardeen.  It originated as
  "Genesis," sold by MicroIllusions.  The name was changed to Panorama at
  version 3.0.  The current version 4.0, is now sold by AmiGadget
  Publishing Company (represented here on Portal by Jay Gross,
  "AmiGadget").  It contains many enhancements and additional features over
  the previous versions.  Panorama supports 24-bit pictures of any
  resolution, up to more than 8,000 by 8,000 pixels.  The program will work
  directly to several of the available frame buffers - OpalVision, Retina,
  and Picasso - and Version 4.0 has much better support of AGA machines.
  In addition, you can create and save AGA-only picture formats from
  Panorama running on non-AGA Amigas.

  Panorama is algorithmically correct, and mathematically with-it.  The
  program's emphasis, in addition to making gorgeous pictures, is to let
  you experiment at the forefront of current research in fractals.
  Original, fractal landscape algorithms that are unique to Panorama let
  you adjust many parameters for the formulae simply and understandably, in
  order to create strikingly different scenes, even from the same data.

  You can use the pictures as backgrounds for video, as playfields for
  gaming, or as the starting point for fine art, illustration and graphic
  design.  You can wrap them as bitmaps onto objects in your 3D rendering
  programs.  Or just frame them and hang them on your wall.

  In addition, the program supports unattended operation for the creation
  of animations of any length, generated and recorded automatically,
  including automatic support for single-frame video recording.  So, you
  can conduct a fly-by, or a fly-through, or follow a river as it meanders
  through lush, green valleys.

  Panorama can be entirely controlled and operated with software through
  its ARexx port.  An extensive ARexx command structure provides control
  over everything Panorama does.  The Arexx functionality also permits
  support of the VideoToaster and image processing software.  Animation of
  finished landscapes can be achieved through an internal scripting
  language which includes the magic command "Tween" for easy scripting.
  Any feature can be animated, especially the program's awesome skies, and
  its waves and waterfalls.  Panorama can simply record a script as you
  work the program.  You can then edit the script if you wish, to add Tween
  and other powerful functions.

  Panorama comes with utilities that will convert genuine, USGS Dem files
  for its use through GeoRama. A new, second utility permits translating
  Vista Pro DEM files for GeoRama and Panorama, as well.  
  The pictures are fully shaded, with true shadows, three types of trees,
  water waves, haze, and control over all of the above in a variety of
  useful ways. You can control the direction and elevation of the sun, for
  example. You can choose separate color schemes and tree types for each
  contour, and for each one you can also choose different bark and leaf
  colors. The many dithering and blending algorithms are also under your
  control, selectable for each contour.  Panorama's trees are not 3D
  objects, however.

  Version 4.0 of the program has added fractal dithering and textures.
  These can be applied to anything in the program for which texture or
  dithering is appropriate - including tree leaves, water, clouds, etc.

  The program includes some features normally associated with raytracing,
  such as shimmering reflections of the sky in the waves.

  The program lists for $99.95.  It is available direct from AmiGadget
  Publishing Company for an introductory price of $69.95, and fellow Portal
  AmigaZoners are welcome to claim an additional $20 off - all plus $4
  shipping (bottom line: $49.95 + $4 shipping).  It installs on your
  harddisk drive or runs from floppies, and it is not dongled.

  Requirements: any Amiga, including Amiga 1000's, containing at least 3
  megabytes of memory (more strongly advised), at least one floppydisk
  drive, and AmigaDOS version 1.2, 1.3, 2.0, 2.1, 3.0, or 3.1.  (The DEM
  conversion utilities require AmigaDOS version 2.0 or above).

  Updates from any previous version of the program are $35 (+ $4 shipping),
  which includes the entire package: 5 floppy disks and the completely
  revised manual.  Updates from any version of Genesis, add an extra $5.

  AmiGadget Publishing Company
  P.O. Box 1696
  Lexington, SC 29071-1696
   
   // 30 //

ScottJ: Dr Bardeen, can Panorama read Vista Pro DEMs that are only in Amiga
        format or can it read the IBM format Vista DEMs as well?

Jim: I have only tested the Amiga versions.  Are the IBM versions any
     different, except for coming on IBM disks?
Harv: scott - I think they're the same.   note: VRLI now sells a CD ROM
      with *every* binary DEM they have, for about fifty bucks.

ScottJ: I dont know but I want to be able to read the Vista DEMs on the
        CD-ROM.  Thanks.

Harv: Amigas can read them scott, per their literature. next?

XJumpdisk: We have enjoyed Panorama but have trouble with the DEM convert
           prg..  all the files come in flat?  ...  Also I have trouble
           with fog NOT turning off when I tell it to?

Jim: This hasn't been a problem for me when I have converted both one
     degree and 7.5 minute DEMs.  Of course, many of the one degree dems
     will look very flat unless you exaggerate the vertical relief.  I have
     never had the fog problem.

XJumpdisk: When I draw a scene with fog, then zoom in and want the near
           aspect fog free..  the fog stays around

Jim: You should check the haze settings.  If the haze density is about 1.0
     or less the foreground should be fairly clear.

CarmenR: Hi Jim..  I'm amazed to hear that a scenery program has waterfall
         effects...  Could you tell us more about it?  Can the water be
         shattered by hitting...  a rock on the side of a cliff?  Could it
         be compared to particle effects?...  And have you thought about
         other formations like arches or caves? 

Jim: The waterfalls aren't actually animated.  Jay exaggerated a bit there.
     But water waves are animated.  Nothing that fancy.  But you can make
     circular ripples with the waves.

AmiGadget: And you can choose the source position, size, frequency, etc
           for the waves and change it over time to animate.

Jim: No caves.  The landscape must have a single height at a point.

DonM: How does the speed compare with VP?

Jim: Probably somewhat slower, but a lot more attention is paid to each
     pixel to get maximum detail.  The fractal textures give detail down to
     the pixel resolution of the picture,independent of the triangle size.

JohnG: Will this beastie be able to input actual USGS DEM files?

Jim: Not directly, but through the conversion utilities supplied with
     Panorama.  I've done this with files from 9-track tape and files
     downloaded from the Internet.

AmiGadget: the original usgs files are multiple megabytes

JohnG: so's my hard disk  :)

AmiGadget: a progam that comes with Panorama, "GeoRama" compresses them to a
           few hundred K to make them more manageable

Jim: Panorama has its own proprietary compression format, and splits up one
     degree DEMs into 6 or 9 subquadrangles to keep file sizes at about 100
     to 170 KB.

ScottJ: Jim, I have a Picasso II card and I was wondering if I could run
        Panorama directly on the board or does Panorama just use the
        Picasso as a frame buffer?

AmiGadget: GeoRama provides a graphic interface to the process.

Jim: You can create pictures using the Picasso memory for storage, and
     display them as they are being drawn.  The only problem is that you
     can't access other screens while a picture is being drawn.

ScottJ: So Panarama just uses the Picasso as a frame buffer then?

Jim: That is, native Picasso screens.  You can have the Panorama control
     screen on an Amiga screen and access it.  You can select Picasso
     screens for "Amiga" rendering from the Display database.

Harv: jim..  what's he's after is does panorama itself, its interface, open
      on the picasso display itself as well as rendering to it?

ScottJ: Ok.  Thanks.  Any chance of adding support for Picasso II and other
        board so Panorama can run its interfaces on them?

Jim: This gives you 64 colors as opposed to 16 million.  You can also run
     Panorama itself on a Picasso screen from the Display Database, if it
     accepts regular Amiga draw commands and is part of a high-res, lace
     family.

Drakon: Okay 1) can you import objects a la SA ?  2) Nonlinear fog 3) what
        does the program render when you go outside the dataset?

AmiGadget: drak, there is no object import. 

Jim: 1) no, you can't import objects.  2) The fog has an exponential and a
     Gaussian mode.

AmiGadget: see the reference in the HarvScroll(tm) about the trees not
           being 3d objects either
     
Jim: Out side the data set, there is a ground plane which if it is a "sea"
     ground plane can have waves on it.  The haze tends to obscure the more
     distant parts of the ground plane.

AmiGadget: "island" mode looks way cool like that

XJumpdisk: On a 6Meg 1200, saving AGA sometimes brings up a German requestor
     then quits.. is that a memory constraint?

AmiGadget: ...that's an errortrap from the compiler in which Panorama is
           created

Harv: ah so...German compiler :)

Jim: The program was written with M2Amiga, a Swiss-published language.  It
     probably indicates some kind of bug.

XJumpdisk: Danke

JohnG: Does it handle very large databases?  like, if i wanted to render
       Venus, would curvature enter into it?  for that matter, how attached
       to earth colors and atmospheric effects is it?  :)

AmiGadget: jg, you have control in 24 bits of all of the colors for
           everything

JohnG: AG, that helps  :)

Harv: how much data can you stuff into it at once?

Jim: It can handle up to 12 contiguous VistaPro Large quadrangles at once,
     but the max resolution in a single landscape is about 800x800 points

AmiGadget: it comes with a palette for molten lava, too

Drakon: cool!

Jim: You can certainly vary colors and atmospheric effects.

AmiGadget: aren't martian trees pink?

Jim: Make them pink if you like.

JohnG: so if i use multiple overlapping clumps to achieve a longer flight,
       will there be a discontinuity at the seams, or is it pretty precise
       as far as positioning oes?

AmiGadget: the fog effects are extremely smooth and pretty

Jim: You can position things very precisely, and automatically when working
     from DEM files.

JohnG: (VP rounds and makes bumpy paths)

AmiGadget: one of the pictures ul'd here is a sunset one

JohnG: sounds pretty cool

Jim: There is neat contrast setting which gives a whole continuous range of
     nice lighting effects, from bright glare to cloudy conditions.

Harv: Thanks to SteveX for queueing, who has to leave now

AmiGadget: jg, jim will correct me if i'm wrong, but i think you'll have no
           trouble pasting adjacent squares together with Panorama

JohnG: cool

AmiGadget: might want to turn the automatic sun angle off, tho, if you
           paste over a large area

Jim: You can't paste together adjacent Panorama data, that is true.  But
     you can vary the patch you load into Panorama from DEM files.

AmiGadget: yes, paste the pictures together when they're done

Jim: As for the fog, you should reset the fog to light haze.  The fog
     setting is automatically turned off after each picture.

ScottJ: Jim, what made you decide to create Panorama when there were two
        other landscape renderers (Vista Pro & Scenery Animator) available?
        Also what features does Panorama offer that other landscape
        renderers don't?

Jim: I started this before there was anything else except the crude PD
     predecessor to SA.

Harv: remember, panorama's uh...  genesis came from..  uh..  "Genesis" :)
      which was released years ago

Jim: Unfortunately, I haven't had much support from the companies I have
     tried to market through, so Genesis and Panorama have been pretty
     invisible.

AmiGadget: <blush>

Harv: Microillusions did a sterling job of burying Genesis

AmiGadget: they buried themselves.

ScottJ: I havent seen any ads for Panorama or Genesis.

Jim: By the way, that last comment did not apply to AMiGadget.

AmiGadget: Jay can't afford ads.  And really, it's hard to justify
           promotional expenses till the Amiga comes back to life (hope
           hope)

DonM: How do you set up animations?  I kinda like VP's way of drawing lines
      from point to point, but in a separate program, aside from bumps I
      seldom encounter.  (sorry about miss..  got interrupted)

Jim: You place key frames interactively while making a script, and then fill in
     with tweening by linear interpolation.  Also, the comment about fog
     should be that fog does NOT turn itself off automatically betwen
     pictures. 
     It does lack the drawing of lines on the map to see the whole path.

ScottJ: Why havent you send demos to places like Amiga World?  That would
        garner some publicity.

AmiGadget: scott, they received press copies of version 3.0 from the
           previous marketing agent (not me) Panorama has been publicized
           in European magazines.  we sold distribution rights to VitePro
           in France for the French market.

Jim: There was a DEMO disk for Genesis.
     Yes, it does have shadows on water, but not on the groundplane outside
     the landscape proper.

DonM: so how do you pick the frames.  is there a visual interface to do
      this, or you just gotta know as you go?

Jim: You position the camera on a map, and then adjust the vertical field
     of view using a side projection for each key frame.  It's just that
     the key frame positions aren't marked permanently.

ScottJ: Does Panorama have a special 68020/68030 version with math
        coprocessor support?

Jim: It does have a 68020 version, but it doesn't use the math coprocessor.
     it uses FFP floating point, which is just about as fast as processor
     arithmetic without a lot of register juggling in machine language.

Harv: THANKS JIM & JAY.  REMEMBER FOLKS, THERE ARE FIVE DEMO PANORAMA PICS
      IN THE NEW UPLOADS AND ALSO THE SPECIAL $20 OFF DEAL FOR PORTAL FOLKS