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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
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?
Drakon: NN Yet but have seen the stuff in the mags
SBurroughs: NN what's panorama?
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
ScottJ: VP & SA.
SBurroughs: not a one of those
jpawluk: V sa
Input: V SA
jcompton: V SA
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:
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
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
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
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
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
Harv: ah so...German compiler :)
Jim: The program was written with M2Amiga, a Swiss-published language. It
probably indicates some kind of bug.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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