Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 29th Sep 2017 21:31 UTC
Talk, Rumors, X Versus Y

This is quite a find by Cabel Sasser. Apparently, Apple is still hosting an article dedicated to arguing the Macintosh is a better platform for computer-generated video content than the Amiga (part 1 and part 2). It does so by explaining how easy it supposedly was to create Pencil Test, a short 3D animated video made on the Macintosh II.

Some have seen non-Apple solutions that include a single, Amiga-based package with automated, three-dimensional, frame-by-frame generation of NTSC video sequences. The package also handles the problems of hiding window boarders/title bars, genlocking, and so on.

Most have seen the "Pencil Test" video and feel that the quality of this video is acceptable, but they were told from one of the other vendors that Apple invested incredible resources into creating "Pencil Test" and that the process used for "Pencil Test" was very time-consuming and inefficient.

What was the exact process for the creation of "Pencil Test"? How many people worked for how long to produce the video?

The publish date at the bottom of the currently published version of the two-part article is 2012, but this is clearly just the result of some automated migration process from an old database to a new one. The actual publishing date of the article is probably around from when Pencil Test was published - so somewhere between 1988 and 1990.

The Amiga had carved out a decent niche for itself as a 3D animation and special effects platform in the late '80s and early '90s. Famously, the science fiction TV series Babylon 5 used Amiga Video Toasters for its special effects in its first few seasons, making it one of the first TV series to move to digital special effects over the use of models. Apple clearly wanted in on this market, and the support article is part of that effort.

And the article is bizarre. In it, Apple argues the merits of the open, modular system, the Macintosh, and condemns the integrated, hardware-and-software-designed-together approach of the Amiga.

There are advantages and disadvantages both to the totally integrated systems and the open modular systems. Totally integrated system's advantages include having hardware and software tied directly together and having one place to get support. Disadvantages include being locked into the one company's point of view about how to do things, working only with their tools, and, often, being locked into that company's software. An integrated solution on non-Macintosh systems is most likely pieced together from a variety of third-party products.

I can't value the merits all the technical claims being made about the capabilities of the Macintosh and its software at the time compared to that of the Amiga, since that's way beyond my area of expertise. Still, this article is a deeply fascinating relic from a bygone era, and I can't believe Apple is still hosting it.

Order by: Score:
Comment by judgen
by judgen on Fri 29th Sep 2017 23:18 UTC
judgen
Member since:
2006-07-12

Did anyone notice that the video had special thanks to Frank Booseman (for making Super3D) who later became "VP Developer Relations" at Be.Inc and is credited with some of the work on 3d stuff in BeOS.

@2:54 in the video.

Edit:added timestamp.

Edited 2017-09-29 23:19 UTC

Reply Score: 5

Let me see...
by cjcox on Fri 29th Sep 2017 23:20 UTC
cjcox
Member since:
2006-12-21

You could easily produce 3D content on the Amiga by yourself, or you could hire 30+ people to do it on a Mac II. ok...

(seriously, as a former Amiga user, it's sort of funny)

Reply Score: 7

Comment by leech
by leech on Sat 30th Sep 2017 00:07 UTC
leech
Member since:
2006-01-10

"With the general overview of Macintosh animation covered, here are some plausible, low-cost to state-of-the-art systems:"

There is, nor ever was a 'low-cost' Mac solution...

Reply Score: 2

Comment by defdog99
by defdog99 on Sat 30th Sep 2017 04:21 UTC
defdog99
Member since:
2006-09-06

Black and white hypercard videos.

Reply Score: 1

Cost
by Earl C Pottinger on Sat 30th Sep 2017 07:59 UTC
Earl C Pottinger
Member since:
2008-07-12

How much was the extra hardware on the Mac to produce video, if I remember right on the Amiga you could take the composite video and just plug it into your VCR to record a B&W video or get a cheap adapter (<$100) to do a colour recording.

Only when you wanted to combine video sources (blue screen and gen-locking) did the costs go up.

To my knowledge no Mac did that without buying special hardware. I think there were some MacII that could change the frequency of their video output but then you need a special multi-sync monitor to proper use your Mac.

Edited 2017-09-30 08:00 UTC

Reply Score: 4

Funny.
by Sauron on Sat 30th Sep 2017 08:11 UTC
Sauron
Member since:
2005-08-02

I never realized Apple had such a sense of humor. ;)

Reply Score: 3

B5myth
by feamatar on Sat 30th Sep 2017 13:44 UTC
feamatar
Member since:
2014-02-25

B5 used Amiga for the pilot only". For the pilot, the effects were rendered on a network of Amiga computers; later, Foundation used 12 Pentium PCs and 5 DEC Alpha workstations for 3D rendering and design, and 3 Macintoshes for piecing together on-set computer displays. "

Reply Score: 2

RE: B5myth
by leech on Sun 1st Oct 2017 21:17 UTC in reply to "B5myth"
leech Member since:
2006-01-10

I'm pretty sure it was the first season and not the Pilot that was done via the Amiga.

All of the visuals and everything I've read on the matter support this. You can see where in the second season the CGI was more advanced.

Reply Score: 2

SeaQuest
by Feneric on Sat 30th Sep 2017 14:53 UTC
Feneric
Member since:
2006-01-16

I thought it was SeaQuest that used Amigas for its special effects. This is just from memory though and I could be wrong, and there could definitely be other series that did the same.

Reply Score: 2

RE: SeaQuest
by zima on Sun 1st Oct 2017 19:49 UTC in reply to "SeaQuest"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Ehh... it's the year 2017, and no SeaQuest DSV. ;) Captain Nathan Bridger / Roy Scheider is dead... ;)

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: SeaQuest
by leech on Sun 1st Oct 2017 21:19 UTC in reply to "RE: SeaQuest"
leech Member since:
2006-01-10

Pretty sure SeaQuest was one of the other ones. I think some of the effects on The Abyss?

I do know that Dick Van Dyke used to do a lot of animations on the Amiga. There was a post a few years ago on Amiga.org about him selling off his Amiga.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: SeaQuest
by zima on Sun 1st Oct 2017 22:28 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: SeaQuest"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Seriously though, at least SeaQuest CGI looked quite decently, for a ~first attempt (Babylon 5 - not so much) - probably thanks to naturally "foggy" underwater environment.

Reply Score: 3

Comedy gold
by Poseidon on Sat 30th Sep 2017 20:14 UTC
Poseidon
Member since:
2009-10-31

It is comedy gold, considering their Metal and Apple closed ecosystem they're peddling right now.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Comedy gold
by fmaxwell on Sun 1st Oct 2017 16:17 UTC in reply to "Comedy gold"
fmaxwell Member since:
2005-11-13

It is comedy gold, considering their Metal and Apple closed ecosystem they're peddling right now.

They've open-sourced Swift, their development language. They released the source to XNU, the Unix-like kernel used in macOS/OS-X and iOS. Their "screen sharing" uses the industry-standard VNC. Their Terminal command line is bash and they make zsh, tcsh, ksh, and sh available, too. They have editors like vi/VIM and nano. They have industry standard interfaces like USB and 10/100/1000BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet. Their RAM in most of their systems is standard SODIMM. Their hard drives use standard interfaces.

There's nothing closed about their Mac ecosystem. I've got hundreds of programs from sources all over the world. I can add more using Fink, Macports, Homebrew, or pkgin, with many building the sources on my Mac.

Apple introduced their Metal and Metal 2 APIs, because that benefits consumers with far faster, lower overhead graphics. I started engineering before IBM ever released a PC, so I've got little patience for luddites who treat each new hardware or software standard as some form of evil, even when it offers clear benefits.

Edited 2017-10-01 16:24 UTC

Reply Score: 0

RE[2]: Comedy gold
by Earl C Pottinger on Sun 1st Oct 2017 19:13 UTC in reply to "RE: Comedy gold"
Earl C Pottinger Member since:
2008-07-12

Good, now how do I plug a standard video recorder into a Mac as that was the original discussion?

All you talked about applies about the latest developments applies to my Windows 7/10 systems with just some software downloads - heck I can get most of that on my Haiku-OS system too.

The original discussion is what the Mac delivered in the 1980's compared to the Amiga in video graphics vs what their ads said then.

Edited 2017-10-01 19:17 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Comedy gold
by Poseidon on Mon 2nd Oct 2017 08:00 UTC in reply to "RE: Comedy gold"
Poseidon Member since:
2009-10-31

I could develop a game to be cross compatible for most operating systems with some mods via Vulkan, or I could develop a game using Metal only for iOS and macOS.

There’s nothing Luddite about it, they want control over the API and a benefit is keeping developers without much resources on the platform.

It’s no different than Microsoft and their direct x 12.

Reply Score: 3

Comment by feamatar
by feamatar on Sat 30th Sep 2017 21:15 UTC
feamatar
Member since:
2014-02-25

Interesting article, I knew that ArchiCAD and Photoshop originated on Mac, but I was not aware of these.

1989 October issue of Infoworld has info on Macintosh 3D with some small but good looking pictures:
https://books.google.hu/books?id=vTAEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PT59&lpg=PT59&dq=Su...

Reply Score: 3

the irony
by yoshi314@gmail.com on Sun 1st Oct 2017 18:58 UTC
yoshi314@gmail.com
Member since:
2009-12-14

"Apple argues the merits of the open, modular system, the Macintosh, and condemns the integrated, hardware-and-software-designed-together approach of the Amiga. "


my, how things have changed. i think amiga would become the macintosh of today if it was successful.

Edited 2017-10-01 18:59 UTC

Reply Score: 3

zima
Member since:
2005-07-06

3D animation world relatively quickly gravitated away from closed platforms (Amiga on the low-end or SGI on the high-end) towards open one ...more open then the Mac. Now 3D animation is done, AFAIK, mostly on PCs running Linux.

Reply Score: 5

leech Member since:
2006-01-10

3D animation world relatively quickly gravitated away from closed platforms (Amiga on the low-end or SGI on the high-end) towards open one ...more open then the Mac. Now 3D animation is done, AFAIK, mostly on PCs running Linux.


https://www.cio.com/article/2441140/linux/industrial-light-and-magic...

Wow, can't believe that was that long ago! But I think ILM was one of the first to ditch SGIs and switch fully to Linux. I do know that the guys from Weta (for Lord of the Rings) were using Gnome and KDE back when they were doing all the animation work for it. There are images of them in the extras where they talk about doing the animations.

Reply Score: 2

lies!
by uridium on Sun 1st Oct 2017 23:27 UTC
uridium
Member since:
2009-08-20

Only Amiga makes it possible! (..and a toaster)

Reply Score: 4

Titling
by Earl C Pottinger on Mon 2nd Oct 2017 07:30 UTC
Earl C Pottinger
Member since:
2008-07-12

On thing I know the Amiga was a lot for in video is the text Titling at the beginning of a show and the text you see scrolling the credits.

For some shows they would use fonts that clearly came from an Amiga (remember ColourFonts).

Reply Score: 2

SGI
by Beon on Mon 2nd Oct 2017 10:47 UTC
Beon
Member since:
2017-10-02

I think in the time of Amiga, many considered SGI to be the big thing on 3D.

Reply Score: 2

Babylon 5
by yerverluvinunclebert on Mon 2nd Oct 2017 14:27 UTC
yerverluvinunclebert
Member since:
2014-05-03

Frankly, the CGI would have been better used improving the wooden acting. The CGI effects as displayed were no credit to the Amiga, regardless of how impressive they seemed at the time. Bloody awful springs to mind.

Star Trek's TOS and early TNGs physical models always seemed so much more 'real'.

The 3D renders of today still sometimes lack that important touch of reality.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Babylon 5
by leech on Mon 2nd Oct 2017 18:30 UTC in reply to "Babylon 5"
leech Member since:
2006-01-10

There is no doubt in my mind that practical effects still look much better than CGI even now. Funny thing is most times it seems they cost just as much.

Though I can understand why studios will opt for CGI over physically creating effects, since some shots would be nearly impossible to do otherwise.

Reply Score: 2