Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Early VW machinima

W00t! Finally I am finding some of what has been packed away a very long time, including this early animation? machinima? of the virtual continent I created in 1996 using a program called VistaPro.

VistaPro was pretty spiffy for its' time: it supported 1024x768 rendering with Phong highlights, 4x antialiasing, VESA drivers and was capable of downloading terrain elevation maps from USGS ASCII DEM and USGS SDTS DEM files from the USGS, NASA, JPL, the US Air Force & Navy and other sources to recreate completely accurate maps of terrain... including Mons Olympus on Mars and the lunar craters (I had models of Mau'i and Big Island to trace my journeys there). Here's a nice review of VistaPro in its prime.

It was also capable of generating a camera path for an animated tour of the created world. The video you see here was a world - land - I made and used as the basis of several stories and chapters of my novel-in-progress 'Anna of the Sidhe'; it was also the source of +100 web pages of scenes from that continent used as backgrounds to roleplaying/writing with the VR co-op RP groups Virtual Camelot and Virtopia and where Anna was born.

Unfortunately, at the time I was creating and working in these worlds, technology was straining; even with a top-of-the-line tweaked and streamlined media computer, I was hard-pressed to make videos larger than 320x240, the compression artifacts were horrible and it took hours and hours to render even simple scenes.

In this flythrough, a lot of the forests and trees have been removed in order to not have the machine choke or gorge the hard disk or just plain quit; mostly the structural canyons and shape of the underlying geology is viewable. You will notice two areas of water; one a lake hidden deep within the interior of the continent and a river which leads inward from the other side of the mountains; these places were pivotal locations in the story of land and Anna of the Sidhe.

I'm excited to find these pieces of my early virtual reality experiences, artifacts and all.

... now if I can find some of the videos of early Burning Man and Big Bang/Moontribe events...

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