Computer-Music.com contains articles and product reviews related to making music using computers and creating 3D computer animation in sync with music. Computer-Music.com is also the home page of  Donald S. Griffin, an experienced professional composer, sound effects designer and audio consultant with an emphasis on computer games,  video games and internet music and sound effects. For pricing and contract availability send email to: DGriffin (@) Computer-Music (.) com

Computer-Music.com  contains articles and product reviews related to making music using computers and creating 3D computer animation in sync with music.
Computer-Music.com is also the home page of  Donald S. Griffin, an experienced professional composer, sound effects designer and audio consultant with an emphasis on computer games,  video games and internet music and sound effects. For pricing and contract availability send email to: DGriffin (@) Computer-Music (.) com



 

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trueSpace

At the time Metacreations owned a lot of 2D and 3D software packages including Bryce and Raydream Studio a 3D graphics and animation program which I had previously owned in the earlier non-animation version called Raydream Designer. I had tried both as two of my many false starts in 'the early days'. Raydream had a lot of promise but things seemed too hard to do. I wrote it off to my lack of ability but it still kept me from becoming very enthusiastic so besides some of the early work on my company's graphics it pretty much was left to gather dust. But many, of not most, users of Bryce were also users of Raydream Studio. One of them confided in me that he had made lots of models for Raydream Studio's CD using another program called trueSpace. Later I found he did only modeling in trueSpace, not animation. That explained a lot.

At the time the current version of trueSpace was 4.2. But an English magazine was legitimately letting readers download a free, full version of trueSpace 1.x I tried it and loved it! For nearly every feature there were animated demos right in the program's interface. The interface was big and comfy. It was designed to give the user the largest possible space in which to work. At the bottom of the screen were two rows of buttons that would expand into additional buttons as the tasks change. Otherwise small floating control panels would open and close as needed. Additional views could be had by opening relatively floating windows though you would generally do most of your work in the very large main work area. By that time I had a relatively modern computer and it was fast enough to handle real time DirectX filled polygon objects. I knew the demo of 4.2 was limited in time so I learned all I could in the free version 1 before downloading the version 4 demo. Within a week after that I received an offer for a very large discount off the list price and a CD with several popular plug-ins. I think I spent around $400 or a bit more and this became easily the most expensive graphics software I had ever purchased up to that time. A major investment. I was committed to getting something from it.

trueSpace 4.2 added a whole not beyond the free 1.x version. One feature is called the widget. A navigation object that allows you to navigate by dragging the mouse on various parts of its 3D surface. It can be dragged around the modeling window and even resized. Some people could not get used to it but I found it very helpful and it enhanced my sense that I was in control without a lot of thinking. I could comfortably move around an object almost as though it was in my own hand. This and the large working window were enough to get me excited but trueSpace also has an awful lot of features normally only found in very expensive packages and they were all a lot of fun to try and very educational as well. Unfortunately I eventually found that most of them were not implemented nearly as well as they were in the much more expensive packages and in a few cases had shortcomings that drastically reduced either their capabilities or user friendliness. I spent between one and two years working with trueSpace and by the time I had pretty much stopped using it I realized that almost all of that time was spent trying to figure out how to force the program to do something I wanted but which it was reluctant or completely unwilling to produce. One of the great features of trueSpace is the vast variety of plug-ins available and at much lower costs than equivalent plug-ins for more expensive programs. This makes trueSpace a pretty good educational tool in that you can gain exposure and experience with a wide variety of 3D tools for a comparatively small amount of money. I say comparatively. You can rack up a few thousand dollars with trueSpace and a lot of plug-ins. This is what has finally convinced a lot of trueSpace users over the years to move to other applications. All those plug-ins add so much to the cost of the program that you could, instead, buy a much more expensive program that was more capable in most ways and came with most of those features straight out of the box. I strongly suspect that most of those plug-ins exist because things can sometimes be difficult to do with the main program alone. Several plug-ins are specifically designed to allow the program to do things that its native interface or capabilities make much too difficult without the plug-in.

Probably the best feature of  trueSpace is its mailing list. When I moved from BryceTalk to trueSpace I moved from a chat room to an email list. An email list is a much more efficient way to extract information from other users. It allows you to pick and choose and to read things when you have time. You are never left waiting while somebody types in their answer so there is very little time wasted. However, it is easy to succumb to the temptation to read each and every word of each and every message. At first this sucked away vastly more of my time than even BryceTalks's chat room did. The trueSpace mailing list, TSML for short, is almost completely unmoderated (this word is common internet jargon but probably should be non-moderated). This means that people can say almost anything they want and usually only have to answer to the community at large. This allows for a free flow of ideas on a much wider range of related topics than most other email lists focused on a single product. The downside is it can easily wander into completely unrelated territory. Some people can get awfully annoyed at this. I can't say I blame them. But on this particular mailing list it is akin to being irritated at the smell of alcohol in a bar. It is the nature of the beast. Just as most Americans accept the idea that freedom of speech means putting up with a lot of nasty things that some people feel the need to say. TSML users mostly accept that allowing the topics to wander far and wide also allows topics that are directly related to their interests in computer graphics and often very valuable and interesting but not necessarily directly related to trueSpace. I found that I could reduce the unwanted off-topic chatter to the level of background noise while still gleaning valuable information by simply reading the subject line then deleting all messages with subjects in which I was not interested. While I spent well over a year regularly reading and contributing to TSML I found it to be one of the greatest learning experiences I have ever had in computer graphics. I have probably made trueSpace sound worse than it is. In fact it has improved quite a bit in version 5 but I upgraded to that version and tried it briefly and even with the newer features I keep finding limitations to their use that other programs do not have.

Quite often during my time on BryceTalk and just as much on TSML I kept hearing of Animation Master. At the time it cost a few hundred dollars and I did not want to spend that kind of money based solely on my curiosity about why people kept mentioning it. After all. If so many people using Raydream Studio, Bryce and trueSpace knew about it and if it was all that good then why were they not using Animation Master instead? But one day somebody used the word Hash. I recognized that name from 'the early years'. Once at a trade show I had purchased a spiffy new 3D program called Will Vinton's Playmation. It was from a company called Hash. The way I remember it when they first came out with Animation Master they were not offering upgrades from Playmation so I dropped the idea. I think it was a different ownership or something like that. But now, years later they were honoring even my old copy so I took the chance and did the upgrade to Animation Master.  

 

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