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BazBot By Frank Dodd 2002
article - miles finlay

Image Contest Administrator

Miles Finlay kindly allowed us to "interview" him on the 4th December 2002. This is the full transcript from the conversation:

B: Miles - can you tell us a bit about yourself:

M: I am dual-nationality - British and Canadian, born in the UK and living in Canada for the last 10 years. I am a retail manager (all my working life) but I studied art and design at University. I am married to Kaaren (an Image Contest judge, besides other things) and have a daughter (Kate, 1998) and a son (Jack, 2000). I have lots of hobbies of which 3D Graphics is the oldest. I am slightly round.

B: I'm told on good authority that you're quite the campaigner for Realsoft and do a lot of work behind the scenes - care to tell us a bit about that ?

M: I believe you are referring to Frank Dodd. ;) (B: How DOES he do it ?)

B: How long have you been using Realsoft and why the loyalty to the product ?

M: I started with Real 3D v 2.4 (Beta for Windows) about 8 years ago. I think this was the first version for Windows, being an Amiga only product prior to that. I was considering purchasing an Amiga just for R3D, but was tempted by Adam Godfrey (Realsoft distributor for North America back then) to try the beta version and of course, was hooked! I did a lot of research before purchasing R3D. I compared all the available products on the market but kept coming back to R3D for its features and the fact that Adam was the only rep that took the time to answer my questions. The bowling alley scene is what sealed the deal! Realsoft Graphics OY have kept the product up-to-date, although it tends to fall behind and then surge ahead, and its value for money is outstanding! I am only a hobbyist so cannot afford to spend thousands on my 3D software - Realsoft3D gives me the expensive tools at a pocket money price.

B: Do you enjoy dabbling in 3D ? Do you get time to play with Realsoft 3D ?

M: I love 3D! I've been hooked ever since creating a wireframe cube about 22 years ago on my first computer and seeing it spin around. I am hopeless at imagining three-dimensional volumes/spaces and am not really an artist, my 3D skills are limited - I am a one-horse trick - but I love to do the dabbling still. I am never satisfied with what I produce and rarely finish any of my projects and NEVER get enough time to do any of my hobbies. Since becoming a father to two young children my spare time is family time and 3D stuff has been relegated to the odd weekend about once a month - hardly enough...

B: You live in Calgary, Canada I see - that's an amazing part of the world - whats the temperature there now ? are you under 30 feet of snow yet ? ;)

M: Not 30 feet yet - but it's been a crazy year for weather - only July had no snow. So far this winter is pretty mild - just light snow everywhere and about -15 degrees today (cold is -40 degrees). (B: ouch !)

Click to goto Image Contest Site

B: Now you're the contest administrator for the Realsoft Image Contest. How did this start (in 1996 ?) and what spurs you on with this project ?

M: The contest began life with Kelly Brock (great old-time guy!), originally on the old Realsoft International BBS (I think) as an idea to help generate user-images. I loved the contest as I had always been aimlessly and half-heartedly starting (and never finishing) 3D images - this gave me a focus. Kelly handed the reins to Andy Makely who created the original website and the Image of the Year concept. He really created some interest in the contest and I loved the way he always wrote to me whenever I submitted anything and gave me personal feedback outside of the contest format. Another great guy! When it became obvious that Andy could no longer fit the contest into his busy personal life, I leapt at the chance to give something back to it. Andy handed over control to me in June 1999. I added the Copy That! theme and changed the rules for the Image of the Year component. I also changed the website (that's an ongoing project, that one!), added the Image Contest Forum and increased the number of judges.

B: Who is the contest aimed at ?

M: Anyone who needs inspiration to start or finish an image.

B: You say there are "three contests running concurrently". Care to tell us a bit about each and why you have set it up like that ?

M: The three contests are: Bi-Monthly, Annual and Copy That!. The Bi-Monthly has a set theme and a two month time-frame. Not everyone can work to these restrictions, whilst others enjoy the forced deadline. For those that need more time or creative freedom, they can submit any image on any theme in any style to the Annual Contest which is judged after December 31st each year. The Copy That! contest was an idea I picked up from the Imagine Contest web site. I tried it as a Bi-Monthly theme (you were given a photograph and had to reproduce it in 3D as accurately as possible) and it produced a few excellent results. The judges and I decided to extend the theme into an annual project to see who could come up with the ultimate image. The contest has never closed although it is probably time to find a new image...


B: Has the Image Contest increased in popularity since its inception ?

M: Well, entrants come and go - I have never tallied the numbers, so it is hard to say. There are always new names being added to the roster and some of the old names drop in and out as topics appeal to them. We have never had the ultimate topic yet that has produced entries from everyone - but then, even if we did, not everyone has the time to work on the contest. We seem to have stabilised, and the next step is to capitalise on the new users that will be attracted by v4.5.

B: The image contest url is under the magnamana name - so one would assume they host / and sponser the contest ? Does Magnamana play a role ?

M: Yes, Magna Mana (Axel Mertes in particular) are one of the great unsung heroes of the Realsoft 3D world. Beta-testers, professional artists, spokespeople and sponsors. They have collectively produced some of the most stunning Realsoft artwork ever! Axel is one of the judges as well and frequently he solicits input from his team when it comes to picking a winner.

B: I notice you submit the odd image to the contest - albeit not judged - so you're obviously keen to participate as well ?

M: Yes, always keen to enter, but never able to find time these days. I think I have a project folder for every topic ever posted (with the exception of Alien from July 1997, which I was on holiday for), but sadly, a lot of these projects never got beyond the initial planning stages. I also entered the MSA contest (MSA were the Japanese distributors) in 1996, for which I won third place, I think.

B: What would you ideally see the Image Contest being ? Larger ? More entries ? Worldly recognised ? RS specific or more general ?

M: I'd like the contest to produce enough quality images that I could take to a 3D magazine and submit as a Gallery page for Realsoft3D. When we get to that level I'd be really happy! I also think that the Contest should change administrators from time-to-time so as to remain fresh, If anyone wanted to take over and could commit to the time investment etc. I'd be more than happy to discuss things with them.

B: What input / feedback do you get from Realsoft themselves about the contest - how much do they participate ?

M: Realsoft Graphics OY participate in the judging of the Annual Contest as well as providing prizes for it. They are always grateful for the support that the Realsoft community provides - the images often end up on the official web site as an advertisement for the product.

B: You have a forum now for the contest. How sucessful has this been ? Is it utilised by users ?

M: Well, the forum was in response to the need for entrants to share and critique their work during the course of the contests. Some people wanted to see the images before the judging was completed and others wanted to solicit feedback before they submitted their final image. The forum is an excellent place to do this. The contest has always been about inspiring people to create better images and constructive criticism is an important part of that - the forum can only help. I love the popularity and liveliness of some of the 3D CG forums out there and think that it'd be nice to have something similar for Realsoft3D although I realise that our place is within the 3D community at large not in our own private room on the edge. Perhaps integration of the forum into whatever Realsoft "magazine" website is created/re-generated ;) will be a good thing. The mailing list really is the heart of this community and it'd take something amazing to replace it.

B: You obviously have good relationships with most of the RS developers - your prizes reflect that - Are the prizes for the contest donations from each respective company ?

M: Yes - I am always amazed at the quality and generosity of the prizes which have come in, unsolicited. A big thank you to all of the sponsors who continue to support the contests.

B: Do you have any ideas for future topics ?

M: Yes. Buzzing through my head right now is "the perfect computer mouse" which is familiar to all users and gives plenty of room for creativity.

B: And finally, is there anything you wish to say to the RS community ?

M: ENTER THE CONTEST(S)!! (thank you, thank you very much - you may win something too!). Oh, and also, thanks to the Realsoft Community I am still an avid Realsoft3D user - the community really matches the quality of the product! The product is great but the mailing list in particular makes it fun!

Many thanks for taking the time out to complete these questions Miles!

Regards, Bernie

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