Finlay kindly allowed us to
"interview" him on the 4th December
2002. This is the full transcript from the
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!
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
gives me the expensive tools at a pocket
B: Do you enjoy dabbling
in 3D ? Do you get time to play with Realsoft
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 !)
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,
and Copy That!.
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
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
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
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!
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