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feature article - realman 3d

Richard Swingwood gives us some background on Realman 3D:

Richard Swingwood kindly allowed us to "interview" him on the 11th May 2003. This is the full transcript from the conversation:

Richard, tell us about yourself:

I'm 45 & recently divorced. I live and work in Colchester, UK "The oldest recorded town in Britain". I work for a small company that supplies computer-related services to local businesses. I have spent the majority of my working life writing software, though not so much in recent years.

How long have you been using Real?

Since version 1.4 on the Amiga. I remember replacing the 68000 processor in my A500 with a 68010 to speed up my renders (it was allegedly 10% faster!)

3D is just a hobby for you. How did you get into it?

It started when I saw "The Juggler" - a short Amiga animation by Eric Graham. On the strength of that I purchased Sculpt3D and a copy of the 'C' source code Eric used for the animation. Sometime later I saw a render in Amiga Format magazine of an Edam cheese complete with holes. That had enough 'wow' factor for me to get my wallet out and become a proud owner of Real3D. I must stress that I'm not so easily impressed these days :)

You were involved in Andy Jones' Enhancer product for Real3D. How did that come about?

I can't recall why but I was on the phone to Andy one day and when he found out I wrote software he asked if I'd fancy writing some plugins for Real. I was happy to give it a go so Andy got me a copy of the development kit and explained what he wanted. He designed the whole thing, wrote all the RPL code and I wrote the postprocessing routines in C.

What was your inspiration for the Realman plugin?

That man Mr Jones again ;) He asked for a Real3D postprocess effect that would invert the alpha channel and I duly obliged. But It got me thinking that there was a need for a general-purpose effect that could be 'programmed' to manipulate the image in any way possible. I've always been interested in computer languages and compilers and had spent more time than is probably healthy reading and re-reading "The Renderman Companion", so this led me to the idea of a programmable material system.

I was aware that V4 was being developed and eventually found my way on to the alpha team. It was obvious from the start that V4 was THE place to implement my idea and when the SDK was first released I started work on it.

Will you continue to work on Realman?

Yes! It needs the ability to use VSL objects such as 'Texture' and 'RayTrace' and I'd like to implement it as an Image Processing effect too. But unfortunately this will all be on an as-and-when basis.

Any thoughts on a 'Darktree' type system for Real?

I've never seen Darktree but I sometimes use a piece of software called SynC Modular. It's a sound synthesiser and it's user interface takes the visual, node-based approach. It's amazing how quickly the screen can become a mess of boxes and lines. I personally don't like the idea; there has to be a compromise between flexibility and useability and in that respect I think VSL hits the sweet spot.

What would you like to see in Version 5?

A toolbar button that automatically and accurately models the thing I'm thinking of at the time :)) C'mon Juha I know you can do it!

Richard, Thank you for taking the time to write an article for the Render Daemon. And a big thanks from all the RS community for releasing Realman 3D as a FREE download. click HERE to find out more on Realman / download.

Kind regards,


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Page updated on Sunday, 11 May, 2003 . For feedback / model submissions or articles - please email us.
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