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Realsoft Oy

Developers of Real 3D and Realsoft 3D

feature article - realsoft oy

Realsoft Oy, developers of Real 3D and Realsoft 3D give us some background:

Vesa Meskanen kindly allowed us to "interview" him on the 18th February 2003. This is the full transcript from the conversation:

B: Vesa, could you please tell us a little about yourself:

V: I'm 38 years old, married and happy . My education is in mathematics, but my work has always been 3D software development. During my free time, I like to be out in the nature, fish, and also do some training at the gym.

B: Could you tell us a little about your home town, Tampere in Finland ? (I hear there is good fishing there ;)

V: Tampere is a medium size town: 200 000 people live here. I like it, because it is a peaceful place, but still offers most urban entertainments. The city is located between two lakes so there are good fishing opportunities here. For some reason, I do not fish here: I often travel 1200 kilometers northwards to fish in an artic environment. I suppose the grass is greener on the other side of the fence...

View out the office window in the morning (February)

B: You have been hard at work for well over a decade writing Real 3D and now Realsoft 3D, what drives you to write software, what keeps you going ?

V: Many things. I often create 3D images myself and i like to improve the tool by adding new features and possibilities to it. The second major motivation is of course the great user community we have. It is very rewarding to see how the efforts put into the development carry fruit in form of nice images and animations.

B: Realsoft Oy is the company behind Real 3D and its successor, Realsoft 3D. Can you give us a little background behind the company and its staff ?

V: I started the company 1989 when Real 3D v.1.0, a product which Juha and I had been developing for years, became ready for a commercial release. Realsoft started in a very modest way: we printed the first 50 manuals with a laser printer ourselves. By the way, that was the first and last manual which was written in Finnish. Computer graphics was growing rapidly at that time. It was surprisingly easy to get into the business, and the company started growing. Juha joined the company next year, and we started exporting the product. First to Scandinavia, then to the Europe, and soon to overseas.

Some employees from Juha's previous job place ported the Amiga version to PC. Pertti Jääskeläinen was one of the three guys who did the porting. We hired him after the successful project. The port was finished just in time before the difficulties of Amiga started. Pertti has coded for example the SDS modeler.

Stefan, our Unix expert, joined the team when v.4 development was started in mid 90's. Stefan's main job is at Nokia - he maintains the Unix versions as his side job. He played a very important role in the design and development of v.4.

In the beginning of 90's, my little sister Sirpa was handling the sales office. We were a real family enterprise at that time! Sirpa had a business education and did a good job in the office, but then she decided to change her career into a more artistic direction. She went back to school, this time to study graphics design. Nowadays she is creating our adverts and other such material. So, we had to find a new employee when Sirpa left. We found Satu with the help of a local employment agency. She has taken very good care of the office after that.

Satu at work in the office

B: I think you scared a few people recently when went down for over a week. Care to tell us what happened there ? I note that you have a new improved site online now, faster and with new links !

V: The internet service provider (FeaturePrice, USA) just surprised us with their bad service. That was their way to inform us that it is time to renew the internet account! Unfortunately we did not manage to renew it, because it was impossible to find qualified support persons there. So we were forced to move the site to another ISP. After all that trouble, we couldn't really even consider using their services any more. It also took quite many days before all domain name servers linked to the new site. That's it.

B: How do you think RS3D sits in the 3D world and where do you see RS3D going ?

V: We are a small player, but in many ways different from the competitors. We try to provide an open toolset which gives a lot of performance for the invested money, and there are lots of artists who appreciate that. On the other hand, increasing the customer base takes efforts and lots of time, because the competition is so hard, and the market leaders have so much better visibility.

It seems that this business is today difficult for all companies. However, our position is safe: all costs are covered with the sales incomes. There are no risk investments involved. It will remain safe as long as we manage to add new features and improve the product enough to keep the existing users happy.

B: Do you use / research other 2D / 3D applications ?

V: Not much. We use feedback from users for that purpose.

B: How do you feel about Developers of Plugins for RS3D ? Are these people important to your core program or do you feel they just suppliment your basic feature set ?

V: The existing and coming plugins have an enourmous importance. The import/export plugins are essential for most users. RealCloth and Chrono plugins represent state-of-the-art technology and major development efforts which could not be covered with our own resources. It is a pity that some powerful but highly specialized plugins are probably suffering from our small user base - I'm thinking here the Realman material plugin.

B: Realsoft Oy is only a small company. You have kept the team tight and have not expanded over the years. Why is this ? With so many other 3D companies, expansion is natural progression. Is it a case of keeping it simple ? Or do you feel you keep the product the way you feel it should be ?

V: I guess there are many reasons for that. First of all, it is nice to work in a small company, we are 100 % independent and do what we like! Now I can participate in the development, which I like very much. In a bigger organiation, I'd have to choose between a developer's job or a manager job.
In today's tight marketplace, expansion is possible only by taking some serious risks. A failure would probably mean end of the story. We have chosen the safe way.

B: There is a lot of speculation about version 5.0 of Realsoft, just what sort of tidbits can you tell us will be in v5.0 ?

V: We will follow 'the good old recipe': one quarter of hot new innovations, one quarter of improvements in the basic construction blocks, one quarter of most wanted features requested by users, and one quarter of bug fixes & performance enhancements:) Featurewise, there will be new SDS editing tools, new v3 style compound tools, new VSL features, a fractal tree generator, UV editor improvements, new hair rendering solutions, etc. The list is not yet fixed.

B: With so many other 3D apps touting new features - surely there has to be an end to just how many new features we can expect ! What else could we possibly ask for ?

V: Developing a 3D software is like building a pyramid. We can always add a new set of basement blocks and then build a new layer on top of the previous one. The work never ends. Our existing idea lists already contains work probably for the next 5 years!

B: There have been minor murmers around with people asking for a book on Realsoft 3D. Do you feel this would have a market ?

V: It makes sense, if the book is good and produced cost efficiently. I'm afraid the author would not get rich by selling the book.

B: Do you have plans for support of realtime shader-languages (such as OpenGL 2.0)? (Mirco is busting to know;)

V: We have been thinking that, but no development has been done yet for that purpose. I'm sure such an option will appear sooner or later.

B: Realsoft is renoun for its tight knit community. User loyalty is high in a marketplace that is very boyant. With mailling lists, Image contsts, Forums, IRC channels and dedicated websites, its become quite diverse. Do you think this is one of its best assets ?

V: Yes, indeed. For work motivation reasons and also for financial reasons. It improves user satisfaction remarkably, because people on the mailing list are so helpful. New users get help quickly if they encounter a problem.

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

V: One word: Thanks!

Vesa, Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. We appreciate that you (and Juha) are hard at work implementing new features and pushing 4.5 SP1 out the door now. We all thank your for persevering with Realsoft 3D, a package that we all use and highly appreciate.

Kind regards,


Realsoft Graphics Oy    

Tehtaankatu 6
35820 Mantta


Int + 358 3 4718390

Fax   Int + 358 3 4718533

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