is the master of RS Freeware - Here's the
inside in what makes him tick:
kindly allowed us to "interview"
him on the 23rd December 2002. This is the
full transcript from the conversation:
B: Michael, tell us a
little about yourself:
M: I am born in 1955 and studied Eletrical
Engineering and Mathematics - most of it
long forgotten by now...
I am working as a self employed computer
consultant and programmer, up to now outside
of the graphics world.
B: How long have you been
using Real Michael?
M: Actually, I have never used Real3D
- the old version. I started with Realsoft3D
V4 when it first shipped in September
B: You have been a busy
man writing all manner of plugins for Realsoft
3D -much to the delight of all RS3D users
- and releasing them as freeware! What drives
you to write plugins ?
M: It all started with the brick shader.
I needed one for my first RS3D picture and
found that there was nothing available that
suited my needs for making bricks and shingles.
I began a brick shader in VSL, but it quickly
got so horribly complex that I switched
to the SDK and a 'real' programming language.
Most of the other plugins started out of
the same reason: I needed some feature that
was missing, and since I find graphical
programming fun (much more interesting than
my daily work in a bank...), I decided to
add it myself.
By now I like RS3D and the possibilities
that the SDK offers so much, that I am willing
to write plugins even if I don't need them
myself - just to support the incredible
capable people at Realsoft a bit.
I thought a little about charging for my
plugins, but discarded the idea for two
- The Realsoft community is still very
small, and only few people would buy my
plugins. It is probably not worth all
the hassle to setup a payment system,
doing the accounting and all that, just
for a few Euros. I get more satisfaction
out of the fact that people find my plugins
useful than from making a tiny bit of
- Many of the features I have implemented
are things that really should be part
of any decent 3D package. People should
not need to spend extra money on them.
B: Do you have any plans
/ time to do any further plugins for RS3D
M: Definitely! I have TONS of ideas for
more plugins. As soon as my time allows
I'll start doing more of them.
B: The plugins you have
written best known to people are: the OBJ
import/export, the Photoshop import/export,
DEM import and the brick/scratches/cellular
shaders. Have these been successful ?
M: I get occasional feedback from the maling
list or private mails, and it seems people
are liking them, probably most the OBJ and
Photoshop plugins. I suspect the DEM plugin
is the least favored one because large imported
DEM meshes are rather difficult to handle
B: I know that many people
love you for supporting OBJ - an invaluable
export medium that opens up many 3D programs
for RS users. But as there has been much
disussion about textures and the ability
to export textures with a scene - what sort
of obstacles are faced with this ?
M: Hmm - I understand the hint... :-).
I had planned to include a texture export
in the first release. I wanted to 'bake'
all textures and materials assigned to a
material into one complete texture and export
that. But at that time this was a rather
complex issue (there are a number of different
methods to assign a material to an object)
and Realsoft advised me to wait
for better methods in V4.5. Later other
things got in my way and prevented me from
going back to it. But I promise to look
at it again when I have time.
B: I also note that you
have a link on your website for Violin Strings
Library. Care to tell us what thats about
M: This is a simple Java library with some
useful string manipulation functions I wrote
some time ago, because the string class
in Sun's Java SDK was very limited. I am
happy that some other programmers around
the world found it useful. It has nothing
to do with graphics or Realsoft3D.
B: How do you think RS3D
sits in the 3D world ? Has it been a good
application for you to back / is it a package
that you think will become popular ?
M: Sadly, it is still little known in the
graphics community. Other packages get much
more attention for features that seem by
no means any better that Realsoft's. In
part this is due to the fact that Realsoft's
programmers are much better at mathematics
and programming than at marketing :-). But
we also need more users who can show excellent
work to the public. For my own hobbyist
work RS3D certainly offers everything I
need - if not, I write a plugin :-).
B: Do you use any other
3D applications ?
M:I have used Animation
in the past, but only for very simple pictures.
I discarded them all when I started with
RS3D, because I feel much more comfortable
with it than with any of the other packages.
And as a hobbyist I have little need to
learn lots of other applications.
B: Has Realsoft ever approached
you and asked to write anything specifically
or are all these plugins your ideas ?
M: Most of them are my own ideas, with
the exception of the Photoshop plugin. Günter
Hagedorn from DID
asked me if I could do such a plugin and
B: How hard is it to develop
plugins for Realsoft 3D ?
M: The SDK uses a rather unusual approach:
It is a large object oriented class library,
written in pure C. Personally, I would prefer
a C++ implementation, and learning the way
things are done in RS3D took me some time
to fully understand. You definitely must
be an experienced C programmer to be able
to use it. Another obstacle is that for
doing any work beyond the available samples
you have to understand the way the RS3D
classes are supposed to interact with each
other, and there is little documentation
available about that. Fortunately, Realsoft
was always extremely helpful in providing
support, even handing out pieces of their
source code if neccessary.
And unlike most other SDKs I have seen the
RS SDK really gives you the full power of
RS3Ds internal capabilities - you can do
EVERYTHING you want. Other companies often
give you just a limited set of entry points
to their application, preventing programmers
to take advantage of all the possibilities
of the software. This is quite different
with RS3D, and one of the reasons I like
to work with it.
B: What things would you
like to see RS implement / develop with
later versions ?
M: I would like to see more ways to render
dynamically generated, procedural geometry
efficiently - I see a number of very interesting
And I think VSL, as powerful and unique
as it is, is too much programmer oriented.
I'd like to see a more artist oriented shader
system in addition.
B: And finally, is there
anything you wish to say to the RS community
M: Please render more great pictures and
show them to the world! And thank you for
liking my plugins :-).
Michael, many thanks for taking the time
out to complete these questions ! We all
wish you the best of luck with your future
plugins and look forward to more great releases
from you !
other related articles - click
HERE to goto Articles page. To dowload
Michaels Great plugins - see his site HERE.