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VRgrafix 2002
article - soft-artist

Import / Export master Kimmo tells us where he's at:

Kimmo Pekkola kindly allowed us to "interview" him on the 20th December 2002. This is the full transcript from the conversation:

B: Kimmo, tell us a little about yourself:

K: My name is Kimmo Pekkola and I'm 27 years old Sofware Engineer from Tampere, Finland. I graduated couple of years ago from Tampere University of Technology with Software Systems as my major.

B: Are you a Real 3D user from way back or new to the 3D arena ?

K: I had my first contact with Real3D during the Amiga era, so I've been around quite a long time. Though, I'm not an artist myself so I don't actively use these kind of programs like Realsoft3D. But I've always been very interested in computer generated artwork so I do follow the what's happening in the scene.

B: You were responsible under the name of Soft Artist for writing many of the import/export plugins for Realsoft 3D. You have since moved onto a full time position - what sort of work have you got into now ?

K: I'm working in a company called Octaga ( if anyone is interested :-), which is making a MPEG-4 compatible virtual reality browser. So, I'm nowadays more involved with real-time 3D graphics than the precalculated kind.

B: What prompted this move ? Do you still have any plans / time to do any further plugins for RS3D ?

K: I do have some plans (related to real-time VR models), but unfortunately currently I have so many other projects going that I don't think I have time for it at the moment.

B: Soft Artist - is the company that you setup ? Whats the status on this now ? Is it still current ?

K: I was just an employee in that company. It is not very active anymore since the owner has a full-time job teaching in the university and he's not that involved with the company anymore (and I was also his only employee :-). I do still work on the plugins now and then.

B: Your plugins best known to people are: The IGES in/out, Illustrator import & VRML in/out. Have these been successful ?

K: I don't know about the sales numbers, but most of the feedback that I receive is about the IGESplugin. And luckily most of it has been quite positive, so at least that plugin has been useful for some people :-)

B: Other plugins that perhaps people have not heard about were Slicer and Reducer. Do you have any other little applications that you care to tell us about ?

K: The Slicer and Reducer were something I did for my MSc thesis. We had some plans to create a set of tools to help to create virtual worlds with Realsoft3D, but we never got around to implement them. I might have some old pieces of code laying around somewhere, but I don't think there is anything useful. At least nothing that is worth releasing.

B: What prompted you to write plugins for Realsoft 3D ? Were you contacted directly from Realsoft ?

K: The owner of Soft-Artist had some previous contact with the Realsoft guys so we knew that they were creating a completely new version of their wonderful software and we had the opportunity to get involved in quite early stage of Realsoft3D.

B: And why write import / export plugins ? What was the impetus behind that ?

K: Well, support for 3rd party file formats is something that every 3D modeling software package needs and that was the thing that Realsoft3D was missing. So, we decided to implement a few importers & exporters that we thought would be useful for the users.

B: Do you have any more plans for more modules ? (I'm sure you know that people are screaming for good import/export capabilities - in particular 3ds with textures / LW / Max files etc)

K: Creating importers and exporters is really not that interesting job. Especially since most of the formats are not specified very well and everyone tends to interpret the specs as they please. Usually it doesn't take too much time to make a simple importer, which supports most of the key features of the format, but to make it compatible with all kinds of files exported from various different applications takes a lot of work.

B: Your plugins are currently for sale directly through Realsoft. Is this a good way to do it and has it worked for you ?

K: Don't know much about this since I'm not too involved with the business side of the things. But I guess it works quite well for us. There is no need to set up webshops or handle the marketing since Realsoft does that for us.

B: How hard is it to develop plugins for Realsoft 3D ?

K: It does take some time to get to know the API, but generally it's not too difficult. There are a lot of example code that comes with the SDK and that helps a lot. My experience is mostly on importers and exporters, which are not that hard to implement depending of course on the file format in question. The IGESplugin was a real pain since the format is so awful. I probably have never started to implement the plugin if I'd known about all the details of the file format (and seen how other applications think IGES files should look like :-).

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

K: I'm involved in few quite different communities (or well watching from distance :-) and I have to say that the RS community is definitely among the best ones.

Kimmo, thank you very much for taking time out to talk about SoftArtist with us. We all wish you the best of luck for the future.


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