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Apple History Buffs: Pencil Test, Theology


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Here's one for you Apple Macintosh history buffs.

In the Autumn of 1994, I attended the MacWorld Expo at Boston's version of the World Trade Center. The multimedia boom was peaking in those days. Many commercial printeres were experimenting with the idea of adding interactive multimedia cd-rom authoring to their lineup of services.

At the Expo, I picked up a brand new external 2x Apple CD reader.

One of the cds that came with the reader was called Apple Gazette. Basically, this was an interactive cd for 3rd party vendors. One of Avid's first video editing software was featured here. So were the first vetures featured from Macromedia, formerly MacroMind.

There was one portion of the disk that I recall that featured several small videos, sized 240x180 pix, or even 160x120. Those were the days; postage stamp video. It's really marvellous how today's broadband internet has better video than that. Anyway, here were some of the videos featured:

Pencil Test - created in 3d, not with Strata StudioPro, but with another popular 3d software from those days, this video featured a crude version of a Mac Plus computer (which was my first Mac), and how a little Pencil Tool from MacPaint just leaps out of the screen and into the real world when the user walks away from the computer to answer the doorbell. As it's exploring its new surroundings, the user returns to switch off the computer while he's with his guests. The rest of the video deals with the little Pencil Tool's crude but inventive ways to restart the computer and return to its native environment. Cute little ditty, especially given the state of Mac and 3d animation at the time.

3d Cafe - Welcome to 3d Cafe. Again, very simplistic, but totally cool 3d, complete with excellent cinematographic use of the virtual camera.

Lifeforms - A simple rendition of Poser 1.0. A figure does a backflip, and then leaps backwards and does a handstand while spreading its legs apart. All done with an elegant music accompaniment. I can't remember the publisher of Poser in those days; now it's Creative Labs.

Theology - Here's a piece that is of such quality that its 160x120 postage stamp video just doesn't do it justice! The camera is constantly panning around a central sphere in the middle of the foreground.

Part 1 could be titled, "Origin" (these are my titles; I have no idea who created this piece or what their purpose was): a mystical tribal beat plays while something similar to Stonehege grows up and around the sphere on all sides, encompassing and enveloping it, kinda like some kind of coccoon. Then the camera shows that there are heiroglyphics in the texture of the 3d coccoon surfaces.

Part 2 could be called "The Temple": there was a grand crescendo in the music, and now the central sphere in the foreground, after going through a fiery ... transformation? ... is now inside some kind of temple-like structure. The music is now very mysterious.

Part 3 could be called "Emergence", in which the entire Temple morphs and transforms into some kind of futuristic spaceship which takes off with a grand and spectacular fanfare.

Part 4 could be called "Prologue": in the wake of the grand takeoff of that spaceship, the ever panning camera focuses in on the birth of another sphere in the foreground.

Confused? Well, so was I in watching this piece. But I was totally amazed and impressed with the 3d technology that was used in this piece. Surely this must have been created on something a lot better than a Mac. It looked more like something created on SGI computers or something high-end like that.

If anyone is familiar with "Theology", tell me, was there ever a full length feature created of this project? I think that it might have been created as a promotional piece for Apple Computer. But I have no other information than that. I would really like to see the full video somewhere. Even by today's standards, the morphing and transformations in this 3d piece were nothing short of spectacular.
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