Vintage CG.
January 11, 2010 7:54 AM   Subscribe

So, it's 1987 and you want to make some rad CG? If only you could travel 23 years into the future and watch Vintage CG's You Tube Channel for some inspiration.

You might wonder why some people thought Golden tigers jumping over fire pits would make for a good cigarette ad in Malaysia, or just wonder what the hell is going on here. Maybe you'd even consider taking a look at what's going on at the Starving Computer Artists Mart.

For the more technical minded of you, you may be asking what will the computers of the future will be like? You may also have questions about the state of the art (in 1982) Xerox Star interface.
posted by sp160n (17 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
From the YouTube description in the first link:

Music is by Mark Mothersbaugh (of DEVO), who later admitted to embedding a subliminal message: "Sugar is bad for you."
posted by abc123xyzinfinity at 8:06 AM on January 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

In 1986 I had the chance to play on the Quantel Paintbox at a TV station -- now that was serious CGI. I remember with one keystroke grabbing a commercial frame directly from the on-air feed and then painting mustaches on the people. I remember the guys there also had cool magazines dedicated to CGI... one had a detailed layout about how CGI people did the Dire Straits "Money For Nothing" video. I wish I had saved my copies of the magazines but one looks around I bet you can find copies on eBay.

Now if you want to get into serious old school, there's Scanimate, an analog broadcast CGI system built around 1968-69. You've seen quite a bit of it on The Electric Company.
posted by crapmatic at 8:14 AM on January 11, 2010

Heh, things have improved quite a lot.

For some context: This was the time when the Amiga was starting to hit its stride. One of the early demos, which was absolutely mindblowing to people used to Apple IIs and IBM PCs with 64K and monochrome Hercules graphics cards, was this:

The Amiga Boing Ball

With modern eyes, of course, Boing looks completely stupid, but calling it the demo that sold a million computers probably is an under-estimate. Some games were already more impressive, but they were all in 2D, and the faux-3D of Boing was visually much more striking to many people. Later programmers, of course, would drive that hardware far, far further, but in 1987, Boing was the happening demo.

When you watch these primitive CG animations, keep that in mind as a comparison point.
posted by Malor at 8:30 AM on January 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

A couple years later (starting in 1990), Toaster (video editor) was a component card to install in an Amiga 2000 with the ability to generate spectacular transitions, render 3D, and overlay text. We had an old system in my high school video lab in 1995-6, and though our system was dated, it was fun to use.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:56 AM on January 11, 2010

My eyes originally transposed the date at the top to 1897, which made the subject sound really intriguing in a Georges Melies/steampunk/Difference Engine sort of way. The actual post is still fine and intriguing. Carry on.
posted by mosk at 9:02 AM on January 11, 2010

in 1987, Boing was the happening demo.

I think the Juggler demo was quite a bit cooler, and that was released in January 1986.
posted by martinrebas at 9:10 AM on January 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh Commodore, how much you threw away.
posted by mecran01 at 9:11 AM on January 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

I wanted to be a cg artist after seeing Tron as a kid. I was told that neither I, nor any university within my reach, would ever be able to afford the computing power necessary to achieve such a goal and would I like to be an electrical engineer instead?

I was born 15 years too early. Fuck you, time.

Awesome post
posted by WolfDaddy at 9:34 AM on January 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

I haven't seen Poly Gone in about two decades. I love everything about that video.
posted by phooky at 9:41 AM on January 11, 2010

This early CGI and those Amiga demos still look fresh to me. Computer graphics are more realistic now, but that early stuff was blazing trails.
posted by scrowdid at 9:53 AM on January 11, 2010

Brings me back. I remember starting out doing animation on the old Wavefront system back in about '88. Everything was command line. Back then the future was all about SGI.
posted by misterpatrick at 9:53 AM on January 11, 2010

I miss the checkerboards extending to the horizon in every direction.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:32 AM on January 11, 2010

What about the "demoscene" of the '90s? Anyone remember that?
posted by PsychoTherapist at 10:33 AM on January 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

Mmmm... ray tracing. Specular reflection. I remember working on an Onyx in '93 and it did texture mapping fast enough to animate it in real-time. Too bad I didn't have any decent textures. To quote my graphics TA: "Is that fur on the roof?"
posted by GuyZero at 10:41 AM on January 11, 2010

In the late 80's early 90's I wasted a lot of time playing around in Sculpt 3d, Caligari, and Deluxe Paint. A couple of my Amigas still work but now I only use them to play MechForce.
posted by Tenuki at 11:14 AM on January 11, 2010

My plan is now to download a bunch of these, burn them to DVD, and sell them on the street as bootleg copies of Avatar. Ha, HA!
posted by fungible at 11:44 AM on January 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

The Starving Computer Artists Market one was pretty durn funny I tells ya what.
posted by Spatch at 12:59 AM on January 12, 2010

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