My Tool Museum

Over the years — going back to about 1992 — I’ve got to (had to) work with lots and lots and lots of different software. I used be a reviews editor, and I used to write a lot of magazine reviews, mostly in the 3D-graphics space. My bookshelf would have put the Fry’s software aisle to shame. I’ve scaled way back on writing reviews (the going rate has gone from $1 a word to about 2 cents) and I’ve also gotten soft about trying every new tool that comes along. But a few of them have survived. Here some of my favorites from over the years, some of which I still use today.

Form*Z. My first hard-core 3D modeler. Autodessys used to send me cards from Greek vacations after a couple of stellar reviews I wrote. Don’t use it much anymore. Too architecturally focused. I never liked its “Nurbz” tools and most of my modeling has gone organic.

Electric Image Animation System. Stalwart tool of ILM’s now-defunct Rebel Unit. Software that launched 3D animation into films and got John Knoll started. Once great. Now, well, remaindered. Used to cost $15,000 a seat for the “production” version. Could render several frames per hour on a Mac IIfx. I used EI with Formm*Z for the Ironclads project. Think I still have a dongle around here, somewhere.

Strata3D. This was once the best raytracer you could find, anywhere. Was the first one I ever saw with raydiosity (sic). I cut my teeth on this tool and thought it was pretty cool until I saw Electric Image. The modeler always sucked. Sucks even worse by comparison now. I think you can still buy it, but you probably shouldn’t. I’ve long since erased it from my hard drives.

Alias Sketch! Sketch was the first Nurbs modeler I ever got my hands on. Beautiful tool at the time, but then, no one offered a decent subdivision surfaces modeler, so I had no idea what was coming.

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