From the Archive

A little bit about me…I’ve been using computers to generate artwork since 7th  grade when I took a class in B.A.S.I.C. programming in 1979. I wrote a program that  used two paddles as input devices like an Etch-a-Sketch on a borrowed Apple II.

From there it was “shape tables” to create animation in one of the first  consumer level programs called “Graphics Magician”.
At that time the Apple had 128 kb of ram, which allowed for  7 colors- two of those were white.
The first personal computer I bought (with money I earned  working for nearly two years in a print shop with my dad) was an Apple IIc.  It  had 256k of RAM.

I chose to attend Thomas More College in KY because they  were known for their Computer Science program. However, from the beginning I  was always an artist. I wanted to learn the computer side of things because I  wanted to learn animation but they didn’t even offer a program that would  accommodate animation. The equipment didn’t exist- at least not at a price  that was affordable to a small college. But I knew I wanted to use the computer  as an artistic medium. So I took all the programming classes (Fortran, Pascal,  COBOL, Machine Assembly, etc.) and worked at the same time towards a degree in  Art- my real passion.

When I was awarded a CO-OP student position for The  Cincinnati Bell Telephone Company in 1985- they had an IBM AT with a 2 mHz  processor- (that’s Megahertz not GigaHertz) with an Intel Math Co-Processor. I  remember being really excited when that got upgraded to 4mHz.
The system ran  PictureMaker software- the tablet  was not cordless and the main monitor was of the monochrome green ilk. Using the PictureMaker software I was able to build some of  the nicest bar graphs you could imagine. The learning curve was steep because  the feedback was brutally slow. Models were built by entering x,y,z coordinates  one vertex at a time. A simple frame of animation would take hours to render.  Even very basic logos took DAYS to render.

I recall doing an animation of a circuit board that took  nearly 2 weeks to calculate because it had texture maps in it. We rendered  directly to one-inch tape at that time because the only other storage medium  option was a 10-megabyte Bernoulli cartridge- we only had 3 of them because they were  so expensive. For reference- that meant we could store about 9 images at NTSC Standard Definition per cartridge. A 10 second animation would require about 32 on those cartridges- at something like $300 apiece (in 1987 dollars).
I remember when “reflectance mapping” was something new and  exciting. And when the phone company bought “True Color Paint” I was amazed  that I could now paint in 24-bit color instead of the meager 16-bit color  offered by Lumina- the best paint program offered prior to that.

In the 20+ years since that time I have watched (and grown  up) as faster and faster machines and more sophisticated software  revolutionized the industry. In that time I have owned more SGI workstations,  Macs and PCs than I can easily tally. I have been in and around the industry of animation since  its inception. But the majority of my knowledge was self-taught and learned  “hands-on” after college. Because of this, the experience I have developed has  required a high degree of technical proficiency. But I am an Artist at heart.  Through it all I have never stopped producing all manner of traditional  artwork. I am as comfortable carving wood and building musical instruments as I  am at oil painting, sculpting or photography. The computer is simply another  palette to me. I use it as I would a brush or a pen.

Aside from my animation, short-form videos, and traditional  artwork, some of my other projects include stand-up comedy, 2 screenplays, more  than a dozen short stories, and a book that pays tribute to my father’s  personal outlook on life. I also play Mountain Dulcimer, and a host of other musical instruments.
Lately, my passion has been 3D printing…. man what a mind-blower that is…. frustrating and so freaking cool….

Anyway-  I guess if i were to sum up “about me” – it would be this… I actively pursue creativity on any (and every) platform that piques my interest… I just like learning new stuff…

Brian