First of All...A Bit of History...

February 17, 2007 9:57 pm

My name is Thomas Gray (but most folks just call me "Tom"), and I'm probably better known among the 2D/3D communities as "Hawkfyr."

Back in 1997 or 98, I had an opportunity to buy a used PC from a friend, and he let me use it for a couple of months to see if I'd like to buy it. I poked around a bit on it, not knowing much about how to use it, but I happened upon this program that captured my interest, and later fulfilled a creative part of me that had been dormant since I'd laid down my guitar a few years prior.

That application was "Bryce2" (then owned by Meta Tools). Again…I knew naught what I was doing, but I did know it captured my interest, and although my first images were primitive pyramids floating over desert landscapes, I displayed them proudly as my desktop wallpaper (Ha!…you thought I was gunna say "spheres over water" din-cha?).

I never ended up buying "that" computer, but did purchase another used one. I got it home, hooked it up, and went to go play with Bryce…and…'s gotta be around here somewhere...I mean, don't ALL computers come with it? Well, evidently not. So the first thing I did was run out to Best Buy and got a copy of it. Imagine my amazement that by that time…it was called "Bryce 3" (by then it was "Meta Creations" if memory serves me correctly).

I got it home, tore open the wrapping, and installed it only to find…it was different than the other one I had played with, in fact…it was even BETTER! Oh what joy a couple hundred bucks brought…who cared if the phone bill didn't get paid on time?

I was "Brycin"…and hooked hard.

It wasn't long before I found "Bryce Chat" and "alt.binaries.3d.bryce" on the newsgroups and was interacting with other like-minded folks.

"Hey! How did you get those humans in your render?"…"Poser, you say?"

Alas…another phone bill got paid late as I went back to Best Buy and bought Poser 3.

Can you see the addiction developing?

Well…it wasn't long before I was exploring other online sites…seeking out any and all knowledge I could about my new found passion. I met some great folks who were more than willing to help out a newcomer like me, and it wasn't long before I started to get the hang of things, and started helping others.

Oh, the hoops we had to jump through to get Posette into Bryce (especially "clothed")…and don't even get me started on what was involved in getting her textured! Bump Maps had an unrecognizable format then, and needed converted. Oh, and especially things like eyelashes and hair that involved transparency. What seems effortless now, was an all day event back in those days. You can probably thank several of your fellow members for developing scripts and plug-ins that allow for more user friendly transitions between applications you see integrated in some programs today.

Speaking of "Those Days"…Resource websites such as Renderosity (then "PFO"), were pretty much simple message boards and a gallery with a Tutorial section, and a place to download "Free Stuff" (then called "Fun Stuff"). But it had a Wild Wild West mentality, and new ideas were being pioneered daily. This "phenomenon" was gathering momentum at a staggering rate…and it wasn't long before it became apparent that, in order for it to continue, there would have to be a way to pay for the site(s) to continue providing "Free" resources.

We all brainstormed about how to pay for this thing called "hosting," and other never before heard of things like "bandwidth" and "server space." I mean…most of us were just wanna-be artists and hobbyists who fell into this thing bass ackwards. What did we know of how to actually make the site(s) "self supporting"?

We kicked around several ideas. Things like getting investors involved, "passing the hat," or maybe making it a subscription type of site. But…those were unpredictable as far as forecasting revenue, and didn't really provide anything to the membership other than what they were getting already. and Investors would be expecting an ROI (return on investment), and we certainly didn't want Guido showing up at the door.

Ultimately, it was decided that an online "store" would not only bring in revenue, but it would provide a supplemental income to those who became vendors, all the while keeping the "resource" part of the site "free." Who knew then that some of those content providers would go on to become very successful, and do it full time?

It was a bold concept, and although not entirely new, it would assure that the site would sink or swim by its own hand. No one would be to blame for its failure, nor would there be any "one" contributor to honor for its success.

So we fumbled about…each contributing his or her unique experiences to keep the site alive. All, but a very few paid programmers, volunteering their time, blood, sweat, tears, and laughter, to "give back" to the community that had so graciously provided them with the knowledge and tools to move forward with their passion.

My role? Well…I expanded on an idea from the newsgroups, and asked the originator if it would be cool to incorporate the "challenges" we had in the newsgroups, into a forum/gallery here at Renderosity…and thus started, and moderated the "Challenge Arena" here at Renderosity. Not long after that, I joined Clay Hagabush in moderating the Bryce Forum.

As I mentioned…we were blazing new trails, and encountering new vistas, as well as new obstacles The TOS was a document that seemed to be modified almost daily to accommodate some new unexpected situation or predictable scenario.

Eventually, as with most "rather unorganized" entities involving money, things started to fall apart (this was the beginning of what became known as "The Site Wars"). Everyone involved at the time has his or her version of how events unfolded, but the end result was a "split" in allegiances of those governing the site, as well as some of the membership, followed by a mass exodus and subsequent up-cropping of new sites popping up all over. Some succeeding and some failing, but most of which had familiar names running them, and my name was among them…

I became the Bryce forum moderator at another site. Before long, I was administrator in charge of marketing for several years, as well as testing store products, helping with the magazine and newsletter, running all of the contests, and moderating nearly every forum at one time or another when it needed someone. I also represented the site at the SIGGRAPH conventions where I got to meet and rub elbows with those I had only known in a "virtual" way. My marketing position enabled me to acquire and distribute software from the developers, so I also wrote many of the software reviews at that time. I eventually ended up passing the torch. I'm happy to say that site is among those that still thrive today, and I'm proud to have been a part of it.

So…what am I now?

Well, as someone so eloquently put it, I'm a qualified, card-carrying member of the "Ex-Evil Overlord's Club." Those of us who where there when it all started...rallied together to get it off the ground, watched the slow motion train wreck (and probably participated in it as well), assisted in the clean up afterwards, attempted to enrich member experience, and influence the shape of communities into what they are today. Then, eventually, make available the opportunity for others to give back to the community…and try to see things from both sides.

And…what does this qualify me for?

Nothing, really…although I've been able to utilize the "experience" in certain occurrences, and has opened doors for me in my real life.

I can say that I've been able to bear witness to a lot through my involvement in the online 2D/3D art communities over the years, and as I've said many times:

"A wise man learns from his mistakes…but the wiser man learns from the mistakes of others."

Well…I've learned from both, lol!

When I was approached to be a "Commentary Columnist" here at Renderosity, I didn't really ask "why?"
I just thought to myself…"Yeah…I can do it"…and then I thought…"I wonder…do they know what they might be getting themselves into? I mean…have they read some of my stuff?" 8 )

But all kidding aside…I'm honored to be asked to do this and thought I might use my first column to illustrate a brief history of the communities origins, and the small part I played in them over the years. When I say "brief," I do mean it. These communities have gone through so many changes over the years, it would take a novelist to cover it all.
However…I think that is what keeps us coming back. The fact that it's perpetually changing, is what keeps it interesting. Not unlike the ever evolving technology we all use to bring our "art" to fruition, so is the platform in which we present it.

The forums are full of "opinions" of how many among us feel about "change". The consensus, at least among the more vocal, seems to demonstrate that most don't like change, regardless of what it is. Or…cry out for changes, only to complain about them after the alterations have been made.

It is my belief that without variation in our "creative diet," including how it's prepared and presented, we would diminish artistically.


Well…I've exceeded my word count for this column, so I'd better close for now and send it off for approval.

I sure hope they don't make me edit it…after all…I hate change. 8 )




Talkfyr with Thomas Gray [Hawkfyr] 

is a regular Renderosity Front Page commentary column, with Renderosity artist Hawkfyr, reporting what's on his mind. 


February 19, 2007



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Article Comments

UVDan ( posted at 12:00AM Tue, 20 February 2007

Way to go!!! I like it, even though you glossed over all the hand to hand combat and counter-insurgency operations.

SndCastie ( posted at 12:00AM Tue, 20 February 2007

Hey Tom great read and I remember those days :O)

mylemonblue ( posted at 12:00AM Tue, 20 February 2007

Warning. alt.binaries moves fast and if you don't have a creepy the clown cocked and ready at your side your mind could explode at any time. Now when do we get pulled up to and boarded by a ship filled with pirate kittens? Great article. :D

kathym ( posted at 12:00AM Tue, 20 February 2007

Yeah I remember those days ... heck I think I still have my original copy of Poser 3 by Meta Creations laying around here somewhere. This is definately going to be an interesting column to watch. :)

StaceyG ( posted at 12:00AM Tue, 20 February 2007

Great Article Tom, interesting read:) Can't wait to see what's next!!

BAR-CODE ( posted at 12:00AM Tue, 20 February 2007

Good item ..but but but ...WHERE are the images?? i mis images ..all kind of strange images :} Chris

Jumpstartme2 ( posted at 12:00AM Tue, 20 February 2007

Fantastic article Tom :) I'll be checking this frequently for sure ;)

bobbystahr ( posted at 12:00AM Tue, 20 February 2007

Good one Tom, you are well suited for this position. As an odd synchronicity, I as well started on a 'donated/loaner' computer in 1997 but it was an Amiga1000 that I couldn't get online with so I only discovered the net in '99 when I got a pc and wound up here a few years later, but my experience with Bryce was the total opposite of yours...LOL, I like it again tho I use it rarely. Can hardly wait to read your 'first' column, this was more a prologue....heh heh heh

ringbearer ( posted at 12:00AM Tue, 20 February 2007

Nice column Tom. You were one of the first to assist me when I started using Bryce. I'm looking forward to reading your column. Arleen

Hawkfyr ( posted at 12:00AM Tue, 20 February 2007

Thanks all. I would have included a Play-By-Play of the Hand to Hand Combat and Counter Insurgency Operations...but there is a word count limit I must adhere too..(Oh Gawd...Please take these chains from me) So some things must be glossed over...Besides...Some of that stuff was pretty brutal back then, and I'm not sure if graphic descriptions would fall within today's I Do keep my Creepy Clowns armed in fact...I have one in my shoulder holster, one in my side holster...and another back-up in my boot...One never knows when they might encounter a "Dancing Baby" [ Thanks for all the fun Dontatro...R.I.P.] I'll deny ever having said this...but I've not "seriously' used Bryce for a few years now...but I still Re-Install it every time I reformat (With all of the content acquired over the years). Although I've moved on to Lightwave, Cinema 4D as well as many other apps...It just doesn't seem right to not have Bryce on my machine. It was the vehicle that took me to an undiscovered part of my soul, and brought me to you....To abandoned it completely, seems...well....sacrilegious. It's not unlike that certain sentimental thing we all posses...but don't always bring out and look at, but take comfort in the knowledge, that it is always there. Was that over the top?...I can never tell (Jim Carey) Maybe even Melodramatic? But again..I'll deny ever having said it...So Done-chue Go-round tellin anyone...Okay? I could have my Bry-cense revoked. Thanks again all for the kind comments. This 1st column was intended to be a sort of "Prologue" introduction of sorts...But I'm already working on the next one. Oh...and I'll have to find out if I can include images....If so...things could get "Cat-astrophic" round here. 8 )~ Tom

Holly ( posted at 12:00AM Wed, 21 February 2007

Good read! I enjoyed it and will read the next one too for sure. I wish I had discovered the digital artworld sooner, I feel like I've missed out on so much.

thundering1 ( posted at 12:00AM Wed, 21 February 2007

Great first article - yeah, former Brycer (Bryce2) myself. It's fun to watch the evolution of things, id'nit? The leaps forward and changes, accompanied by the growing pains. Looking forward to your next article! -Lew ;-)

-renapd- ( posted at 12:00AM Wed, 21 February 2007

Just wonderfu to see again such a familiar name from all those past glorious days - the name Hawkfyr was well known in the forums! :) And what a coincidence on how we all "old veterans" got started out...hehe! Discovering bryce2 then asking about those humans and finding Poser2.. such a familiar story that brought back precious memories!.. just for that "THANK YOU!" for being here and I have no doubt I'll love all your articles! :) Rena

brycetech ( posted at 12:00AM Wed, 21 February 2007

ummm I read that tom I was there so was debbie I remember the site wars (bad they were) I remember when everyone loved the question "how'd you do that" its "which way did you do that". I remember when this was just a small site and brycetech (on the whole) did not participate in it...that is, until it was too late for it (in its whole) to do so. I remember the outcry in pain from this site...a site, we never visited at the time. I remember on a happier note I still have every version of bryce' (2 and up) and poser' (2-6) cd. And, to an extent, I miss the old "alrives" board where so many used to congregate. Those (where we used to hang) have moved on to other things mostly. nice to go down memory lane and yeah dont forget I read that about bryce up there (Im pretty sure your bryce-license could be in danger) heh all the best BT

SGT2005 ( posted at 12:00AM Wed, 21 February 2007

Congrats Tom keep them coming..Very interesting.

Hawkfyr ( posted at 12:00AM Wed, 21 February 2007

Oh My...chokes back tears Now this was an unexpected surprise. Seeing posts from those who came later, along side those "Old Veterans" does my heart good. Please know that I mean this as no disrespect to others...I appreciate all replies.But for those who may not know...You are among Greatness To see Rena, and brycetech reply...simply brings me nothing but absolute Honor. Rena...You were always the Talented One...Talent that demonstrated to us all...."It's Possible...I can see it right there in her Art"...This inspiration of yours was what gave everyone "Artistic Hope"... That they too might rise to higher level, and the one everyone wanted to be artistically. I still see a bit of "Rena" in some of the Art I see today. You were an inspiration to us then..and you continue to be today. Timeless Inspiration and Hope. I Humbly Thank You for your taking the time to comment, and your kinds words. David (brycetech) ...Old Friend...Nah...forget No...for real...You were always the Brilliant One....The one to go to when we needed to know "How" to accomplish our desired outcome...In my article...I mentioned "Thanking fellow members for implementing ideas that can be found in applications today" ...Well ...You were one of those. You dissected Bryce like a skilled surgeon, and figured out "How" our desired outcome could be accomplished. more of the "How does this work" kinda guy... than I am an Artist....And I drew much of my knowledge from You...These communities would not be what they are today without your endless drive to bring us knowledge and technical training. But what I think inspired us most David...was that when You Lost Debbie...[May Her God Rest Her Soul]...We all Lost Debbie... And you knew that! We all stood watching with Jaws Dropped as you pushed your pain aside, and Blazed Forward with brycetech, knowing that would have been her continue unselfishly providing for the community. Again..I'll reflect on my column to mention...that we all bought our own unique talents and experiences to the table. Some Brought Function...Others Brought Form. How Delighted I am...after all this time... to see a shining example of this very thread. A Balance of Heart and Mind that kept the rest of us 'Grounded". Again...I'm Honored that you both took the time to reply, and Thank You for your part in helping shape the communities into what they are today. Brightest Blessing to You. Tom

nickcharles ( posted at 12:00AM Thu, 22 February 2007

A most excellent first Commentary piece, even if a prologue :) Great work, Tom! Thanks for sharing a bit of history!

AgentSmith ( posted at 12:00AM Thu, 22 February 2007

Your back story of a Bryce-laden introduction into 3D is one many of us share. You (and others (BT)) came into Bryce and Renderosity way before I did, but I'm glad I finally found my way in and exist in the same realm. I'm looking forward to your future commentaries....should be entertaining.....(no pressure, man) Lol....

Indoda ( posted at 12:00AM Thu, 22 February 2007

Very interesting and enlighting introduction to both yourself and the 3D world as it was - thanks to a lot of trail blazing you and others have made a tremendous contribution by sharing so generously. Look forward to reading more of your columns.

jawbone ( posted at 12:00AM Thu, 22 February 2007

Yea Bro, this Brycian thing has been a cool experiance for me , an Artist of firber Arts discovering the site back in 98 when I bought my first puter from gateway, the old 2000 sewries and knew nothing about puters at all. aA friend came over and set it up with me and walked me throuth the setup and on the road to puter world I went, thing the loom I was working on to be the best thing since sliced anything, I've loved every minute of this total envolvement and evolution of my creative experiences in puter world, Bryce is just one stop along the way as I continue on the journey of creativity through this electronic spell that has over come me. Just think from 98 til 2007 and beyound, what is up the road and round the bin. Hope I'm around for vitual puter outerworld, I know that'll be fun stuff to dive into. stay up. Weave

Burpee ( posted at 12:00AM Thu, 22 February 2007

This is cool Tom. Thanks for the background on Renderosity and the creative minds that made it what it is today. Good luck on the column. I look forward to it.

radstorm ( posted at 12:00AM Thu, 22 February 2007

Nice article..thanks :) Yeah I remember my first it at the old egghead software store..put it away after not too long..the manual (which looked like a driver's manual from DMV) was wayyy over my head..and all I could do was raise the nekid girl's arms up and Amazing too how Bryce went its own way, but ended up back in the Poser world again via Daz :)

jaynep12002 ( posted at 12:00AM Thu, 22 February 2007

Great article Tom. It was interesting to read the history of Renderosity. I feel like I missed a lot because I've only got into 3D in the last year and only been visiting the site for a few months.

Jean-Luc_Ajrarn ( posted at 12:00AM Thu, 22 February 2007

Cool article and story. :)

Thank you for sharing. :)

Debbie M. ( posted at 12:00AM Fri, 23 February 2007

What an incredible article for your commentary column debut. Even though I didn't get here until 2000, I can still remember looking at others work and thinking to myself how talented everyone else was, and wondering if I could ever be that good. I was so tickled when I could get that yellow bikini on Posette, and get her posed in any position! Not to mention getting her into Bryce, but I cheated and always turned her head or put her so far away in the scene you didn't know her eyelashes were YUK LOL I love strolling down memory lane, and it was a wonderful way to wake up today!! Thanks Tom, looking forward to upcoming columns by you :)

Strixowl ( posted at 12:00AM Fri, 23 February 2007

Just jumped into 3D in 2003. Heard bits & pieces of Bryce/Poser/site history but I think this was the best and most concise. I'll keep looking for your column :-)

RodsArt ( posted at 12:00AM Fri, 23 February 2007

Thanks for sharing Tom, Looking forward to your column.

Incarnadine ( posted at 12:00AM Fri, 23 February 2007

Definitely looking forward to your columns. I too got bryce 2 via a second hand machine. Didn't have internet at that time and when I did, I stayed pretty much inside of Compuserve's forums. Missed most of the wars chapter I believe. Congrats on the column and looking forward to more of em.

CaptainJack1 ( posted at 12:00AM Sat, 24 February 2007

Dude! They gave you a column? But, don't they know about-- wait... yeah, I know, I swore an oath to keep that secret. Don't worry, I'll never tell, you know that. Cool deal, lookin' forward to many more to come. :)

Terrielee ( posted at 12:00AM Sun, 25 February 2007

Thanks for the brief but very interesting read, Tom! Can't wait for your next column! Hope they let you include images! :)

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