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…uh...it'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?"
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.
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
Create your Bryce masterpieces with products from the
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
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 TOS...lol I Do keep my Creepy Clowns armed in ready..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?...lol 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"...an 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
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
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"..now 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
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 it.......lol 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. I..am 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 wish...to 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 both...in 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
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....
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
Nice article..thanks :) Yeah I remember my first Poser..got 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 down..lol Amazing too how Bryce went its own way, but ended up back in the Poser world again via Daz :)
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 :)
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.