People Behind the Pixels

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Digital Pictures

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  • UK
  • pioneer
  • Digital Art
  • Computer Animation
  • CFx
  • Art Science and Technology
  • Writer
  • ILM
  • director
  • Digital Pictures was co-founded by Chris Briscoe and Paul Brown in 1980 as the UK's first specialist computer animation company. Liam Scanlan was the first employee, and Peter Florence and Steve Lowe soon joined as co-directors.

  • Digital Pictures was eventually sold to a company called Molinaire, which was itself owned by WH Smith. Moli was a TV post house, so buying DP made sense. WH Smith was (and is) a chain of bookstores, and what they were doing buying TV companies is not clear, nor was it then.

  • Fun Fact!

    Digital Pictures was eventually sold to a company called Molinaire, which was itself owned by WH Smith. Moli was a TV post house, so buying DP made sense. WH Smith was (and is) a chain of bookstores, and what they were doing buying TV companies is not clear, nor was it then.

  • When I first started, we were working on Data General Eclipse 3300s, two of them. Each machine was about 7 feet high, 2 feet wide and 3 feet deep, had 32 Kb main memory and a 300Mb disk drive which was about twice the size of a domestic washing machine. I'd say they were maybe 4 or 5 times more powerfull than an Amiga 500. We rendered tests direct to a frame buffer, usually 1-2 days for a 5-10 second ...

  • Fun Fact!

    When I first started, we were working on Data General Eclipse 3300s, two of them. Each machine was about 7 feet high, 2 feet wide and 3 feet deep, had 32 Kb main memory and a 300Mb disk drive which was about twice the size of a domestic washing machine. I'd say they were maybe 4 or 5 times more powerfull than an Amiga 500. We rendered tests direct to a frame buffer, usually 1-2 days for a 5-10 second test and rendered directly to a Matrix film plotter - there was no disk space to store rendered images as files. Each frame would take 30-90 minutes to render and 10 minutes to plot. Color consistency isn't guaranteed across film baths so if we missed or gashed a frame, we started over after we'd got the film back from the labs. Our renderer, which was a fine one, was written in house, did no ray tracing or texture mapping, had no reflection maps but did have shadows as long as we didn't use re-entrant polygons in our models. Intersecting surfaces were a no-no. We modeled and animated by writing Fortran 5 code. The last job done on the Eclipses was at a stage when they were so knackered that I was entirely losing disk data about 3 times a day and was archiving my code every 20 minutes or so I could recover it after I'd reformatted the disk every time it went down. One of the disk drives bust so I was booting one machine, starting a render, removing the drive and plugging it back into the other machine so I could start a render on that one. My 8 second sting took a week to render. The air conditioner was being overworked so much it would freeze up every couple of hours, melt and dump gallons of water into the machine room. We had buckets all over the disk drives and mainframes. I didn't get to go home for 10 days.