The BBC and in particular the producers of the Horizon programme have a lot to answer for because it was as a result of watching an Horizon programme on computer graphics way back in December1981 called Painting by Numbers that I got hooked on computer graphics and it has cost me a fortune!!
The first animation that really stuck in the memory was Sunstone by Ed Emschweller. The 3 min movie took 8 months to make and I still look at it from time to time.
Shortly afterwards I bought my first computer. Having spent several years in the RAF as a fighter controller, looking at a monitor wasn't all that strange after having spent hours following moving blips !
After a short while playing with a BBC Micro and an Apple 2E I eventually decided to invest in a Spaceward Nova system and later a SuperNova. In those days we used a 20 meg hard disk ! Yes I said 20 megs not 20 gigs ! However together with the 5 and a quarter floppy it was enough to cope with the 8 bit graphics . The processing speed was quite slow. To give you an example - a simple fractal image which would take only seconds now took all night to render. . Animation was mainly achieved through colour cycling. A decoder allowed the graphics to be transeferred to broadcast video and for several years I had the system linked to a professional edit suite. Compared with todays prices and specs hardware and software were very expensive.
In the late eighties and early nineties the Amiga proved to be a useful graphics device but alas eventually gave way to the PC and Macintosh. The main painting programme for the Amiga was Delux Paint and an early 3d programme was Sculpt 3D. One of the problems at this time was transferring computer images to video. Professional coders were very expensive so the video output of the Amiga 2000 locked with a Rendale genlock was a good compromise.
Eventually I went over to PC's and using a Vista card started to use Crystal , a 3D modelling and animation programme ( later to become Topas ) and Tips , a paint programme. They had some powerful features for their time but technology moves at a great rate and I used to use the setup for putting single frame sequences onto video as Topas is linked to a diaquest board that has proved to be exceedingly accurate for many years.
Now I mainly use Lightwave and Vue D'Esprit for animation with Photoshop as the main paint programme. Other useful programmes are Elastic Reality, After Effects and I used to use Speed Razor for video editing in conjunction with a Targa 2000 board in the old days.
At the moment I am working on a personal very long term video project - Fractal Quest, a successor to Fractal Dreams - ( see the Fractal Quest page for details )


The Early Days