Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
rohandalvi

Anyone ever seen or worked on PRISMS ?

Recommended Posts

hi everyone,

Just curious if anyone here has ever laid their eyes on or worked on PRISMS , which I believe was the predecessor to Houdini.

On my part I have only seen a screen shot in some book or some website once, cant remember where.

And if you have worked on it, How different was it.

I know this was a long time ago, from a 3d animation standpoint, but still wondering if anyone here has been 3d for that long.

with regards

Rohan Dalvi

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, I certainly have. I have the source code of PRISMS 1.1 on a 6250 bpi magnetic tape in tar format dated Oct 11, 1985. Not that it would do us much good.

I also keep meaning to boot up my SGI box one of these days and do a few more interface screen captures with "snapshot" tool.

Here's an image of the CBC network logo from an animation done in PRISMS about 1986. This was prior to PRISMS having a graphic interface.

post-785-1207836799_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Heh... yeah, I worked with it (the "more mature" ui version, that is) for about 3 or 4 years... don't have the source code kicking around though :)

I got to see the manuals for the pre-ui version -- they were dot-matrix printouts in two or three big-ass three-ring binders. Basically a listing of the hscript interface and all the standalone tools (like icomp, which was the predecessor of Halo).

Mantra (non-vex) had just come onto the scene I believe (early '90's?), but we mostly used Crystal -- a scanline renderer.

Did most of my initial learning with Dave Geldart's tutorials... priceless :)

Ahhhh... good times.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I got to see the manuals for the pre-ui version -- they were dot-matrix printouts in two or three big-ass three-ring binders.

Like these two pages of the Action section of the 800 page PRISMS 5.5 manual? And that's just Volume 1. You probably spent more time in Volume 2 which had all the rendering stuff in it. (Along with moca, jive, and lava).

post-785-1207852345_thumb.jpg post-785-1207852390_thumb.jpg

PRISMS5.5_Action0.pdf

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh yeah, started out on Prisms - awesome software, seperate buttons rx,ry,rz just to rotate the model in the viewport! But amazing proceduralism even then, happy days... nice to see the ui has improved :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

yep, worked in prisms from '92 till SAGE and Houdini. I still have some DC6150 and DAT tapes of it, and it was still running on my indigo last time I booted it up.

I'm pretty sure I stlll have the manuals, too.

I've heard that MAX's interface was a copy of PRISMS SOP stack.... any truth to that rumor?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

wow,

may I ask a question,

How long have you guys been doing 3d?

Man, I was 7 years old in 1986.

And KING KIRBY you spoke about PRISMS before it had a UI, how exactly did you work then. Was it all completely coding?

Also I thought Side FX started in 1988, and As far as I now they purchased PRISMS from a company called Omni Graphics. So exactly how old is PRISMS.

And MARIO, the renderer you mentioned Crystal, what was that like and when did they introduce Mantra, was it in PRISMS or in Houdini.

Most of the people I know who are doing 3d have been doing for maybe 5-8 years max. I have been into 3d for about 10 years now.

But It's amazing to actually talk to people who have actually seen 3d animation softwares in their infancy.

Also was the PRISMS functionality anything like HOUDINI?

Would it be possible for you guys to put up some screenshots, I would be really grateful.

with regards

Rohan Dalvi

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Like these two pages of the Action section of the 800 page PRISMS 5.5 manual? And that's just Volume 1. You probably spent more time in Volume 2 which had all the rendering stuff in it. (Along with moca, jive, and lava).

Maybe my memory is playing tricks with me, but I seem to remember them looking cruder than that. These were manuals that Geldart had in his attic (from "waaay back" at that time -- I saw them around '93,'94) -- from some years before he went to Japan and all that. These were for the non-ui version, btw (which I personally never used).

And yes, I have fond memories of moca/jive/lava (I forget what the paint tool was called now)... and writing shell scripts to do the comps... hehe... all good :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is the first time PRISMS name was put in print to my knowledge - the Omnibus 1985 annual report.

post-785-1207856437_thumb.jpg

The UI was Unix shell as in: ptext -f 3 "Kirby" | pextrude -z 1.3 | pbevel -w .2 > Kirby.bin

Mario, the paint tool was fpaint.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Basically a listing of the hscript interface

Mario, you mean "acting" and "action scripts". hscript didn't come until Houdini. :P

I've heard that MAX's interface was a copy of PRISMS SOP stack.... any truth to that rumor?

Prisms > Stack, 3D Studio Max > Stack

Same tools to manage and shuffle the stack.

Was it Siggraph 95? We had a couple developers in the audience at the Sig booth From AutoDesk (the Yost Group if I remember correctly). They spoke to Cristin. Basically said they loved PRISMS so much they "borrowed" from it heavily for their up and coming software. One year later, 3D Studio Max was released.

At least now we know what PRISMS might have become had we decided to keep the stack, add viewport inter-operability, build on top of LAVA, etc. When I use MAX to this day, I smile and thank myself for the improvements we made in Houdini.

Also I thought Side FX started in 1988, and As far as I now they purchased PRISMS from a company called Omni Graphics. So exactly how old is PRISMS.

21 years with Side Effects,

Probably another 2-3 years at Omnibus. King Kong will know for sure.

Also was the PRISMS functionality anything like HOUDINI?

Yes and no. No viewport interactivity. It had a stack. Very hard '80s interface.

PRISMS had three main limitations: It was polygons only. It was flat. It was written in "c".

Houdini fixed that by supporting all the popular datatypes.

Houdini has a filesystem approach where you can have folders as operators that contain other operators. Digital Assets uses this folder-in-folders to support name spaces effortlessly. The other 3d softwares still struggle with this at this point in time. I wonder if "Montreal" is lurking here for clues again... :P

Houdini is written in c++.

ipaint was the paint tool.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Excuse me while I put my dentures in....

I first learned Prisms in 1993 when it was still possible to work your way through the whole manual and dissect all the example files and actually end up with a decently deep knowledge of the software. We did large parts of "Jeep - Snow Covered" (piss poor video at http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=4TCUzmJUeGs), "Apollo 13", "T2-3D" and "Titanic" with Prisms.

Conceptually it really wasn't so terribly different from Houdini, just a lot more laborious in the UI. The point and copy SOPs was still the best friends you could ever have. All the ops were a lot more general in nature and at one time or another the normals and color attributes would be stuffed chock full with other data since there were no custom attributes.

Loads of fun.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
All the ops were a lot more general in nature and at one time or another the normals and color attributes would be stuffed chock full with other data since there were no custom attributes.

Thank-you for reminding me of that!

Fourth big limitation in PRISMS: No custom attributes! You had to override existing attributes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting bit of history :). Makes young houdini users like myself feel very young indeed - :unsure: I was born in 1985.

Makes me wonder if 20 years from now there will still be a Houdini... maybe even 10 years from now with the technological advances being made.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

thanks a lot guys for all the info.

I guess that would definitely make Houdini ( since it is the successor of PRISMS) as being the oldest 3d software in the market and still one of the most innovative.

By the way did PRISMS have particles and dynamics and did it support Renderman back then. I think Renderman was around in the early 90s, was it ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it had a particle sop, pretty much like the one still in Houdini.

Don't forget though it was all polys you did have bspline and was it bezier patches.... memory fading fast..

Remember ice for compositing that came a bit later and very much like cops still is ;)

What was the scripting language for that icing???

Edited by sibarrick

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
and did it support Renderman back then. I think Renderman was around in the early 90s, was it ?

Yes PRISMS had RenderMan support at least in '93 when I first used it.

Yes there was and still is the Particle SOP. It has remained essentially unchanged from PRISMS. It's interesting to use as you need to use a Sort SOP before it to randomize point numbers, a Point SOP to build initial Normals as starting velocity vectors and to jitter the point positions, a Fractal SOP to both subdivide the geometry denser and to randomize the point positions more (can use Mountain now).

Put one down and take a look at the example files in the Help card. If you only have Escape, then this is what you use for particles.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Holy cow, now we are talking a long timea ago. And yes there are some that have been doing this for that long. I first used Prisms in 92/93 and had been in 3d animation since 1990, cough I just realized how long i have been doing this for. My first job in Prisms was done with Mark Elendt and Jeff Wagner helping train me over the phone.

It was a lot different from now. Some years ago at Digital Domain we got it back up and running again, comparing it to houdini now would be like trying to perform brain surgery with boxing gloves on.

But in the early mid 90's it was so far ahead of everyone else for procedural effects and customizability. And I still miss the feedback SOP.

hi everyone,

Just curious if anyone here has ever laid their eyes on or worked on PRISMS , which I believe was the predecessor to Houdini.

On my part I have only seen a screen shot in some book or some website once, cant remember where.

And if you have worked on it, How different was it.

I know this was a long time ago, from a 3d animation standpoint, but still wondering if anyone here has been 3d for that long.

with regards

Rohan Dalvi

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Started on PRISMS in '93 from Vertigo and Wavefront. We drove up to Toronto (From Detroit) an were given the grand tour,

and bought the software that night at the Amsterdam Brewery with Greg and Kim, and Janet might have been there too. It was a lot

of money for two seats at around 35k but it was worth every penny.

That Crystal Render was really fast back then when you didn't have but one machine to render on! (Sweet SGI Pizzabox)

Even used Mojo on a few jobs!

-david

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
How long have you guys been doing 3d?

Man, I was 7 years old in 1986.

hehe thats 1 year before i was born :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

the was a big 'sculpture' here in the studio (no idea where it came from or where it is now) that was a big piece of wood (4x8 feet) with CDs nailed to it...shiny side out...one day I took a close look at it and saw that all the CDs were PRISMS install discs

:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×