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GV & Elma were the two 3D-rendered starship AI embodiments displayed on the screens of Ranger-1 and Goose's Ranger-2, respectively.

I'm wondering whether they were done using SGI systems Iris GL, the forerunner to OpenGL. Or whether it was a forerunner to IRIS (which I understand commenced development in '89) or some other solution altogether. The graphics was very much ahead of their time and I wondered then as I wonder now what hardware and software was used to produce it, and what the render times were like.

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I did all the 3D graphics on the show EXCEPT for GV and Elma....but they were done with the same hardware/software as all the material that I created. And it most certainly was not an Atari. Maybe Bob was talking about something done for a very early test or something....but the work that was done for the series was done in Cubicomp Picturemaker on an IBM PC.

Cubicomp was an early (now defunct) 3d modeling package with very limited animation capabilities. The graphics were rendered frame by frame and recorded on a 16mm film recorder (I think it was made by Matrix). The film was transferred to video tape and then further manipulated in the edit room.

I was not credited under "computer graphics" in the Galaxy Rangers end credits. No one was. I'm lumped in as "Storyboard Artist". I was also one of the pre-production illustrators on the show.

Transcom/Galaxy Rangers was my first job after I finished art school in Manhattan. I went on to work in broadcast and commercials in NY, and since 2001 have been working in Feature Films on the West Coast as a CG Technical Director and Lighting Supervisor. I am currently a Computer Graphics Supervisor at Tippett Studio in Berkeley California. Not sure what else I can say to convince anyone I'm really me.

-Brad Fox

  • 2
    This is useful, although we do run into the usual problem of not necessarily knowing that you are who you say you are. – FuzzyBoots Jun 11 at 19:41
  • Thanks Brad, question from the OP here - What were the "frame by frame" render times like back then for a model of this complexity? Would this have been running on a IBM PC AT / Intel 80286? – Engineer Jun 12 at 12:52
  • Can you provide any evidence that you're you (instead of a very determined and oddly specific impersonator)? You could, for example post something on Facebook/twitter/linkedin as a confirmation... – Valorum Jun 12 at 14:31
  • @Engineer Very quick,even then.Seconds. Maybe Minutes per frame for most of the stuff back then. I do remember doing more complicated models that started to bog things down, but not to bad. And yeah, it was an IBM AT with separate framebuffer that sat on top of the PC, with almost the same dimensions as the PC itself. – user117701 Jun 12 at 22:45
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Series creator Robert Mandell noted that the graphics were generated using an Atari computer. No mention is made of the software used:

Q. Whose idea was it to combine the CGI graphics with the hand-drawn animation? Because that was quite unique, for its time.

A. We had done that on a show previous to GALAXY RANGERS. Prior to RANGERS, I did a show called THUNDERBIRDS 2086 which was more of an import. It was designed to be a co-production with a Japanese company—Fuji Television. It ended up being produced for the Japanese market and I ended up taking it and Americanizing it here. But in the process of Americanizing it, we threw in a whole bunch of computer graphics we had done on the Atari computer. We were fooling around with it, we decided that would be fun to do that. It looked pretty cool. We took some of the computer frames from the animation and we just matted in the graphics, and it was relatively simple and very cost-effective, and when RANGERS came about we upgraded the computer somewhat, but the intent was still the same. When [the characters] look at computer screen or see something created by a computer. Then it was taken a step further, where we figured 'Hey, if there are actually computer generated characters on the screen, why don't we just generate computer generated characters?' So it seemed to fit, story-wise.

  • Wow, nice find. I have to wonder if there is any more to be discovered than this (really obscure) bit of history. Let's see if others turn anything up, otherwise a definite accept here. Specifically would love to know the hardware specs though I'm guessing it would have been in the Atari ST(E) era, 1986. Also the previous answer in that link implicates a "TMS Studios" as animation partner. Thanks :) – Engineer Nov 6 '14 at 21:39

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