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Pre-Rendered Computer Graphics (or colloquially "CGI graphics")

Discussion in 'General Sega Discussion' started by Chimes, Nov 28, 2022.

  1. Chimes

    Chimes

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    Oh my goodness thank you so much for writing this up! I've been trying to look into the efforts of AM3's "when the sidequest is more fun than the maingame" venture towards CG, but came up very short. Abe's Oddysee and Rayman's Training come to mind in terms of video game companies straight up making cartoons as a test, but Sega takes the cake for inadvertently setting up a foundation for full on CG movie production. That is SO COOOOL, I recognize Uriu from his work on Jurassic Park System 32, which has a ton of pre-rendered graphics. This is very interesting! Thank you!
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2022
  2. Ted909

    Ted909

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    That does now make a lot of sense - I'm not hugely familiar with the original Jurassic Park arcade game outside of how it still used sprite scaling (never seen a cabinet in person, and Lost World is the bigger personal favourite), so when I saw Uriu's credit on that I wondered what the deal was there at first. Of course, the answer is digitised CGI graphics, which also makes me wonder about other examples such as the OutRunners' renders:

    I've said this before on here, but we probably should be more grateful that Jam ended up including Sonic Ride and 'Man of the Year'/Sonic the Animation. The former may have never even been widely shown outside of the company otherwise (though there were one or two magazine sightings), and the latter had only been seen at events like the '94 Tokyo Toy Show and Amusement Theme Parks such as SegaWorld London before that.

    And knowing what we know about their career trajectories, the fact that both Tetsuya Mizuguchi and Mie Kumagai are given a special thanks in Jam's credits is interesting. I had initially thought that by 1994, Mizuguchi chose to leave the CGI stuff behind to others in the team so that he could work on Sega Rally with Kenji Sasaki; perhaps he did that whilst supervising a recently-hired Kumagai on both Ride and AM3's parts of 'Man of the Year'?

    Even with their clear experimental nature, outside of those it is a slight shame that a lot of this early work was only confined to release at events or the amusement theme park locations that generally closed within a few years. Although I do think some of the later stuff might still be running at Tokyo Joypolis - Sega's last contributions to SIGGRAPH were the ride films used for Wild River and Jungle, and both were updated in the 2010s.

    In some ways it even all came full circle, as Joypolis were additionally showing a 3D glasses version of Night of the Werehog for a period of several months around that time. I seem to remember seeing a few videos of this back then, which from a brief look on YouTube have now all but vanished already.
     
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  3. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    We would have had a chunk of it, albeit with fewer brain cells:

    (are those other pre-rendered Sonics from the same team??)
     
  4. Ted909

    Ted909

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    Cannot believe that music video completely slipped my mind - although it is debatable whether many people outside of Netherlands saw it before the numerous online uploads commenced, and if Ride's inclusion in Jam theoretically never happened we'd still be fairly none the wiser of what the 3D footage really was.

    The pre-rendered Sonic was also used in some SegaWorld promotional material that same year, e.g. the official London Pepsi Trocadero website, a brief TV advert, and the pre-launch promo video:

    Besides the conceptual Trocadero flythrough courtesy of John Robertson and possibly one or two other things, I'd wager most of the CGI stuff in this was the work of AM3 (even if they weren't properly credited for it).
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2022
  5. Chimes

    Chimes

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    Really love the pre-rendered cutscenes in some of the 2000s Sonic games.
     
  6. charcoal

    charcoal

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    If it has to be SEGA related, mine is probably this awesome render of Sonic and Knuckles from SA1. I love how stylish these early renders were.
     
  7. Prototype

    Prototype

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    While it was quite limited, my first exposure to budget 3D modelling (which was more so construction via consecutive "simple polygonal shapes") on 90s PCs, including texturing, light sources, bump maps and reflection textures, was a program called Asymetrix Web3D.

    As far as I know, I believe it was a rebrand of Asymetrix's 3DFX program sold at reasonable budget prices, marketed towards the burgeoning internet user demographic, sold as a neat way to make simple CG graphics like buttons and logos for your internet homepage.

    It had a simple click+drag interface for the most part, and it could also do simple object animation paths, allowing you to output to low-resolution video.

    It also had limited functionality of importing .3ds and .obj 3D Model files outside of its user friendly (and corporate friendly) interface.

    I spent countless hours on that program as a kid, and used it to make graphics for early Klik games.

    One of the first creations I did with it was using cubes, a .3ds coke can model and a coke can texture I found on Yahoo to recreate the old generic 90s Coke ads of the Coke can spinning down into some ice cubes with an array of ice cubes raining down in the background.

    I don't think Asymetrix the company lasted much longer after that, and when you try to dig into old articles and discussions about the company, you find bizarre old archives of early internet people caught up in newsgroup rage-fests about Asymetrix's licensing issues.

    Still, it was affordable and much of my time was spent on that program, and it sticks out in my memory. Coincidentally I would have been using it around the same time I was constantly playing Sonic 3D: Flickies Island on Windows, as I have a distinct memory of messing around using the Sonic/Tails/Knuckles/Robotnik art from the PC manual file as my earliest Bump map experiments, which was essentially just slapping the image as a bump map on a big rectangular plane.

    This thread appeals to me.

    Also, side note: I used to watch Insektors, but I legitimately hated that show. I don't know why, but every time it came on I was filled with a feeling of uneasiness. Was it my earliest memory of uncanny valley, or was it just sandwiched between two better cartoons? Haha.
     
  8. Black Squirrel

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  9. Ted909

    Ted909

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    Wondered if someone would get to that upload before it all came out!

    For the past six months I've helped efforts to get that tape digitised and known behind the scenes. It's been bizarre to keep quiet about them the whole time even as I spoke about the title on here and elsewhere, and I have to admit that one of the more unexpected moments of my life so far was being first told of this whilst on holiday in Cyprus.

    Matt Gardner at Forbes has ended up writing about it, and I've also contributed a deeper history article to Gaming Alexandria. All we really need now is someone from Sega to notice and hopefully explain the actual origin of the tape?
     
  10. Mecha Sally

    Mecha Sally

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    Thank you and everyone involved for your hard work in getting this done! I'm so glad to see this preserved and in high quality.
     
  11. Asagoth

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  12. Ted909

    Ted909

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    Let's examine the current understanding of a timeline surrounding where Megalopolis: Tokyo City Battle turned up, as nobody else is probably going to do this after all (merry christmas):

    December 1992 - brief clips are included during an episode of Bad Influence!, where they visit Japan and Sega's headquarters for a feature. The ride film is very likely shown to the public for the first time.

    Michael Jackson was also probably shown these exact clips during the return trips to Sega where he got involved between Dangerous tour dates, which actually happened around the very same time this episode was first broadcast in the UK - I wonder if Violet Berlin was ever made aware of that. She certainly seems to have one or two fun memories of her visit.

    June 1993 - Yellow Magic Orchestra hold their brief reunion concerts as 'NOT YMO' for their eighth (and last to date) album, Technodon. Clips of Megalopolis appear as trippy background footage in them (around 12:45):

    They're not as prominent or noticeable, but it's nice to think of this as YMO deciding to repay the favour after Sega included that rendition of Rydeen in Super Locomotive about a decade previous.

    August 1993 - a 'coming soon' trailer for Megalopolis is unveiled as part of SIGGRAPH 93, also marking the beginning of Sega's short-lived presence there. It suddenly gains exposure across the world in numerous VHS and television compilation programmes through this, and the film probably bagged its feature in Gate to The Mind's Eye thanks to those.

    The trailer was then shown again later that month, this time in Japan on a monitor outside of an AS-1 for Michael Jackson in Scramble Training to make its domestic debut at Amusement Machine Show 1993. A promotional poster also implies its alternate title may have been Megalopolice 2154, or even Megalopolice Tokyo City Battle.

    May 1994 - French documentary Otaku is released. As part of another visit to Sega's headquarters, access to Megalopolis at the nearby AM5 development warehouse in Yasuda and an interview with Tetsuya Mizuguchi are featured:

    Owing to this, we have a partial picture of its credits (SIGGRAPH's webpages thankfully fill in any gaps and more), as well as some clips of the completed film running in the AS-1 itself. I have no idea when these were shot, but it certainly must've been some time after they did additional filming at the JAMMA show in August.

    June 1994 - the aforementioned Gate to The Mind's Eye releases, and alongside many other early 3D CGI delights not made by Sega, Megalopolis is front and centre in the 'Armageddon' segment.

    Thomas Dolby even gifts a new backing soundtrack, and Megalopolis becomes a good chunk of the music video as a result, although unlike YMO you'd be hard-pressed to find much of an older connection between him and Sega.

    July 1994 - Yokohama Joypolis opens to the public. Although the AS-1 isn't the main attraction now, Megalopolis is now getting specifically promoted as its latest software in the likes of Harmony and its official webpage.

    November 1994 - nearly two years on from that first appearance on UK television, Sega start using repurposed clips of Megalopolis to open and close Sega Video Magazine, replacing the previous ones of Sonic CD's opening used from its start in August 1993. These go on to last surprisingly long, right up to the final edition for September 1998 in fact. Sega even had other, newer 3D CGI short films that they could've used by that point, but didn't.

    My main takeaway from this is that Megalopolis got around more than one would first expect over the course of a couple years, and the SIGGRAPH feature definitely has something to do with that. Chances are there's at least a few more appearances of it that haven't been found yet - hopefully the completed ride film cut for AS-1s can be located one day?

    (plus just for the record; Kenji Sasaki has come through again on Twitter, this time a few years in advance, and confirmed that the old rumours about cancelled 32X ports of both Megalopolis and Scramble Training aren't true. They sounded fairly suspect and like just another western fabrication in the first place considering the nature of these titles, but still)
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2022
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  13. Brainulator

    Brainulator

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    Despite being later than some of the ones in this thread (2000), a lot of the segments in this video are significantly older. Little Bytes, part of the Mind's Eye series and my childhood:

    It seems to be out-of-print, but at least this video exists!
    1. Fat Cat on a Diet (1999), by PDI (as in PDI/DreamWorks).
    2. Balls & Blocks (1995), by Coulter Studios. I say 1995 because it appeared at SIGGRAPH 1995; this applies to all other instances where I point to SIGGRAPH's website.
    3. Robo Jr. (1993), by Dale Myers. He also animated the M&M's characters and the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
    4. Hammer Time (1993), by Will Vinton Studios (now Laika). Originally created for Sesame Street.
    5. The Wishing Dream (1997), by Christopher Roos. Appeared at SIGGRAPH 1997.
    6. Alley Oops! (1996), also by Coulter Studios. Appeared at SIGGRAPH 1996.
    7. Luxo Jr. In "Light & Heavy" (1991), by Pixar. This was also made for Sesame Street. I remember this being the basis for this video being recommended to me back in... 2008? 2009? It's been years.
    8. The Crooked Man (1995), by Brian Newlin, Rob Smith, and Sandy Voelker for the Ringling School of Art and Design.
    9. Music Lessons (1999), by Wilson Smith, also for the Ringling School of Art and Design. Appeared at SIGGRAPH 1999.
    10. Matryoshka (1998(?)), by Doug Neeld and Monica Murdock. I am having trouble finding anything about this one.
    11. Sharing, by Michael McCarthy and Jason Daniel Zirpolo. I am also having trouble finding anything about this one.
    12. Franz, Klammer, by Nicolai Tuma. I am also having trouble finding anything about this one, despite a whole team of people working on it.
    13. ReBoot (copyright 1997, episode premiered 1998), a Mainframe/Alliance production. This is the ending musical number to the season 3 finale episode, "End Prog". Hey, look, it's Ken Pontac (who wrote the 2010s Sonic games) and Michael Donovan (Wes Weasley from AoStH) in the credits! I can even hear the latter before the song starts!
    14. Bob the Frog in "Burp" (1992), by Darren Kiner. Appeared at SIGGRAPH 1992.
    15. Herds, by Jim Conrad. Another one where I'm having trouble looking stuff up about this.
    16. Buddies (1999), by Robin Roepstorff, also for the Ringling School of Art and Design. Appeared at SIGGRAPH 1999.
    17. Zzzoe, (1994?), by Locomotion. Looking up the director and animator, Ernesto Paganoni, indicates that this is a segment of a series of clips.
    18. Luxo Jr. in "Surprise" (1991), by Pixar. Another Sesame Street commission.
    19. Slam, by Bruno Chauffard and Alias/Wavefront. Bizarrely, I'm having trouble looking up this one.
    20. Sweet Extreme (1998), by NAD Centre. Appeared at SIGGRAPH 1998.
    21. Quazar Rap (1996), by The 3DO Company. The introductory rap number from the 3DO video game Captain Quazar, now in higher quality.
    22. Bunkie & Booboo (1998), by Terrence Masson. Appeared at SIGGRAPH 1998. Noticeably uses David Benoit's cover of Vince Guaraldi's "Linus And Lucy" as background music.
    Hopefully, someone here gets as much a kick out of this as I do/did.
     
  14. Chimes

    Chimes

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    Aww, haha!
    That's hot! That's hot.


    PapparaPaoon_Saturn_JP_Box_Front.jpg
     
  15. Chimes

    Chimes

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    Okay, it makes me blush wildly to report this, but for over 6 and a half years there exists a thread for Sonic's CG movies (or cutscenes) where someone has been meticulously cataloging them and occasionally putting in some massive hard work by cobbling together less compressed versions of said videos Harmyfilm style.
    I... yeah, I have no excuse, I should've looked it up beforehand and now I'm really embarrassed that I unintentionally made a duplicate thread. Oops...
    Well, the one pro this one has is it's more broader and can cover things like Nights, Puyo, or Billy Hatcher if someone really wants to talk about those.