Radioactive Mudworms (1991)

Monday, May 23, 2011 

I animated Radioactive Mudworms in 1991 with a program called Infini-D.  The soundtrack was courtesy of David Lenat. It was first published on the QuickTime Beta CD to Apple Developers and then in 1992 re-rendered on a Mac IIfx 40mhz 68040 with a massive 16MB of RAM in this version for the FigTime commercial CD. As I remember it, this took about a week to render on that massive machine.  I’m pretty sure I ray-traced it, but I output to “thousands” of colors as required by the CODEC and so it is hard to see some of the details.

The file is so old that the “animation” CODEC (RLE) used is no longer supported.  I had to boot my old Mac 8600 to read the CD and convert the file to uncompressed, so I could re-compress it with a modern version of QuickTime.  I was greeted with an alert that my last backup was in 2003.  Time flies, but the mac still runs and that OS 9 operating system is still a nostalgic pleasure.  I used it regularly from 1987-ish to 2003-ish, and it is still the OS I’ve spent the most hours in front of.

Digital obsolescence is starting to consume my work history as the past has already eaten the DECstation streaming tapes my MIT work was “archived” on.  Of course, I can still read my preschool notebooks and I’m sure I could still read my parents notebooks.

Infini-D was my favorite 3D program of the time, though it was supplanted by StrataStudio 3D, Turbo-3D, and finally ProEngineer. It had a nice combination of modelling, rendering, and animation tools and was part of a brief “golden era” of 3D most remarkable for VPL and the existential excitement around Virtual Reality, which comes and goes every decade or so as a new generation reads Snow Crash and thinks that they, too, could be Hero Protagonist or Raven and have a chance with someone like YT if only the world truly adopted VR.

I was reminded of Radioactive Mudworms as I spent the weekend trying to teach the basics of video compression remotely to some coworkers who may not have been born when I made this.

The video was encoded at Valley Green 6, in the cube farm for the Advanced Technology Group at Apple.

A very old .mov version:

And because technology, here’s an AV1.webm version for the next 32 years given that VP9 may be replaced once Apple gets on board, if they do.


BTW, the conversion is

ffmpeg -i -vf scale=-1:250:flags=lanczos  -c:v libsvtav1 -pix_fmt yuv420p10le -preset 0 -svtav1-params tune=0 -b:v 0 -crf 22 -pass 1 -an -f null /dev/null && \
 ffmpeg -i -vf scale=-1:250:flags=lanczos -c:v libsvtav1 -pix_fmt yuv420p10le -preset 0 -svtav1-params tune=0 -b:v 0 -crf 22 -pass 2 -c:a libopus Radioactive-Mudworms-AV1.webm


Posted at 04:21:18 GMT-0700

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