I’m Ronald ter Burg, 1958, the Netherlands.
aRtBee, made up from the pronunciation of my initials (aR-t-Bee), is my nickname on the Web, especially in various forums like Renderosity and my own site artbeeweb.nl. For a bonus it offers the opportunity of making fun with the syllables Art and Bee.
But no, I’m not the busy bee kind of person, and I certainly don’t make art and especially not for money. I guess that when I paint, and wipe my brushes with a towel, the towel will make the best chances of being sold.
Actually I’m more the tool making kind of guy, creating better brushes, canvas and paint to enable other people to make better paintings. And the ‘enabling’ is the part I like most. So this creation of manuals, sorting out the workings of the software, and getting a better understanding of things while getting along, is a great way to go for me. And now you can benefit as well.
I’m into computers since about 1978, while I was into getting my Master’s degree in Physics. Digital graphics in those days was about getting Snoopy – made up from ASCII characters – walking across the operator consoles, and about monochrome line drawings on a fancy Tektronix terminal.
It took 10 to 15 years to make the shift from directly manipulating graphics card memory in my PC to the early versions of Photoshop and 3D software like Bryce, POVray, 3D Studio, Vue d’Esprit, Poser and more.
It took another 10 to 15 years to see the CG industry mature, to see the mainframes turn into high-end desktops, to see the results turn from “I can do this” to serious storytelling, and to see Photoshop, Bryce, POVray, 3DSMax, Vue and Poser still being around and going strong.
Some great tools have left the stage (mojoWorld), some great tools have entered (Zbrush, Carrara, Daz Studio, …). And prices have dropped considerably while raising performance extremely, or better: my latest (2012) 12-thread 4Ghz CPU / 24Gb RAM /17Tb disk workstation did cost exactly as much as my first one (1-thread 0.2 GHz / 0.5Gb RAM / 4Gb=0.004Tb disk) in 1996.
Which means that we all can get far better results much easier. Which in turn means that we all can benefit from a better understanding of our tools.
After completing my study I never ever did anything meaningful with the Physics part. I got lost in all kinds of high-level IT and financial systems management and consultancy. Sorry for that.
But now, my background comes as an extra asset. I do have a good understanding of computer tech, of scripting, of ray tracing, of the optics of refractions and reflection, of the mechanics of cloth simulation and of the workings of sunlight and atmospherics.
Writing (and researching) the Missing Manuals give me the opportunity to combine my Computing and Physics interests, my Graphics interests and my tool making attitude into a series of articles contributing to my – as well as your – understanding of the kit at hand.
Let’s go for it.