Myst is 20. Released in 1993, it has been selected by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) for a new category of artworks in their collection, after an exhibition in 2012 at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The scenes of the first release of Myst were made with StrataVision 3D, while the hypermedia structure was made with HyperCard, on the Apple Macintosh platform. This news raised some memories in me.
Like many of my students now, I loved 3D graphics, creating that kind of new virtual world of simulation that was timidly emerging in those days, so distant from its wide and central presence in all the visual media today. It seemed to me a great promise, the power to be a creator of worlds.
Hence, just in 1993, thanks to a friend of mine (Ferdinando) who gave me the software, I started playing with StrataVision (a 3D modeling, rendering and animation software) on a 25 MHz/4 MB RAM/160 MB Hard Disk Mac LCIII without a mathematic coprocessor (that in one year I enhanced, with a lot of money for my budget, to 12 MB RAM and with a mathematic coprocessor).
Although that Mac, also known as “pizza box”, was not just the right tool for 3D graphics and the rendering times were awfully slow, I made many 3D images with StrataVision 3D, not for money or work but for curiosity, passion and hobby. In 1995 one of my images, The Man of Stars, was selected and awarded over roughly 13 thousand participants in the Prize Leonardo 2000 by IBM, a contest in Milan (in this occasion one of my students won in the category “Multimedia”).
StrataVision 3D is still existing today, although under the name of Strata Design 3D CX. It is no more a 3D leading edge application, the rendering time is long if compared to other 3D software celebrities, the modeling tools are simple and the interface is a little bit old fashioned, but it is still there. Unfortunately, although I periodically buy the updates, I have almost no time to play with it. It is useful to show my students the meaning of 3D and the classical ways to simulate a real space onto a 2D one, or to discuss about the rendering techniques. In particular I have always loved Strata’s raytracing and radiosity algorithms, that make images that are not plastic-like as in other 3D applications, but they rather appear polished, almost velvet-made.