After A Request, Microsoft Released The Source Code For 3D Movie Maker From 1995
Microsoft 3D Movie Maker was released in 1995 by the Microsoft Kids division of the firm. People could download software on their personal computers that could spew out crude-but-creative 3D animated films at 6 to 8 frames per second the same year that the first Toy Story established that feature-length 3D computer animation was possible.
Apart from Doraemon and Nickelodeon-themed Movie Maker releases later on, Microsoft never really returned to this product… until now. Microsoft Developer Division Community Manager Scott Hanselman stated yesterday that the code for 3D Movie Maker would be open-sourced, with a read-only repository hosted on Github under an MIT license.
The code was released because someone asked, not because Microsoft has huge ambitions for 3D Movie Maker. Foone Turing, a self-described “hardware/software necromancer,” asked Microsoft in April to share the 3D Movie Maker source code so that they may “expand and extend it.” Hanselman and Microsoft Office Manager for Open Source Programs Jeff Wilcox then worked with Microsoft’s legal department to make it happen.
BRender, the 3D renderer used in 3D Movie Maker, was also used in Argonaut Software PC games including Carmageddon and FX Fighter in the mid-1990s. After requesting former Argonaut CEO Jez San for permission, Turing was given permission to release the BRender code under the same MIT license as 3D Movie Maker in early April.
After all these years, Hanselman was questioned why Microsoft went to the trouble of releasing the 3D Movie Maker source.
“Because there’s never been an app like it,” Hanselman told Ars. “Even now 25 years later, there is a community excited about this tool.”
He is correct. 3D Movie Maker still has a small but devoted fan base that continues to produce video that can only be described as “surreal.”
Although open-sourcing the app could lead to a slew of experimental forks, Turing is planning to offer particular upgrades under an open source license as well. Updated versions of the BRender engine and 3D Movie Maker will run natively on modern systems, as well as a “3D Movie Maker Plus” that removes the app’s 256-color limit, improves audio support, and adds native video export features, among other things. The goal will be to “keep[ing] as simple and easy to use as the original” while expanding the software’s feature set.
Dialog boxes in 3D Movie Maker are the first known appearance of Comic Sans, which was created for Microsoft Bob but wasn’t ready when that software was released. Thanks to its presence in the Windows 95 Plus! Pack, Internet Explorer, and other ’90s-era Microsoft products, Comic Sans eventually swept office signage worldwide.