Creative Computer Graphics - Jankel and Morton

This is a bit of a classic coffee-table book, all the way back from 1984, stuffed full of glossy colour pictures of the state of the art. I found it in a charity shop, and it's just great. The cutting edge was Tron (judged a minor commercial success) and Star Trek 2's Genesis sequence. Both of which are still counted as classic graphics. There are some impressive stills from The Last Starfighter. There are mentions of various famous computer scientists, who were famous even then. Reyes (the basis for Pixar's rendering) is briefly mentioned. Oh, and plenty of fractal mountainscapes (very trendy).

The main thing you get an impression of, though, is the paucity of computing power. They were using Crays and similar machines, just to do a bit of simple scanline rendering. They were taking minutes per frame to render what can be now done in realtime without breaking a sweat. It was the tail end of vector rendering, and well, it shows. Also amusing are the predictions. The mouse was quite trendy, but its future was by no means clear, and the future of high-performance computing that would be driving graphics would come from transputers. Not a bad idea, given the innate parallelism of most graphics algorithms, but still... oh dear. All in all, a lovely piece of nostalgia, er, history, for one pound fifty.

Posted 2006-04-20.