Many Pies

Many Pies

Thursday, February 02, 2023

We all have supercomputers now

Judson Rosebush, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

I was watching a TV programme of 80s and 90s music videos the other day. I was marvelling at just how relatively advanced the video techniques and transitions were - such as the picture rolling up and zooming off the screen. In my mind I kept going round this little loop - "isn't that amazing for the time" - "but the technology I was using was so primitive" - "isn't that amazing for the time" - etc.

Then a realisation struck me as to why I was in this loop: These days I have access (though I don't use it) to such the type of technology that is used in, say, Avatar. I'm sure there's a bit of software out there that I could use that would do motion capture. I've heard of things like Blender which I could use to create 3d environments. I'd need to learn some stuff, I might want to buy some hardware to reduce render times, but it's all within my grasp.

In the 80s and 90s though, the height of what I could reasonably expect to be able to create myself (given time and skill) was Manic Miner and Doom. Those video effects came from computers like the Quantel Paintbox, which at $150,000 cost more than a house. (OK, not a fair comparison, as you could get houses so cheap then. It cost more than an expensive car.)

So, we all have supercomputers now. What are we doing with them?