Jim Kent

Tesla – Cyber Paint Demo Animation

TESLA is a .SEQ color animation showing a 'Jacob's Ladder' set up (the lightning climbs up between the two poles). As the lightning appears it creates an ad for Cyber Studio.

Cyber Paint – created by Jim Kent – was a 2D animation program that brought together a wide variety of animation and paint functionality and the delta-compressed animation format developed for CAD-3D. The user could move freely between animation frames and paint arbitrarily, or utilize various animation tools for automatic tweening movement across frames. Cyber Paint was one of the first, if not the first, consumer program that enabled the user to paint across time in a compressed digital video format.

Eventually, Jim Kent went on to create the PC applications 'Autodesk Animator' and 'Autodesk Animator Pro' for Yost Group, each of which was a direct evolution from the original Cyber Paint. These subsequent PC products benefited from a full 256-color VGA palette (out of 16 million colors) and the ability to play animation directly off a hard drive, permitting significantly longer, more elaborate animations. Animator Pro took the technology to significantly higher screen resolutions. Animator Pro became a legendary tool in computer game development, though it has gradually become irrelevant in the age of modern graphics accelerators. Products such as Pinnacle Systems Commotion Pro, Discreet Combustion, NewTek Aura and various Quantel products all do on a grand scale with millions of colors the sorts of things that Cyber Paint did, but seldom with the elegance of this original software.

Jim Kent also was a co-developer of the popular ANIM IFF format for the Amiga computer. The animation format was developed in 1988 by Sparta Inc. and used for the first time in Jim Kent's 'Aegis Animator' for the Amiga. 'Aegis Animator' is the predecessor to 'Cyber Paint', and subsequently 'Autodesk Animator'. As being very efficient and also being an official subset of existing Amiga ILBM/IFF standard file format, it became the de-facto standard for any animation file on Amiga. Several compression schemes have been introduced in the ANIM format. Most of these are strictly of historical interest as the only one currently used is the vertical run length encoded byte encoding developed by Atari software programmer Jim Kent.

© Walter Randelshofer. All rights reserved. Animations used under permission.