the summer we spoke to Marc about FormFonts 3D.
And we learned several interesting things we think
readers will want to know about. Marc is not your
ordinary Web start-up guy, but rather a registered
architect in California whose master's in architecture
thesis ended up a SIGGRAPH presentation demonstrating
what was possible -- one day -- with virtual 3D
circuitous background takes him from SIGGRAPH presentations
to the world of 3D gaming, to mapping out cities like
Paris and London and Toyko to designing and building
his own house in San Diego using SketchUp. Now he helps
lead FormFonts 3D.
this interview Marc tells us about himself, about what
FormFonts 3D offers content users today and where
FormFonts 3D will eventually go. And yes, if you haven't
yet guessed, this too has something to do with BIM!
formation of FormFonts 3D
can you tell me about how FormFonts 3D got started?
Fredrickson): Fred Abler, the founder and CEO, started
a website in 2001
called Objective Networks. People uploaded 3D
SketchUp models and the models were downloaded more
than 4 million times in less than two years. There
was no cost to participate. However, the problem of
the model quality and consistency became paramount.
Even though there was a rating system, people uploaded
many poor quality models and few good ones. Fred needed
to either close the site or start a pay-for service
where people would know that they could find high quality,
low polygon models as well as textures. This is when
I, one programmer and many great 3D artists hooked
up with Fred to start FormFonts.
what is your background? I understand you have an architectural
degree and have been involved in practice?
I attended Cal Poly State University-San Luis Obispo
and got my undergraduate architectural degree. After
working for a few years for an architecture firm, I
returned to school to get a graduate degree in Architecture
from University of California San Diego. The architecture
program was just getting started and many resources
were available, including access to the super computer
center. Back in 1993 my thesis was a real-time rendered
virtual shopping mall called 'In the Bag.' A
couple of programmers and I worked on it. We showed
the thesis at SIGGRAPH 1994 in Orlando, Florida.
the time, video games were about to transition
to 3D environments. The guys at Angel Studios
-- who did the CG for "Lawnmower Man" and Peter
music video "Kiss that Frog" -- had just signed
a contract with Nintendo to make games for the
N64...and they offered me a job. Since San Diego
was still in a recession at the time, I decided
some fun making video games for a while and then
when the economy got better, get an architecture
job. But I was having so much fun I stayed with
Angel Studios (later bought by Rockstar Games)
for 10 years.
what kinds of things did you do as a trained architect
working at a video gaming company?
worked on Midnight Club, an open-city based driving
game. I had the best job - traveling
to Tokyo, Paris, New York, and London among others
to research and map the city for the game. I
wore many hats such as 3D artist, lead 3D artist,
environment artist, level designer, game designer,
game design department head and office space
my 10 years making video games I was able to
exercise my architectural skills designing
and drawing up the plans for a few friends.
Moonlighting wasn't a problem since the
clients worked at Angel Studios. I feel fortunate
that I had got my architecture license right
before starting to make video games and was able
to keep doing architectural work.
understand that you designed and built your own
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