You too can create 3D movies in PS1 format using only 3D Movie Maker and your Windows 95 PC.


3:10 p.m. ET update: We’ve added details on features that 3D Movie Maker fans can expect now that the app is open source.

Original story: Back in 1995, the company’s Microsoft Kids division released a program called Microsoft 3D Movie Maker. The same year as the original toy story proved that feature-length 3D computer animation was feasible, people could install software on their home computers that could spit out crude but creative 3D animated movies at 6 to 8 frames per second.

Except for the release Doraemon and Nickelodeon-specific versions of Movie Maker later, Microsoft never really got back to that software…until now. Microsoft Developer Division Community Manager Scott Hanselman announced yesterday that it was Microsoft Open source code for 3D Movie Makerpost it to Github in a read-only repository under an MIT license.

The code wasn’t released because Microsoft has big plans for 3D Movie Maker, but because someone asked. Self-proclaimed “hardware/software necromancer” Foone Turing asked Microsoft to release 3D Movie Maker’s source code back in April because they wanted to “expand and expand on it.” Jeff Wilcox, office manager of Hanselman and Microsoft Open Source Programs, then worked with Microsoft’s legal team to make this happen.

The 3D renderer used in 3D Movie Maker is called BRender and it was used in Argonaut Software PC games like in the mid 90’s Carmagedon and FX fighter. Turing was also given permission to do so Issue the BRender code under the same MIT license as a 3D movie maker again in early April after asking permission from former Argonauts CEO Jez San.

We asked Hanselman why Microsoft bothered to release the 3D Movie Maker code after all these years.

“Because there’s never been an app like this,” Hanselman told Ars. “Even now, 25 years later, there’s a community that’s excited about this tool.” He’s not wrong. 3D Movie Maker still has a small but active enthusiastic user base that still exists output content I would politely call it “surreal”.

The app’s open-sourcing could lead to all sorts of experimental forks, but Turing did specific updates that they also plan to release under an open source license. These improvements include updated versions of the BRender engine and 3D Movie Maker that run natively on modern systems, as well as a “3D Movie Maker Plus” that removes the app’s 256 color limitation, improves audio support, adds native video export capabilities, and much more. The aim will be to expand the functionality of the software, while “keep[ing] it as simple and easy to use as the original.”

3D Movie Maker has another dubious achievement to its name: dialog boxes in 3D Movie Maker are the first documented appearance of Comic Sans designed for Microsoft Bob but was not ready when this software was shipped. Comic Sans later conquered office signage everywhere thanks to its inclusion in Windows 95 Plus! Pack, Internet Explorer and other Microsoft products from the 90s.

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