Even though 3D Movie Maker is almost 30 years old, there is still an active community that uses it to create new animations. The low resolution works well for surreal or tongue-in-cheek videos, and there are plenty of examples on sites like YouTube and 3dmm.com.
So why did Microsoft wait so long to release the source code? Foone Turing, a self-proclaimed "hardware/software necromancer," got the ball rolling in April when they publicly tweeted that Microsoft should release the code. The job required coordination from Microsoft's legal department and developer relations teams, but in the end we had a happy ending.
Microsoft 3D Movie Maker has its own cultural significance, but it also uses BRender, a graphics engine developed by Argonaut Software that has also been used in games like FX fighter and Carmagedon. Foone mentioned that the inclusion of BRender code could lead to other games and applications also becoming open source (or at least easier to port to newer platforms). Argonaut Software is probably best known as the developer behind it star fox on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, as well as the Super FX graphics accelerator chip that was used in almost every 3D SNES game.
Hello friends - we have made the code for Microsoft 3D Movie Maker from 1995 open source https://t.co/h4mYSKRrjK Thanks to @jeffwilcox and the Microsoft OSS office, as well as our friends in the legal department and those who continue to put up with my being a nudzh. Thanks to @fone for the idea! Enjoy. https://t.co/6wBAkjkeIP
— Scott Hanselman 🇺🇦 (@shanselman) May 4, 2022
Microsoft released the source code as is, in its mostly original form - some developer information has been removed to respect their privacy, and some content from "alternate builds or products" (presumably including the Nickelodeon version) is not included. However, BRender is included in the code, making this framework publicly available for the first time. Unsurprisingly, the code also doesn't compile on modern hardware and software. GitHub reports that 77% of the code is committed Gulpwith the rest being a mix of C++, C, and assembly language code.
After releasing the source code, Foone said on Twitter, "There are also other games that used the BRender engine, some of which could never be open source because they depended on BRender. Well, it's open source now! This also opens up the possibility of open sourcing for them. I ask different people and companies. Because it would be nice if BRenders going open source led to other games also using it open source, much like the BUILD engine going open source led to Duke Nukem 3D going open source.”
Foone also said they are planning at least two projects based on the 3D Movie Maker code - a version that will work on modern hardware and software with the original look and feel, and a "Movie Maker Plus" with new features. The developer accepts donations Patreon and Ko-FiSo if you can't wait to relive animation software from the mid-'90s, consider giving them a few bucks.
Above: Ars Technica
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