Omnibus Computer Graphics

Here is a Page from the Omnibus Annual Report in 1984 showing Facilities at Paramount Studios. Omnibus always had slick looking Reports to stockholders. Unfortunately, there was more "hopes and dreams" in the reports than reality. The computer animation market has indeed grown to be more than John Pennie's wildest imaginings, but in 1984, it was almost non-existent. There was no off-the-shelf software for producing any kind of complex animation in any kind of efficient manner. We were starting to develop it, but it just didn't exist yet. The machines were huge old mainframes, like the famous F1 "Foonly" computer shown in the background here. The F-1 was built as a prototype by Triple-I, and was truly one of a kind. It used an even older Dec-10 system as its front-end console, and ran a hacked up version of the TOPS10 operating system. The TRANEW rendering software was written by Gary Demos, Bill Dungan, Rich Schroeppel, Jim Blinn, and a host of others while Triple-I had the machine. Triple-I had married the F1 to a modified PFR-80 film recorder, one of the first in the motion picture industry. Omnibus bought the F1 system because it had produced the majority of the CGI in the film "TRON", and it seemed like a good way to jump-start feature film production. We did scenes from "Explorers", and "Flight of the Navigator" on it, but it was painful.

Meanwhile, as shown here, the New York Omnibus office was opening up with a brand new facility on West 57th Street. George Heywood ran the office, and had a very nice operation right across the street from Unitel Video. The New York office also had a complete post-production suite with 1"C VTRs, DVE, switcher and audio equipment. After Omnibus bought Digital Productions and Robert Abel, the New York office was closed and the equipment was moved to the Los Angeles office for "consolidation". Much of this equipment was just being installed when Omnibus closed the doors.

The right-hand pictures show the Toronto facilities of Omnibus, in the Transamerica Tower on Yonge St. A full post-production suite was built in Toronto also. The bottom image shows the EditDroid system which was supposedly going in at Unitel, which shared a building with Omnibus on the Paramount lot. Despite the fact that no such system existed at Omnibus, it didn't stop the company from displaying in on this page of "Omnibus Facilities".

The Demise of Omnibus

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