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Microsoft 3D Movie Maker (Ver. 1) 
by Andrew Tong, Alamo PC

3D Movie Maker is a CD-ROM for making short animation "movies." Microsoft rates this program suitable for ages 8 and up. I reviewed this program because of the favorable reviews I have read. This program is supposed to unleash one's creativity and imagination. My family helped me evaluate this product. We feel this product is a reasonable first attempt in 3D animation kit for the home market.

 Hardware requirements: 8MB RAM; 2X CD-ROM; 486SX/50 MHz or higher; SVGA (256 colors) with local bus video; mouse or equivalent; Windows 95 or NT 3.51; 12 MB hard disk space; 16 bit sound card and speakers or headphones; microphone for recording.

 Test System: Win95 on the following hardware. 16MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM, Pentium 75 MHz, SVGA (256 colors) with local bus video; mouse; 16 bit sound card and speakers; microphone for recording.

 Loading was flawless. The program is specifically written for Windows 95. Microsoft did a great job with their integration. A user guide came with the product but the on-line tutor is the painless way to learn this program. Technical support was available but not needed. Microsoft offers a 30 day money back guarantee.

 The program took full advantage of Windows 95 and of my system. This is the first program that caused my hardware to work full time. The CD ROM was working all the time. The test system provided a satisfactory rate of response. However, I find it hard to believe the program would run well on a 486/50 with 8 Megs of RAM.

 The 3D Movie Maker is texturally rich so the 3D promise is fulfilled. However, visual details were apparently compromised to achieve a reasonable response rate. The result is a 3D presentation of very crude animation. Nonetheless, the technological advances embodied in this program are quite impressive.

 The program launches you to a movie house where you can choose to go back stage to create your own film or watch one of about 2 dozen pre-made short animations, complete with sound. The pre-made shorts are really very short and is not exactly rich in content. They give you a reasonable idea of what can be accomplished with the program. After watching the short film clips, you are given a chance to go back stage to edit what you just saw or add to it. Alternatively, you may watch another film. My family and I sat and watched half of the preloaded films in an evening. We are not couch potatoes. At least 50 percent of the evening was spent waiting for the program to locate the various bits on the CD and put them in sequence for our viewing pleasure.

 On the second evening, we tried the on-line tutorial at step by step movie making. It was literally step by step and almost frame by frame. In the interest of time and the children's short attention span, we chose to edit an existing film short. The best part of the program has to be the wide choice of camera angles. This aspect of the program really was quite striking and serves as a potentially educational tool. The program is limited to 12 sets. It has a finite selection of characters sharing in common a relatively small range of actions and pre-programmed lines. Addition of a microphone really boosts the range of creative possibilities of this program.

 This is not a program one masters in a few days, or even weeks. It is a wonderful demonstration of technological advancement for Windows 95 graphical programming possibilities. This program in the hands of casual, perhaps even dedicated home users, is not a threat to any commercial animation firm.

 My family do NOT recommend this program to the casual user with limited leisure computing time. The artists among you may disagree and find this program quite useful. It lists for $59.00 with discounts widely available. This is a product of the Microsoft Corporation. Tel. (206) 635-7140