From the February 1996 issue of CD-ROM Today

Microsoft 3D Movie Maker

By David English

Let me just blurt this out: Microsoft 3D Movie Maker is the best children's creativity program I've seen in quite a while. And like other top programs, such as Kid Pix, 3D Movie Maker is highly addicting. When my 10 year-old son and I fight over who gets to go next at the computer, I know we're onto something. To our surprise, we put 3-D Ultra Pinball and MechWarrior 2 back on the shelf and quickly turned our home computer into a dedicated movie machine. Because who needs 3D games when you can create your very own 3D movies?

This program provides great-looking graphics and has many useful options. Best of all, 3D Movie Maker is easy to use and includes step-by-step tutorials. It's a near-perfect combination of powerful features and a simple interface. And, yes, it really is designed for kids as young as 8 years old.

To guide you through your movie production, Microsoft has brought back the obnoxious McZee (from Creative Writer and Fine Artist) to lead you through the various rooms of a virtual 3D movie theater. In the Idea Room, you can use the Splot machine to create random combinations of scenes, camera angles, actors, props, and music. The Talent Book includes short biographies of the 40 actors, which might help inspire an interesting story for your next movie. In the Project Room, McZee's friend Melanie shows you how to create a flying 3D logo for your movie titles and how to put together a complete movie. You'll also learn how to combine the various cinematic components to create a convincing story.

In the Studio, you'll put your new skills to work and produce a 3D movie. Choose one of the 12 sets; select appropriate camera angles to enhance your story line; place your actors on the set and assign their movements; and attach dialogue, sound effects, and music for continuity and mood. If you have a microphone, you can record and add your own voice to the collection of generic dialogue that comes with the package. Finally, in the Theatre you can show your completed movie to your friends and family. You can also send your movies to other film fans. The movie files are generally less than 40K, but there's no run-time program, so Grandma will have to have the full package in order to view little Timmy's masterpiece.

If you and your kids have rich imaginations and would love to create computer movies that look like scaled-down versions of Toy Story, this is the package to buy. It's just the kind of software to inspire a future Orson Welles or Quentin Tarantino.

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