IPAS was the name given to plugin interface built into 3D Studio R2 (1992) and beyond. It is an acronym made up of the various different ways one could add functionality to the product – Image processing, Procedural modelling, And So on Ok fine, actually A was for Animation, S for ‘Solid Pattern’ (material surfaces), eventually joined in R3 by Keyframer and Bitmap IO options.
The 3rd party plugin market brought a lot of creative spice to an already exciting product. To quote Tim Forcade in the introduction of his lavish plugin bible 3D Studio IPAS Plug-In Reference This links to a professional scan from one of my two remaining copies of the paperback .. which had to be disassembled in the process. I have not found a suitable digital version anywhere else, so I present mine for archival.,
… IPAS plug-ins are more than just a group of effects and utilities; they comprise a unique philosophy of CGI (computer-generated imagery) media design as well. 3D Studio/IPAS is the first 3D computer graphic program to successfully share the process of media development with the artists themselves - you can create your own plug-ins from scratch. Such extensibility offers artists the means to shape their medium on their own terms while maintaining professional quality standards.
Despite barely having a single clue what I was doing, I cut my C programming teeth trying to write my own little set of IPAS plug-ins. I never got round to officially releasing them on CompuServe GO ADESK ! – they were so basic I was probably too embarrassed to show them to anyone else.
It was only many years later that artist and 3D community OG Robert Seidel contacted me after playing with my 3dsmax plug-ins, asking if I had ever written some free IPAS routines as he was compiling a little archive of all known 3DS freeware. I chucked him what I could find. Until recently, his old site was the only place to download these .. uh.. rarities.
Although I have no idea why you might want to, they can now be downloaded below .. maybe if you’re in dire need of a mature (v1.3!), semi-animatable (!) pixelation filter for your latest 320x200 phong-shaded masterpiece?
3D Studio MAX
Fast-forward a few years. 3dsmax arrived bringing a whole new world of plugin expansion and I had read at least 3 chapters of Teach Yourself C++ In 21 Days. Instead of studying for my A-levels, I immersed myself in the burgeoning plugin freeware scene as it blossomed on the early internet, mixing with people who actually had talent and knew how to code.
Giving things away for free - even weird, wonky, semi-pointless things - in a market where plugins were normally selling for hundreds of dollars helped me make friends fast. This cycle marked the proper birth of my
ishani nickname, my first proper website, my first attempt at making software that other people might actually like to use. I even managed to sell some Shareware, receiving a handful of cheques from various extremely generous users, bless their hearts. Oh and I finished my A-levels or whatever, who cares.
A mixture of luck and my presence in the 3dsmax freeware scene landed me a job straight out of school working for Kinetix themselves (subsequently absorbed into Discreet, then renamed into the deliriously catchy Autodesk Multimedia & Entertainment Solutions). I got to mess with the internals of 3D Studio MAX itself, including producing the mesh morphing tools in Release 3.0, extending the scripting system, running a few of the early support forums & building procedural textures for the ArchViz product, VIZ.
Some of my plug-ins that were actually of any practical use eventually got wound into 3dsmax in some form or another. One that really wasn’t of any practical use got slid in too and it gives me a kind of sick, guilty delight to see that Melt remains lodged in the core product. See you in 3DSMAX 2033, Melt 😘.
While a lot of my original source code is irretrievably lost (this was back before I understood the necessity of good code back-up practices), I have versions of plugins compiled for 3dsmax 2.x and 3.x archived below.
Later, while at Kinetix, I wrote a bunch of plug-ins exclusively for 3dsmax 3.0, downloadable here too, for completeness’ sake. These were also distributed with a book by 3ds guru Jon Bell, “3D Studio MAX R2.5 F/X and Design ”.
In late 2023 I was contacted by Jorge Benito , Computer Science Professor at the Department of Education of La Rioja. He was wondering if I still had registered versions of my MIX mesh morphing software, or any resources that might let him use it in 3dsmax 2.0 – most importantly, it turned out he was up for trying to get the fragments of source code I still had for it recompiling again in a fresh MAX SDK build environment.
He successfully managed to build the 1.60 version running and get it running in 3dsmax 2.0, an achievement in itself given my ramshackle, disorganised source backups and the fact it needs ancient compiler machinery to get going. Sadly I have no record of the very latest 1.65 version’s source, so I also disassembled and modified the only copy we could find to try and remove some the limits that it had. If, for some wild reason, you need a copy of MIX again - below contains everything I have for it, including Jorge’s recompiled version and all the source code I could scrape up.