Someone tweeted at Microsoft to release the 27-year-old source code to 3D Movie Maker, so they did
Foone, a self-described “hardware/software necromancer” and chaotic keyboard maker, convinced Microsoft to release the source code for 3D Movie Maker—apparently, all we needed to do was ask. The 27-year-old animation program is now out there, neatly archived and available for anyone who wants tinker with it.
hey @Microsoft give me the source code to 3D Movie Maker. You released it in 1995 and I want to expand and extend it. my DMs are open, I’ll help you open source it.April 6, 2022
“Hey Microsoft, give me the source code to 3D Movie Maker,” Foone wrote on Twitter last month. Then, just earlier this week, Microsoft’s Scott Hanselman quote retweeted it and dropped the source code, crediting the Microsoft Open Source Office for its efforts.
Now, the slightly bizarre, slightly before-its-time, and very ’90s 3D Movie Maker is available, in its entirety, for everyone to have and tinker with. The program allows you to place cartoony characters and assets in 3D environments, control their movement over a timeline, and export it as a mini film. With the source code, Foone has plans to update it to run on modern PCs and to potentially add features that could make sharing its unique videos (in .3mm file format) much easier than you can by default.
“I’m expecting I’ll get the basic modernized version in the next month to a few months, depending on how many issues I run into,” Foone told me.
Foone has a long-standing love for 3D Movie Maker: They started using it in 1996 and began to make addons for the software in 2001. They belong to a surprisingly active community that continues to discuss and share animations with each other on an unofficial forum. As you’d expect, the forum is ecstatic about the news.
“Never thought I’d see the day,” a moderator named HMC wrote.
“This is a dream come true. Thank you Foone for always pushing 3DMM forward,” Bizness Man said.
Part of the reason why 3D Movie Maker’s source code can be released is because the engine it runs on, BRender, also had its source code released this week. With both available, Foone can get to work on updating it without having to deal with licensing issues. Sort of like having Kid Pix in your browser, Foone wants to make 3D Movie Maker available for everyone to use, whether they want to create and export finished animations or test rough ideas they’ll finish later in more modern tools like Source Filmmaker.
“I didn’t know if it would happen, but frankly I thought it was worth a serious try,” Foone said when I ask if they thought their original tweet would lead to anything. “I had asked around before and [Microsoft] hadn’t been able to find [the code]… it turns out it was deeply buried in some archive of an archive of an archive. Apparently someone had to pull it off backup tapes to actually get it!”