|This article does not cite any references or sources. (October 2009)|
Engineering Animation, Inc. (EAI) was a services and software company based in Ames, Iowa (also known as the "Silicon Prairie"), United States. It remained headquartered there from its incorporation in 1990 until it was acquired by Unigraphics Solutions, Inc. in 1999. During its existence, EAI produced animations to support litigants in court, wrote and sold animation and visualization software, and developed a number of multimedia medical and computer game titles. Part of EAI's business now exists in a spin-off company, Demonstratives.
EAI got its start by providing consulting for lawyers and expert witnesses and producing animations to help illustrate technical testimony in the courtroom. They also provided in-house expertise and testimony on occasion. These EAI-produced animations were created using software written in-house which later developed into EAI's first software product in 1994, VisLab, an animation package initially written to leverage the graphics capabilities of the SGI UNIX computer platform.
Visualization and collaboration
Based on the initial success of VisLab with automotive companies, EAI developed and released the first commercially viable 3D interactive visualization software package, VisFly, on the SGI and then the HP and Sun platforms in 1995 and '96. VisFly was eventually ported to Microsoft Windows and IBM AIX and expanded into the VisView and VisMockup product lines. Networking capabilities were subsequently added to VisFly via NetFly and to VisView/VisMockup via VisNetwork. Providing the visualization software, tools, and network access methods to convert common CAD data into the JT visualization format were keys to this most successful of EAI's business ventures. Networking capabilities were eventually expanded further with e-Vis.com which provided an internet hosted environment and many of the features now seen in mainstream collaboration software.
By 1996, EAI wanted to broaden its scope of development. This led to EAI's purchase that year of a small video game developer in Salt Lake City, Utah (SLC) headed by Bryan Brandenburg. This new studio became the primary location of EAI Interactive's activities. The SLC office worked more or less independently, though from time to time it used the services of the main Ames office for overflow work.
EAI Interactive grew to be the largest independent game developer in the U.S., producing a variety of titles, such as Barbie Magic Hair Styler, Trophy Buck for Sierra On-Line, Championship Bass for Electronic Arts, A Bug's Life for Disney Interactive, Clue and Outburst for Hasbro Interactive and Scooby Doo: Mystery of the Fun Park Phantom and Animaniacs: Titantic Adventure for Southpeak Interactive.
In addition to game development, EAI's medical and scientific illustration team developed a variety of 3D interactive educational products including The Dynamic Human for McGraw Hill, The Dissectible Human for Elsevier.
In the September, 1997 issue of Individual Investor magazine, EAI was named one of "America's Fastest Growing Companies." And, early in 1998, two additional magazines recognized the company's achievements. Business Week magazine, in its January 12, 1998 issue, recognized Matthew Rizai, the company CEO, as one of the best entrepreneurs of 1997, and Forbes ASAP magazine, in its February 23, 1998 issue, recognized the company as one of the 100 most dynamic technology companies in the US—with a rank of number eight.
An international company
In its hey day, EAI had offices located around the world and across the US. EAI's primary financial success was in the area of visualization software initially called VisFly and later renamed VisView. This product line lives on today as part of Teamcenter from Siemens PLM Software after a series of acquisitions starting in 1999. The litigation supporting animation services portion of EAI lives on as a spin-off company called Demonstratives.
Many former EAI employees stay in contact through XEAI.com, a web community maintained by EAI's former Director of Entertainment Production, Robert Coshland.
Products and services
Animation services and Special Effects
- VisFly (1995)
- NetFly (1996)
- VisView (1997?)
- VisMockup (1998?)
- VisFactory (1998?)
- VisNetwork (1998)
- eVis.com (1999)
- X-Fire (1997, unpublished)
- Legend of the Five Rings (1998, unpublished)
- Clue (1998)
- K'NEX: K'NEX Lost Mines (1998)
- Scooby Doo: Mystery of the Fun Park Phantom (1999)
- Trans-Am '68-'72 (1999, unpublished)
- Small Soldiers
- Disney: A Bug's Life: ActivePlay
- Disney: Toy Story 2: Activity Center
- Animaniacs: A Titantic Adventure
- Crazy Paint
- Clue Chronicles: The Fatal Illusion
- Sierra: Trophy Buck
- Sierra: Trophy Hunting
- Hasbro: Outburst
- Championship Bass (2000)