>>When you refer to 3D models, I take it that these are software models (difficult to lip synch lumps of clay)! I'm interested in the software used for modelling.
(Remember, this was 1995-1996.)
The characters were designed on paper with front/ side/ back drawings, which were then given to clay modelers at Viewpoint Datalabs who, well, built clay models. The clay models were then drawn over with a grid and then manually digitized, point by point by point. Viewpoint didn't keep the clay models and we never asked for them. The resulting untextured 3d meshes were, for the time, fairly high-res at a few thousand polygons each and were brought into an early mashed-up beta version of Alias/ Wavefront (which eventually became what we now know as Maya) on Silicon Graphics workstations, where I textured and lit them while 3d technical artists set up the facial morph targets for the lip sync. This was pretty fancy stuff back then, with SGI workstations costing $20-30k and the software about that cost again (if I remember correctly).
On the game side, I was using 3D Studio Release 4 for DOS to create all the ingame buildings, vehicles, etc. It was pretty rough, in that you couldn't view what you were making like you can today in Maya or 3DS Max... it was all wireframe and from set angles only (left, right, top, bottom, front, back). To view your texture or lighting progress you had to manually render a frame. At one point I was using a early Windows 3d program that looked a lot like what 3DS Max would turn out to be... Truevision? Truescape?... with in-editing-window previewing and all the stuff we're spoiled with these days, and it was mostly good and fancy-like until you got down to some in-file organization details (like naming, material handling, etc) that showed it to be less than robust for game development. Also, anything I created in Truescape could not export to any open format so anything I created in Truescape would have to live there forever. Forget *that*. I opted to stick with the industrial-grade DOS program, which allowed me to batch all my renders (so I could set up a whole bunch of animations, then have them render overnight). I recall I was using a Pentium 100 (the most powerful computer in the building), whew. With a whopping 17" monitor!
The one category of exception to the stuff that looked like 3d modeling is the race marques, which were (believe it or not) all done in Photoshop 2.5 using early bump map and lighting tools.
Quick bit of trivia: one of the reasons the Skirineen ended up with that degraded video effect is because Viewpoint totally whiffed on the model (super lame), and built it with these big blocky teeth that looked terrible. Our budget ran out with them, and on our side we didn't have 3d tools to model a reptilian mouth... soooo we got creative.
The noise filter was a bit of a problem for Dan when he was trying to compress the videos down to a workable data rate...