Web3D RoundUp: Looking Backwards and Forwards

Vol.34 No.2 May 2000

Avatar, Get a Life

Cati Laporte

Made with AvatarStudio.

In this demo, I showed how easily the unique new avatar creator tool, AvatarStudio, allows a user to make creatures in just a few minutes and endow them with a semblance of life. Although living creatures do not exist on the web, we know how they might look and move, as well as what they might do. We don’t quite know, however, what the elements of their “expressivity” might be.

Most character animation packages available today are essentially expert tools, with a complexity demanding significant time from the users who wish to learn how to use them. The characters’ realism depends also on the animation of their clothing, which is very problematic. The availability of a tool such as AvatarStudio will soon generate a population of animated humanoids in certain VR communities on the web, as well as a user community that will be able to exchange gestures, share behaviors and so on. These new populations will certainly change our virtual landscape.

A tool like AvatarStudio is a magical piece of software for a Web3D creator. What I showed in the demo was the result of three weeks of work with Didier Bouchon, one of the creators of Avatar Studio. I presented a collection of characters engaged in a variety of gestures and activities. The simplicity of the tool allowed me to inline, DEF/USE and reuse gestures using VRML 97. We also experimented with certain, more complex issues including the sequencing of gestures and changing attached objects from hand to hand.

Presenting this demo at the Web3D RoundUP, showing it to an assembly of experts - the people who provided us with the world for these creatures to live in - was an awe-inspiring and scary experience for me…For a minute, I was holding the life of a defenseless humanoid on the tip of my finger and I could almost hear their little hearts beating...For a minute, I wished I were a bot.... What will result from this collaboration? Something that only these creatures shall know. This is the very beginning of what we will show you at the SIGGRAPH 2000 Web3D RoundUP.

Thanks to Frederic Lediberder/Canal+ who made this collaboration possible and blaxxun for the X3D.

Cati Laporte

The copyright of articles and images printed remains with the author unless otherwise indicated.