the show with a briefing on Virtual Reality - what it is and what it
isn't. Infomaniac Erick Von Schweber was the Ringmaster and Linda kept
things running semi-smoothly.
Epranian kept the machines operating under unbelievable odds. All that
alpha and beta code kept us on our toes.
was the world's coolest stage manager handling this, the largest production
at COMDEX/Spring '95. With 5 huge screens arranged in an arc, 5 projectors
feeding them the output from 11 sources (2 video and 9 computers), all
going through a switcher that was delivered 15 minutes before showtime...
Mike did a terrific job.
were all fantastic.
Six Degrees of
Freedom in Real Time, Through the Window
with "Spaceman Ziff" - aka Jim Galley - Executive Director
of PC Magazine Labs. Jim gave us a wild ride through Interplay's 6 DOF
(Degrees of Freedom) game, Descent, using a new controller - the Spaceball
Avenger - from Spacetec IMC. Jim and CAVEman demonstrated 3D in real-time
with 6 degrees of freedom. This was VR "Through the Window".
Descent was running in DOS on an HP Vectra 90 with a Matrox MGA graphics
board and a Creative Labs Sound Blaster Awe32. And awesome it was!
was the operator of VR Cam. Using i-glasses from Virtual I/O, a Cinema
Products' Steadicam JR, and a Canon LX100 Hi-8 video camera, Tim closed
in on the Avenger so all could see it's immensely cool design. Through
out the show, Tim carried on, in spite of technical difficulties, giving
us close-ups of as many products as possible. Tim now wants i-glasses
for all his shoots.
from Template Graphics Software (TGS) showed us an example of mutability
- changing a scene from inside that scene. In this case Joe added fog
to a scene inside Open Inventor for Windows NT. You can also change
the colors and materials of objects and even distort the shapes of objects
by pulling and pushing on them from inside an Open Inventor viewer.
3D Into the Room
- Time for 3D glasses
saw VR "Into the Room" - via 3D projection from a StereoGraphics/Electrohome
stereo ready projector and software demonstrated by Tom Coull of Sense8
- showing one of their applications in Windows 3.1 on an HP Vectra 90
with the Matrox MGA board.
provided the 3D glasses for all and Dalite provided the very special
projection screen needed for viewing stereo 3D, rear projected, with
these inexpensive glasses. Special thanks to these guys - interactive
3D stereo for a large audience remains a challenge but we pulled it
Immersive VR -
Head Mounted Displays
Goring of Virtuality Europe came from England to show us "Immersive"
VR with their turn-key Elysium system replete with an excellent head
mounted display and an absolutely riveting virtual motorcycle demo.
our briefing on styles of VR, we saw avi video of CAVE total immersion
technology. This is the four surface (three walls and a floor) stereoscopic
unit which gets our visual experience close to the Holodeck.
video compression guru of Doceo assisted our video capture efforts with
hardware, software, and expertise. The avi was captured with an Intel
Smart Video Recorder Pro (from a tape provided by the Electronic Visualization
Lab at University of Illinois in Chicago) and it looked great playing
full screen at 30fps on the HP Vectra 100 with the new and scarce Matrox
Millennium graphics board.
3D Studio and IPAS routines
to Virtual VR we saw Beta SP video of a fly-thru created frame by frame
by Autodesk using 3D Studio and IPAS routines from the YOST Group and
HSC's Bryce Animations
and Bryce QuickTime VR
Hawthorne, in charge of New Business Development for HSC Software showed
us beautiful Bryce animations, complete with 3D clouds and their shadows
on the ground. He also flew us through a Bryce QuickTime VR environment,
with incredible resolution and landscapes. Scott was running on a PowerMac
and hopes to have Bryce on Windows 95 soon.
moved into the Multimedium - with transition graphics by the Infomaniacs.
TPR Enterprises of NY's strobes were controlled by MIDI commands issued
from an Ensoniq TS12 keyboard under the masterful control of Silvi O'Kelly.
This was done via a bit of magic from G2-DesignWorks, their Digital
Animator, an inexpensive box that uses MIDI information to control 16
channels of continuously varying voltage (0-24V).
also played the keyboard and provided us with wonderful sound effects.
We were set up to control a Rosco Laboratories' 1500 Fog Machine with
MIDI commands as well, but alas, the AV rental company delivered a High
End Systems model 100 atmosphere machine instead. This was controlled
manually. Rosco Labs provided endless support for getting their fog
machine wired up to the Digital Animator, however. A complete demonstration
of the use of theatrical effects to create greater audience immersion
awaits the next show!
Boyd, VP of Virtus Works, showed us various multimedia capabilities
in their Mac product. We not only saw images, we saw a QuickTime movie
playing inside the world, mapped to a wall in a virtual conference room.
Topping that, we saw a live video feed off a Connectix QuickCam video
camera, fed into the world and playing even as we moved around the world.
This was on a PowerMac. Virtus Walkthrough Pro 2.0 was also running
efficiently in Windows for Workgroups on a Toshiba T4900CT - a pentium
laptop. VR to go.
Vream's VR Creator
President of VREAM, took us on a tour of VREAM's virtual offices. Pretty
cool digs. Inside we found all the multimedia we could want including
text, graphics, video, and links to other Windows applications. These
were fun worlds designed by Run and Gun of Chicago IL. Ed used the new
3 button Trackman Vista trackball from Logitech to navigate these realms.
Ed also had access to the world wide web, email, Excel, Word, and more
from inside his virtual office. Ed was running on an HP Vectra Pentium
100 with a Matrox Millennium graphics board and a Sound Blaster Awe32
from Creative Labs.
Goring of Virtuality Europe took us on a motorbike ride, complete with
helmet (headmount). It was great fun. He also adjusted the anesthesia
on some poor virtual dude - Chris told the audience that if he had more
time he could certainly have killed this subject. The Elysium turn-key
system performed beautifully and the virtual hand control looked incredibly
powerful. This ran on Virtuality's turnkey Elysium system using an IBM
486 with 2 (you can have up to 8) proprietary graphics boards.
Tool Kit 2.0 for Windows NT
President of Sense8, took us to Mars. He ran the program Sense8 built
for NASA which will allow them to control the movement of the Mars rover
on the surface of Mars despite the fact that it takes several minutes
for light to reach Earth from Mars. It ran on the Intergraph TD4 with
GLI graphics in Windows NT, was fully texture mapped and ran impressively
smoothly. It ran in World Tool Kit for Windows NT, a VR toolkit for
Microsoft's Visual C++.
TGS's Open Inventor
Stewart, Director of New Business Development for Template Graphics
Software (TGS), faced the most technical difficulties with aplomb. Joe
was also on the Intergraph TD4 with GLI graphics. He showed us a model
of the solar system running in TGS's first beta release of Open Inventor.
This brand new beta of Open Inventor runs in Windows NT and depends
on Microsoft's Visual C++. For those of you new to Open Inventor, there's
lots more functionality and visual splendor in the product. We look
forward to seeing the final release.
Epranian took us on a tour of Midnight Manor - a demo game developed
by Evans & Sutherland - running on their Freedom graphics board
in an HP Vectra 100 with Windows NT. The game is built in Sense8's WorldToolKit
and it looked like a lot of fun, ghosts and all. Handling textures is
the forte of the Freedom Graphics board.
Coleman showed us Intergraph's Design Review running on the Intergraph
TD4 with GLI graphics. This great program loaded and ran humongous models
of pipes, cabling and industrial building subsystems. She showed its
attached video and text clips, and mentioned that audio annotation was
also supported. Donna gave us a fascinating tour - amazing us with capabilities
of this software and hardware. She was even able to bring up Microsoft
Word 6.0 with documentation - from the real-time world. The Intergraph
was running Microsoft Windows NT.
the most exciting portion of all - the World Wide Web Worlds - in glorious
UB Networks' InterWorld
with Tim Wild of UB Networks (formerly Ungerman Bass) showing us their
InterWorld VR product. Tim went to www.kaworlds.com on the world wide
web. There he was able to choose an avatar (3d animated representation)
for himself (a very funny teddy bear he calls Super Cool) and interact
with and talk to another person who was visiting the world. She appeared
to us as a blue ball with her name printed above her. They went into
a private room to have a conversation... Later Tim found Eli Zelkha
(looking, presumably, like himself), also of UB Networks, in the web
world. Eli showed us how the technology can be used to show clients
3 dimensional views of products. Cool stuff. UB Networks builds such
worlds for people. Tim fell in love with the RemotePoint cordless hand-held
mouse from Interlink Electronics of Santa Barbara Ca.. Tim was using
a 14.4 PCMCIA Noteworthy modem in the Toshiba T4900CT pentium laptop
running Windows for Workgroups.
was the surprise addition to this line-up. They showed their just announced
WebView product. This used VREAM's proprietary WebView viewer (but future
versions will use VRML as well). They showed us Chicago in 3D - projecting
the possibility that each building would be a node linking you out to
another 3D world. Ed also showed us a shopping mall on the web... Wouldn't
we all like to have our products there? Vream was running in Windows
3.1 on the HP Vectra 100 with Matrox Millennium graphics board. His
modem was an external Sportster 28.8 data/fax v.34 modem from US Robotics.
showed us TGS's and SGI's entry into this field. Their product is WebSpace
and is based on VRML (the Virtual Reality Modeling Language which is
a subset of SGI's Open Inventor .iv format). The PC WebSpace viewer
can be downloaded soon from the SGI www address below and run on NT.
Due to technical difficulties (with PPP, not with their technology)
Joe was not able to show us the many wonderful worlds available. We
were able to examine a molecular model and even zoom in for a scientifically
realistic depiction. Also in the WebSpace demo was a planetary model
with animated planets following elliptical orbits. Joe was also using
an external Sportster 28.8 data/fax v.34 modem from US Robotics.
WebSpace 3D Viewer is available for SGI machines and Windows NT now.
By the end of June we should have it for Windows. It can then be downloaded
from www.sd.tgs.com/~template To optimally use this viewer you should
have Netscape Navigator or Enhanced NCSA Mosaic from Spyglass but it
will work with any net browser. 3D worlds can be found (capitalization
matters) at www.sgi.com/Products/WebFORCE/WebSpace.
send updates as more worlds come onto the web. For more information
Homepages to Homeworlds: Web goes 3D
Putting the "Space
the show by handing out copies of the May 14, 1995 Issue (# 5) of PC
Magazine with our review of VR: Virtual
Reality...Virtually Here. This was authored by Linda & Erick
Von Schweber of Infomaniacs, and Brad Epranian of Gray Productions.
This review documented most of the products used in the show. The major
exceptions were the newest stuff: the Spaceball Avenger and Descent,
all TGS software, Design Review. The World Wide Web Worlds are described
in our new Trends
piece for PC Magazine's June 13th 1995 issue # 15.
models were provided by Accuris, Viewpoint Data Labs, Visual Software,
and Noumenon Labs.
provided Photoshop and Premiere and HSC Software sent us Kai's Power
Tools and Convolver. Each of these applications demonstrated that even
in the realm of 3D you still need good imaging tools for your multimedia
Systems provided their Personal Rexx for both Windows 3.1 and NT. This
is a handy cross-platform batch language to automate Windows procedures
Beach provided Wave for Windows V2, an excellent program for editing
and shaping audio material in .wav format.
Conversion supplied multiple Hyperconverters, scan converters that take
high res graphics (up to 1280x1024) and convert them into an NTSC signal
recordable on a VCR (from VHS to Beta SP). Excellent quality, especially
at this price point.
Arkenstone's Music Set the Mood
and Post-show music was provided courtesy of Narada Media and David
Arkenstone (we're big fans of David and consider him the musical adventurer
of the human spirit).
"The Malabar Caves" from the Narada Album _Citizen of Time_
by David Arkenstone (c) 1990 Narada Music, Inc. (p) 1990 Narada Productions,
Inc. All rights reserved. Use by permission of Narada Productions, Inc.
"Prelude: Talis the Messenger" from the Narada Album _Quest
of the Dream Warrior_ by David Arkenstone (c)1995 Narada Music,
Inc. (p) 1995 Narada Productions, Inc. All rights reserved. Use by permission
of Narada Productions, Inc.
album by David is astonishing and an absolutely wonderful adventure
(the CD is accompanied by a fantasy adventure story and a map of the
realm - anyone out there interested in partnering to produce an interactive
3D adventure game of Quest of the Dream Warrior ?).
our theater were sculptures of light that evoked images from the Sci
Fi genre. 2001, Alien, and Terminator came easily to mind. These wonderfully
unique lights including 2 monoliths and others made of found objects
and techno refuse were provided courtesy of Eclectic Electric Gallery.
The artists are Jay and Alan Marsh and we predict great success for
the ultimate "supporting" product. Special thanks to Intermetro
Industries of Wilkes Barre Pa. for providing the 5 black wireframe racks
that supported all our VR equipment. We've tried all sorts of desks,
racks, pedestals, etc. in our labs, but these Metro racks are by far
the sturdiest, most flexible, and easiest to setup and tear down. They
are reasonably priced and look very High Tech! Highly recommended.
Planned and Under Fire
Infomaniacs title was by Peter Plantec of DreamScape Productions in
Caligari trueSpace 2.0 beta. Very impressive use of trueSpace, Peter
- thank you. An animated wave was created for us by Terry Cotant of
Reliable Software Solutions (also in trueSpace 2.0 beta) but it sadly
arrived too late. We connected with these wonderful artists through
the help of Bill Allen, publisher of 3D Artist, one of our favorite
wave we used was masterfully produced under fire in the last 10 minutes
before the show started by Elizabeth Wood of Egland, Wood & Zuber.
graphics were provided by the sponsoring companies themselves.
Our Heros Pitched
thanks to those who came to visit and ended up jumping in to help wherever
needed. Hardware troubleshooting under fire was handled masterfully
by John Hill of JAH Consulting. Last minute PR assistance was generously
provided by Rick McCabe of CD Review.
at the Critical Moments
last but not least - we received moral support from a wonderful collection
of people. Special thanks to all including Robin Raskin, Executive Editor
of PC Magazine; Jeff Mace, Graphics Project Leader at PC Magazine Labs;
John Delaney, Director of Operations of PC Magazine; and Jim Karney
of CAPA (Computer Aided Publishing Associates).
delighted that our long-time supporters and collaborators Marcia and
Daniel Pearson stopped by before leaving for their new home in Oxford,
Champions at Softbank
Comdex Made It All Possible
thanks to our champions at Softbank Comdex. Jim Lucas, Director of Conference
Development gave us total support for this experiment. Sue Peterson,
Operations Manager made sure we had all the AV equipment and manpower
we asked for. Julia Richardson, made sure we had everything we needed
in the crazy hours before showtime. Long before the show itself, Ann
Zevnik of Softbank Comdex's publishing arm was invaluable in getting
the word out.
at Comdex was a lab in the truest sense: we were pushing the envelope
right up to show time, and even managed to pull in some products that
arrived Tuesday ( the show was on Wednesday!). But we weren't able to
integrate everything at the last minute - and a few planned experiments
turned out to be premature.
to the following sponsors who provided products and demos which did
not make it into the show for one reason or another. We will make every
effort to make sure you are in the next show and added to the video
tape of this show.
CDK was in the line-up - especially to show its facility with physics
and to show its ability to drag and drop a 3D studio .3ds file into
their viewer and move around in it, while animated. Due to time restrictions
and the lack of a navigator, this fell out.
Star Trek - the Next Generation - Interactive Technical Manual courtesy
of Simon & Schuster Interactive. Only limits of time kept this from
running - it uses QuickTimeVR to allow you to explore the Enterprise
inside and out.
provided a 3D video fly-thru of San Francisco. Due to technical difficulties
we weren't able to play this.
Reality Labs sent beautiful Virtual VR fly-thru's done in VistaPro and
provided cool avi clips produced with Autodesk's 3D Studio and their
add-in product, KAI's Texture Explorer.
and Polhemus provided 3D tracking systems and sensors, but the Sense8
demos that exploited these trackers were unavailable at show time.
provided a matched set of BAT chord keyboards, enabling an immersed
user to enter with one hand any text or commands that can be entered
from a standard qwerty keyboard. We lacked a demo that could accept
keystrokes into the virtual world (not surprising with the constraints
of a standard keyboard) and therefore could not give the BAT a chance
to stretch its wings.
Graphics provided an Indy so TGS could show additional features of Open
Inventor that will be in their Windows NT port soon, including Annotator.
Joe was not able to access the necessary files so we did not get to
provided beta of trueSpace2.0 - which does real time rendering on the
Matrox MGA board. Our demo world was graciously provided at the last
minute by Terry Cotant of Reliable Software Solutions but arrived too
Consulting had provided their great Sense8-based training application
which they use in house to train people in object oriented programming.
Due to a technical glitch, this was not shown.
provided their AVS program for real-time modeling. Unfortunately, we
did not have a navigator prepared to show off this incredible program.
connected too late with Warp from Sausalito Ca. to find a compatible
fisheye video lens for their very impressive Warp TV technology.
and strobes were to be triggered from inside a virtual world via MIDI
commands with the assistance of Cakewalk Professional. Cakewalk and
Vream were both up to it but the time schedule was not. The Ensoniq
entered here as a source of MIDI data.
last minute we got clearance to show WinDoom with the Logitech WingMan
Extreme Joystick and 3D sound from Crystal River Engineering. Too much
too late, I'm afraid. It runs in Windows 95 and we just didn't have
a system ready to take it. Next time.
hoped to show portable, 3D accelerated VR. Accelerator board, driver,
and host cpu incompatibilities relegate this fusion to the next show,
though Dolch Computer, 3D Labs, Omnicomp, and Future Vision/Fujitso
made valiant efforts.
Production People & Places
- Hardware Configuration
Epranian, Gray Productions, San Francisco, CA
- Stage Manager
Vader, Vader Consulting Group, Pleasanton, CA
- Video Director
and VR Cam
Rubin, Videographer, Danville, CA
- Lighting Design
- Ambient Lighting
& Alan Marsh of Atlanta, GA and Eclectic Electric Gallery, Atlanta,
- Graphics - Titles
Plantec, DreamScape Productions, Beverly Hills, CA.
Wood, Egland, Wood & Zuber, Atlanta, GA.
Zuber, Egland, Wood & Zuber, Atlanta, GA.
& Erick Von Schweber, Infomaniacs, Cyberspace.
Digital Video; Jan Ozer, Doceo, Atlanta, GA
- Additional Hardware
Hill, JAH Consulting, Bronx, NY
- Additional Hardware
Egnell, Fort Lauderdale, FL
- PR Assistance
McCabe, CD Review, Charlotte, NC
O'Kelly, Atlanta, GA
- Costume Design
Von Schweber, Infomaniacs, Cyberspace
Slack, 3D Creative Services, Atlanta, GA
- MIDI Keyboard
O'Kelley, Atlanta, GA.
- AV Set-up Support
(Total Audio Video Services), Atlanta, GA
- Production Design
Stage Layout: Virtus Walkthrough Pro (yes, we laid out the VR
show in cyberspace)
Stage Layout and Storyboards: CorelDraw
- In Order of Appearance
PC Magazine, NY, NY.
Stewart, Template Graphics Software, San Diego, CA.
Coull, Sense8, Sausalito, CA
Goring, Virtuality Europe, UK
Hawthorne, HSC Software, Carpenteria, CA.
Boyd, Virtus Works, Cary, NC.
Lahood, Vream Chicago, IL.
Coleman, Intergraph, Huntsville, AL.
Wild, UB Networks, Santa Clara, CA.
Eli Zelkha, UB Networks, Santa Clara, CA.
Products Steadicam JR
Packard Vectra X/U 90 Pentium
MGA graphics board
IMC Spaceball Avenger
Labs Sound Blaster AWE32
World Took Kit 2.0 for Windows - stereographic kitchen app
Stereo ready projector Marquis 8100
Z-screens for the projector
frequency doubler GCD3
3D passive polarized glasses (courtesy of StereoGraphics)
projection lenticular fresnel 3D screen from Dalite,
Europe - Elysium - turn-key Immersive VR system
V-PC operating system
- Immersive VR toolset
- 2 VR-PC
Digital Animator MIDI control box
Enterprises strobe lights
SP video tape produced with
Group IPAS routines
Packard Vectra X/U 100 Pentium
for Workgroups 3.11
Smart Video Recorder Pro
Millennium graphics board
Labs Sound Blaster Awe32
Trackman Vista Trackball
- US Robotics'
Sportster 28.8 data/fax v.34 external modem
Video for Windows
KPT Convolver 1.0
VR Creator (Alpha)
Apple 24 bit color card
4 gigabyte Barracuda Drive
VR from Apple Computers
Walkthrough Pro 2.0
Windows for Workgroups 3.11
NW144CR PCMCIA 14.4 fax/modem
BusToaster PCMCIA SCSI-II Adapter
Electronics RemotePoint cordless
Walkthrough Pro for Windows
TD4 Dual Pentium with GLI graphics
Windows NT 3.5
- US Robotics'
Sportster 28.8 data/fax v.34 external modem
World Tool Kit 2.0 for Windows NT
Visual C++ 2.0
Graphics Software (TGS) Open Inventor for Windows NT (Beta)
& SGI's WebSpace (Beta)
Word for Windows 6.0 for NT
Packard Vectra X/U 100 pentium
& Sutherland's Freedom Graphics board
World Tool Kit 2.0 for Windows NT
Visual C++ 2.0
We had the
participation of about 65 vendors for this show and each and every one
of them played an important role in this successful experiment. We thank
them and remind all of you, Fall Comdex is just around the corner.
Erick Von Schweber