Archive for February, 2008

Enter TrueLive[Yahoo|Dassault]Space

From the blog of Roman Ormandy (CEO of Caligari) :

Dear Caligari community members,

I am pleased to announce that Caligari Corp has become a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft Corporation. Specifically we will be working with the Virtual Earth team which is in the process of building out an immersive 3D Web experience. If you haven’t seen it yet check it out using the 3D mode at http://maps.live.com

I am deeply convinced that union of Caligari technologies and the scope of Virtual Earth project and vision behind it creates the perfect home for us and new opportunities for each one of you as part of the Virtual Earth community.

You know me and my ambitions for trueSpace and web-based 3D collaboration. Let me tell you right away that there were no compromises I had to make to accommodate our vision within the Virtual Earth platform, in fact I was challenged to increase the scope of our vision. I talked to many people at Virtual Earth group and I am convinced that the technical team behind Virtual Earth has a significant, long-term commitment to the 3D Web.

At the same time you will be pleased to hear that our development team and tightly knit community of Beta testers will stay the same as before, only now we will have more resources to rely on, larger market to consider and I hope more fun doing that.

The future is bright for all of us!

Roman

 

This is a pretty big deal, and congrats to Caligari for the new lease on life. 3D Modeling companies generally don’t make money (which is why I haven’t gone that route, despite my strong interest). They ultimately get sold to Autodesk, or Multigen-Paradigm, or Microsoft after some cash flow problems. I’m not saying Caligari was in that state — I have no idea. But this much is clear: the world doesn’t need is yet another 3D polygonal modeler, no matter how good it might be or how loyal its customer base is.

What it needs is one that everyone can use.

Well, Google has done its best with the SketchUp acquisition, going for the simple-n-easy approach. Caligari isn’t as simple, but it is richer in terms of output, which perhaps matches Microsoft’s apparent goal of more detail for the 3D world at any price.

I personally wouldn’t go with either. If only there was money in 3D modelers, you’d see something totally new. But for now, I’m content to see what will happen with Google and Microsoft racing to build mirror worlds of unprecedented quality and richness. Even if the content they’re rushing to roll out lacks all the key semantic information to make it really useful.

It’s as if we were seeing the construction of the world’s largest movie set, where the big players expect us to just step in and live there and not notice the doors don’t work and the walls are propped up by 2x4s.

Well, at least when the real 3D world comes, we won’t have to re-model all of the polygons and textures.

 

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The Big Move

Well, those of you who keep checking back for this have been very patient indeed. The delay in making the announcement was that I was waiting for the official company press release so as not to jump the gun. But that won’t come for a few months, and so I got the green light to disclose this now.

The company is called Big Stage, or sometimes Big Stage Entertainment. Never mind those acronyms. My colleagues have developed some of the best 3D facial reconstruction and animation I’ve ever seen. They recently demonstrated it at CES during Intel’s keynote, and more public demonstrations are on the way. It tends to blow people away. And the first application is way more fun than most uses of 3D on the web that I’ve seen.

My new title is "Principal Architect, User Created Content," which I’ll leave to your imaginations. As part of the deal, I sold IP from my R&D company to Big Stage in an all-stock deal. I could therefore say that I’ve successfully sold my first company (on my own anyway — I was long gone from Keyhole by the time it was sold to Google). But I don’t want to overstate things — my decision was less about the potential profit and more about whether to join this company or several other interesting options to occupy my time and bring my grander ideas to market better than I could do alone. And note, it will absolutely take additional time and resources* before you get to see those ideas come to life. For now, I’m spending a big chunk of my time helping the company launch the first product, while building a team* to take it to the next level, so to speak.

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(*) if you’re a top-notch coder and into the kinds of things I like to discuss on this blog, drop me a line. I do have a budget, and I will be holding interviews for a handful of key positions at GDC.

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