3D Animation Workshop: Lesson 85: Superscape Reborn in Web 3D
Lesson 85 - Superscape Reborn in Web 3D - Part 1
I received a note from Superscape, a firm with deep roots in the VRML world, a couple of weeks ago, asking me to look into their new Web 3D technology, called SeV. I remembered Superscape as a very interesting firm whose presence was obscured by the former domination of SGI in the VRML world, and made an appointment to talk to a company executive who would be visiting California from the company's headquarters in the United Kingdom. (Superscape has three offices in the United States and one in Asia.)
As a responsible reporter, I jumped onto the Superscape Web site to refresh my memory and get up to date. Things were much as I remembered them. Superscape had developed a kind of VRML-plus strategy. It marketed development tools that could create straight VRML or use their own proprietary format. Files created in this proprietary format could be viewed only using the Superscape plug-in viewer. I installed the plug-in to check out some demo pieces, many of which were excellent examples of 3D for instruction and demonstration. I was suitably impressed with both the content and the range of their product line, which provided both low-end and high-end development packages.
So far so good.
A week later, on the evening before visiting the Superscape people at their Silicon Valley branch office, I thought to check the site again for a moment. Whoa! The old site was completely gone, and replaced with an entirely different one featuring brand new technology and a brand new corporate focus. In today's fast moving Web world, this company had simply refashioned itself--seemingly overnight.
Our last two columns have focused on the MetaStream technology from MetaCreations, and I made quite a fuss over MetaCreations' dramatic decision to drop its entire computer graphics product line to focus entirely on Web 3D. Superscape has made the same kind of bold move. All of its existing products have been discontinued, and the entire thrust of corporate energy is being directed towards a new, and completely proprietary, technology for delivering interactive realtime 3D graphics over the Internet. Superscape raised 32 million dollars, a relatively modest sum in today's overheated world, to finance this strategy. I was informed that the total value of the company's stock, traded on the London Stock Exchange, is now in the neighborhood of $250 million. A quarter of a billion dollars. That's the kind of valuation that is possible in today's market for companies that position themselves behind new Internet technologies, and certainly confirms my oft-repeated message that the Internet is the most important commercial direction for 3D computer graphics today.
|To Continue to Parts 2 and 3, Use Arrow Buttons||
Created: Feb. 1, 2000
Revised: Feb. 1, 2000