3D Animation Workshop: Lesson 90: The Pulse of Web 3D Entertainment | 2
Lesson 90 - The Pulse of Web 3D Entertainment - Part 2
Pulse Entertainment was founded by a group of leaders from Macromedia, Inc. The company was involved in important CD-ROM projects until 1997, when it decided to focus on interactive 3D for the Internet.
I spent a fascinating hour with Mark Yahiro, the President of Pulse. Mark, like everyone else at Pulse, is energetic to the point of frantic, and with good reason. They are looking at an initial public offering of Pulse shares in the next couple of months and are building a compelling story for the company. In today's wild Web 3D world, a company's business savvy is just as important as its technology, and Pulse is moving fast.
First there was the "Virtual Jay Leno" project for NBC, a series of animated shorts featuring a 3D version of the talk show host. The comedy writing here was, as you might expect, pretty strong, and the connection with such a high-profile celebrity established Pulse's identity. The next big move was a deal with Time Warner (yes, the same one acquired by AOL) to produce content for the media giant's Entertaindom.com site. And just last month came a partnership with the Jim Henson Company for an online series of 3D MuppetToons at the MuppetWorld.com site. All these projects, and many more, can be reached through links on the Pulse site at www.pulse3d.com. Interested readers will take some serious time to explore this work, which is the embryo of a potentially gigantic organism.
Mark Yahiro outlined the company's technological game plan. He posited a three-tiered business environment. At the bottom is the general public viewing the content. At the top are the developers creating the content. And sandwiched in-between are the media delivering the contentÂnamely, the Web sites, which may or may not belong to the content developers. The viewers at the bottom are provided with a free plug-in viewing application, the Pulse Player. The developers are provided with a free authoring environment, Pulse Creator. But someone has to foot the bill, and in the Pulse model it will be the media purveyors through site licensing fees. This approach is essentially the same as Cycore's and even Shout Interactive's, in that revenue is tied to the actual use of 3D content on Web servers. Under the Pulse plan, an entity may purchase the right to use Pulse content on five Web pages for $2,500 per year. An additional $1,000 secures five more pages.
Like everyone else in Web 3D, Pulse argues for the broadest application of its technologiesÂincluding e-commerce and general interactive graphics. But its true strength is character animation. The Pulse Player performs effectively on low-end user hardware, with little RAM, no 3D acceleration and a slow dial-up connection. It is, in the words of the company, "targeted for the masses." It features very impressive streaming of audio and behaviors (meaning, essentially, animation), and this is the key to delivering content running for minutes at a time. Real-time skeletal deformation of meshes makes it possible to generate organic-quality character animation, as is evident in the Jay Leno pieces. There is even support for Direct3D if the user has such hardware. All these elements add up to a realistic platform for character animation. It needs improvement, to be sure, but the pieces are in place and Pulse has the means to drive this platform forward.
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Created: Apr. 10, 2000
Revised: Apr. 10, 2000