IRC chat

Here are some excerpts from the launch day IRC chat featuring:
Michela Ledwidge (Director of Horses for Courses) and
Anthony Rose (Technical Director of Brilliant Digital Entertainment).

Session Start: Mon Jun 25 10:26:46 2001

[10:26] <M> Everyone, say hi to Sarah, our interviewer.
[10:26] <Sarah> Hello everyone
[10:26] <Ginger> so, has anyone tried the interactivity options in the movie? did they work for you?
[10:27] <Neil> yep the t-shirt option is vg
[10:27] <Ginger> taking control of the camera is a bit hard at first, but it works, just need a bit of practice
[10:28] <Neil> If you click on the posters on the trees it sends you to the t-shirt purchase page
[10:28] <Neil> did it take you long to figure out Ginger?
[10:29] <Ginger> about 10 mins, but i am new to interacting with movies - usually just watch.
[10:29] <Neil> Not bad, sometimes new functions take a few minutes to grasp
[10:29] <Sarah> The interactivity options are great. So much extra to explore
[10:30] <Neil> Is your main interest the interactive element?
[10:31] <Ginger> interactivity seems to offer something people are looking for - popularity of games points to that; i'm also interested in 3D - it's new.
[10:32] <Ginger> no-one appears to have requested any support in the chat-room yet, or reported probs viewing the I really the only one who's had no probs viewing?
[10:33] <Sarah> well that's a good sign!
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[10:35] <Neil> Good Morning JB
[10:36] <Neil> Did you catch the film ok?
[10:36] <JB> I did.
[10:36] <Neil> Good you enjoyed it.
[10:36] <JB> how's all at
[10:37] <M> very busy & excited
[10:37] <JB> glad 2 hear
[10:38] <Ginger> JB, do you have any thoughts on how this tech could be used?
[10:39] <JB> Covermount promos seem an obvious one…
[10:39] <JB> lots of possibles
[10:41] <Sarah> I think this tech would be excellent to use in music clips and ads and the like
[10:41] <JB> Gotta go. Good luck to you all there.
[10:41] <Sarah> bye
[10:44] <Neil> Ginger, what did you think of the visual imagery of the film?
[10:46] <Ginger> fantastic, the forest was so rich, unlike anything i've seen online or in games to date - the sunlight coming down through the trees looked unreal, magical but realistic. the office workers were funny, too. Tee hee.
[10:47] <Neil> 2-dimensionality of the city traders is funny
[10:49] <Neil> Are you interested from a designers point of view?
[10:50] <Ginger> I am interested in how this could be used in advertising - banner ads, or something more developed than banners…something that's a cross between entertainment & advertising - but cool.
[10:51] <Neil> This tech would allow small interactive banners
[10:51] <Ginger> The Pan character is cool; really cheeky & sexy & also with a bit of depth of character - his disappointment in the office came through.
[10:52] <Neil> A combination of developer skill and character studio
[10:52] <Sarah> he is a very animated character (pardon the pun)
[10:52] <Neil> lol
[10:52] <Ginger> hey, i have to go. will the movie still be up over the next few days so i can refer back to it & show people?
[10:52] <Neil> Yes, are going to keep the cartoon online after today's launch so people can come back to it and play with it. The more you play, the more there is to discover.
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[10:53] <Neil> Morning Dan
[10:53] <dan> Hi there
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[10:54] <Sarah> Hi there
[10:56] <sue> hello?
[10:56] <Michela> We're just waiting for Anthony Rose, Technical Director, BDE, the creators of the main technology we used. He's joining our chat from Sydney, Australia.
[10:56] <Sarah> The movie was great, what inspired you to make it?
[10:57] <Michela> Saw something looking like Pan coming out of a painting a few months back…
[10:57] <Michela> Turns out it was just a smudge {:-)
[10:58] <sue> _how_did you make it?
[10:58] <Michela> Sue, can you be more specific?
[10:59] <sue> what was the process?
[10:59] <Michela> first the script
[11:00] <jane> The film was created using different 3D programs, firstly the Characters and objects were built using Maya and 3D Studio,
[11:00] <Michela> I've written for B3D before, the idea was to have a short story that was cute on its own but had interactive elements that took advantage of B3D's capabilities
[11:01] <Sarah> Who is the production aimed at?
[11:01] <Michela> Sarah, it's aimed at media commissioners and other people who have a say in making media. There is a lack of understanding about what can be done. We wanted to use this as a creative work and as a demonstration.
[11:01] <sue> how long did this piece take to produce?
[11:01] <Michela> Sue - 6 months and a bit
[11:03] <Sarah> So that kind of media could be for commercial use or as a source of entertainment?
[11:04] <Michela> Both, but we shouldn't expect titles to always work in both ways
[11:04] <Sarah> How do you see this kind of content being used in the future?
[11:04] <Michela> I think it will be used for smaller scale work long term
[11:04] <Michela> Anthony has joined us. Hi, Anthony.
[11:05] <Anthony> Hi there!
[11:06] <Neil> Hi Anthony, Sarah is just interviewing Michela, the director of Horses for Courses.
[11:06] <Michela> Into the future, it won't be necessary to have a production studio to build 3D content. In the same way as people can create their own web pages, they will be able to play with 3D content
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[11:06] <Anthony> Michela, that was a marathon effort your team must have put in over the past few days - it's amazing how the site has come together
[11:06] <Michela> Cheers {:-)
[11:06] <Sarah> yes, well done!!
[11:06] <Michela> Sarah just asked a good question, Anthony - what do you reckon is the future for this kind of content?
[11:08] <Anthony> A BIG question...
[11:08] *** Damon has joined #horsesforcourses
[11:08] <Damon> hi.
[11:08] <Neil> Morning Damon
[11:08] <Damon> I was Art Director on 'Horses for Courses', so thought I'd join in the discussion.
[11:08] <Anthony> obviously it will need to be more interactive to compete with video once everyone gets broadband connections
[11:10] <Sarah> Exactly. It's a very fun, new medium.
[11:12] <M> Pan intends to play again!
[11:12] <Anthony> So, team, with hindsight how did this work out for you? Better or worse than expected? Is this a viable production system? Have you realised your goals?
[11:13] <M> We had a lot of fun but in a way the work's only just begun.
[11:13] <Anthony> That's what I say to our programmers every week ;-)
[11:14] <M> I think this is a viable system but it will be nice to have more projects to compare to. We were working blind and while it was exciting, we did take a few wrong turns before getting it out
[11:15] <Damon> For me it was problematic until we got the library substitution system working. Then the animation part went quite smoothly. Although there were other hurdles to overcome with the B3D studio part.
[11:15] <Damon> But the results speak for them selves.
[11:15] <Sarah> So M, what next?
[11:15] <M> What's next? We're looking for syndication deals to get 'Horses for Courses' onto other sites. I've also got a series mapped out for future episodes, and a talent quest for bright young modellers/animators...
[11:15] <Sarah> Sounds great!
[11:16] <Anthony> We learnt a lot from your experiences - some things we just took for granted which didn't turn out to be correct - like the way that people use the tools didn't correspond to our own internal production procedures.
[11:16] <Sarah> M, would you be interested in producing this kind of material for other organisations, say for ads and commercial purposes?
[11:17] <M> Definitely, Sarah.
[11:17] <M> We see ads as a perfect low-cost way for producers and audience to buy into the concept.
[11:18] <M> Brilliant have done some great ads with B3D - my fave is Monster Battlers
[11:18] <Anthony> We did some cool real-time 3D ads recently for Infogrames - those ads are showing on many sites (often hard to find, as banner ads tend to be). But head over to and play the 3 webisodes there!
[11:18] <Sarah> What about other ads… 'beyond the banner?'
[11:19] <Neil> Is the film produced at the quality we see or is it compressed post production?
[11:20] <M> Neil, because it's a real-time 3D engine what we worked with in house is what you get out, the quality you see is actually a lot less than what 3DS Max produces, the process going from Max to B3D makes compromises to support streaming and online use
[11:21] <Neil> Did you have to count polygons?
[11:22] <M> Yes, the more polygons, the more things slow down
[11:22] <Damon> but it was not to much of a problem
[11:23] <Anthony> We try hard to maximize the engine's polygon performance
[11:23] <Neil> I guess you had more problems with textures?
[11:23] <Damon> I think it handled the textures very well
[11:23] <Sarah> Michela, where did your idea for the entire storyline come from?
[11:23] <M> The storyline came from my sense of people being jaded with the "dot com thang"
[11:24] <Sarah> seems appropritate given the current depressed situation in the industry.. !
[11:24] <Damon> yes!
[11:24] <M> Eight years ago web-heads were saying that we would hit a plateau with Internet enthusiasm and that's always a good time for a look around…
[11:25] <M> The phrase 'get connected' is meant to work on many levels.... so who's bought a t-shirt via the movie?! {:-)
[11:25] <Sarah> How did you get the faces to be so lifelike?
[11:25] <Damon> We took photographs of an actor
[11:25] <Damon> And modelled from them for reference
[11:25] <M> Sarah, we're quite proud of our faces {:-) we used live actors rather than relying wholly on 3D modelling techniques. Pan's look and feel is quite unique as a result.
[11:25] <Sarah> Indeed!
[11:26] <Anthony> Yes, I really like Pan's face - it's realistic in a most unrealistic way!
[11:26] <Neil> Is there a minimum machine spec for this stuff to work nicely?
[11:26] <M> Over to Ant for that one...
[11:26] <Anthony> The minimum machine spec varies with content - our Projector works on any Pentium 166 or faster, but most decent content requires a PII/266. A good 3D card speeds up the frame rates substantially.
[11:27] <M> Anthony, how far away is the Mac support?
[11:27] <Sarah> So why does Pan look like Satan?
[11:27] <Damon> Does it work on Netscape?
[11:28] <Anthony> Does Satan work for Netscape?
[11:28] <M> {:-)
[11:28] <Anthony> Yes, it should work fine in Netscape - if not let me know!
[11:28] <Neil> Provided you don't resize the window :)
[11:28] <M> Satan was just version 1.2b of Pan, reconfigured for Catholics everywhere.
[11:28] <GUEST> Haha; I think what M might be saying is that mediavel church leaders just "Satanised" Pan, the god of nature (known in ancient Briton as The Green Man) to try to move the Pagan populace away from nature-worship.
[11:28] <Damon> Anyway, are you colour blind?! {;-) He doesn't look like Satan - Satan's red!

[11:29] <Neil> Or is he?
[11:28] <Sarah> Who does Pan work for?
[11:29] <M> In the story, Pan is definitely a free agent, his job is more of a challenge than anything
[11:29] <Sarah> There is a little bit of a resemblance…apart from the overall colour scheme
[11:29] <M> Pan, as the original myth shows him, has never made it into mainstream media
[11:30] <M> He was the 'ugly' god and perhaps that's why he was reinvented as the great evil one. We thought he had enough personality to bring him back.
[11:30] <Neil> Did the Thatcherite 80's influence the portrayal of the office workers?
[11:30] <Sarah> So is he looking for venture capital?
[11:31] <M> Neil, I think you could say that
[11:31] <Anthony> Everyone's looking for venture capital...
[11:31] <Damon> Their suits are all made by the Taylor
[11:32] <Sarah> So why are they 2D?
[11:32] <Neil> To reflect their two dimensional standards and values
[11:33] <Damon> Because they are missing a dimension to their life. Pan is the future
[11:33] <M> Pan hopefully stands out even more amongst the 2D crowd
[11:33] <GUEST> they seemed to enjoy being in the woods - maybe they just didn't know how to interact in a 3d world
[11:33] <M> Anthony, so how do we get people to interact with media?
[11:33] <Anthony> (Pause - thinking)
[11:33] <Sarah> Ah huh. So in the scheme of the entire story - being based on the jaded environment, these could also be financial markets guys, feeling a little 'flat' because their tech stocks are so low?
[11:34] <M> ooh yeah
[11:34] <Anthony> Interaction can be encouraged in many ways - take a look at Adobe's Atmosphere product - they're making 3D worlds where people can interact - they say it's a 3D web.
[11:35] <Sarah> we could interact similarly to how we are in this chat room but in a 3d environment?
[11:35] <M> Who here has used a 3D chat client (besides Anthony and me?)
[11:35] <Damon> errr nop
[11:35] <Anthony> Actually maybe wait a while before looking at Atmosphere - it's *very* beta still, and 3D worlds have a long way to go before they can hold my interest for more time than it takes to asses the polygon count.
[11:36] <M> I used WorldsChat in the mid90s - thought it was fun, very Doom'ish primarily because of the way you could communicate with body language
[11:35] <GUEST> what plans /possibles are there for the b3d product to interact with other 3D developments out there?
[11:36] <Anthony> We're working with several companies to integrate b3d with theirs...
[11:36] <Sarah> cool
[11:36] <Anthony> in some cases it's to make easier production environments, others to, say, link our rich animated worlds to their more interactive multi-user worlds.
[11:37] <Sarah> what is so different about what b3d can offer, as opposed to what's already on the web?
[11:38] <Anthony> The great thing about our technology is that the results are FUN - just look at Horses for Courses. That's because our tools are (hopefully) designed to be used by directors and editors who know pacing and story, not programmers who know how to write code.
[11:38] <Damon> Anthony do you have any plans to allow people to control the camera and not go through walls
[11:38] <Anthony> Yes, in the next major Projector release (perhaps 4 months away) we plan to have collision detection and perhaps physics.
[11:39] <Damon> great
[11:39] <Anthony> Oh, and we're working on some more intuitive camera controls right now - some mass, acceleration, etc.
[11:40] <M> Sarah, for my money b3d is different because the tools do scale to feature length productions. Most 3D content tools are quite simplistic.
[11:40] <Damon> That would bring b3d closer to an interactive 3d chat world
[11:41] <Anthony> Most web 3d tools start out at "security cam" - they can replay a couple of people in a room. We did too, but then we focussed on allowing directors to cut between clips in an efficient way, to make things that looked more like films than security camera views.
[11:41] <Sarah> I see. How cross-platform is this content/technology? What about transferring content to other mediums like for film or tv?
[11:42] <M> TV quality is pretty much there, I'd like to increase the resolution further for the next production.
[11:43] <Anthony> Michela, you rendered out HFC as Real video?
[11:44] <M> Ant, yes, did you check it out? It's on the website.
[11:44] <M> For me the utimate cross platform test is phone/web/feature That's what I'm aiming for.
[11:44] <Anthony> Okay, even if you found a technology platform that would let you go phone/web/feature, how would your content scale or make sense across those media?
[11:46] <M> I'm really interested in getting b3d into the SMIL framework (e.g. Real video sitting alongside web pages and 3D)
[11:47] <M> Anthony, to address your earlier question, I think what makes sense is the mode you currently use - e.g phone for one-to-one chat and short messaging, web for reference, feature for trip out visuals and popcorn, I think we can work out how to use these elements in a story
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[11:50] <Neil> Hi Joe.
[11:50] <Sarah> How good does my computer need to be to view b3d content?
[11:51] <M> minimum spec is PII/266 according to BDE
[11:51] <Neil> P1 166 will run it, but would be nicer on P2 266+ with a good video card
[11:51] <M> it will work on a PI 166 though, but you can't expect the best performance
[11:51] <Anthony> P1 166 = very nice slide show
[11:51] <Neil> HoHo.
[11:52] <Sarah> So is it true that b3d content does not have to be re engineered for broadcast?
[11:52] <M> We can broadcast Horses for Courses quite straightforwardly, we'd probably be tempted to go back and re-render though, given our perfectionist nature!
[11:52] <M> What did you think of the movie, Joe?
[11:53] <joe> can M or Anthony talk a bit about music clip production?
[11:53] <Anthony> Sure - what would you like to know about music clips?
[11:53] <Damon> the music was one of the best bits
[11:53] <joe> experience so far, cost, timescale, examples, filesize...
[11:54] <Anthony> Brilliant's music videos average 1.3MB download, run for 3 minutes, cost US$40k, take 8 weeks to create. Latest music video (Sum41) goes live in a few days.
[11:55] <joe> where?
[11:55] <Anthony> It will be on (I think) for the first 30 days, then on our site and other syndicated sites.
[11:55] <M> You have to make compromises for online streaming in terms of texture size, polygon counts and audio quality
[11:56] <joe> what about other than online? possibilities?
[11:56] <Anthony> Music videos are an interesting case - the video has to play without pauses for a full 3 minutes - quite tricky - means everything has to be build in one big scene (TQC take note)
[11:56] <M> How do you prevent the audio being copied for other purposes?
[11:57] <Anthony> Our b3d format is in itself quite secure - you can't extract the audio from it. Additionally, we set up the music clips so it never caches the audio on your hard drive.
[11:57] <Neil> Where do you Cache it?
[11:57] <Anthony> We cache the streaming sound files to the C:\BDE directory.
[11:58] <Neil> Is that a secure file?
[11:58] <Anthony> If you manage to reverse-engineer a b3d file I'll buy you dinner (and fly you to Sydney).
[11:58] <Neil> I'll give it a go...Thats a good offer. :)
[11:58] <Damon> Anthony, will b3d work on G3 Phones?
[11:58] <Anthony> b3d on G3 phones... it's a hot area, but we have so many backlogged things to do for those 400 million current internet users that I think we'll leave G3 phone development until someone actually owns one.
[11:58] <Damon> good point
[11:59] <M> Joe, what do you mean by other music possibilities?
[11:59] <Sarah> How much does it cost to produce, say a 20 second ad?
[11:59] <M> It's a bit like asking how long's a piece of string? It depends how simple or how complex a result the client is looking for…
[11:59] <Sarah> When do you think 3d ads and music video will become commonly used?
[12:00] <M> Sarah, I think by next year people will have been exposed to the concept and some major players will have tried it out
[12:00] <Anthony> 3D ads will become common when 3D players are common - right now less than 1% of internet users have our player so it's difficult to convince advertisers to make content for it. But we're working on that 1% figure!
[12:01] <Neil> Will you working on MS so they will bundle it with next version of IE?
[12:01] <Anthony> Everyone wants their plugin bundled with MS - you have to wait till MS wants you.
[12:01] <M> Well, that's the end of our scheduled interview. The chat server will be left running from now on, feel free to continue the discussion
[12:01] <Sarah> Thanks for the chat guys, have fun!
[12:01] *** Sarah has quit IRC (Bye )
[12:02] <joe> thanks for the interview. some interesting points raised. bye now.
[12:02] <Damon> bye
[12:02] *** joe has quit IRC (Bye )
[12:03] <M> Thanks to Anthony Rose for making the long trek from Sydney to join us.
[12:03] <Anthony> Goodbye from downunder - I'm off for some dinner.
[12:03] <M> And thanks to everyone who dropped in
[12:04] <Damon> bye Anthony, have a nice dinner.
[12:04] <Neil> Bye Anthony
[12:05] <Anthony> Bye all - I really enjoyed the chat - always appreciate the feedback!
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[12:10] <Damon> hey every body I've got to go back to work
[12:10] <Damon> :-(
[12:10] <Damon> nice chatting
[12:10] <Neil> c ya damon
[12:10] *** Damon has quit IRC (Bye )
[12:11] <M> Thanks for hosting, moderators.
[12:12] <Marcelo> Thank you, very interesting technology and lots of potential.
[12:12] <M> cheers, spread the word, it's here now...
[12:12] <M> bye everyone
[12:13] <Neil> bye M.

Session Close: Mon Jun 25 12:13:36 2001