BLITCOM's Bliss Project

Mark Pesce's Bliss character was a very interesting idea, both technically and business-wise (see also Blitcom). Bliss was displayed using VRML 2.0 (now called Web3d) and animated with motion and audio streamed from a server at a studio.  She could talk to audiences anywhere on the internet, answering questions about "what it's like to live inside the network."

Silicon Graphics provided the underlying motion streaming technology and support for performances.

Ron connected the pre-constructed character to motion data captured using an Ascension Flock of Birds.  Brad deGraf, founder of DotComix (then Protozoa) provided his Alive! real-time animation software to the project. The character was elegantly simple and didn't use or really need continuous skin deformation. As often happens, back bending motions caused sections of the torso to penetrate through the chest. Fixing this was the only real challenge in building the character (aside from knowing how to use Alive! in the first place!).

Mark CallowMark Callow (seen in the image to the right) and Shinya Matsuoka of Silicon Graphics programmed the motion streaming code, both on the server side and the client-side plug-in for the Netscape browser. It was impressive to see the audio and motion data animating the character in real-time. Very little bandwidth was needed. It worked well even through 33.6 kbps modems. Ron suggested the server-side approach to the project's programming. In an early discussion he proposed that writing a streaming plug-in for Protozoa's Alive would take the least time to implement.

Ron was also the Technical Director for the performances, wrangling the Flock and motion performer. While almost anyone jumped into the suit during demos, there were two regular performers and one spoke Japanese (see below and to the right).

Japanese speaking actressBliss was presented a number of times. Most interesting was transmitting from the "Silicon Studio" facility in Mountain View to the floor of a trade show in Japan.

This is a neat piece of technolgy which is sure to re-appear.