By Kelly Fansler
Superman is about to leap onto the Internet. You will
soon be able to watch weekly webisodes of Superman thanks to some
amazing new technology by Brilliant Digital Entertainment (http://www.multipathmovies.com).
Teaming with DC Comics, Brilliant Digital has created the Multipath
Adventures of Superman for CD-Rom, the Internet, and interactive
DVD. Brilliant Digital Entertainment has produced other titles as
well. Their library of 3D animated Multipath Movies include the
characters Xena Warrior Princess, Ace Ventura Pet Detective, Popeye
and others. Presently they are putting the finishing touches on
a 3D Multipath Music Adventure starring the rock band K.I.S.S.
Ok, what is a multipath movie? A Multipath Movie is
a movie that allows the viewer to make certain choices along the
way that influence the stories progression. Should Superman save
the people on the bridge or should he stop Metallo? Should Clark
Kent travel with Lois or with Jimmy? Depending on what you choose,
the story is different. Sometimes very different. Sometimes Superman
saves the day and sometimes he does not.
The animation quality of Superman is amazing. The
characters have a very realistic look to them. Brilliant Digital
used a skin over mesh technology that drastically improved the quality
of some of their previous titles. Since rendered is done in real
time on your computer, the faster your computer is, the better your
animation quality will be. In addition, Brilliant Digital worked
with Intel on technology to make certain titles better on Pentium
III computers. “Superman”,” Xena—Death In Chains” and “KISS Immortals”
all have better overall quality when run on a Pentium III computer.
A 3D card is also recommended but not required.
The storyline of the “Superman—Menace of Metallo”
title is strong. DC Comics has found a way to deliver the unique
story line quality from their comic books that has seemed to escape
other platforms such as movies, cartoons and definitely live action
TV shows. A feature I really liked was that I could optionally find
out more information about the characters. When I first played Superman,
I skipped all the detail and rushed to one of the many unique endings.
Of course, I had caused the death of Lois Lane and the world was
destroyed. But then, I played the movie again, listened to the character
details, and this time, well, I destroyed the world again…
The next Superman title, “Boxing the Parasite” is
almost complete. This adventure will pick up right where “Superman—Menace
of Metallo” leaves off. Although the first Superman title was a
complete story, they leave some details to be discovered. You will
be able to see the second Superman title on Warner Bros. Entertaindom.com
right after the first 6 webisodes of “Superman—Menace of Metallo”
finish their run.
“K.I.S.S. Immortals” is also under development by
Brilliant Digital Entertainment. Described as a Multipath Music
Adventure, this title is sure to be a hit with the K.I.S.S faithful.
It also will give Brilliant Digital the opportunity to show off
a new uncharted area on the Internet, Music Videos. A 3 to 4 minute
AVI file of a music video would easily be 3 or 4 meg and about 3
inches by 3 inches on screen. However a video made in Brilliant’s
B3D format would be less than 1 meg and run full screen. “K.I.S.S.
Immortals” is planned for release later this year (1999) and will
also be found on Entertaindom.com.
If you want to try out Superman or any of Brilliant
Digital's titles, you can go to their homepage and click on Previews.
Select any of the titles, but I have to recommend the Superman preview.
I would also recommend clicking on Lex Luthor to see how realistic
the Internet animations are. Another recommendation would be to
check out the futuristic Gravity Angels previews.
Recently, Brilliant put together a showcase of new
technologies in their Developer Network section. From there, you
can also get a sneak peak at all sorts of 3D technologies. These
previews include an interactive shopping, an online 3D repair center,
and movies using advertising built in. You can also get different
'skins' for your digital projector or get instructions on how to
create your own.
The Digital Projector is used to view Multipath Movies.
If you have already visited Brilliant Digital's website, you probably
downloaded the digital projector. The projector is a stand-alone
application that plays the movies. Also included in the download
is a plugin that allows movies to be played on HTML pages. This
is how the previews are run on Brilliant’s website. If you haven't
been to their site, the digital projector will be installed automatically
when you select any of the Multipath Movie Previews.
“Xena—Death in Chains” Brillant Digital Entertainment
Not only are the Multipath Movies Brilliant, but the
technology behind them is pretty amazing also. To make Multipath
Movies successful, Brilliant Digital needed to create a very small
file format that could stream both sound and 3D instructions across
low bandwidth connections. They also needed to find a way to allow
interactive real time decisions by the user. Finally, they needed
to create a set of tools to allow them to create these movies. The
final Internet streaming format is labeled B3D.
The B3D format is the latest technology released from
Brilliant Digital. In the B3D format, the "Dancing Baby" file is
about 100K. That is significantly smaller than its original format.
If you received the "Dancing Baby" a few years ago, you probably
still remember the huge file you downloaded (it was over 2 meg).
The file was in the AVI format that is still used by most animators
to display 3D animations on the web. B3D not only shrinks the file
size to something that is reasonable to download, it also allows
animations to run full screen and in high resolution. However, because
the animations are rendered in real time, the complexity of the
animation may be somewhat limited.
Brilliant Digital released part of their toolset in
May, B3D Max. With B3D Max, animators can create extremely small
streaming 3D animations for the web that include sound. B3D Studio,
set for release Q2 of 2000, is a full-featured development platform
for creating interactive 3D content for distribution on the Internet,
DVD, CD-ROM and broadcast video. Brilliant Digital is already using
this toolset in-house.
“K.I.S.S. Immortals” Brillant Digital Entertainment
Take for example the multipath movie Gravity Angels.
This movie was first available on Interactive CD-ROM. Then it was
migrated to the Internet. Now with the same content and Brilliant's
latest technology, they have completed the two-hour movie available
for television broadcast. The television movie is not interactive,
but broadcasters can select from multiple segments to create unique
viewings. Finally, an interactive DVD version should hit store shelves
around January 2000.
The Interactive DVD Multipath Movies will also mark
another major technological achievement for Brilliant Digital. Because
the movies will be fully rendered, the 3D Graphics considerably
more lifelike and sharper than their computer based versions. With
one click of your DVD player’s remote control, you can decide if
Superman should save Lois or save Jimmy from the clutches of Metallo.
This will be the first chance that most of America gets to experience
true Interactive TV.
If you are a 3D Animator or simply enjoy watching
3D animations, you may also want to check out http://www.DancingPixel.com.
This website showcases 3D animations sent in from both professionals
and aspirant 3D animators. A jury composed of industry leaders,
including Jim Bannister, senior vice president Warner Bros. Online
Networks, Fred Seibert, president of MTV Online Networks, and Terry
Thoren, president of Klasky Csupo (producers of the ``Rug Rats''),
will judge the top five animations in each category. Prizes will
be awarded to the winners in the following categories: Best Drama,
Best Comedy, Best Experimental/Abstract, Best Music Clip and Best
animations vary from humorous to bizarre. 3D animations on this
site are something like independent films on the Sundance channel.
You will definitely see all sorts of animations on this site. From
what I have seen, the new B3D format lends itself very well to mini-movies
and music videos. On the music video front, B3D could easily spread
as fast as MP3 did. Thanks to the B3D format, you are able to download
music and a 3D video.
You may see that more and more E-Commerce sites using
Brilliant Digital’s B3D format to keep visitors coming back for
more. Brilliant Digital recently teamed up with DVDExpress to create
a series of webisodes titled “Everyone wants to be a Critic”. The
new webisodes may be available as you are reading this at http://www.DVD.com.
Brilliant Digital Entertainment has created the content
and the technology for a new form of Internet entertainment. When
asked what their next major goal is, Brilliant Digital will simply
state revenue. With several new partners and an their 3D Internet
technology, they are on the right track. Investors in Brilliant
Digital stock will be pleased to see that goal fulfilled as the
company has spent the last three years perfecting their content
and technology. Brilliant Digital is a public company that trades
on the American Stock Exchange under the symbol BDE.
Kelly Fansler is a freelance writer and long time
fan of Brillant Digital Entertainment.
to Inside Animation Page
Return to Animation
Artist Magazine Home Page