Well it's a big show, a REALLY BIG show. SIGGRAPH 98, is over and it was simply awesome. I haven't heard the attendance numbers but there were probably about 40,000 people. The Orange County Convention Center is HUUUUGGGGEEEE. Walking from one end of the complex to the other is not a quick prospect. It is however a terrific facility with enough rooms for various meetings, several small food areas a huge floor for exhibits, an auditorium for the film show and so on.
Speaking of VRML (how's that for a smooth segue) the big events were the press conference from the VRML Consortium, the showing of Sid and the Penguins from Ken Perlin, and A Thomas Goldberg from NYU's Media Research Lab at the Film show, and biggest of all the Web3D Roundup. That link over there consists of a photographic summary of all the presenters and will give you a good sense of the feel of the roundup.
Sid and the Penguins, at the version of the film show I attended was the coolest because they ran the "film" live. It's a demonstration of the Improv system that allows authors to create actors that exhibit a variety of living characteristics and emotions. Each live performance is slightly different.
The big news for VRML is that it's still very much in flux. The VRML Consortium is in the process of expanding its charter and changing it's name. It will probably wind up being called the W3D Consortium or the Web3D Consortium or something like that. CosmoSoftware is in a Zombie state. All of the people were apparently fired and given reasonable severance packages. Rumor has it that another deal for the purchase of the technology is in the works. We shall see but either way best wishes to all the terrific people at Cosmo who put their hearts and souls into the development of the best VRML products around.
VRML itself is actually alive and well but the turmoil obviously doesn't help. Fortunately this is exactly the sort of situation where having an ISO standard is a good thing. The ISO process and label, lends a large degree of stability to the technology. VRML is being used for very real Web based applications and a variety of non-web based applications. Educational application's like out of the blues familiar letters, commerce applications like the soon to be released ticketing application from 3Name3D, product demonstrations and sites by PLATINUM, and the release of a VRML browser written in Java3D by Sun are major efforts both for content development and technology deployment. Sun has also released the source code to the public following the Open Source model and should be applauded!
VRML99 planning is well underway and will be in Paderborn, Germany from Feb. 23-26, 1999. The name for the conference may change to indicate a desire to include other 3D Web technologies such as Java3D and Chrome, but regardless it will no doubt be a technically terrific conference.