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LOWDOWN ON DOWNLOADING FILMS FASTER


Posted 02/11/99

THE ORLANDO SENTINEL
01/20/99
By New York Times News Service
Page E9

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COMMENTARY
This one mentions my hero, Chris Gore! This is about the future of distributing full length films over the web. XENA is mentioned briefly when discussing that Brilliant Digital already offers the multipath movies on-line.

PRIMARY SOURCE

   Think downloading software takes too long? Imagine downloading a complete
film like Saving Private Ryan, then watching it on your 15-inch computer
monitor. Most people would rather line up for tickets.

   But some film industry observers, like Kay Shaw of Amber Images, and Chris
Gore, publisher of Film Threat Weekly, say film distribution over the Internet
will become viable within five or so years. One company, Brilliant Digital
Entertainment, says it has solved the problem of distributing computer-generated
3-D animated films over the Internet.  

   The company, an entertainment production and technology development studio in
Los Angeles, intends to release tools into the marketplace early this year that
can be used with 3-D Studio Max, a popular animation program, said Kevin
Bermeister, Brilliant Digital's president.

   With these tools, called B 3-D, Bermeister said, animation developers big and
small will be able to use a novel method to send sound and moving pictures over
the Internet at much faster speeds. He said the animation would retain much more
of its original look, sound and full range of motion when it was seen on
viewers' computer monitors.

   Instead of trying to squeeze an entire film through the usually narrow
bandwidths of the telephone lines used to gain access to the Internet, Brilliant
Digital breaks up the animated film into visual parts like wire-frame characters
and backgrounds. The system downloads them. Next, it sends not the film itself,
but instructions (along with the soundtrack) to a viewer's computer on how to
reconstruct the film, piecing it together as it is being watched. Bermeister
said the system provided as much detail as the viewer's computer could handle.

   Bermeister said that downloading a 30-second Dancing Baby segment, audio and
video, might take some Internet users 25 to 30 minutes, depending on the
connection, but that Brilliant Digital's method would trim that wait to one or
two minutes.

   He predicted that as more people discovered how easy it was to make and send
computer-generated movies, the wired world would never be the same. "People will
create their own 3-D animations, mini-movies, art forms, their own characters,"
Bermeister said. "They will publish them to the Net, changing its whole shape
and form."

   Brilliant Digital is distributing on the Internet its own short serialized
movies, generated by computer, which it calls "webisodes." For $8.95 a quarter,
viewers can subscribe to the weekly interactive 3-D films at the
www.multipathmovies.com site. (Trial episodes, including versions of Xena, the
Warrior Princess and Ace Ventura, Pet Detective, can be downloaded free.)

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