Posted by: Roger King
3D animation, computer science education, Multimedia, Web 2.0, Web 3.0
I teach 3D animation in a computer science department. I’ve been asked why. After all, shouldn’t fine arts people be teaching this stuff?
Here’s the reason: it has a lot to do with speed.
There’s a debate that has gone on in the computing world for the past few decades. Will the cost of hardware ever plummet to virtually nothing? Will the speed and capacity of memory and disks ever reach effective infinity? Will the bandwidth of the Internet ever rise to the point where the cost of a computer is negligible for the average educated person? Will the speed of computers and communication reach a point where the average educated person has no need for any more improvements?
Research sages have always shaken their heads and said no, this will never happen. We will always find ways to use better and better technology. And in fact, we will always demand cheaper and bigger and faster technology. Remember, that a couple of decades ago, folks thought we would soon have no need for large server-based database management systems with their complex, clever software that optimizes the use of precious main memory – because memory would be basically free. That has not happened. What we do have are databases that are huge and getting bigger every day. No matter how they grow, only a time fraction of them fit in main memory.
We have proved ourselves proficient at absorbing any technological advances that come along.
Here’s the salient fact: 3D animation will go from the desktop to the web app.
This includes Internet download speed. Even as bandwidth increases, we are constantly warned that the saturation point will be hit – and that Internet brownouts are just around the corner. But for those among us who are digital optimists, it seems that a technological milestone is about to be reached: we will soon be able to embed full fledged 3D animations in webpages, and users will download them in a blink of an eye. Everyday machines will have the memory and video cards to easily drive them. Three color, 2D Flash movies that serve only as window dressing or to draw a quick laugh, will no longer be the limit of online animations.
Yes, Web 3.0 applications of the near future will contain meaningful videos, ones that convey real information. They will provide technical training and abstract education. They will be interactive, too, rendered in real time – and not simply downloaded as compressed video.
So, programmers of the future will be called upon to deliver web apps that present not just images and sound and video – but sophisticated 3D animation as well.