Surreal meetings and virtual spiders

I’ve had quite a few business ‘meetings’ lately, some on the phone, some over IM, but last night I experienced probably the most surreal meeting I’ve ever had. Last night, I had a business meeting in Second Life.

Now, I’d never used Second Life before – I generally have trouble keeping my first life under control, never mind having a whole extra one to manage – so I was somewhat underprepared anyway. The camera control system is a little unconventional and takes a bit of time to get used to, but that wasn’t the main issue. The main thing was that, whilst I was sitting around a fairly ordinary board room table in a black high-backed chair, across the table I was having a serious business conversation with Kirby, a diminutive dinosaur and something that looked like the Inquisitor from that Red Dwarf episode. Occasionally through the opening to the outside I could see equally bonkers avatars lazily drifting by the meeting room, presumably in transit to equally work-related venues. I know it’s a virtual world with all the lack of inhibition that entails, but it was the context – the fusion of the staid world of business and controlled insanity was definitely a double-take moment for me. I was half expecting a Navigator to fade in and offer to ‘fold space’ for me whilst puffing furiously on his ‘spice’ – right mate, you’re ‘travelling without moving’, sure. And not tripping off your nut at all šŸ˜‰

Another interesting thing I saw today concerns spiders. It was the Theory and Practice of Computer Graphics Conference (TPCG07) recently, and in a rather cool turn of events, an Ogre render has ended up on the cover of the proceedings, thanks to Llyr ap Cenydd and William Teahan winning the ‘Best Paper’ prize for their "The Dynamic Animation of.Ambulatory Arthropods", in which they realistically simulate spiders crawling over various surfaces. And thanks to a combination of superbly realistic animation (entirely procedural) and some nice Ogre materials, these spiders look bloody realistic. Scarily so. Take a look at the video for yourself – a rolled-up newspaper is highly recommended. And here’s a static shot:

More discussion and pictures in the forum, if you can handle it. I know I can’t šŸ˜•

I’m doing a spot of work for a client with the Wavefront and Biovision formats at the mo, which although appearing quite simple, had a few little nuances I wasn’t expecting. I might blog about that when I’m done.

  • johnhpus

    Had to give you a nod on the Dune reference. I just hope you’re a fan of the books and not the horrible movie with Sting… (Sting!?)

  • Anon

    I was wondering where you could find the papers for that conference, including “The Dynamic Animation of.Ambulatory Arthropods”.

  • A

    Haha Steve- totally reminds me of this commercial:

    -“Kirby” šŸ˜‰

  • Steve

    @johnhpus: I’ve never actually read the books, although I intend to sometime – so you’ll have to think me a philistine šŸ™‚ I think the movie’s alright actually, but I’ve never seen a movie that comes close to the book it’s based on.

    @Anon: I have no idea, I guess they will turn up on the net sometime soon. The conference has only recently finished.

    @A: I think SL still wins šŸ˜‰

  • dan

    I once was invitied to a business meeting at a corporate halloween party. It was obvious we would all be in costune, but looking across the table and explaining IT service plans to the Hulk and Spiderman(yes, he kept his mask on) was just bizarre.

  • Compy

    *Cough* *Cough* I’m a Compsognathus. I resent being referred to as a diminutive dinosaur; I have a big heart! šŸ˜‰


  • Steve

    @dan: sounds awesome. However, negotiating with the Hulk must have been tricky, what with having that ‘you won’t like me when I’m angry’ trump card in reserve all the time šŸ™‚

    @Compy: I was desperately trying to remember what that name was the next day, and I failed. Hey, I’m only human (and the only human in the meeting room at that) šŸ˜‰ I’m sure I totally misrepresented the origin of your other colleague in the room too, but at least I got Kirby right šŸ™‚

  • A

    I beg to differ. Any simpleton could have guessed the genus. But *that*, my friend, was sous chef Kirby- a gastronomique extraordinaire. I am hardly your run-of-the-mill, pedestrian pink puff!

  • spookyboo

    I can recommend to read all the Dune books (at least the Frank Herbert ones), although I have to admit that the odd numbered volumes are the best (iirc books 2 and 4 are a bit boring)

  • Paul

    Lol thats crazy, a conference in Second Life. I guess in time this sort of thing will be the norm.

  • Andrew Fenn

    I gave second life another go the other day but it is still slow for me and crashes. Also no one was online.

    Am I doing something wrong here?

  • kuranes


    How can you be sure it was human ?

  • Ash

    Hi Steve,

    Even thought this work was done while ago, still looks great. I am trying to do a similar thing in Ogre (procedurally generate animations) and I am kind of a newbiee at this. I tried to search up your paper on this work at TPCG 07 but no luck. Would you be able to provide me with some information / links on how this is accomplished? Any relevant tutorials? I looked at Ogre’s forum that you have posted all the screenshots .. I was wondering if there are other resources available ? Is the source code for this work public ? Is some code snippets available ?

    Thank you,

  • Steve

    This wasn’t actually my paper / work so those links were all I had, sorry.