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Chapter 20. WHY X3D? > I Want It NOW!

I Want It NOW!

In 1998 a company called MetaCreations came out with an exciting 3D technology for the Web called MetaStream (http://www.metastream.com/). Developed in cooperation with Intel, MetaStream is based on a technology called progressive rendering. When you create a file for progressive rendering, you put certain data right at the front of it. As soon as the application gets that data, it can render a first approximation of the object. Then, as more data comes down the slow pipe that connects you to the Internet, your plug-in can render a slightly better looking object, then an object that looks pretty good, and finally the whole 3D object in all its glory.

That's the best of all possible outcomes. Unless you figure out how to instantaneously transmit 3D objects by telepathy or sneak into everyone's home in the dead of night and plant 3D objects on their computers, as Universal Media does, you're always going to want to show something that takes longer to download than your average visitor's attention span. By showing progressively better images, you can keep your visitors interested while the file downloads. Shockwave has this capability as well, and there are streaming MPEG players, streaming RealAudio and streaming RealVideo players. (The seed from which this idea grew was planted in the GIF-89a standard for progressive GIF images, which was followed by the progressive JPEG image format.)


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