An acquisition within the 3-D modeling space

While everybody is waiting to see what is going to happen between Microsoft and Yahoo, the first made yet another technology acquisition – bought the 3D modeling and animation software company called Caligari to further improve its Virtual Earth. Caligari appears to be not the typical web 2.0 company one might think of at first reading – they have been established back in 1986. Terms, typically for Microsoft’s small buys, were not disclosed.

Roman Ormandy, the CEO of Caligari (he has personally very interesting story which you can ready below), stated in a post yesterday in his company’s online forum that his staff as well as the people tasked with building Virtual Earth since the start are committed to a vision ensuring a “long-term commitment to the 3D Web.”

Caligari offers a range of products for 3D enthusiasts and illustrators, researchers and design engineers. All of Caligari’s products feature an immersive real-time interface that allows users to intuitively and directly manipulate objects in a fully-rendered 3D space, thus enhancing and accelerating the overall design process.

The motivation behind this deal seems quite clear – competing with Google and its popular Google Earth/Maps developments.

Interesting fact to note is that in a similar move Google has acquired a similar company back in 2006 called SketchUp, which is also 3-D modeling software that is now used to place 3-D objects inside Google Earth.

The company is based in Mountain View, CA.

The company was founded in 1986 by Roman Ormandy. A prototype 3D video animation package for the Amiga Computer, which led to the incorporation of Octree Software in 1986. From 1988 to 1992, Octree released several software packages including Caligari1, Caligari2, Caligari Broadcast, and Caligari 24. Caligari wanted to provide inexpensive yet professional industrial video and corporate presentation software. In 1993 Octree Software moved from New York to California and became known as Caligari Corporation. In 1994 trueSpace 1.0 was introduced on the Windows platform.

Interesting videos for trueSpace can be seen on YouTube.

More about Caligari Corporation

Founded in 1986, Caligari Corporation is one of the pioneers of 3D modeling and animation. Throughout our history, Caligari has focused on providing powerful, intuitive and affordable tools that enable users to communicate visually, whether the end product is a web page, a fully-rendered image, a 3D model or an interactive simulation. Today, we continue to drive innovation to the 3D authoring process in markets that range from design and engineering to biomedicine and entertainment. The release of trueSpace7 has opened new doors in 3D by providing our users with something that no other 3D company has ever offered: real-time collaborative authoring.

Caligari offers a range of products to satisfy everyone from 3D enthusiasts to illustrators, researchers and design engineers. All of Caligari’s products feature an immersive real-time interface that allows users to intuitively and directly manipulate objects in a fully-rendered 3D space, thus enhancing and accelerating the design process.

In January of 2006, after 20 years of uninterrupted development, Caligari released the 12th generation of its flagship product, trueSpace. Not only has Caligari enhanced the award-winning modeling, surfacing and rendering capabilities of trueSpace; we have revolutionized the way 3D content is created, communicated and shared with others. trueSpace7 is the only 3D authoring product on the market to offer all aspects of real-time design, modeling and animation within a virtual 3D space shared by remote participants over the broadband internet. trueSpace7’s easy-to-use authoring tools are seamlessly integrated into the underlying collaborative process. The trueSpace7 collaboration server enables multiple participants to connect to a shared 3D space to create and manipulate shared content in real-time.

Other products include gameSpace and iSpace. gameSpace offers game artists high-end 3D authoring capabilities at a low-end price. gameSpace provides all the tools game artists need for modeling, texturing, animating, UV mapping, and more; and comes with the built-in ability to export content to multiple game engine formats.

iSpace is an innovative 3D web graphics solution that allows web developers to easily create stunning 3D web pages in HTML and Macromedia Flash format. With iSpace, web designers can import existing 2D HTML pages, convert them into 3D and enhance their layout with easy-to-use styles and graphical elements such as buttons, lights, animations and 3D text. iSpace is also a complete assembly platform, allowing the user to combine .jpg, .gif, and Flash files in the same workspace to quickly and easily create integrated HTML outputs.

The Founder

Born in 1955 in Czechoslovakia, Roman Ormandy obtained an advanced degree in Computer science from Komensky University in Bratislava in 1980. He then undertook post-graduate studies in artificial intelligence, psychology and linguistics at Charles University in Prague. In 1981, he received a research fellowship in the University’s Laboratory for Computational Linguistics.

Later that same year, Ormandy defected to Italy while on “holiday” in Yugoslavia. He spent several months in an Italian refugee camps while his wife, Bibiana, was still in Czechoslovakia. A year later Ormandy was joined in America by Bibiana and their 18-month old son, whom he had never seen, after their dramatic flight across the Yugoslavian border.

Ormandy’s first job in the United States was in a suitcase factory making cases for Apple IIC computers. He then worked in the computer lab of Lexington School for the deaf while attending the graduate program in Computer Science at City University in New York. In 1983, he landed a job programming IBM graphics software for educational applications for Classroom Consortia Media. While here, he authored two educational applications and BrainChild, a software game design for the IBM PC Jr. In 1985, Ormandy became a computer graphics consultant for Edwin Schlossberg Inc., designing interactive laser disc applications and other components of the information system for Manhattans’ World Financial Center.

Ormandy began working on the prototype for a 3D video animation package for the Amiga computer in 1985. The prototype generated intense interest following a preview of Siggraph ’86 Conference. In the fall of 1986, Ormandy incorporated Octree Software, initially working part-time to get his new company off the ground. In 1988 he switched to full-time with the introduction of Caligari, aimed at the industrial video, design and corporate presentation markets. Ormandy grew very interested in creating a more realistic user interface to optimize human physiology and inspired by the belief that creativity would be radically increased if the designer was given direct contact with 3D objects in the workspace.

Two years later, Caligari Broadcast was introduced, offering professional quality 3D animation at a fraction of the cost of comparable systems. Because of its real-time, direct manipulation of objects in real-life perspective, Caligari allowed the computer user to transcend the 2D environment and explore new creative territory of its own.

In April, 1994, Caligari further revolutionized the 3D market by introducing trueSpace 1.0 for Windows, a powerful, usable 3D modeling, rendering and animation package that combined real-time direct manipulation of objects and professional-quality output with an easy-to-learn, icon-based interface. trueSpace’s affordable price, seamlessly integrated organic modeling, photorealistic ray-tracing, broadcast-quality animation and unprecedented ease-of-creation modeling tools created a phenomenon of response in the adolescent 3D market. Its highly usable VR-style immersive interface encouraged experimentation, stimulated creativity and gave users the ability to create stunning renderings and animation easily.

Today the award-winning trueSpace legacy continues unbroken, with the latest version, trueSpace7, still based on the same principles of making professional power available to users while keeping the software easy to use and affordable. Caligari has also expanded the product range to include gameSpace, which allows users to create 3D content for games, and truePlace, an on-line meeting place for social networking, distance learning, and collaboration.

Roman Ormandy and Caligari’s introduction of trueSpace helped redefine how people can create and communicate in media. He believes one of the most far-reaching possibilities is the creation of a new form of knowledge repository based not on symbols, but living, breathing 3D objects encapsulating knowledge into code and shared in collaborative on-line environments.


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