COVEN leaves its mark on two Standards
Contributing to ISO standards is, without a doubt, a long and laborious process. It involves the hard work of many individuals, the maneuverings of interested organisations, endless politics, numerous iterations and plenty compromises. In short, it is a nightmarish process. Not surprisingly, the impact of individuals is neither simple to quantify nor their contribution easy to identify in the end product.
The impact of the COVEN project on two separate ISO standards' activities is made all the more remarkable, therefore, by the fact that the project has had three of its senior researchers in key positions within two standards committees the Web3D Consortium (W3DC), and the MPEG-4 Face and Body Animation (FBA) steering group.Brief Background
From the very start, the COVEN project has had standards embedded into its workplan as an integral part of its long term vision. COVEN (COllaborative Virtual ENvironments) is a four-year project, supported by the EC, with the objective of developing a European software platform for collaborative 3D working, aimed at networked-based commercial applications.
The two standards that have been, and continue to be, of fundamental importance to COVEN's activities in this context are VRML (VR modeling language) and MPEG4-SNHC (Synthetic & natural hybrid image coding).Standards Impact
The Web3D Consortium is responsible for the maintenance of VRML97, the sole standard for 3D worlds over the internet. Dr. Anthony STEED (UCL) was elected to W3DC's technical advisory board in March of 1999, following an extended period as key reviewer of standards and contributor to the working group of the consortium. W3DC is active in the design of the next generation 3D formats, a pre-requisite for scalable 3D worlds on desktop computers. It also has the task of proposing a new architecture X3D for 3D graphics on the web. X3D aims to provide better integration with web browsers, at the same time providing flexible support to content profiles. The W3DC technical advisory board includes representatives from leading organisations like Sun, Microsoft, nVida and Sony.
The Face and Body Animation group of MPEG-4 was formed with the objective of producing the specifications for modeling and animation of human faces and bodies within the MPEG-4 standard. Dr. Tolga CAPIN (EPFL) has been the co-chair of the FBA ad hoc group since its inception in June of 1996, with particular responsibility for the body animation aspects of activity. Dr. Igor PANDZIC (University of Geneva) has been an active contributor to the face animation activities. Both COVEN researchers have been fully supported by experts from the two teams at LIG-EPFL and MIRALab-University of Geneva. The two labs were among the main proposers of the initial body animation specifications, which is currently a Committee Draft – the last step before becoming an ISO Standard, scheduled for December 1999.
By all standards another COVEN success!
[UCL, EPFL and University of Geneva are members of the ACTS - COVEN consortium]