Today I am writing about the official release of a project that is near and dear to me: Clara.io. Clara.io is a web based 3D content creation tool. That is, it is a tool that lets you create 3D scenes and animations. Popular desktop based 3D content creation tools include products such as 3DS Max, Maya, Blender etc. Clara.io is different from these tools in that it is completely cloud based. To access the tool, a user needs only to go to their site and log in. All work is saved on the cloud. Furthermore because Clara.io is built in the cloud, it is possible to easily share your scene with other users and allow them to alter it with you in real time (think google docs). Clara.io also gives access to server side rendering, meaning that you won’t need to actually have a strong beefy computer to render a scene as that work is offloaded to the server, making it possible to create fantastic images even with a modest computer.
So… why do I care about this project? I mean, I’m not an 3D artist.. I can barely model a bucket. The reason I care is because CDOT (and my team in particular) was involved with the original client side prototype. It is amazingly gratifying to see it completed and on its way to a commercial release.
In the end this is really a story about students. I will be the first to admit that before I worked for Seneca I had a very large university bias… ie that college was second best. This probably couldn’t be helped given the fact given my background. (Lets just say that I had typical Asian parents – heck it was over a month of “I can’t believe you aren’t going to study pharmacy!”… “why would you ever go into computer science?”…”how will you ever not starve?” … “are you sure about this computer thing?” when I changed my major to go into computer science in my first year… best decision ever btw). I began working at Seneca while I was completing my masters. I chose Seneca because I had a sense from the interview that it was more than what I expected from a college.
I began doing applied research at Seneca about 5 years ago. It wasn’t something I expected to do. My first project was to work with something that eventually became known as WebGL and thus began my jouney into the world of web based 3D graphics. Over the course of the last few years, the work that our multiple research teams at CDOT (Centre for Development of Open Technology) has shown me how much our students are capable of doing. In fact it was during our presentation on the implementation of 3D functionality in Processing.js at SIGGRAPH where we met Ben Houston of Exocortex, our industry partner for Clara.io prototype.
Ben was one of the most involved industry partners I worked with. He had a vision of what was needed and how best to achieve that. His guidance for the students involved with the project has been phenomenal. I’m sure that it was a good learning opportunity for them.
Lastly, I want to thank all the students who were involved. I’m incredibly proud of all of you. Jesse, you are amazing and hardworking. You have always been impressive with the speed at which you code. I’m very happy that you are now working full time on this project. David thanks for your work on the initial design. Hasan and Vince… I think you guys really helped support the team during the thinnest part of its development and did a lot of good work on the prototype. Dylan, Jacky, Andrei, Kalid, Michael, Mark for their work on subobject editing prototype. Norbert, Jordan, Mohammed, Kabilan and Ruth for some of the documentation work. You remind me that college is not second best constantly. Thank you all.