Life Forms was developed at Simon Fraser University by a team including dancers and computer programmers. Its original name was COMPOSE and it's over 10 years in development. Released by Credo Interactive.
Life Forms provides three windows for creating an animation: the Figure Editor, the Timeline and the Stage View - allowing you to move quickly back and forth between concept and detail and preview the animation at any stage of development with minimal delay.
In the Figure Editor window body stances are created by selecting and positioning up to 23 different segments of the human body using either the mouse or simple commands. Each body stance created then becomes a "keyframe" in a motion sequence. Once two or more "keyframes" are created, the Timeline window calculates the inbetween frames required for the figure to move smoothly from one shape to the next. The Timeline window also provides high-level editing functions which makes changes easy and simple.
After the movement sequences for each figure have been assembled the performance is ready to begin! The Stage View window displays the sequences relative to each other in space and time allowing you to see the performance from any angle - in front, above or even below.
How Life Forms incorporates VRML
VRML stands for Virtual Reality Modelling Language. We've been working on new features for Life Forms that incorporate this interesting new specification for presenting 3D information and animation on the Web.
Life Forms 2.1 now has VRML 1.0 input and export filters and a VRML 2.0 export filter. The VRML 1.0 filters are great for users to import and export their heirarchical models produced in other programs such as MacroMind's Extreme 3D and 3D Studio. The rendering tags in VRML 1.0 models (e.g.colour) are stored and exported. The VRML 2.0 export filter lets you share your animations with others over the web and export into any 3D package that imports the VRML 2.0 data format.