Avatars2000 Conference Report: The Avvy Awards

A recounting of the Avvy Awards at Avatars 2001 as an interview for BBC Glasgow
Click on images on the right for larger view of the 2000 Avvy Awards and Cosmic Experience


Jacqui Sinclair for the BBC in Italics
Bruce Damer's replies in normal text.

Sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you - it's been pretty hectic here.

I'm still keen to cover the AVVY's in my newsdesk - which we record next week. WIth that it would be great if you could tell me more about the event... as I am writing my scripts at the moment.

Is this the avatar equivalent of the oscars?

Yes indeed, the Avvy Awards is focused on the designers of avatars, the best overall, best humanoid, animal, fantasy, weirdest, most compelling animation etc. It is like a combination of a fashion show and design competition.

How on earth do 10 000 avatars fit on one screen at the same time?

10K avatars is the unique visitor count for the event which runs close to 24 hours, usually we peak out at 500-600 folks simultaneously in the event worlds.

Is there a pecking order - seating - floating plan just like the oscars?

Yes indeed, last year we had an octagonal stage with two decks of seating (walkable ramps as avatars usually don't stay in one place or sit) that folks could mill around in. On the stage was a large projection screen showing the finalists and winners. Like in Shakespeare's globe many bolder or more mischievous folks would run down and stand right on the presentation stage.

Would you like me to forward you screen shots of this event?

Do the avatars move around - and talk to each other?

Yes indeed, everyone present as an avatar is a real person, they can text chat and in some instances talk with voice to each other, the contestants, organizers and bots (automated personae) present.

How are the awards presented?
Are there speeches?
What categories are there?
plus anything else of interest - how are avatars nominated, the winners chosen etc...??

Prior to the event submissions are gathered by online form, then displayed in a hall of avatars for judging. At the event, usually held at 6pm PST on the day of the big annual AVATARS cyberconference as its grande finale, bots (automated personae) help to run the event by making announcements and changing the display of finalists and winners on a big screen. The big screen shows still images of the candidate avatar designs for each category. The crowds scream (text chatter) as each person's entry is displayed and a winner announced, especially as in this tightly knit community most everyone knows the person whose avatars reached the finals. A speech usually precedes the event as thank-yous are made to the judges and all of the volunteers who helped build, staff and otherwise contribute to the AVATARS conference, which has many components including exhibits, speakers, art galleries, webcam broadcasting, a greeter and security detail, towne crier, botmeister and much more.

Categories include best humanoid, animal, fantasy, cartoon-style, bang for buck (smallest number of polygons for best effect), most compelling animation (movements, gestures), weirdest (abstract). An emcee team, usually the conference chair together with the Avvy Awards chair, coordinates the event and keeps the audience's attention and excitement whilst the bot moves along changing the slides of finalists and winners. The best overall category is tallied from finalist and winners and is a high point of the event. Perhaps the most popular point is the selection of the "people's choice" which is done by a raising of the audience's avatars hands (if your avatar can gesture) or a text gesture vote, a kind of audience noise ratio meter of popularity done on the spot.

The judges are a carefully selected crew of three to six individuals respected for their knowledge in the design of 3D spaces and characters. Submission is open, as anyone can submit their avatar, and they must provide access to the file containing the avatar model for playback by judges.

One more thing, as each avatar is displayed during the finalist and winners rounds, the audience has the chance to don the avatars and walk around in their favorite avatars. All finalists and winners are displayed in the available pick list to allow citizens to wear them during the awards. In fact, votes for the people's choice award often happen by attendees simply wearing their favorite avatar.

Prizes given to the runners up and category winners usually consist of software to design future avatars or worlds, t-shirts or even server software for dedicated worlds that the winner can run themselves. Of course the greatest reward is the community recognition and many past winners proudly sport the Avvy winners announcements on their personal websites and in their personal worlds.

Immediately following the Avvy Awards is our annual "big surprise experience" in which the entire audience is treated to something special. In 1999 we unveiled a ten story high number "2000" rolling over the "millen-o-dometer" to a new century. In 2000 we dropped the floor out from under the crowd as giant pac-men bots ate the space station an the collective attendees fell through a two kilometer long wormhole to the "cosmic experience". This year what we will do is entirely a secret :)

These surprise experiences give the audience a real rush as they have spent hours immersing themselves in the experience of the conference and are very open to the stage set of the surprise.

In the end making a successful virtual world event is all about the same things that make good carnival, theatrical performace, or street performance, great set, story, clearly creating a sense of presence, attentive performers, and an keen audience.

For more information on the AVATARS conference series see the Contact Consortium event pages at www.ccon.org/events

Feel free to visit the AV98, AV99, AV00 and AV01 conference worlds in www.activeworlds.com. Also please try Adobe Atmosphere at: www.adobe.com/products/atmosphere

Which is another, new platform we are working with that will be part of this year's Avvy Awards.

See the Avvy Awards winners and and runners up here

Also: see the Avatars 2000 Movie!

Superb job! Avatars2000 chair says to Casay and the other team members who put the Avvy Awards together.

Party at the end of time!

Bruce happy and waving goodbye until Avatars2001

Avatars98 Avvy Stage running inside the Active Worlds interface

Avatars 2001 Avvy Awards and Surprise

In-camera judging in the Avatars gallery. Casay, AV200 Avvys chair with a judge trying on a horseman avatar in the gallery

The Avvy Awards stage showing conference chair Bruce Damer trying to get the crowd's attention (image courtesy Daphne)

The unruly crowd in the stands (image courtesy Daphne)

Dinner, the best animal avatar for 2000, see the other category winners and runners up here

Carter, winner of the best humanoid avatar for 2000 (image courtesy Daphne) see the other category winners and runners up here

Ryoko, co-winner of the best fantasy avatar for 2000 (image courtesy Bob Wisti) see the other category winners and runners up here

Best overall and people's choice was Robie see the other category winners and runners up here

The blobs are eating the station! Pac men bots arrive to set the stage for the Cosmic Surprise after the end of the Avvy Awards

The space station is being destroyed, bit by bit.

The Wormhole opens underneath the disintegrating Avvy Awards stage!

Through the Stargate! Emerging from the bottom of the wormhole

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