When Intel CEO Paul Otellini walks on stage in front of 6,000 attendees and millions of global viewers for his Consumer Electronics Show keynote address and takes part in a “Virtual Jam Session” on Monday, two Triangle companies will have crafted the framework of this technology.

Serious Games maker Virtual Heroes created the Intel CES demonstration using Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 3 technology.

In what Virtual Heroes CEO Jerry Heneghan called a “trial by fire,” his company had four weeks to bring together ban array of technologies that would allow the rock band Smash Mouth to perform “Walkin’ on the Sun” virtually from multiple locations in a fully realized 3-D environment with motion-captured avatars that sport photo-captured 3-D heads.

Heneghan said that Intel first asked Epic Games to tackle this project, but the company was too busy finishing up "Unreal Tournament 3." Intel then asked Crytek, the developer behind "Far Cry" and "Crysis," to take on the CES demonstration, but it, too, was busy finishing up "Crysis." Intel’s third choice ended up being the charm.

“This was a high-risk endeavor, but we were crazy enough to try it,” said Heneghan. “It’s never been done before.”

Equipped with brand new, multi-core processors that Intel sent over for this project, Heneghan enlisted a team of 10 to bring the “Virtual Jam Session” from concept to working demonstration in one month.

“We were able to use Intel’s duel-core chips to assign different processing to different cores,” Heneghan explained. “This demo required Voice over IP, motion-capture technology, high-fidelity 3-D heads and Unreal Engine 3 high- fidelity graphics. Everything had to run in real time over the Internet.”

Heneghan sent a small team to New York and out West to work closely with eJamming, Organic Motion and Big Stage to fuse their technology into the demo. During the Intel keynote, each one of these companies’ technologies will be used, with Smash Mouth lead singer Steve Harwell serving as the guinea pig.

Big Stage software will transform a trio of digital pictures of Harwell into a photorealistic 3-D avatar with accurately mapped facial contours. This avatar is fully equipped for animation, which is where Organic Motion will offer real-time motion capture of Harwell singing and dancing. Harwell will be able to perform with his band mates, who are backstage, through eJamming technology, which allows real instruments to be synced online for live performances.

These JamCasts can be heard on PCs or Web-enabled phones. Smash Mouth will perform “Walking on the Sun” in a virtual garage that Virtual Heroes crafted based on the band’s music video, “All Star.”

“We knew our stuff would work, but we had to make sure these other technologies would work within the guidelines of Intel’s demonstration,” explained Heneghan.

In the case of Organic Motion, Virtual Heroes was able to help the company push technology beyond wireframe animation to enable high-fidelity, UE3-based characters to move around on screen. Organic Motion’s technology uses a special camera setup that measures volume within its box, enabling a person’s motion to be captured without the person having to wear an impairing suit with reflective balls.

Intel heralds this demonstration as an example of Third Life, which is its version of the future of more natural online social interactions among consumers and, in the case of eJamming, artists.

Heneghan sees new opportunities for the technology in the field of serious games.

“If you’re focusing on a collaborative approach and creating virtual training software, these technologies are perfect,” said Heneghan. “We now understand how to integrate these technologies into applications and we’ll be working with some of these technology companies movie forward.”

The record time that everything came together was possible, in part, because of Virtual Heroes’ knowledge of Unreal Engine 3.

“Unreal Engine 3 helped us develop the garage for this demo much faster than we could otherwise,” said Heneghan. “We used the engine’s Kizmet feature extensively, which allowed us to utilize high-resolution models.”

The Intel presentation will be shown on a 750-square-foot screen (15 by 50 feet) using three projectors, which will really bring out the high-fidelity visuals, according to Heneghan.

“This project is exciting for us because it’s a glimpse of the unfolding Internet 2.0,” said Heneghan. “It’s the next evolution of high-fidelity, virtual environments and the future of how people will interact, play and collaborate online.”