Swift 3D: Vector Animation for the Web | 3 | WebReference

Swift 3D: Vector Animation for the Web | 3

Swift 3D: Vector Animation for the Web

Other Rendering Options

Show Back Faces

This has to do with the way your polygons are facing in MAX. The default is ON and if you mirror objects, it’s recommended to leave it on, otherwise you might lose pieces of the model upon rendering. Turning this option off will make an improvement in rendering speed, though.

Shadows

To use this option, make sure to check Shadows under Fill Options in MAX and any lights designated to use shadow casting will be rendered, assuming the shadow is cast onto a surface.

Note: Be aware that the density (darkness) of the shadows is dependent on how many lights there are in a scene. If you have only one light illuminating the scene, the shadows will be quite dark; with four lights, the shadows will be lighter, depending on whether they’re all pointed on the same spot or in different locations. Of course, using shadows will increase your file sizes.

Specular Highlights

When exporting files using the Cartoon Single Color or Cartoon Average Color fills, one flat color is applied to the surface. Adding a specular highlight gives your file that extra bit of dimensionality.

Note: To adjust the specularity on your models, you’ll need to do that within the Materials Editor in Max.

Include Edges

When rendering the edges in a scene, there are several different options to consider. The two main options are Outlines and Mesh, but other options are available, such as Hidden Edges, Edge Detail Angle, Line Weight and Edge Color. You can also output edges only or combine these with the fill options. Again, be aware that this will increase file sizes.

The above example displays the use of Mesh and Outlines only (all fills have been turned off). Additional settings applied here are a one point line width, Include Edge Detail of 45 degrees, Include Hidden Edges and a High Detail setting.

Curve Fitting

Sometimes the way Flash calculates geometry can result in irregular curves. The Curve Fitting dialog box allows you to balance curve accuracy and file size.

Combine Edges and Fills

Here, you can export your lines and fills using two methods. If you don’t choose Combine Edges and Fills, you will be able to separate your lines and fills when you import your vector file into Flash. If you choose to enable Combine Edges and Fills, you cannot separate your lines and fills unless you break apart your object.

Note: Both the Fill Objects and Include Edges options must be checked in order to use the Combine Edges & Fills option.

Detail Level

Here, the default setting is recommended unless you need to increase the detail of your file. To slim down a file, you might try a lower setting and see if your quality level is acceptable.

Observations

Swift 3D (as a standalone application or a plug-in) is not for everyone. If you’re looking at this product, you need to realize that even though you’re exporting your files to Flash, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to render them out at low bandwidth. Additionally, if your objects need texture mapping to be visually effective, then this software might not give you the results that you need. In this case, Shockwave would be a better solution.

When rendering out an animation, no interactivity is applied to the files. But each frame rendered will be a keyframe in a SWF file, so when you bring the file into Flash, you can apply the interactivity there. The better your understanding of Flash is, the more you can apply to your SWF animation.

One problem I found when using outlines (in combination with fills) is that they would sometimes create a fractured line effect on the surface of my objects. While I could minimize the effect, I couldn't eliminate it entirely. While you could retouch out the effect in Photoshop, that could be quite time consuming. In accessing the technical support on the site, I found no mention of this problem, so perhaps it's an isolated incident particular to my machine.

When using Swift 3D to output your animations, test render the different scenes in your animation before commiting yourself to a full-blown rendering. Pay particular attention to fills, outlines, lighting, specular highlights, the underlying color of your objects, etc. then adjust scene elements as necessary.

Pricing and Availability

Swift 3D v3 from Electric Rain (Windows / Mac OS 8.1+) is available for $169.00. You can upgrade from previous versions for $89.00. If you’re purchasing Swift 3D as a plug-in for 3D Studio Max or Lightwave, the price is $295.00 with an upgrade price of $149.00 For more information about Swift 3D, visit the Electric Rain web site.

Created: June 5, 2003
Revised: June 5, 2003

URL: http://webreference.com/3d/column2