3D Animation Workshop: Lesson 88: The New 3D Artist | WebReference

3D Animation Workshop: Lesson 88: The New 3D Artist


Lesson 88 - The New 3D Artist - Part 3

How realistic is the merger of 3D artist and programmer in a single person? It's one thing to learn to write a little JavaScript to control a Flash presentation. But 3D graphics is an immeasurably deeper and more difficult subject.

The first answer is that 3D graphics at the professional level is always hard. Forgetting the programming issue for a moment, just the skills of modeling, texturing, materials, animation and rendering in 3D are enormously more sophisticated than any aspect of 2D computer graphics, and can only appeal to those with a serious commitment to learn. You don't learn 3D modeling or animation in the time frame required to learn Photoshop or HTML. In fact, it takes months just to learn your way around the interface of a 3D Studio MAX or a Maya. On the other hand, the compensation for the qualified 3D artist should reflect this.

But the larger answer to the question of whether a single artist can integrate 3D graphic design and 3D programming for interactivity is surprisingly positive—and here I am speaking from my own experience. Over the last few months, I've made no secret of my enthusiasm for Shout3D as a vehicle for interactive Web3D. Shout3D is a library of Java classes used to implement a Java applet on a Web page, and thus is inherently a Web technology. But I have come to consider it something more significant even than what it purports to be.

The designers of the Shout3D class library have created a remarkably complete and powerful programming interface for realtime interactive 3D graphics. This is due in part to the merits of the Java language and in part to their own talents and vision. But after working for a number of months with this package, by myself and with my students at Cogswell College, I have come to understand that such a well-designed library can serve as a ramp that introduces the 3D artist to 3D interactive programming. This library encapsulates large and difficult concepts into workable tools. You come to understand models and scenes in a way that permits user interactivity. You learn how mouse and keyboard input can be used to change the state of the scene. You learn how computations made as part of the rendering loop are used to animate objects or test the state of the scene to see if anything should change (for example, as the result of winning a game.)

Shout3D is demonstrating that specialized tools can be created that make it possible for 3D artists to move into 3D interactive programming—whether for the Web or otherwise. This is a major achievement that, I believe, can only invite other essays into the same field. In a year or so, there may be a number of class libraries for 3D interactive graphics on the market. And those who learn Shout's package are likely to seek to expand it themselves.

All this is new and uncharted territory, with all the challenges and opportunities to be expected by pioneers. But it can be conquered with the tools now just coming into being, and the rewards for those who master them are likely to be considerable. High-end interactive graphics will replace the print-tradition graphics of today's Web and commercial applications. You can be sure of that. 3D artists can take their place at the top of this new order if they are willing to adapt and expand their skills to meet the demands for content suitable to the new generation of ultra-powerful hardware suitable for gaming and other realtime uses.

To Return to Parts 1 and 2, Use Arrow Buttons

Previous Lesson / Table of Contents / Next Lesson

Created: Mar. 14, 2000
Revised: Mar. 14, 2000

URL: http://webreference.com/3d/lesson88/3.html