8.5 Shockwave Studio
at a Glance
Price: $1,199 for the full version (Studio includes
Director 8.5, Fireworks 4, Shockwave Multiuser Server
3 and some freebie software); upgrades are also available
Platforms: Macintosh and Windows
Impression: It's difficult to generalize about a
suite as feature-rich as Director 8.5. This multimedia
authoring suite offers incredible flexibility and robust
scripting without being overly complicated. It allows
you to build Web content or standalone applications
with ease and with a great degree of sophistication.
Whether you're developing the latest D&D adventure
game or simply building a presentation to take on the
road with you, it would be difficult to find something
this powerful and easy to use.
Benefits: Director 8.5 is the first viable platform
for total 3D and interactive authoring. The power is
incredible, as is the simplicity for some of the more
common functions. The ability to drag library behaviors
over objects makes this an incredibly valuable tool
for rapid multimedia development, while the Lingo scripting
offers essentially unlimited expandability for more
In terms of library support, the 3D offerings are plentiful,
but you can't do as much with it. There are some playback
problems with QuickTime elements, and there's also artifacting
when you apply vector motions to 3D objects. (This last
one could be a graphics card issue with the ATI Rage
Strong Buy as both an upgrade and a straight purchase.
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AUGUST 1, 2001
Director 8.5 Shockwave Studio
[Page 4 of 5]
I can't stress enough
the importance of ease of development. Straight 3D animation can be
tricky enough, with all the factors involved. Interactive 3D animation
could conceivably be a nightmare. But with Director 8.5, you have a
tool that makes it simple but doesn't compromise on power.
3D triggers allow you to decide
what will cause an object to do
something. For example, the right arrow key could rotate an
object right, while the left arrow would rotate it left.
So that's my
favorite feature of Director 8.5's 3D authoring. But what else is
there? Well, there's a whole lot more. In fact, it would take a
couple pages just to list them with brief descriptions. So here
are some highlights.
shading options, including toon, newsprint and engraver.
animation of everything from cameras and lights to individual
bones in individual objects.
ability to build scenes from primitives with basically no download
time for the user because planes, boxes and cylinders are already
present on the client side (the player).
3D text is created on the client side for minimum download time.
with mesh deformations and particle systems, including smoke,
fire, rain, etc.
can create multiple versions of your 3D models, and the client
need only download a single one. This is called object cloning
and can be useful for crowd scenes, stampeding dinosaurs, etc.
of 3D objects collisions can occur down at the polygon level,
so you can work with small portions of 3D objects.
geometry to the client can be done in two ways. To save time on
downloading, the client can be sent a lower-resolution version
of the 3D object, which scales up over time. Shockwave 3D also
supports subdivision surfaces, which means that low-resolution
characters or objects and be smoothed out on the client side.
for motion blending (for smooth motions between keyframed positions).
for the Havok Rigid Body Dynamics Xtra, which is used for realistic
motion effects. For example, if a ball bounces off a wall, Havok
will squish the ball as it hits the wall and bring it back to
normal as it bounces away.
for some OpenGL hardware acceleration, as well as rendering in
software and DirectX 7.
Director and Shockwave 3D
Just so I don't confuse anybody, I should point out two things.
First, you might be asking, well, what's the difference between
3D in Flash and 3D in Shockwave? I whole bunch of 3D developers
have released Flash exporters, so I can just present my 3D in the
Flash format without buying any additional software, right?
Here's the thing:
3D in the Flash format is not actually 3D. It just looks like 3D
because it was created in a 3D program. But with Flash 3D, you can't
actually manipulate 3D objects on the user end. Sure, you can fudge
it. And maybe it would be worth it for you to do that. But with
Shockwave 3D, the user is actually downloading your 3D objects to
his or her machine and is able to manipulate them that way through
the Shockwave Player.
The other important
thing to mention about is that Director is not a 3D modeling program.
You can do some things associated with modeling and even manipulate
models once you've imported them, but you will not get the kind
of modeling tools that you'd find in a true modeler. What you need
is a separate 3D program that supports the Shockwave 3D format so
that you can export your 3D content to the Shockwave 3D format for
use in Director. On the Mac side, the most recent releases of NewTek
LightWave and Maxon Cinema 4D XL support the format, and Electric
Image is working on an exporter for Universe 3.x. On the Windows
side, the exporter is also supported by Discreet's 3ds max 4.
is supposed to support the OBJ file format as well, but I haven't
had any luck with it. Various programs do handle OBJ export differently
though, which could be the problem. I'll bring you an update on
this when I find out more.
So that about
does it for 3D. There's really a lot more to it, so I suggest going
to Macromedia's site to read all of the features.
TO PAGE [ 1, 2,
3, 4, 5,
a message in the Creative Mac World
Wide User Group.
Dave Nagel is
the producer of Creative
Mac and Digital
Media Designer; host of several World Wide User Groups, including Synthetik
Studio Artist, Adobe
Mac and Digital
Media Designer; and executive producer of
Media Net family of publications.