Product Review: Page (1) of 2 - 01/29/08 Email this story to a friend. email article Print this page (Article printing at page facebook

Electric Rain's Swift 3D for OS X

Create good looking animations for the web, print or broadcast design By Kevin McAuliffe

When I sat down to look at Electric Rain's Swift 3D, I was pretty excited.  First, because I love 3D applications, as I really enjoy adding a new level of production value to my animations, and second, because I am really starting to get into working with Flash to create cool interactive content for the web. Swift 3D combines both of those, as it is a 3D application that allows you to quickly and easily design 3D content for your Flash projects as well as other motion design applications.    

Installing Swift 3D is quick and easy.  Assuming you have Flash installed, the installer will drop Swift3DImporter.bundle into Flash's Configuration>Importers folder. This add-on allows you to export in Swift 3D's proprietary SWFT format that allows you to bring your animations into Flash with various components broken down into separate layers (i.e. - Reflections, Highlights, Shadows, Outlines, Colors, etc). This is very handy, except for one problem. Since Swift 3D is not Universal Binary, and Flash CS3 is, this functionality does not work on Intel based Macs. I was a little surprised at this considering that version 5.0 of Swift 3D was just released, and Universal Binary has been around for over a year now. In the end, this is a minor workflow issue that only effects Intel Mac users, and is not a workflow stopper by any means, and an update for this will hopefully be released soon. Swift 3D can also be downloaded as a fully functional demo from Electric Rain's website (, with export functionality disabled, so you can give it a try before you buy! Installation: 8 (out of 10)

What you get
Originally when I first sat down to look at Electric Rain's Swift 3D, I thought to myself that it looked like a cool little program that lets you create 3D animations and elements for Flash, that would add a little more "WOW" factor to your projects.  Well, needless to say Swift 3D is that, and a whole lot more. Swift 3D was originally designed with Flash content creators in mind, giving them the capability to render 3D elements as vectors for easy integration into Flash CS3. What Swift 3D has become is a flexible, very easy to use 3D animation program that can not only be used in partnership with Flash to create 3D elements and 3D interactive content for the web, but it also let's you create 3D elements for Adobe Illustrator/Photoshop as well as 3D motion graphics for Adobe After Effects, Apple's Motion and Shake. All of the tools you need including viewports, primitives, text creator, extrusion editors, materials, lighting, cameras, animation capabilities and a powerful renderer makes Swift 3D a powerful 3D animation program. Electric Rain has put in some real work in between versions 4.5 and 5.0 and it's evident. 

Papervision 3D  export capabilities
Most people wonder what the heck Papervision 3D is. Let me tell you that it is a really cool feature that will bring new life to your animations. Papervision 3D is an open source 3D engine for Flash. Here is an example of what Papervision 3D is, and where you could see yourself using it. Let's say I just invented a new product (and in this case, I'm going to borrow the Mortal Kombat Logo), and wanted to show it off on your website. Most websites these days simply put a bunch of images showing off the different angles of the product to give you a general idea of what it is, and what it looks like. If you wanted to give a real depth to your product, you could simply design a 3D model of your project in Swift 3D, and export the model using the Papervision 3D export functionality that is included with Swift 3D version 5.0. Once exported and brought into Flash, it can be viewed in full 3D, with the ability to swing the camera around it to get a real 3D look at it.  Take a look at the movie below, and notice my mouse cursor moving the image around.  It's really amazing.

One thing to keep in mind about Papervision 3D is that it was not designed by Electric Rain and they are just using the open source technology. They are not responsible for updating it, or any bugs or problems you might run into with it!

Orthographic Views
This is a great, and needed addition. What Orthographic View does is give you a 2D representation of your 3D image to assist with your modeling and animating. Take a look at the image below, and you will see what I mean.


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Related Keywords:flash animations, web animation, broadcast animation,


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