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Swift 3D version 4

The biggest news in this release is the modeling By Adam Bell

Swift 3D version 4
$318/$158 Upgrade
Electric Rain
When I first started using Swift 3D back in it's original version several years back, it was mainly used for two reasons. A-to take Illustrator designs or type and turn them into three-dimensional flying logos for Flash or B-to import previously modeled work from 3D Studio MAX or other programs and turn them into animations for the Flash environment.

In many ways, not much had changed in the versions that have come out since. Sure, the rendering engine (RAViX) had improved and along came the EMO Bitmap Rendering engine as well, but the program's timeline was still difficult to use (maybe more so than Flash's own disastrous timeline), the trackballs to control animation was clunky and while there were a few brave and adventurous souls creating complex models and animations, the majority of Swift 3D users still found the app frustrating with far fewer features than the traditional 3D apps like Max, Electric Image, Lightwave and so on.

With this version of Swift 3D, it seems that Electric Rain has finally started to play major catch up in its' feature set compared to versions past. Yes, you still can control your objects, lights and cameras with that trackball but now you can also control your animations with a bezier path as well. The timeline seems to work a shade better and texture mapping has really improved as you now have controls to precisely map bitmaps onto objects. You can even import .3ds files and Swift3D will remember the bitmap textures you placed on the object. 

click on image to enlarge
Create some very unique and organic objects.
The biggest news in this release is the modeling. With this version, Electric Rain added a new advanced modeler that allows you to bring in primitive shapes, select faces on these shapes and then push and pull them out like pulling Silly Putty. You could select some faces, expand them along one or all of the axes, and then extrude them again adding new faces to the overall object. This allows you to create some very unique and organic objects. I tried a couple of the tutorials on Electric Rain's site and for the most part, the advanced modeler works pretty well, albeit it is not perfect. I was trying to make a coffee mug and attempting to properly select the proper faces near the end became pretty difficult no matter how many times I attempted to rotate and zoom into the object. One thing I did like is that once you model your basic object in the Advanced Modeler, you can smooth it up with just a couple of clicks to make your object far more professional.

Another major change in modeling is in the standard modeler. Electric Rain finally woke up and added parent-child relationships! Actually there's a new panel that allow you to view the overall hierarchy of each object in the scene and then by moving objects in the panel you can start to create those parent-child relationships we're all used to in our other 3D apps.

click on image to enlarge
Control your animations with a bezier path.
Another thing that has really improved is the Gallery panels. Not just can you select some basic animations and textures but now there's a panel with some cool 3D objects along with more advanced surfaces, preset extrusions and lathes, fly-by animations, deformations and paths. You can also add your own objects and textures and animations to the gallery as well.

Without question, this version of Swift 3D is a major leap forward for the innovator (and in many ways, survivor) of the 3D-to-Flash category. While the timeline still needs to be radically improved, it's pretty clear that Electric Rain is really listening to its' audience and creating a great product. It's pretty clear that Swift 3D is no longer just for creating flying logos anymore.


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Adam Bell is the Design Director, CEO, Videographer and sometimes janitor with dzign@datatv.com (http://datatv.com/) amazingly not getting plastered in the French Quarter of New Orleans, LA.
Related Keywords:Swift 3D, Electric Rain, Flash, Animation, Timeline, Modeling, Macromedia

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