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Virtual Reality Objects for 3D Artists

How to turn your 3D model into a VR Object using Macromedia Flash By Patricia Waterman
This tutorial is excerpted from "3D Artist's Guide To Real World Applications" by Patricia Waterman. For more information about the book, go here.
The term 'virtual reality' has been used to describe a wide range of presentation methods; some are actual 3D, some only 2D; some require you to wear 3D glasses or elaborate headgear; some have hand controls, like a wand or gloves with finger sensors. In this context, though, I am referring specifically to a VR object movie. These VR presentation are actually a 2D experience that only looks and feels three dimensional and requires no special equipment to experience, other than your computer screen.

VR objects start out looking like a still image of an object, but when you click and drag your mouse, you are able to orbit around the object horizontally and vertically 360 degrees. VR's weakness is that because it is raster-based imagery instead of vector-based imagery the file sizes are considerably larger, making it more difficult for slower Internet connections or computers to view. And sometimes the VR can be too large to view on a local hard drive, if that computer has a slower graphics card.

VR Object Sample
Click and Drag on the cat image below:

Before You Begin:
For this tutorial, you will need ...

Macromedia Flash* (you can download a free 30 day trial version from here: http://www.macromedia.com/software/flash/download .

The VR Object Flash Template: Download template here

* You will not need any prior knowledge of Flash!

Step 1: In your 3D program, create a timeline that is exactly 25 frames. (0 to 24)

Step 2: Center your object in your scene. Make sure that your background is a solid color. (Its easiest to have a solid white or black value.)

Step 3: Animate your object to rotate counter clockwise 360 degrees on the Z-axis. You should now have a looped animation showing your object rotating 360 degrees.

Step 4: Render your animation out as JPEG files with a dimension of 320 x 240 pixels.

Step 5: In Flash, open the file "My-VR-Object-Template.fla" (see link to template above)

Step 6: In Flash, change the background color to match background color of your 3D renderings. You accomplish this by:

1. Click on the Modify menu>Document
2. Click the Background Color box to display the pop-up
window and select a color.
3. While you are in this dialogue box, change the
Frame Rate to 12 fps.

Step 7: Select frame 10 on "My Image Layer". (See arrow in figure 1) Then go to Edit>Edit Symbol. Then go back to Edit menu and choose Edit Selected. You will now see key frames for the teapot. (See how the timeline now looks in figure 2)

Figure 1

Figure 2

Step 8: Create a new Layer. (See circled button in figure 1)

Step 9: Highlight this new blank layer (it will be named "Layer 2") by clicking on its name. Then go to the File menu>Import to Stage, and double click on the first frame in the sequence of your 3D rendered images. It will ask you if you want all the images in the sequence to be imported. Say yes.

Step 10: Delete the layer that contains the teapot. (Layer 1)

Step 11: Get out of Edit Symbol mode by going to the Edit Menu>Edit Document (Ctrl E)

Step 12: Test Movie. (Ctrl+Enter) *You should now see your object in place of the cat head image.

Step 13: Save your file as a swf format, which makes it ready for launching on the web, by going to the File menu>Export Movie. It is now ready to be viewed locally, or over the web!

*If its off alignment, then you need to align your frames. (Click here to see step-by-step instructions on how to align your frames.)

If it doesn't work right, in some other way, close your Flash template file, and start over from Step 5, making sure to follow each step exactly as it says.

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Related Keywords:Virtual Reality, 3D, Macromedia, Flash


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