Tag Archives: 3d

Flash just got flashier with Papervision 3D

PAPERVISION 3D: Real-time 3D engine for Flash

THE evolution of websites is certainly something exciting to behold. It’s clear that we are moving more towards a visual culture where attention spans are short and web-users are click-happy. Websites today have to be quick to catch and hold a visitor’s attention. What better way to do this by offering something that is flashy, visually-appealing and interactive.

Adobe Flash is a program for producing flash animations for games, websites, applications and cartoons. It generally refers to a certain kind of movement and visual style. We often see flash adverts on websites. These usually consist of some sort of animation that moves around or responds to your mouse cursor.

Flash CS5 is the latest program for creating flash animations and it recently got flashier with the introduction of Papervision 3D.

Papervision 3D is an open source, real-time 3D engine for Flash. It essentially allows anyone to work online in 3D. It has been extensively used in the gaming industry and is becoming increasingly popular for creating interactive 3D websites. A large appeal of Flash is that it is compatible with all web-rich media, social applications and several gaming platforms.


According to Computerarts.co.uk,

“The Papervision workflow is pretty straightforward. You start by creating a low poly-count model in 3Ds Max, Maya or Blender. You then use the Collada plug-in to create a file that contains information on your 3D model’s set-up, textures and animation. Finally, you can use the Papervision component to import your 3D character into Flash CS3.” — http://www.computerarts.co.uk

As technical as this process sounds, there is a Papervision library as well as several Flash tutorials available on the web that allow anyone to learn Flash and create their own 3D avatars, environments and animated webtoons. In fact, several cartoons that inhabit the web are made entirely using Flash. Happy Tree Friends and Money Dust instantly spring to mind as prime examples.


Many animation film festivals are now responding to the popularity of Flash animation by adding separate categories in competitions for “web cartoons” or “Internet cartoons.” Flash animation and Papervision is also now taught in schools throughout the UK and is a sought-out talent in the web industry.

Many Flash animations are created by individual or amateur artists. However, it does require a fair amount of technical knowledge to create a flashy masterpiece. Creating animations using Flash is a lot easier and less expensive than traditional animation techniques and distribution is considerably easier and less expensive than television thanks to the Internet.

But the potential for Flash is staggering. A visit to www.papervision3d.org will reveal an animated scene under the ocean blue. By simply scrolling your mouse, you get a panoramic view of different fish species swimming about, encounter a large shark as it swims by and see a few nervous looking divers in the background.

Papervision 3D in action

Papervision 3D

Papervision: An underwater scene as seen at http://www.papervision3d.org

The thought of incorporating Papervision into something like Google Oceans is an exciting one. Currently Google Oceans only offers static images of endangered fish species in different parts of the oceans. But imagine being able to interact with an animated school of marine life by following and clicking on them for more information. This is all possible with Papervision.

A French website www.mtl12.com illustrates the potential for using Flash in the tourism industry. A mouse hover over a link for the Ritz-Carlton Hotel plays a flash video of people walking past the location. A click on the animation takes you into the Hotel itself where you can scroll around and examine the interior to your heart’s content.


Flash seems to be spreading fast. A joint company called Digimi offers free tool kits and tutorials for designing, managing and importing high-quality, flash characters online that can be positioned in virtual worlds, cross-platform games, social networks, mobile applications and professional modeling and animation tools. Papervision 3D in particular is proving to be a fantastic tool for game developers who want to include 3D avatars in their games without the pain of having to build them from scratch.

“As the gaming market continues to grow, so does the need for customization, differentiation and quality,” explains Digimi president, Eyal Gever. “This is exactly what Digimi will offer: the foremost platform for creation supported by the best human figure content library available in the marketplace.”

3D AvatarDigimi.com hosts a library of creative assets for games, virtual worlds and real-time environments. It also provides a platform and set of web services for game developers to be able to generate high-end characters with minimal development effort.

User-generated content is becoming an increasingly important part of consumers’ online gaming experience. The fact that anyone can make use of these Flash tools and contribute, signifies the potential for gamers to essentially create and tailor their own product.

Here’s a great collection of papervision games!

How to create 3D YouTube videos

3D VIDEOS: How to create them for YouTube

YouTube has a clever new feature which creates red/blue 3D videos. To create one yourself you’ll need a pair camcorders (preferably identical ones), some video editing software (Movie Maker 2 should suffice) and some 3D glasses to watch the results. You can easily make a home-made pair of 3D glasses if you don’t own a pair already (see link below). Here’s how to make the video:

  1. Set up a scene to be recorded on the two cameras simultaneously. You need to arrange the cameras like a pair of perfectly level eyes. Any difference in angle will reduce the 3D effect.
  2. Sync the resulting footage using your video editing program by placing the two shots side by side in the same frame. The ‘left-eye’ camera shot should go on the right-hand side and vice-versa.
  3. When you upload the video to YouTube, add the tag “yt3d:enable=true”. If it’s in widescreen you need to add “yt3d:aspect=16:9”.
  4. YouTube will then analyse the video and create a composite of both sides. When viewed with your 3D specs the video should jump out at you in full 3D greatness.

And that’s all there is to it! If you struggle to create your own 3D productions here’s a list of 3D videos currently available on YouTube.

Related post: How to make 3D glasses

How to make 3D glasses

3D GLASSES: A step by step guide to making your very own pair

Unfortunately 3D specs don’t come cheap. I managed to find an entry level pair in the UK for R214. These do the job but don’t always offer the best results for your money. Far better to make a cheap pair for free! Here’s how to do it.

  1. 3D glassesYou’ll need some cardboard, some red and blue “gels” or cellophane (this is usually available at art and photography shops), a ruler, some scissors, a scalpel (or card cutting device) and a few blobs of glue (preferably contact).
  2. For the frames, fold the card in half and cut a rectangle as wide as your head. This should also be twice as deep as your eyes. When that’s sufficiently sliced, create some appropriately-sized eyeholes.
  3. Cut each gel into a square slightly larger than the eyeholes. You’ll also need to cut two long trips of card (about 2cm wide) for the frame’s arms.
  4. Open up the frames and glue the lenses on the inside – with the red lens on the right and the blue over the left eyehole. Glue about 1cm of each arm on the sides and seal like a sandwich.
  5. Fold and trim the arms and carve suitable shapes for your eyes and nose.
  6. Start watching 3D videos! Here’s a list of 3D YouTube videos.

Related post: How to create 3D YouTube videos


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TECH: Has 3DTV technology come too soon?

TECHNO fundis have been salivating over the idea of 3DTV since a massive 3D exhibit went on display at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Vegas towards the end of last year. However, a lot of tech writers have not been overly impressed with what they’ve seen and are suggesting that anticipation over 3DTV may be met with disappointment. As it stands, techies argue that it will be little more than a niche curiosity in home entertainment this year.

It is clear that 3D is the new direction that all forms of digital entertainment are taking. Experts are even suggesting that digital photography will become 3D by the year 2060, although with the pace that technology is moving forward, such predictions often seem to transpire decades before their scheduled birth date. So we may see things such as 3D photography emerge sooner rather than later.

3D photography

A digital artists impression of what 3D photography might look like by 2060 (Image: http://www.popphoto.com)

The pace that digital tech is advancing has always posed a problem for consumers. One has constantly to upgrade pricey equipment if you want to enjoy the latest digitalised offerings. And just before South African consumers could rush out and buy HD-ready TVs, the digital giants unleash the next generation of television sets – namely 3D-ready TVs. However, it may be wise to hold out a bit before going 3D.

The major concern regarding 3DTV in the home environment is simply lack of content. There have been an increasing number of 3D films lately – Bolt, Up and Avatar, to name a few — and there is certainly a market for 3D film, but at present the costs of offering such content via cable and satellite channels just isn’t feasible.

ESPN, of course, has announced a special 3D channel due to go live when the Fifa Soccer World Cup kicks off on June 11, and British satellite provider B Sky B plans to launch a 3D channel later this year, but as far as movies and scheduled programming goes, nonsports fans may feel a little disappointed. ESPN is promising to air a minimum of 85 live sporting events during its first year, but this may only interest fans of baseball, basketball and other predominantly American sports.

Discovery, together with Sony and IMax, also announced that they will launch what they claim will be the first 24/7 dedicated 3D television network. However, this will only be available in the United States come 2011.

Autostereoscopic TV (in 3D)

Autostereoscopic TV (in 3D). The above picture can be seen in 3D using 3D glasses (Image: Flickr.com)

Another concern for 3DTV manufactures is that the idea of having to wear “silly-looking” displays (3D glasses) in order to watch something in 3D will not appeal to most people — especially to a crowd of sports fans gathered in someone’s living room. It may be fine for the movie-theatre experience — a seated event — they suggest, but perhaps not so great when people are going in and out between bathroom breaks and the kitchen.

This may seem petty, but I recently bought a pair of 3D shades for my PC and can understand the concern. One’s eyes do have to undergo a fair amount of adjusting, and once the glasses are removed, your 3D-enhanced optical nerves are basically back to square one. I once took a bathroom break after a couple of hours of 3D gaming and discovered a room made of blurry red and blue tiles.

3D displays are, however, varied and will no doubt advance at more or less the same pace as 3DTVs. It may even get to a point where we don’t have to attach anything to our heads in order to get a good view. Such sets are currently available but offer a much lower resolution than that of the 3D Mac Daddies. Everyone would also have to sit right in front of the screen at a certain distance to see a clear picture, possibly on one another’s laps.

It’s clear that sport will dominate the entry of 3DTV, but directors and producers of all genres of televised entertainment will also need to learn more about the “language” of 3D filming to really take advantage of it. We may see a whole new demand for 3D-ready TV/film students soon too.

My bet is that it isn’t worth getting a 3D-ready TV, at least not until they’ve fine-tuned it a bit. Rather invest your money in a large HDTV and a good surround- sound system. After all, it really is size that counts.

Related post: The reality of the virtual
Videos: 3DTV at the Consumer Electronics Show

The reality of the virtual – part I

As computer-processing power increases and even more realistic graphics are developed, the simulated environments produced by virtual reality systems will become even more believable than some already are.

I’ve always believed that, besides war, gaming (more generally – the entertainment industry) brings about the most innovative technological developments. In fact, the technology developed from military uses of virtual reality is finding application in several walks of life. For example:

  • Medical students are now operating on virtual patients rather than dissecting real, organic-smelling people
  • Architects are taking people on virtual tours of their dream home before finalising the design
  • I won’t even mention that heights that virtual reality gaming has reached
  • Business people are attending conferences and social events without having to board a plane
  • Chat rooms today mean much more than just email notice boards, which were all the rage a few years back
  • In this day and age consumers are even able to shop in 3D stores from the comfort of their armchair or beanbag

Twenty years ago few imagined that personal computers would soon be found in almost every home, classroom and office. In twenty years time, virtual reality may be just as central to our lives. Immersing ourselves in a virtual environment of our choice may become as commonplace as turning on the old television.

I’ve always had an interest in virtual reality. I wanted to know more about it. So I searched the interwebs to see what’s currently available on the market. Here are the cheapest and most expensive (i.e. most advanced) stuffs I came across:

The VisionDome
The VisionDome volume 5At the cutting edge of vitual reality – the VisionDome is a kind of half egg-shell that up to 45 people can sit/stand in and watch some pretty intense television, or lose themselves in some very life-like games.

At 5-meters in diameter, the V5 (the latest in the VisionDome family) provides a massive screen area and comfortable seating to give larger audiences a truly immersive and incredible experience.

It boasts a maximum resolution of 2048×1536 mega pixels, has 6 projector or lens options, and has a maximum output of 8000 ANSI Lumens. You would think that no one can live at that speed, which is why it sells for around
$345 500 (roughly R2 764 000).

3D GLASSES: What all the cool geeks are wearing
3D glasses possibly lie more within a South African’s budget. In the past decade, virtual reality glasses have improved in quality and become much lighter and cheaper thanks to the advancement of virtual reality technology and software.

Wireless options allow you to roam the room with your headset on, and almost all units plug into computers, DVDs and TVs. The option for a Stereo 3D input is also now available with Apple’s latest in the line of Intel Xenon driven processors.
Change the way you see the world… and look pretty stylish too

Stereo 3D is just one step into the world of virtual reality. When connected to a video source with the correct software, amazing entertainment and good times in your living room are to be had by all.

As Fate would have it, it is estimated that this market will probably first be driven by adult entertainment (i.e. porn), then enhanced video games, then the major film industry.

Here’s a pair of 3D specs that I thought sounded rather appealing (exerpt taken from www.edimentional .com):

The E-DTM 3-D glasses instantly convert virtually all of your existing PC video game titles into true 3D. That means a real sense of depth and distance as you’re taking aim at the enemy battalion approaching, trying to find the apex of the next turn, or coming in for a carrier landing in your F-14. It’s why so many customers report improved game play performance when using our glasses in addition to stunning scenery and visuals

Note for interested buyers:
When researching a good pair of 3D goggles, make sure you know the difference between goggles that only enlarge a TV image and ones that actually provide a true 3D view. While more expensive models incorporate 3D technology, the basic models only enhance the viewing area to the size of a super-large television screen.

•Next time we will take a look at stereoscopic displays and haptics (force feedback devices). These are those appendages such as the cyber-glove, that take one’s virtual experience that much closer to reality.

See also: The reality of the virtual part II

Related posts:
The reality of the vitual
Experience the Internet in 3D
Too hot to handle: Future gaming and PC’s