What is a Shockwave Binder

Instant 3D with Director Shockwave Studio 8.5

June 1, 2001 - Apart from the simple integration of 3D content and better multi-user support, the latest version of Director brings little new.

On the web, 3D is back in fashion. After failed beginnings with the open VRML standard - neither the bandwidths used at the time nor the display quality even met the most elementary user requirements - several manufacturers of content creation tools came up with proprietary approaches at the beginning of the twenty-first century Enrichment of the web with three-dimensional, interactive content.

Macromedia is now also giving its preferred tool for interactive multimedia productions a 3D kick: The new version 8.5 of Director Shockwave Studio comes with integrated 3D rendering technology. It enables the representation of 3D scenes and objects within a Shockwave movie including lights and cameras as well as their enrichment with interactive features.

No modeling

The package does not include the modeling software required to create the 3D models. Macromedia relies on cooperation with established 3D companies who are supposed to make their products Shockwave-capable. The prerequisite: export of scenes or objects in the formats W3D or OBJ. Many leading 3D manufacturers have already confirmed their support for Shockwave 3D, including producers of high-end tools such as Alias ​​| Wavefront and Softimage as well as suppliers of cheaper products such as Caligari and Maxon.

3D interactive without programming

It's extremely easy to import an existing 3D model into Director and add basic interactivity. The entire scene is simply imported into the director movie as a cast member and placed on the stage; The objects contained in the scene can be individually supplemented with "Actions" and "Triggers", which are taken from the script library via drag & drop - the third dimension does not change anything in the working process, which every Director user should be familiar with.

An example: So that an object can be rotated with the mouse, first the action "Drag Model to Rotate" and then the trigger "Mouse Left" must be dragged onto the model. The object to be rotated is selected either at the beginning via a popup menu in a dialog box or later in the Property Inspector; The assignment of the trigger events to certain objects takes place via so-called "Groups" - several "Drag to Rotate" actions can occur within a movie.

The program automatically generates the appropriate Lingo script from this easy-to-enter basic information. If you want, you can also program everything yourself: Director 8.5 contains over 300 new 3D-oriented Lingo commands. Those who do not need exotic functionality are well served with the built-in functions. Director provides all elementary 3D manipulations, including the creation of new spheres, cuboids and particle systems, as prepared actions.

Refined rendering engine

The core of Shockwave 3D comes from Intel's Architecture Labs. The rendering engine integrated in the new Shockwave Player scales the display to the respective conditions; 3D content runs on the latest Pentium 4 systems as well as on older PCs. With techniques such as multi-resolution mesh (a high-resolution model is represented more or less precisely at runtime according to the system performance), subdivision surfaces (a more detailed model is generated at runtime from a simple model that can be transmitted in small files) and bones Animation (instead of always repeating the entire model data, only a few data points and the associated movements are transmitted in an animation), the 3D representation is optimized with regard to the amount of data to be transmitted and the performance of the target system. Hardware-accelerated graphics cards that support OpenGL or DirectX are also taken into account.

For realistic games and product simulations, Shockwave offers integrated particle systems that can be used to represent smoke, dust, steam, fire and similar environmental conditions. Support for collision detection down to the level of individual polygons can be used by third-party manufacturers for comprehensive physical simulations, which are added to the scope of functions of Director as Xtra modules. However, if you want it to be less realistic in favor of faster loading times or for stylistic reasons, you will enjoy the "Toon Rendering" option, with which the scenes can be displayed in the manner of drawn comics.

Little new besides 3D

In addition to the 3D support, version 8.5 brings few innovations, with one exception: The supplied Shockwave Multiuser Server now handles twice the previous edition with 2000 simultaneous users and, in addition to TCP, also supports the somewhat less stable, but due to higher speed for streaming Applications preferred UDP protocol. In addition, server-side script functions facilitate the development of applications with less network traffic. Also new: Real video and real audio content as well as movies in Flash 5 format can be integrated directly into Director movies. This means that the latest Flash features can also be used from Shockwave movies.

Nothing has changed on the surface in the new version. Director remains as easy or as difficult to use as before, depending on the user's perspective and experience. Only the improved Fireworks integration should be noted; Fireworks 4 is included in the overall package in addition to Director 8.5, Shockwave Player 8.5, Shockwave Multiuser Server 3 and a sound editor (Peak LE for MacOS or Sound Forge XP for Windows).

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