3D Animation Workshop: Lesson 106: Web 3D 2.0 | 2 | WebReference

3D Animation Workshop: Lesson 106: Web 3D 2.0 | 2

Lesson 106 - Web 3D 2.0 - Part 2

I had a number of ideas in mind when developing this project.

First, I wanted to explore how interactive Web 3D can be used to communicate design ideas. A lot of the noise in Web 3D today is about displaying consumer products that really don't benefit that much from 3D presentation. An outdoor business sign is truly sculptural and is designed to be viewed from many different vantage points. The user can set up three different views and swap between them with the numbered keys. An outdoor sign also needs to be seen at different times of the day and night. Thus I created an option that swaps between daytime and evening views. When then user presses the "b" key on his or her keyboard, the text label, background gradient and reflection maps are changed.

I came to 3D out of print graphics, and am therefore picky about color taste and graphic impact. I worked carefully on the reflection maps in PhotoShop to get just the metallic look and sky color reflections I wanted. The reflection maps were images, but the background was produced with a procedural gradient that is now included in the Shout3D class library as a "custom node." You simply add a GradientTexture node to the scene by typing it into the scene file with in a text editor. This made it easy to experiment with all kinds of color gradient alternatives until I was satisfied.

Note how the image sharpens up nicely whenever you stop moving it. This is the result of a new kind of anti-aliasing that is becoming common in many Web 3D technologies, using multiple render passes. Also, make sure you try out some simple "panning" (more accurately, moving the center of rotation) by holding the shift key while dragging the mouse.

A second conceptual motivation for this project was the desire to use interactive 3D for branding. Interactive Web 3D is still so new that it makes a splash whenever people see it. This project therefore serves as a kind of high-tech interactive "toy" to create brand recognition. When people start playing with your company logo just for fun, you're doing some serious branding.

Interactivity necessarily requires instructions for users, and I have always been troubled when 3D displays are burdened with explanatory text and graphics panels. For one thing, these clutter the screen and distract from the clean impact of the 3D image. For another, they intimidate users with what I'm fond of calling a "NASA control panel." So I tried an approach in which the instructions are on a pop-up panel. To make sure that the user knows the panel exists, we start with a big instruction to "click." This mouse click displays the menu for the first time, and the user can return to it again at any time by pressing an INFO "button" – really just an overlayed 2D label.

Let's take a look at another project.

To Continue to Part 3, or Return to Part 1, Use Arrow Buttons

Created: November 20, 2000
Revised: November 20, 2000

URL: http://webreference.com/3d/lesson106/2.html