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Swift 3D v4.5

Posted: December 31st, 1969 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Swift 3D v4.5

Picture of Irv Owens Web DeveloperElectric Rain has released Swift 3D version 4.5 a couple of weeks ago. I have been using Swift 3D for a while, and it is definately the most useful Macromedia, Adobe, Flash companion program yet. The image on the index page of this site was made using Swift 3D in no time, and in the hands of a more skilled 3D developer, you can get some really cool effects.

Swift 3D 4.5 is mostly about updating the rendering engines and supporting video output, which was desperately needed. Swift 3D sports a vector engine that spits out a custom format that can be read into Flash MX and better. The model, once imported, is separated into the main components, shadows, and lines. Each on its own layer. This allows more flexibility when adjusting your movie in Flash.

The raytracer can output photo-realistic quality swf files, or it can output to any number of different image formats. The drawback is that since the .swf that is generated using the raytracer is a series of images and can get pretty large. Too large in fact, I have had some movies in excess of 60 MB!

The only real drawback to using Swift 3D is that the file size on output can be somewhat extreme. Using some care, however it is possible to create movies that re-use objects, and have less complicated backgrounds and therefore fewer polygons. They, in version 4 added the advanced modler, which is similar to the type of wireframe adjustment tools found in 3Ds MAX. It isn't anywhere near as powerful as 3Ds MAX, but at the same time it is only $299, so it isn't as expensive either.

With the output to video option, the stuff that was way too big as a .swf can be sent out as a .flv (flash video) or as any number of other formats. For animators, it makes it easy to create cartoons and distribute them in their format of choice. The new version supports pen style outlines that add some realism to their vector models.

With the separation of elements, color, motion outlines, shadows, etc, one has much greater control of the output size of their movie, and of course you can still use optimize curves, which is included in Flash and can offer some savings in size at the expense of quality. All, in all, it is a worthwile upgrade, and I'll definately be scraping my pennies together to pick this one up.

I have both the PC version and the Mac version, and I have to say that the PC version is definately faster at rendering. The Mac version isn't slow, although I have had some three and four hour renders on my G5, but the PC version would do those same renders in about half the time.
I would also suggest adding a monitor if you are going to seriously use it, because it has a lot of panels and options that you would want to keep open. It is somewhat inconvienient on my 12″ iBook G4 not because it is slow, but because I have to keep going to the window menu to turn on and off panels.

Of course there are purists that want to do their models a frame at a time in illustrator, and yes that way often does create higher quality images because the artist has more control, but if you are just getting into 3D or you want to be able to generate this stuff fast, Swift 3D is a must have.

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