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Simulating 3D

Like video playback in the Flash Player, true 3D must be faked because Flash has no native support for handling 3D models. But with help from other applications, a little patience, and some ingenuity, you can create vector versions of 3D models and give the illusion of 3D motion.

Third-party applications

There are two basic kinds of applications that can create 3D images for Flash. The first kind are programs like David Gould's Illustrate! and IdeaWorks3D Ltd.'s Vecta3D, which are plug-ins for 3D Studio Max, a traditional 3D program for 3D modeling, rendering, and animation. Illustrate! and Vecta3D output 3D models and animations created in 3D Studio Max as vector images compatible with Flash. They are sometimes called cel shaders because they render the final images to look like cartoons that were drawn on traditional sheets of acetate, or cels. The second kind of program, such as Electric Rain Inc.'s Swift 3D or Adobe Systems Inc.'s Dimensions, are standalone tools that can generate 3D models and animations on their own. Swift 3D will import 3D models and let you build models with primitive objects and extruded text. Adobe Dimensions doesn't support importing 3D models, but has tools for extruding text, revolving objects, and mapping artwork around objects. Vecta3D is also available as a standalone tool, with functions for both importing 3D models and extruding text.


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