One of the more robust 3D development tools comes to us from Shells Interactive. Called 3D Dreams 2.0 this 3D development environment works with the Swiss Army Knife of multimedia development tools, Macromedia's Director. This is a good thing. There exists a LARGE community of content authors familiar and comfortable with Director. 3D Dreams enables this community to embed 3D content into their Director work. Director's Web delivery mechanism is to export to the Shockwave file format and voila there you have an instant Web3D project.
Of course it's never that simple! Director is not a trivial application and the additional Lingo commands (lingo is the language used inside of Director) increase the complexity. Technically speaking 3D Dreams is a Director Xtra (the terminology for Director plug-ins) and adds a lot of new Lingo commands. However there is no question this is a full feature development setup and producing "real" 3D enhanced Web sites requires this type of flexibility.
Some of the features of 3D Dreams include:
The proof, as they say, is in the Web sites. The biggest most elaborate site that uses 3D Dreams is the Sharper Image site. Sharper Image, known for cool gizmo's and gadgets doesn't disappoint with their 3D enhanced Web site either. You can interact and view a few dozen items in 3D all created with the 3D Dreams tools. The work is truly top notch and the objects are quite photorealistic. Many of the objects for sale have limited interactivity, for example the 3D Shower Companion which lets you open up the CD cover or turn the radio on or off. While Shockwave and 3D Dreams can stream the data and compress the geometry the downloads at the Sharper Image site are sluggish as the downloads are not that small.
The other extremely cool Web site that uses 3D Dreams technology was the 1999 World Series site at CBS Sportsline. The Baseball Live Web site uses 3D in a novel way. During the 1999 World Series you could watch the game on the site which would, in real time, display the trajectory of the pitches and display them in the context of a complex Shockwave page. The trajectories were created using 3D Pitch Tracker which used the the 3D Dreams software for the 3D display. You can still watch replays of portions of the game on the site.
3D Dreams is industrial strength software. If you have a serious real world application that you want to deliver with Shockwave you better check it out.
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