Is there a Mac-based modeler that outputs VRML?
Yes, ModelShop from Electric Cafe can output VRML 1.0 from its version2.5 software (a VRML 2.0 version is coming soon). It can also handle import andexport of DXF and 3DMF files. It’s available for Power Macs or compatibles withCD-ROM and 16MB of RAM, and the recommendation is that you use 32MB of RAM and a QD3Daccelerator card.
Version 2.5 supports QD3D version 1.0.6 (so it goes forrendering speed, not quality); version 3.0 supports QD3D 1.5.1, which supportsplug-in renderers. A new “industrial strength” renderer will come withversion 3.0, making shadows, fog and transparency possible.
AGallery containing a set of 10 projects is supplied for inspiration and toget you started with models, materials and textures. A 300-page manual inAcrobat format provides guidance.
This is an architectural design package, so don’t look to it for an emphasison organic shape modeling. Do expect to find a wide range of modeling tools, fromBoolean subtraction for making holes in objects to lathe and extrudetools. All the standard shape generators are there, as well as walled andsolid bezigon tools, lines, arcs and movement/scale/rotate choices ? nicetouches for architects duplicating and mirroring objects.
There areprecision controls for numeric entry from plans, and adjustable units to workin. When you’re done making your scene you can set a range of camerapositions from which to view it, wander through it in a free-form manner or save awalk-through or fly-through as a QuickTime movie or numbered PICT sequence.
Ifyou want 2D pictures, you can take these and export them as PICT or hi-resPICT files. The interface gives you one window to work in and choices ofmultiple views:
- You can view your model from any angle, save the view andaccess it for future modeling or viewing purposes.
- You can create and save as many custom drawing planes asyou like onwhich to model. This includes a drawing plane tool that allows you to create adrawing plane on any object surface with one mouse click.
- You can model from any angle on any selected drawing plane aslong as the view is not perpendicular to the drawing plane.
I can’t comment in detail about how the cameras convert to VRML (apparentlywith a perspective camera view, what you see is what you get) or how theanimation tool works, it seems very simple to usefor setting up the walkthroughs.
ModelShop 2.5 comes with instructions for adding VRML to your Web siteand has useful features like: drop URLs from NN onto shapes; and export allgeometry, textures, cameras and lights in VRML. It uses DEF instancing forefficient files and keeping size down, produces clean well-labeled VRMLfiles, and helps you break the files into chunks for in-lining purposes.
Free demo versions are available on the Electric Cafe Website. Go try it out at Electric Cafe: www.eleccafe.com.
ModelShop has aninteresting pedigree going back to 1987 when it was first developed by anarchitect as SCHEMA, published by ParaComp as ModelShop, then taken over intowhat became Macromedia. It emerged from there in 1995 to go through somegrowth iterations under the care of Scott and Brent Burgess and is now atversion 2.5 with 3.0 due to appear later this summer. Priced at $349 for v2.5, $399 for v3.0, ModelShop (with a free upgrade mailed out for v2.5registered owners) competes with Virtus’ WalkThrough Pro at a similar pricepoint.
However, the new version (3.0) of ModelShop has features that put it ahead of the Virtusproduct. Coming in the v 3.0 release are photorealisticrendering, QTVR, model polygon statistics, polygon reduction, sun studies. It also has contouring, sweeping, lofting, true-type and post-script 3D fonttools, and VRML 2.0 export.
In the pipeline is a spin-off product to becalled ModelShop VRML for Power Macintosh, which will import and export VRML1.0 and 2.0 ? look for a public beta by May ’97 for VRML 1.0 and June forVRML 2.0. (This product will be available for $99 from Electric Cafe, withan upgrade path to ModelShop 3.0 for $199.) By the end of ’97 there shouldbe a Win 95 port available. For VRML 1.0 worlds, Electric Cafe isrecommending the browser Live3D v1.0; no VRML 2.0 browser is available yet for the Mac. LivePicture/RealSpace have one in alpha, due forbeta release in May. Haunt the sites www.livepicture.com and www.rlspace.com.