3D Learning about 3D programs
Author: Steve Kayner
Date: May, 1994
Keywords: Zelos! 3D Tutor modeling motion control rendering animation model render animation review 110 Pacific Ave., Ste.
Text: 3D Tutor features a tutorial on modeling, motion control, rendering, and animation assembly basics. It also includes 12 working demos of these kinds of programs, and 7 walk-through demos. 3D Tutor can be a valuable resource to someone shopping for 3D graphics programs. Many of the programs that have demos on 3D Tutor cost well over $500, so a buyer will want to be sure to get something that meets his needs, or the money is wasted. Many 3D graphics programs are sold as complete solutions, but really handle only one or two aspects of the art well. The demos included on 3D Tutor can help to sort out which ones perform best at the kinds of work you intend to do with the software you ultimately purchase. Companies that sell these complex programs often tout their easy-to-use interfaces. However, ease of use is an individual thing - what works for me may not do it for you. The demos included on 3D Tutor can help a buyer decide which program has the interface they like best. The cool thing about CD-ROM software is that you don't usually have any disk swapping to get the thing up and running. 3D Tutor comes on a CD-ROM disk with 362MB of files on it. This would be a bit cumbersome as a diskette based installation (about 278 high density diskettes!). However, this big ol' slug 'o software only requires dropping a handfull of items into the system folder, setting the monitors control panel to 256 colors, and turning on 32 bit addressing. My old Mac II also needed Mode32 for successful 32 bit addressing. I was a bit puzzled about where I might acquire the ''Flotating Point Processor'' that the CD jewel-case mentions might be needed. I figured I'd give the Coast Guard a call if I ran into trouble with that. The requirements for running 3D Tutor and the working demos are almost as steep as those for running real modeling, rendering, and animation programs: System 7.x 8MB of RAM FPU for some demos Mac II or greater ('020 processor or higher) 13", 8 bit color monitor or greater A CD-ROM drive The Tutor part of 3D Tutor didn't run well on my setup. I experienced a wide variety of crashes, hangups, and strangenesses. This was probably due to my reluctance to eliminate any of the many INITs, Control Panels, and other goodies that I have come to rely on. In all fairness, I can't say 3D Tutor was the cause of the difficulties. I did manage to get through most of the tutorial, and enjoyed a variety of professionally done animations, and excellent 3D images. The tutorial also includes narration, and a number of new-age sounding music loops, but thankfully, I experienced some sound problems that prevented much of this from emanating from my Mac's speaker. I guess I'm just not a new-age kind of guy. Most of the working demos ran without problems, and I really enjoyed being able to model objects, apply tex-tures, and render them. There were also plenty of animation products to play with, but I found myself working mostly with the modeling aspects of 3D graphics. Nearly all of the demos include sample images, and a few even have a good selection of texture maps for use with the demos. The twelve working demos are mostly save-disabled, and some also won't print, or export. There is still plenty to work with in these demos, in spite of the limitations. The demos include many of the premier products of the genre: Animation Stand by Linker Systems Cinemation by Vividus Corp. DynaPerspective from Dynaware USA form*Z from auto*des*sys Inc. Infini-D by Specular Int'l. Life Forms by MacroMedia Macromodel by MacroMedia ModelerPRO by VIDI Modelshop II by MacroMedia Sculpt 3D from Byte by Byte Corp. Stratavision 3d by Strata, Inc. Swivel 3D by MacroMedia There are also seven walk-throughs, or ''interactive-presentations,'' where interactive means you get to press the forward button, the backward button, or quit. Most of these were somewhat annoying considering what can be learned from the working demos. The walk-throughs defeat what I perceive to be the purpose of the 3D Tutor package - to allow the user to select an appropriate product that meets his needs. For example, I had heard many good things about Ray Dream Designer, but learned very little from the button pushing exercise that they included on the disc. I couldn't really compare Ray Dream Designer with other products that included working demos. As a result, I would select Infini-D as the package of choice for modeling and rendering, based on my experince with the working demos. It is a shame that the companies that provided these walk-throughs couldn't have done working demos, because that's the only way to really learn what the products are about. There is still plenty of room on the disc for them. Could it be that they had something to hide? In short, 3D Tutor is a useful product for novices in the market for modeling, rendering,and animation programs. The $120 price tag was reduced to $60 for SMUG members a while back, but the price may still be worth it for those who have had little exposure to this branch of computer graphics. Those with more experience with these programs are more likely to know what they need, but could still benefit from the experiences with working demos of the kind provided on 3D Tutor. 3D Tutor is from Zelos! 110 Pacific Ave., Ste. 219 San Francisco, CA 94111 415-788-0566, 800-345-6777
Copyright © may, 1994 by Steve Kayner