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Subject: 3D thoughts
From: John Dowdell
Date: Tue, 28 Jul 1998 00:13:53 +0100

Sorry, I got behind on last week's threads, but it sounds y'all thrashed it
out pretty soundly by now.... ;)

Some varied topics on 3D-style graphics in Flash and other realtime 2D

*** ANIMATION ***:

-- Flash gives you planar movement for free, and Z-rotation for free, and
scaling for free. A single symbol can move left, right, up, down, spin
around its middle, and get bigger and smaller.

-- You can fake rotation about the X or Y axes by scaling width or height,
but this is difficult to integrate with other animation.

-- Other types of animation cost. If you spin a coin, extra symbols will
be needed for the edge and backside of the coin.

-- Once you've *got* your image cycle, though, you can reuse it
indefinitely. If the coin spins once, it can spin a thousand times, in
various places on the screen, in different sizes.

-- Rephrased, look for small 3D image cycles, and then take advantage of
planar movement, Z-rotation, and scaling.


-- When rendering for vector tracing, consider minimizing ambient light,
removing fill lights, and cranking the main light. This helps in producing
sharp shading lines in the rendering, which are easier to predictably

-- Consider tracing the renderings by hand. You can make better judgments
than any algorithm can. FreeHand's particularly useful for traceovers.

-- Definitely *do* take advantage of the gradients in Flash. They are far
more efficient to deliver than pixels.

-- Consider using gradient transparencies as overlays: one symbol provides
the surface color, and another atop it darkens areas out of the light. This
lets you appear to animate the light intensity or color at minimal cost.
(For instance, a bitmap fill applied to a circle can appear to become a
textured sphere, when you add a transparent radial fill overlay.)

I suspect that we may see more people trying to stuff raw Max sequences
into Flash movies, but that type of 3D animation is best suited to linear
streams such as AVI. The realtime 2D approach takes a bit more planning but
can be much faster to deliver.

Renderings from 3D tools are very useful as *inspiration* in making a
realtime 2D animation... definitely some good stuff there!


John Dowdell, Macromedia Tech Support, San Francisco CA US

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