3D Animation in Flash
Want to do 3D in Flash? There are 3 basic ways to get 3D animation in Flash.
- You can export video (or a series of images) from your 3D program, and import it into Flash. These would be basically a series of raster images (i.e. bitmaps) in Flash, that look like 3D.
- You can use some type of export from a 3D program that renders directly as a vector object in Flash. This would be similar to method 1, except that it would be in a Vector format instead of raster.
- You can use a real time Flash rendering engine. This is the newest way and has the most power for user control at run time, but the results don't look quite as good as they could using method 1. On the plus side, you don’t even need a 3D program for this!
Method 1 should be pretty self explanatory. You just export images or video from your 3D program of choice, and use them in Flash like you would any other video or series of images for an animation. The benefit of this method is that you can get a lot of detail. The down side is file size.
For method 2, there are a few different commercial options out there, but if you’re looking for a free version, there is Blender (www.blender.org) with sFlender (http://www3.sympatico.ca/emilio.aguirre/s2flender.html). This exports a native SWF file, which is entirely vector based (no Bitmaps in it), but it only works with an old version of Blender (2.36). These files can often be smaller than bitmap based files for method 1.
If you’re going for method 3, there are several rendering engines, such as PaperVision 3D, Sandy 3D, and Away 3D. These engines render the 3D in real time inside the Flash player. Getting your 3D objects into Flash can be a bit challenging, but luckily (if you’re using Blender) there is an export script for Blender, that can export directly to any of the 3 rendering engines mentioned! You can find this blender script here:
If you want to spend some money, a very good option is Swift 3D. Swift 3D can export to any of the render engines mentioned, but can also export directly as vector in Flash (method 2 above).
Swift 3D is a commercial app, but the others mentioned are open source, and free.
If you own a different 3D app, (such as Maya or 3DsMax) here is a tutorial about how to get your stuff into PaperVision (this tutorial is good for Blender too, but doesn’t use the special export script mentioned above):
That wraps up our quick article about methods for 3D in Flash! Hope you found it informative. :)