Flash 3D refers to various attempts to create 3D objects or even scenes with Flash. This is a short overview piece on various technologies.
There exist 3 "solutions" from an designer point of view.
- Buy a special toolkit
- Use ActionScript libraries together with some ActionScript programming either in CS3/4/5 or with the Flex compiler (or both)
- Use the new Flash 10 3D ActionScript library with the free Flex compiler
- Use Adobe CS4/CS5 (for some 3D animations of 2D objects)
Since Flash (until version 10) was just "2D", performance was not outstanding. With Flash 10, on a normal computer, one can get decent framerates for not too complex scences.
With respect to 3D contents, I'd certainly prefer X3D-based (human readable format) solutions, but it seems that this may never become popular. Industry and many designers don't seem to like such formats. We can understand that gaming engines need to be optimized and ultra fast, but simple scenes on the web ?
2 Products / Software
... that help to create 3D Flash in various ways.
Firstly you may draw things with a "normal" 3D modeling software. You then can find various ways to import these into Flash.
2.1 Modeling tools and engines
- FreeSpin 3D. Enables the importing of 3D Models directly into Adobe Flash as a Flash Movie Clip object. With timeline support and an Action Script interface. In August 2008 this product was in Beta stage and it is free (registration needed). The first final version will be sold.
- Swift 3D is a popular commercial tool ($250 on Aug. 2008) to create 3D objects and animations for Flash (and other 2D formats).
- Swift 3D (Wikipedia entry).
- 3D Flash Animator (3dfa) is a cheap ($50) 3D Flash tool. (not tested).
- Rozengain Exporter to Away3D, Papervision3D and Sandy3D for the popular Blender free open source 3D content creation suite. (Daniel K. Schneider would start with this if I had to draw something).
- Sophie3D is an engine (using the Flash Player) that can render Wavefront objects and offers some user controls. A version with an advertisement is free.
2.2 ActionScript 3D engines
The two most popular engines seems to be Away3D and PaperVison3D. Both are free.
- Away3D is a realtime 3D engine, i.e. an ActionScript library for Flash. Freeware (you can give donations). The website includes tutorials, a wiki, downloads and examples. It works together with Flashdevelop, a code editor for ActionScript 2/3 and other languages.
- PaperVision3D (PV3D) is another popular library and you get to see some fish.
- Papervision 3D blog. Includes all the information (downloads, tutorials, links, etc.)
- PV3World. Testing ground, tutorial and other resources.
- Papervision 3D downloads (at google code). There is also a CS3 component for version 1.5 made in 2007, Current (nov 2008) version is 3.0.
- Papervision3D documentation (Packages and classes)
- See also: Flash Papervision3D tutorial
- Sandy 3D Engine. Sandy is an intuitive and user-friendly 3D open-source library developed in ActionScript 2.0 and ActionScript 3.0 for Adobe Flash.
- WireEngine3D is a lightweight, free (GPL) and fast 3D Engine for Flash 8/9. (as of aug 2010, last update: april 2008).
- Alternative Platform. An SWC library for 3D-scenes in Flash. Authoring tools and a client-server solution will be available later (added: aug 2008)
- Flare3D, “3D Engine for Flash optimized for games and animations. Flare 3D bridges the gap between Autodesk 3Ds Max” (retrieved 10:53, 26 August 2010 (UTC))
2.3 Physics engines
- WOW Engine. a free AS3 open source physics engine written by Seraf (Jérôme Birembaut) capable to handle positions in a 3D environment. It uses the Sandy library (see above)
- APE is a free AS3 open source 2D physics engine for use in Flash and Flex, released under the MIT License. APE is written and maintained by Alec Cove.
2.4 Flash 10 3D
- Flash Player 10
- Flash Player beta downloads (released as Beta in sept. 2008). This page (at the bottom) also has a link for the Flex SDK needed and the documentation (zip file)
- This engine seems to offer better performance than the AS 3 libraries (above) and this is not surprise of course.
- But it has less features it seems.
2.5 Libraries working with ActionScript engines
- FLiNT particle system by Richard Lord. Flint is an open-source project to create a versatile particle system in ActionScript 3. The aim is to create a system that handles the common functionality for all particle systems, has methods for common particle behavior, and lets developers extend it easily with their own custom behaviors without needing to touch the core code. FLINT can (as an option) be used with PaperVision3D and Away3D.
- Paradox: The Flash based first person 3D engine (FAQ). This is still under development (sept. 2008) and its not clear if and when the engine will be available.
2.6 ActionScript editors
Since all the free ActionScript engines imply that you have to code ActionScript, you may consider using a good editor/IDE.
See Flash_ActionScript 3 overview for some suggestions.
3.1 Overviews and comparisons
- 3D Flash (Wikipedia, only a stub in aug 2008).
- Flash Player 10 3D versus Away3D. AirtightInteractive (2008).
(none tested or endorsed for far ...)
- Flash 3D Tutorials Index from Steve's Tutes site.
- Away3D related
- Flash 3D basics(Flashmagazine.com).
- PaperVision 3D
3.3 Some free 3d objects
- Flash3D.org. See "Games and Free stuff".
(needs some sorting, deletions and additions ...)