We had the opportunity to speak with Miriam Geller, Macromedia's senior product manager for Director and the Shockwave player. To create a 3-D object, you use three different tools:
You use a standard 3-D modeling package to create the 3-D object. For example, you might use 3D Studio Max or Maya. With these tools, you create the wireframe image and specify the polygons that cover the wireframe (see How 3D Graphics Work for details). You export from the 3-D modeling package using a new .W3D file format.
You load the .W3D file into the Macromedia application called Director Shockwave Studio. This application helps you prepare the 3-D object for distribution on the Web. For example, you can:
- Apply different techniques, such as a multi-resolution mesh or subdivision surfaces, to limit the amount of bandwidth or processing power needed by the 3-D object on the user's machine.
- Add user-interactivity features. For example, you can make different parts of the 3-D object move in response to user requests.
- Add effects, such as fog or rain, to the object.
- You export a normal .DCR file from Director Shockwave Studio and place it on the Web server.
The user then downloads and views the .DCR file using his or her browser and the Shockwave player (version 8.5 or higher). [See, for example, this example of a .DCR file, which shows a 3D model of a paintball gun.] This is not a trivial process, but for someone already familiar with 3-D modeling using a program like 3D Studio Max, it's a straightforward extension.