Adobe Max Day Two - Take the Web to the next Dimension

Carlos Ulloa is seasoned developer.  He grew to be a lead developer at Psygnosis during the mid-90s before they were completely absorbed by Sony in 1999.  Carlos went on to do Flash development with several advertising companies until he eventually started his own company built on Flash that came off the ground with Papervision 3d.

Carlos and his pals are responsible for creating this wonderful open source Flash library which makes 3d development in Flash quite understandable and easy for those familar with using 3d tools such as Maya and 3ds max, and easy for those that know Flash too.

Let me say.. I accomplished another one of my life goals that day when I shook the hand of a man responsible for Wipeout XL and Wipeout 3. ^_^

Realtime v. Pre-rendered

Interaction is the base of an engaging experience.  These are the moments that make a User's experience unique.  You engage a medium and that results in a reward.  In other terms, interaction will result in content.  To make an engaging experience you must use input to render an output in realtime.  That's where we're at today.

A Realtime experience is active, responsive, flexible, customizable, and different every time.  It's exciting compared to the previous step in motion graphics: Prerendered movies or pictures.  A prerendered experience is passive, unresponsive, rigid, static, and repetitive.  Overall, it's boring.  You want to make something unique, and video games has really been at the cutting edge of making a unique experience.

Video Games lead computing innovation both in Hardware and Software.  As video games began to mature we saw the advent of Full Motion video.  CD-Roms were developed to hold this full-motion video as floppy disks simply could not contain that amount of data.

Realtime 3d was next.  The Playstation revolutionized gaming designing their hardware specifically for rendering 3d imagery on the fly.  Once 3d took the gaming world by storm, Prerendered movies were a thing of the past.  "Skip Intro" began a coined phrase in most games.

Throughout the past 12 years of the Playstation, we're finally getting to the point where prerendered backgrounds ARE a thing of the past.  Realtime rendered 3d can look just as good as any prerendered intro sequence, so most games don't even do them anymore.  These two paths of motion graphics are finally converging to a single point.

The Web

Interactivity of the Internet is lead by Flash development.  Flash player 9 in the standard of internet gaming with new features such as ActionScript 3, multi-threading, optimized rendering, and full screen modes that don't degrade your flash file.  Flash has a very healthy open source community that is by flash developers, for flash developers.

That's like another 'duh' statement, isn't it?  What he means by a flash open source community by devs for devs, is that most Flash open source projects are entirely independent.  Many other open source community for other programming languages can be heavily commercialized with their funding provided by certain companies pushing their open source product.

At this point he unveiled his own open source project, Papervision 3d.  Papervision 3d is an open source realtime 3d engine for Flash.  It supports ActionScript versions 2 and 3.  It is extremely powerful in terms of performance, flexibility, and expandability.  It's very easy to use since ActionScript 3 has made many strides in ease as well.  It has built-in Asset management.  (and) Papervision also uses COLLADA which will allow you to import your models and textures from Maya, 3ds Max and other 3d programs.

Design Practices

Carlos went on to describe how development is changing with the current trends of motion graphics.  The old model of software development is very time-line..  this is where you start off Designing everything.  During the design phase you begin production.  Production would be..  i dunno.  I don't quite remember.  Once you're done designing, then you begin developing, and once you're done developing that when the artists come in and make up the prerender video to fill in the gaps between levels.

This process doesn't seem very efficient at all..  It doesn't really make much sense to me either :/..  Next up he unveiled how the trends will shape this software development model.

Designing and developing will start from the very beginning.  Production will still take part in the middle, however development will last throughout the whole time-line.  Once Design ends, the artists will take control and work with the developers up through the end.

His whole point from these development models is that artists are becoming essential to the development of your game.  You need artists creating models and levels, while your development team is working on the engine and physics.  Both need to flow together to make an cohesive experience.


He continued on to discuss how budgeting for games have been to see a renaissance.  Last generation, Art would find itself taking up 50% of the budget, with 30% for design and 20% for development.  With 3d development, you needed people creating all the 3d models in the game, the levels, and making up for lack of technology like lighting effects.  Artists had their work cut out for them to make 3d look believable..

These days, development is on the rise again.  We have the technology to build renderable engines to make shadows and lighting effects look very believable without clever texturing tricks.  Development, Design, and Art will grow to have an equal slice of the budget pie.

Use of 3d

Next, Carlos went on to describe the 4 most common uses of 3d in any medium.

Transitions are moving from one 2d space to another through 3d.
Navigation is moving around a 3d space until arriving at a 2d space.
Exploration is moving around in 3d.
Customization is changing textures on 3d objects.

What's next for Papervision?

For the next version of papervision there are trying to include Full environments and skeletons.  Full environments would include composition and camera work, compared to using the one-camera-centric stage that Flash begins with.  With skeletons, they're looking at including Inverse Kinematics or Motion Capture for movement of human models.  Also ASCOLLADA to import skeletons and animations from Maya and 3ds Max.


To conclude, he discussed where he gets his inspiration from.  Games can inspire you into making a game, menu, or UI.  Demos can inspire you into Special Effects.  Motion Graphics can inspire composition and camera work.  (and) Film and TV can inspire classic film making concepts.  All these concepts are vital to creating 3d, so don't be adverse to sampling everything out there.


I thought this was a great presentation, but it really wasn't in my field of work.  Papervision is a very powerful tool and hopefully more Flash developers will begin to adopt it so we can see more amazing things in the future ^_^

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