When Flash first made its debut online, I was really excited about all it could do. Creating more immersive environments online, Flash seemed like it was going to open up a whole new layer of experience and interaction for the web.
Quickly though, like many, I realized that over use of Flash could be a bad thing, and basically tossed it aside. What I didn’t realize at the time is how big of a role Flash was going take online as time progressed.
Now we watch Flash videos all the time, and people are quickly realizing once again how great, properly used Flash can be.
Flash still provides a much more immersive interface than other technologies currently available online, and can be used for a myriad of different things.
Recently, I was able to try out the 3DEnvironment component created by Flashloaded. Flashloaded is a company dedicated to providing the world with innovative and cost-effective Flash extensions and components. One thing that really excited me about the company was that it is based in Toronto, Ontario Canada, only two and a half hours drive from where I live and I am a sucker for Canadian companies.
The 3DEnvironment is a Flash component that makes it easier to create 3D interactive interfaces and environments in Flash.
For example, if you want to create layout tours for a building, allow visitors to fly through the solar system, or create a custom interactive navigational system, 3DEnvironment can help you easily achieve that goal. My favourite demonstration that they have on their site is the colour wheel as I could definitely see something like that used for a variety of applications.
Featuring fully customizable controls and full keyboard and mouse interactivity you can bring together graphics, or movie clip symbols to engage your audience in a new and interesting way. I have seen tutorials on how to create three dimensional effects before, but my limited skills with Flash or 3D modeling have always stopped me from creating anything worthwhile.
I have always then just given in and created a flat website without any flash at all. Trying to convey distances, object size comparisons, and even just simple landscaping, and building layouts is much more difficult with text, and some images. I could definitely see this useful in a variety of different corporate projects as well as smaller freelance projects.
The best thing that any developer or designer can do is find ways to create something without re-inventing the wheel each time, and the 3DEnvironment component from Flashloaded will save you time and energy when developing such environments and interfaces with Flash.
- Create realistic 3D environments with depth and perspective
- Build unique interactive interfaces
- Custom keyboard controls for users to navigate around the 3D environment
- Mouse wheel support for navigation
- Move objects in the environment with built-in tweening and customizable tween duration
- Rotate the world around all three axes (x, y and z)
- Camera controls for panning and zooming to change the perspective on the environment
- Add objects through an intuitive user interface, external XML file or using flexible ActionScript controls
- Built-in preloader for loading external files.
- Use any movie clip in your library to display in your 3D environment
- Full ActionScript API – including the ability to move the camera through ActionScript
- Only 15Kb
As with any Flash development, you will need to have one of the following to use 3DEnvironment: Macromedia Flash MX 2004, Flash 8 (standard or professional) or Adobe Flash CS3 for authoring (Windows or Mac). Movies using this component may be published for either Flash Player 7, 8 or 9, ActionScript 2.0.
How Much is 3DEnvironment?
Of course the question that all developers and designers ask themselves when coming on anything that is supposed to save them time is, how much money will it cost? Flashloaded lists 3DEnvironment for $59.95 on their site, and at first I wondered if I could find equivalent value for such a product? After viewing the examples on their site and trying out the component myself, I have to give a resounding “yes”.
The time it would take me to build even one of the examples on my own in Flash would take me longer than a couple hours, and even at a cheap development rate, 3DEnvironment by comparison becomes a value. Also note that the license allows you to use the product to generate content for as many sites as you want.
I really wish I had this product when I was working on a product for a house builder, as it would have been very useful to show off the open plots of land, give a quick way for clients to see what houses are already up and for sale, and creating an interactive, easy to use, user experience.
If you are constantly spending too much time building three dimensional environments and user interfaces in Flash, 3DEnvironments could save you time and energy, allowing you to focus on the finer details. Now if only there was something to make me a better graphic designer…