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About 3D Editors/Renderers

3D Editors allow you to compose a scene from multiple Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML) objects, with different coloring or texturing of each object. Rendering refers to the process of creating a final, realistic image based on the 3D scene with appropriate lighting and shading effects. This software is a must for generating the publication quality images from your reconstructions, however it is not free. Since we've received many inquiries about 3D Editors/Renderers for Windows, here's a few we've tried with links to websites for purchasing information.

3D Studio MAX
Autocad's premier product in 3D editing and rendering for movie-quality animation is now under the domain of the recently acquired Discreet Logic division. The quality of shading, texturing, and rendering obtained with 3D Studio MAX is outstanding. Most of the 3D images and animations in SynapseWeb were produced using this product. Academic licensing is available at a substantial discount from Creation Engine or other academic discounters.
Rhinoceros is a NURBS modeling/rendering application for Windows. Rhinoceros imports a variety of 3D formats and will surface planar contours. According to Josef it does a great job of smoothing and its Transform/Smooth function is very simple and effective.
Caligari's editor/renderer has been used successfully with IGL Trace reconstructions. Quality of rendered images is excellent, with smooth surface shading and nice transparency. TrueSpace is more affordable than 3D Studio MAX or Rhino3D, and older versions are still available for even less money.
3D View
Actify's 3D viewer/editor imports VRML 1.0 objects and allows them to be combined into a single scene. Individual objects can be colored or made transparent, and the final scene printed or exported as an image file. However, smooth shading of objects is in need of improvement. Also, there appears to be no facility for texturing. 3D View does support scene cross-sectioning, drag-and-drop object file imports, and Object-Linking and Embedding (OLE).
A free program from NaN software for editing and rendering 3D scenes. Blender is available for a variety of platforms including Windows. I found its user interface on the Windows platform to be very awkward, and there appears to be little help available for the novice. For example, there are no fly-over explanations for any of the buttons and no windows-style menus. basic Blender tutorial

For more about VRML 1.0 see the specification. The VRML 2.0 (a.k.a. VRML97) specification is available from the Web3D Consortium.

Last Updated: 4/25/02