Although Amapi 3D has some basic animation capabilities, it’s largely a modelling and rendering tool for creating static 3D artwork – which makes it a rarity on the Mac. It has an unusual interface that some people think is the best thing since sliced polygons, and some run screaming from. And now it’s taken individuality to new lengths with its Web3D format, 3Space.
On its own, 3Space is a pretty decent format. It includes all of the standard features, such as simple animation capabilities for allowing the user to click and open the door of a toy car. However, it also includes a full dynamics-system that allows you to give objects force, mass and other properties – such as stiffness and damping. This allows the creation of realistic interactive environments without fixed results – such as snooker table with potable balls.
3Space files are small, even when compared to other Web3D formats, and are rendered in OpenGL by the end-user’s computer. The main problem with 3Space is that it’s not Shockwave 3D. There’s no point working with a format that has no user base. MetaStream Viewpoint has the user base at the moment, and Shockwave has a huge number of potential users who need only a minor update to get onboard. And, that’s not counting Adobe’s venture into this market with Atmosphere later this year. That 3Space doesn’t work with Internet Explorer on the Mac is another reason to avoid it.
If you don’t care about Web3D, then Amapi 6.0 is a better prospect. Its tools have had a major overhaul, with a refined smoothing tool and a clearer interface. The polygon tools have been boosted, and a better tessellation tool added.
The app includes more primitives and deformers than previous versions. It also adds totally new tools, such as the height field object for creating a relief from a greyscale image. You also get an extrude tool that can work multiple sections of an object (or the entire object) and a bump/unbump control for contouring surfaces. On the downside though, Amapi can be flaky. It has a tendency to crash and sometimes won’t open saved files – though you can always import them.
It produces stunning results, but is let down by 3Space – and flakiness.