Prototyping 3D UI Transitions

19 Sep 2005 - 6:23pm
9 years ago
4 replies
1183 reads
drewbam
2004

All,

Recently, my team has been engaged in several desktop software projects that
require the visualization of UI state transitions that make use of 3D
effects. While the drivers behind this trend are clear (both the ripple
effect of Mac OS Tiger, literally and figuratively, and the upcoming Avalon
features of MS Vista), just how to go about prototyping UIs that take
advantage of these powerful new rendering engines is less clear. Our primary
prototyping tools are currently Flash and Director, with occasional
inclusion of pre-rendered animation built in Maya or After Effects. I am now
looking into tools that will enable prototypes that include real time
rendering of animated transitions, and am interested in feedback from the
list, in the form of experience or opinion, regarding suitability.

Director / Flash + Pre-rendered film loops or video:
This method enabled high quality rendering, but the need to pre-render
necessitates that prototypes be scripted, rather than fully-interactive.
This type of prototype also tend to be difficult to edit, due to the complex
workflow surrounding the embedding of animation sequences.

Director Imaging Lingo / 3D:
These are Director features that I have used for small, fast transitions,
but have not been impressed with the rendering quality.

Director + Quartz Composer:
My knowledge of Quartz composer is limited, but, I have been told that it is
possible to import QC objects as Director cast members. This, of course, is
a Mac-only solution, as well.

Microsoft Sparkle Interactive Designer:
Given that this tool takes advantage of Microsoft's new rendering technology
(Avalon, or WinFX, or whatever), this is a promising option, but, as I have
yet to try it for myself, its capabilities and usability are a big unknown.

Processing? Others?

Best Regards,
db (at) drewbam.com <http://drewbam.com>

Comments

20 Sep 2005 - 12:17am
Suresh JV
2004

Check out this tool here. Probably its just what you want.
But the Rendering is not as good as Maya or 3D Studio.

http://www.erain.com/products/ZAM3D/DefaultPDC.asp
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Introducing ZAM 3D ™ A New 3D XAML Tool for Microsoft
WinFX Application Development

First 3D software of its kind provides developers and designers
with a quick and easy solution for creating 3D interface elements
for WinFX based applications.

A Community Technology Preview (pre-beta) version of ZAM 3D
is available for free download from the side navigation.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Regards,
Suresh JV.

20 Sep 2005 - 4:01pm
Andrew Otwell
2004

> I am now
> looking into tools that will enable prototypes that include real time
> rendering of animated transitions, and am interested in feedback from the
> list, in the form of experience or opinion, regarding suitability.

Neat idea, but is that really appropriate in a "prototype"? Why not just
build some of these transitions as standalone movies or whatever to
illustrate how they should look, and specify which ones are used where
in the product? If I was prototyping, say, the OS X Dashboard, I'd
render out one animation of some widget rippling into place and be done
with it.

20 Sep 2005 - 5:59pm
drewbam
2004

Well, it really depends upon how integral the animation is to the user
experience. If, for example, I am prototyping an application that has a
navigation scheme that relies upon movement through some kind of 3D space,
it is difficult to gauge the usability of the navigation design without a
"live," user-directed prototype. So long as the transformations are
two-dimensional, I am able to easily prototype using Flash or Director and
test with real users. As soon as things get 3D, I am stuck using much lower
fidelity prototypes using canned animation.

For an analogous case, using 2D zoom and rotation effects, take a look at
the following site:

http://www.leoburnett.ca

(Note: I do not particularly endorse this navigation scheme. I use it only
as an example.)

Now, try to imagine prototyping this navigation scheme using pre-rendered
transition animations. Without pre-rendering a lot of transitions, there is
no way to get a good feel for what the actual navigation experience is like.

d|b

On 9/20/05, Andrew Otwell <andrew at heyotwell.com> wrote:
>
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
> > I am now
> > looking into tools that will enable prototypes that include real time
> > rendering of animated transitions, and am interested in feedback from
> the
> > list, in the form of experience or opinion, regarding suitability.
>
> Neat idea, but is that really appropriate in a "prototype"? Why not just
> build some of these transitions as standalone movies or whatever to
> illustrate how they should look, and specify which ones are used where
> in the product? If I was prototyping, say, the OS X Dashboard, I'd
> render out one animation of some widget rippling into place and be done
> with it.
>
>
> _______________________________________________
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>

20 Sep 2005 - 6:20pm
drewbam
2004

Thanks Suresh. This looks like a potentially useful companion to Microsoft's
Sparkle product, though I believe that Microsoft plans on releasing XAML
exporters for popular 3d modeling packages, such as 3DS Max and Maya.

cheers,
d|b

On 9/19/05, Suresh JV <sjv at inteplan.com> wrote:
>
> Check out this tool here. Probably its just what you want.
> But the Rendering is not as good as Maya or 3D Studio.
>
>
> http://www.erain.com/products/ZAM3D/DefaultPDC.asp
>
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Introducing ZAM 3D ™ A New 3D XAML Tool for Microsoft
> WinFX Application Development
>
> First 3D software of its kind provides developers and designers
> with a quick and easy solution for creating 3D interface elements
> for WinFX based applications.
>
> A Community Technology Preview (pre-beta) version of ZAM 3D
> is available for free download from the side navigation.
>
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> Regards,
> Suresh JV.
>
>

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