3D modeling technology is used to power some of the most amazing interactive experiences including video games, animated movies, and much more. Some of the big challenges that creative professionals encounter when working with these models is the process that’s involved in sharing and reviewing 3D models and corresponding animations. These challenges are amplified when virtual teams are dispersed around the globe and collaboration occurs remotely.
In order to make this review process easier Autodesk has recently published an app to the Windows Store called the FBX Review app. This app enables Windows 8 tablets and PCs to be used for 3D model and animation review. The best part: this app is free, so anyone can use it for 3D model review *or* just to have fun with. Autodesk even has some sample 3D models that you can download (see “Resources” below) to get instant satisfaction with the FBX Review app.
Sample 3D model “Sven” being manipulated via touch interface in the FBX Review app (click/tap to enlarge)
The FBX Review app makes it easy to open 3D models in almost any format, change settings for texturing, lighting and rendering, manipulate the model view using either the keyboard/mouse or with touch, and much more. I tried both means of manipulating the model view and found that I like the touch interface best. With two finger touch you can pinch to zoom or move both fingers up and down or to the side to pan the model. With one finger touch you can rotate the model by moving your finger in any direction. Very easy to use!
Controls available in the FBD Review app (click/tap to enlarge)
The FBX Review app offers a good selection of options and controls when you right-click (mouse) or swipe from the bottom of the screen (touch). Along the bottom you have an open button, animation playback controls, and a settings button. Along the top you have a camera selection dropdown, rendering and lighting options, and the animation sequence selection dropdown.
When you click the settings button you are presented with options for the following:
One of the great capabilities in the FBX Review app is the ability to quickly change rendering modes. Here you can see the model with fully textured rendering (left), smooth shaded rendering (center), and wireframe-only rendering (right):
Rendering modes toggling texturing and lighting (click/tap to enlarge)
These rendering modes are handy for reviewers because they offer a quick way to review topology, textures, triangle-level model detail, and other attributes quickly.
The ability to view animations is another great capability, and it’s as easy as selecting the animation to view and then pressing the play button from the animation controls. The animation can even run in a loop so that you can watch it multiple times without interruption.
The scrub control is used to advance and pause animation at an exact time location (click/tap to enlarge)
If you want to select different animation “takes” you can easily do so with the dropdown at the right-hand side of the top app settings bar. In addition to offering a comprehensive set of review options the FBX Review app also offers great 3D performance.
Because the FBX review app is built on DirectX 11, you can expect both great visuals and great performance. Hardware accelerated tessellation is one of the powerful features in DirectX 11. FBX Review implements dynamic tessellation with DirectX 11, which enables model detail to be enhanced based on the current view. In simplistic terms, when a model’s triangles appear large/close they can be subdivided into multiple triangles that are calculated at runtime on the GPU. Dynamic tessellation is a highly optimized capability that can drastically increase detail in 3D apps.
You can see the effect of dynamic tessellation by viewing a model with and without dynamic tessellation enabled. (Notice the smooth curvature of the hairline and collar at right for example):
FBX Review with dynamic tessellation off (left) and on (right) - (click/tap to enlarge)
If you have a DirectX 11 compatible GPU in your Windows 8 PC, the FBX Review app will take advantage of hardware acceleration for maximum performance and battery life. Because the FBX Review app is a Windows Store app, you can also easily do things like share via email.
If you need to review 3D models or just want to play around and learn more about DirectX 11 and 3D models, the FBX Review app is definitely something to check out! Here are some resources to help you get started. Note that a desktop version of this app is also available for those running Windows 7 (see Autodesk page below).
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