MooTools 3D Browser Review
First off the 3D Browser comes in 4 flavours:
- 3D Browser Light Edition
- 3D Browser Image Edition
- 3D Browser Full
- 3D Browser Full with PolyCruncher
3D Browser Light and Full are completely different beasts. The Light Edition is strictly a file viewer. It extends the file viewing abilities of Windows Explorer to make viewing various 3D Formats possible within its own OpenGL viewer. It also allows you to view video, image and audio files. The 3D Browser Full Edition is more than a media manager because of the added options you get as compared to the Light Edition. It is a full fledged 3D asset viewing, conversion and file modification application.
As you acquire more skills, assets and applications in your 3D journey managing these can become a bit of a chore. The sheer amount of file types you deal with can easily run into the hundreds and having a means of cataloging these precious assets soon becomes an important part of your daily activites.
What Does The 3D Browser Do?
Initially, it acts as a portal to your assets. It handles tons of different file formats from over 20 3D file types, 80 image files type and numerous audio file types. The really clever part is that you can view what is in multiple folders at once.
The 3D Browser itself contains features that makes navigating around your assets a straight forward affair. The multiple folder view can be extended using the 'Save As Catalog' option. This means that you can define which selection of folders you would like to view and save this as an 'Album' for quick viewing.
3D Browser uses it's own .obv file type to store the info needed about the 'Albums' but it also goes a step further with Keywords. These keywords can be applied to your files to speed up the filtering process. In the example above you can see how a series of keywords applied to some images refines the search results.
The .obv files themseves store all the meta and thumbnail data about the file. So once you set up some albums/catalogs for 3D Browser to track any new files added, it immediately adds their thumbnails and meta data also.
This cataloguing really makes filtering through various file types quick and simple. The fact that these keywords and cataloguing are applied to all files types makes things very accessible.
Previewing Files using the 3D Browser
As I mentioned earlier 3D Browser can preview any files in a popup window that has a series of tools that change dependant on the file type. If you preview a recognised 3D file then you get different tools from when viewing an image file.
The tools for 3D files are quite extensive and if you are in the position where you deal with a variety of files types then this part is something you may find particularly useful.
Preview 3D files and optimize meshes
Apart from the standard zoom, pan and select tools, there is various mesh tweaking tools as well. First up is the Merge Points and Merge Co-Planar Faces tools. These analyze your mesh and remove any redundant geometry.
If you purchase the PolyCruncher add-on then this takes things to another level. The PolyCruncher tool is another element to the 3D Browser Full edition that means you have a means of viewing, modifying and editing your files from within the one tool.
The actual workflow is seamless. Select a file from the browser, hit enter to open it in the 3DViewer and then choose PolyCrunch to open for optimizing.
During testing I found the PolyCruncher to produce some solid results when it came to mesh reduction. Unlike other tools, MeshLab for instance, PolyCruncher does a very good job of maintaining an object's overal form but drastically reducing the poly count.
Above you can see the results of the 3D scans I did for the DAVID scanner and the optimized mesh on the right. The mesh went from ~27k vertices to ~250 and kept the overall form with no significant issues. PolyCruncher gives you complete control over the the optimization process from protecting borders to keeping UVs intact. Of course, there are limitations to this, if the mesh reduction is quite high your object will eventually degrade too far but overall PolyCruncher is very competent at what it does.
PolyCrunching is ideal for SketchUp
Within the 3D Browser you can use the 'Fast Application Access' features, to launch the appropriate application to edit the file.
This list can be customised to display the relevant applications you want to launch whatever file you have selected. I did not find myself using this feature too often but it does have its advantages. What I found very useful was the Batch Processing feature with the ability to build your own macros.
You can setup macros to run a myriad of options on your files. Want to iterate through a folder and polycrunch a selection of 3D file types into SketchUp files? Want to create a full set of SketchUp optimized images from a selection of hi-res textures? The level of control over the 3D and 2D optimizations is quite astounding.
This is all done in a couple of clicks and, as mentioned already, you also have the option to make your own set of macros.
- Simple to use
- Tons of viewing/export options
- Reasonable price
- Good support
- Crashes occasionally
- Inconsistent menu/toolbar operation
Overall, 3D Browser + PolyCruncher is a very powerful and useful application. If you are in need of some asset management software that can also do file conversions and 3D optimizations then this certainly fits the bill.
You can download a trial and give it a go for yourself.