“Flash 3D” from Focal Press – Thumbs up!

I’ve been meaning to post a review of Focal Press’ new book “Flash 3d – Animation, Interactivity and Games” for a few weeks now, but found myself digging through it more and more, which is a sure-fire sign that I’m enjoying it thoroughly. And that’s definitely the case. Big thumbs-up from me, especially if you’ve been daunted by 3D animation and/or development before. Kudos to co-authors Jim Ver Hague and Chris Jackson for presenting this material in such a down-to-earth and easy to disseminate format.

Now I must admit I’m a bit bummed that this book is even necessary- as being a long-time After Effects user I’ve been using 3D cameras in AE for quite a while and have always wished the same functionality was available in my vector animation app ‘o choice, Flash. But I digress. In lieu of real 3D cameras, objects/primitives and views in Flash, this book does a fantastic job of both walking through the basics of 3D perspectives and geometry, and getting down and dirty with real-world examples and implementations you can chew on right here, right now.

Starting with a great overview of perspective and depth – the book quickly moves into a very well-explained set of chapters covering the mathematics and spatial environment required to animate and code in 3D, and how to apply those principles to your Flash projects. No worries to the algorithmically-challenged- if you skipped geometry and trig in school, you won’t get lost here.

After a blitzkrieg (but well-explained) run through the fundamentals of 3D space, the book rounds out it’s tail section with a discussion of 3D objects and elements, and how to both transform planar objects 3D space as well as extrude/add dimension to them in order to simulate real depth and volume. And the companion CD-ROM includes source and reference projects to supplement all of these great examples throughout. All in all, a very well-done book that fills a rather large void that’s existed for a while in the Flash animation world.

If you’re interested in adding rich 3D effects and perspectives to your Flash projects, whether simple spatial tricks to add dimension to your planar animations or full-blown environmental simulations with camera perspective, “Flash 3D – Animation, Interactivity, and Games” could just be the book that fills the void for you. Check it out- I really enjoyed it and am pretty sure you will as well.

Update: you can also download a sample chapter in PDF format (Chapter 1) from the product page on the Focal Press site, or by clicking here. Good stuff!

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