About Aether3D
How to use Aether3D
How to upload content

About Aether3D

What is Aether3D?
Aether3d is an atempt to push the world of architectural visualisation to the next level. With the use of adobe shockwave3d we have created a platform on wich you can host your 3d models and make them available to the public in interactive, realtime 3D through any browser.

What state is the Aether3D platform right now?
At the moment Aether3D is in it's early stages (early Beta), still under heavy development. The basic sturcture of the site has been completed as well as about half of the user functions are curently available. The applet (the wide thing in the middle of the screen) is still in its very basic form, a lot of features still have to be added or developed and it's code has to be streamlined and performance optimized. With all this out of the way, the main point is that from this moment on you can use aether3d.com, take a stroll around architectural projects and comment on them (log in required).

What is the current development about?
At the moment development is focused on the Applet functionality and streamlining of the code. Some time is spent on the website infrastructure but mainly the current target is to ensure that every single visitor that comes to Aether3D.com can have a pleasant impression of its services. development

When are You going to finish it?
We see Aether3D as a constant work in progress. This means that it isn't sceduled to finish nor has it a deadline. We set various Milestones to keep us moving towards a certain direction but beyond that the plan is just to make it happen. All of the Aether3D team work voluntarily in their free time.

I'm an architect/designer/CGartist/engineer how can I host my work on Aether3D?
The only thing you need to do is have a modeling package that can export to w3d format and have some time to read the "How to upload content to Aether3D" article on this page.

What are the hardware requirements of the Aether3D platform?
We try to make the platform available to as many people as possible. In general the main requirement is to visite the site with a machine that has a 3d accelerating grafics card(this is something any pc comes with by default since 2005). So if you visit with a machine that has been purchased after 2004 you should be set to go ;-)

No. sorry.... there has been thought of incorporating unity3D software into the platform, wich is capable of running on mobile devices. It still is a very distant discusion though. We are concerend about mobile devices but still have not found a good enough concept to work on and anyway we still have our hands full with the worl of PCs so this will have to wait.

Using the Aether3D platform

How do I use this Aether3D thing?
We have designed the controls with a gesture based concept. The idea is that you can, if you wish, use the applet without going near the keyboard at all.

the mouse gestures go as follows:

  • Look around: Move the mouse around.
  • controls
  • move forward: click-and-hold-down the Left mouse button.
  • move backward: click-and-hold-down the Right mouse button.
  • move Left: click the Right mouse button and instantly click-and-hold-down the Left mouse button.
  • move Right: click the Left mouse button and instantly click-and-hold-down the Right mouse button.
  • go to 3rd person mode: doubleclick.
  • go to menu mode: doubleclick the right mouse button.

  • There are alternative key controls if you don't like exploring 3d with the mouse:
  • move forward,left,backward,right: W,A,S,D respectively.
  • go to 3rd person mode: press the 'E' button.
  • go to menu mode: press the 'H' button.
  • toggle antialliasing: press the 'Q' button

  • To stop the applet, should things go wrong, just press the 'Esc' button on your keyboard and eveything will stop.

    I see a lot of buttons in the applet menu but I can't click them or when I click them they don't do anything. What does that mean?
    No worries. The buttons you see are functions the we plan to implement in the near future. They may do nothing at the moment but soon they will.

    Modeling for the Aether3D platform

    Foreword (Dear modeler/artist): modeling

    At the moment every recently purchased Computer with a decent Graphics card has the ability to push 3d worlds with milions of polygons in them and hundreds of textures. Unfortunately in the world of the internet not every user is a hardcore gamer or CG artist. the casual internet user has a machine that was purchased 2 to 4 years earlier and might have loaded it with every resource intensive service there is. It is in the artists's hands to make sure his work will come through.

    Good modeling habbits:

    first of all a couple of statistics:

  • 50% of the globe's internet users roam the web through a connection slower than 2mbit/s
  • 25%(officialy) have p2p applications (torrent, fileshares, etc.) working while they browse.
  • 70% have a GPU that can't handle texture files larger than 2048x2048 pixels
  • What does that mean to you?
    First of all that it will be counter productive for you if you decide to host your latest project wich has 15billion polygons and 492 TBytes of 12Mpixel textures. No one will have the patience to wait until it loads and even if you encounter one such user he propably won't have a pc that could handle the workload (exept if he owns an IBM Roadrunner). Verdict: don't be too generous with your polygons, 15k-100k polygons with about a dozen 1024x1024 lightingmaps is something that most computers will handle efficiently. If you wish to go higher than that keep in mind that some users won't be able to explore the project wich might reflect badly.

    Modeling workflow:
    (this is written with some 3ds max terminology but should apply to other modeling packages as well)

    1. Set your system Units to cm (centimeters).
    2. Name you objects only with alphanumerics and underdashes (a-z,A-Z,0-9,_) no spaces.
    3. If you intend to create lightmaps, create models by material. Each model has it's own unique material wich shares it's name (eg. model: "ashtray03" material: "ashtray03 50 30" the 50 and the 30 are the exported height and width sizes of the materials map).
    4. Name your Doors: DoorXX where XX is a number, 00 to 99 (be careful, the applet is case sensitive the model name door03 won't work).
    5. Animate doors.
    6. Set up you models.
      • you are going to bake your objects so you would like to spilt big meshes into multiple smaller segments so that the baking is more precise.
      • preformance wise meshes with more than 20k polygons induce a severe performance hit. this can be circumvented by splitting the mesh in a way that it's parts aren't all displayed at any given angle. for example you can split a solid high poly statue into tis four guadrants (East,South,West,North) so from any angle one object won't be displayed wich is helps a great deal.
      • if you have moveable objects (eg. Doors) wich consist of more than one material (eg. glass parts) in the scene you should bake them to a standard material now since you can't import lightmaps for multi material objects at the moment.
    7. Set up your materials. Create one unique material for each object in the scene that is going to be baked.
    8. Set up maping coordinates (UVWs) for each material that is going to be baked.
    9. Set up the lighting of the scene. You should delete all lights but the major one before exporting, the applet suffers from multiple light sources.
    10. At this moment you should make some renders for your scene since you will need some for the Thumbnails.
    11. Bake your objects. You should include some padding in the options. By default you will want to use a lighting map bake, but of course you can bake whatever layer you wish.
    12. After having baked the objects you should go and rename the products of the bake. the naming convention is ModelnameLightingMap.FileExtension (eg. KitchenWoodLightingMap.tga).
    13. If the bake has created new materials (in 3ds max 'shell materials') you should delete those and reaply the original materials to each baked object.
    14. Note that the most W3D exporters won't convert materials well unless they are system Standard materials(in 3DS max Standard material) so, to export materials correctly you will need to modify them into standard ones. For 3DS max there is a set of maxscripts tha can help you with this.click here
    15. Correcting texture chanels: you should make shure that each texture is on channel 1 otherwise it may not export correctly. If you have baked objects you should also check the channels of the unwrap so that they also point to channel 1.
    16. make shure that each object that is intended to have an external lighting map has it's unique material.
    17. Skydomes, Skyboxes: if you want to apply a skydome or skybox to your scene you should do it before exporting to w3d since it is quite difficult to do it afterwards. the naming convention for those ojects is SkyDomeXX (xx -> 00 - 99). remember that you can't edit the map's orientation in the orientation menu so you should do it through the models rotational axees.
    18. If you want to restrict the visitors from going somewhere they shouldn't you can create objects (planes preferably) and asign them a totaly transparent standard material. naming convention: BoundaryXX
    19. Cameraman: download the Cameraman files and import the cameraman object into your scene. Place it where you wish the visitors to start their tour don't forget to leave it some cm above the ground. note: the cameraman object is just a box with a camera named Cameramanview wich are grouped together. the characters are loaded from other files.
    20. Export: congratulations the process is complete. now export the scene to w3d. don't forget to delete any object you don't want to be exported.
    21. Upload. go to aether3d.com, log in click projects -> upload project fill out whatever you wish, add the project W3D and the thumbnails in the appropriate slots (that's why you should have done the renders) and press upload. After the upload of these files finishes you will be asked if you want to finnish the project subbmision or upload LightingMaps. If you rendered lightingmaps click on the button and you will be lead to a form wich will do that. job done ;-)