Open Source 3D animation

VIRTUAL WORLDS

Article from Issue 62/2006
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You need good software and plenty of CPU power to create virtual worlds. Luckily for today’s animators, powerful PCs are inexpensive, and some excellent animation tools are absolutely free.

Not so long ago, professional quality 3D animation required expensive workstations. The software they ran, for example Maya (Unlimited Version), cost more than US$ 15,000 early in 2002, and the software technology was hidden behind restrictive licenses. As hardware prices started to plummet, the software prices stayed too high for amateurs at first, and the tough licensing conditions looked like they were there to stay. For most people, 3D animation on home computers was just a distant dream. More recently, with the appearance of the first Open Source programs, this situation has changed dramatically, bringing affordable 3D graphics to the public, and opening up the underlying technologies to let developers produce a whole new collection of applications. The expression “7 degrees of freedom” was coined by the K3D project. It stands for the 6 degrees in 3D space and the additional freedom to distribute and modify source code. This article describes some of the best Open Source tools for 3D animation.

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