On 3D Models
Publisher: Premier Press
- RRP US$20.99
Reviewed: 9th February 2004
models are one of those things in the 3D-graphics
world that you just can't get very far without.
Given enough time, and a big enough project you
will almost always find some need for a 3D
modeling format. The reasons are many - simpler
code, data-driven architectures, re-usability...
you realize that you'd be better off with using
externally loaded 3D models, you need to pick a
type of file - sure you can always design your
own, but that's not usually a realistic option.
Instead, why not use one of the many common file
formats supported by any number of 3D modeling
tools. In doing this you'll need supporting
material to learn the file format that you chose -
and even with the power of Google this
isn't as easy as it sounds. Hence this book will
come in handy...
a book that, from the outset, would appear to be
simply about understanding and using data created
by another application, it is a surprisingly
mathematical text. The first 2 chapters are
dedicated to covering the basic principles of
vector/transform mathematics - this makes up a
good 20% of the available paper.
you read through this book it is clear that this
mathematics 'refresher' is actually a required
component as many of the model formats covered
have quite a bit of mathematics involved in either
the loading or the final rendering stages. More
importantly, the overview of animating 3D models
that crops up throughout this book is an even more
involved (mathematically speaking) process.
is distinctly in the books favor - it would have
been perfectly possible to write this book as
little more than a reference manual to the binary
(or otherwise) formatting of a collection of
popular file formats.
book does a good job of covering all of the major
file formats currently in use:
Quake 2 'MD2' files
2. OBJ files
3. Milkshape 3D files
4. 3DS Max '3DS' files
5. Half-Life's 'MDL' files
6. Quake 3 'MD3' files
from 3DS and maybe Milkshape, the file types
covered are pretty specialised towards game
development. Should you be wanting to read through
this book with a more general 3D model discussion
then this may not be the book for you. But for the
vast majority of people reading this review, the
mention of 'MDL' and 'MD3' formats should be
enough to excite!
book has enough reference material, and a good
enough explanation of each file type, that you can
read this book and along with the accompanying CD
implement all of the formats discussed between the
two covers. This is a great bonus - because if you
can create, understand and use a well designed 'MDL'
loader/renderer (for example), you're 3D engine
potentially has access to a huge range of 'stock'
MDL files from the internet. This makes writing
simple games for hobbyist programmers much easier,
and for the more serious amongst you, it can
remove a significant burden from your shoulders.
only area that is noticeably weak is the
discussion of skeletal animation; whereas the remainder
of the book takes everything through to completion
the skeletal animation chapter is obviously only
an overview/introduction. However, in defense of
the author, skeletal animation is a huge topic
that is worthy of a dedicated book twice the size
of this text. For anyone wishing to do any heavy
animation after loading/rendering the models a bit
of additional reading/research will be required.
through this book you will get a good overview and
introduction to the best of the currently in-use
modeling formats; looking through the CD you will
have access to a large amount of
straight-from-the-box usable code.
actual book is easy to follow, and reasonably
friendly to read. However there is a distinct lack
of any detailed discussion of how character
animation works - but as mentioned before, it's
probably beyond the scope of a book this size.
Contains a lot of genuinely useful
information that is hard to find elsewhere
Limited by size - a decent coverage of
actual animation isn't included
Well written and easy to follow
Gets very mathematical in places
Covers all the major modeling formats
Good CD with examples and demos