in Three Dimensions (3D)
      by kirupa

Many people have this notion that Swift 3D only allows you to add some very simple animations. Majority of Swift 3D users create a logo, make it spin, and never look back at all the cool features that Swift 3D has. This tutorial is slightly more comprehensive, in that, I require you to thoroughly understand the information found in this tutorial even though I will elaborate to reduce confusion:

In this tutorial, you will learn how create your own, unique animations in Swift 3D. You will create something similar to the following animation:

[ you will learn how to create the above animation by the end of this tutorial ]

Getting Started
Before we begin, you will need to download the sample T3D file that contains the 3d rectangles. I will explain near the end of the tutorial on how I was able to create and position the slabs.

  1. Download the T3D file that contains the 3D rectangles by clicking here.
  1. Once the file has been downloaded, open the file in Swift 3D.
  2. You will see rectangles arranged in random locations in your work area:

[ the 3D rectangles ]

Don't worry, the 3D rectangles in your animation are not animated. You will animate the 3D rectangles by following the instructions found in this tutorial.

Animating in 3D
Now that you have your stage setup with the rectangles I created, let's get started with this tutorial:

  1. Click on a rectangle. The entire group of rectangles will be selected. Once all the rectangles have been selected, press the Animate button found in the toolbar. After you press the Animate button, you will see the word Animating displayed in a red background:

[ the animating button should display ]

  1. Now, drag the red timeline slider to frame 30. The red timeline slider is the small, rectangular shape on the Frame 1 label. Drag that slider all the way to Frame 30:

 [ drag the slider to frame 30 ]

  1. By sliding the slider to frame 30, you have set the duration of this portion of the animation from Frame 1 to Frame 30. Let's zoom in on a rectangle in this 30 frames. While the slider is on Frame 30, right click on any rectangle in the work area and drag up. Keep right clicking and dragging up until you only see one rectangle in your viewing area:

 [ zooming by right clicking on a rectangle and dragging up ]

  1. Go back to your slider, and drag it back and forth from Frame 1 and Frame 30. Notice that your animation is zooming out as you move backwards to Frame 1 and zooming as you progress through Frame 30. Your timeline should look like the following image:

 [ your timeline after you complete step iv ]

  1. Drag your slider back to Frame 30. Let's add more transformations (rotations, scales, zooms, etc.) to the group of rectangles. Click the Lock Horizontal button in the bottom left panel. After the Lock Horizontal button has been clicked, left click on the miniature sphere of the rectangles in the bottom left panel and drag to your right until you have rotated horizontally about 180 degrees:

 [ your rectangle being rotated 180 degrees ]

  1. If you slide your slider back to Frame 1, you will notice that your animation zooms out as well as rotates (you are going backwards). Let's add one more section of cool animations to the rectangle.
  2. Drag your slider to Frame 60. Press the Lock Spin button. Click on the transform panel (the one with the sphere with your rectangles in it) and drag to your left. You will notice your animation completely flips.
  3. Stay on Frame 60. Right click on a rectangle in your work area and zoom in by right clicking on a rectangle and dragging up. Keep zooming in until do not see anything except the x, y, and z axis lines. You basically zoomed past the rectangle to the area behind it:

 [ the work area after you zoomed in ]

  1. If you play with your slider, you will see your animation turning and then zooming past the rectangles. Let's close this animation by resetting the camera angles, zooms, turns, rotates, etc. to their original positions. Drag your slider to Frame 90.
  2. Once your slider is on Frame 90, press the Reset Position, Reset Pivot Location, Reset Rotation, and Camera Location buttons. In other words, press the four buttons to the right of the bottom-left panel with red x marks through them:

 [ click the four buttons emphasized in the above image ]

  1. After you have pressed the four buttons, you will see your timeline automatically extend to Frame 90. Click on Frame 1 in your timeline and click on Frame 90 in your timeline afterwards. Notice that the rectangles are back in their original locations.
  2. If any portion of your animation did not extend fully, for example you see something a broken animation line, click and drag the Dark vertical line visible on Frame 90 and drag it back:

 [ drag the dark slider to another frame and back to Frame 90 ]

  1. Save the file and export the animation as an SWF. You have just completed this tutorial.

Animating in 3D is often plagued with numerous, insignificant problems that could cause your animation to go awry. If you, by accident, moved the camera without selecting your object, Frame 1 and Frame 90 at the end will not correlate.

Because 3D animations require some practice, I am providing you with the source file for the animation found in the example at the top. The example is a little bit more complicated than this tutorial, but useful nonetheless:

Source File for Example

Just a final word before we wrap up. If you have a question and/or want to be part of a friendly, collaborative community of over 220k other developers like yourself, post on the forums for a quick response!

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