November 25th 2008 | Jens C Brynildsen
Ralph Hauwert just released a series of demos featuring the upcoming Flash Player 10 version of Papervision and it sure looks good! 3600 faces with an environment reflection shader that plays at more than 40fps is unheard of with today's engines. This is a nice peak at what's to come and there's more in the pipe!
One of the hardest things for realtime 3D engines is environment shaders. Depending on the model's rotation, the texture will update to show the reflected surroundings. In realtime 3D, this reflection is always "faked" in some way, but it's still among the most computationally expensive. Ralph's shader gives the models a great looking chrome look and seeing this on a 10.120 polygon model rotating in a browser is just amazing!
As usual, the playback is slower on a Mac (about 50% of the speed), but on a fast PC we got a solid 42 fps for the 3600 polygon Torus Knot (21fps on a MacBook Pro). Ralph has created a full series of demos ranging from 320 to a massive 10.150 faces, so you can really tax your processor. The most complex of the examples (the Elephant at 10.150 faces) plays fairly smooth at about 15fps on our test PC running Windows Vista.
This is a sneak peek at the upcoming version of Papervision3D for Flash Player 10. According to Ralph, "[The] Source code not available yet. First I’m looking at how to optimize. And yes, I’m working hard on a new version of Papervision3D, with the rest of the team". This is only the beginning though. Code genius and HAXE founder Nicolas Canasse recently posted some very intersting findings when it comes to Flash Player speeds. By skipping the standard Flash Player memory management and replacing it with a custom Virtual Memory API, he's able to access memory 40% faster than the already fast Vector class that came with Flash Player 10!
We've only just seen the start of what Adobe's Alchemy can offer, so expect further speed gains that will make 3D in your browser much richer in the months to come.