On to the Future of 3D Web Content: Blend4Web

One of the subjects in Computing which continue to fascinate me, is CGI and so-called 3D Models as well as Scenes, that can be rendered to a 2D perspective View. At the same time, for the more trendy readers who like VR Goggles, those scenes can be rendered to 2 2D Views, just so that there will be parallax between them, and the scene seen with stereoscopic vision.

One of the facts which has been made known is that, sometime in 2020, Adobe plans to retire Flash. On one of my home pages, I actually have a 3D animation which used to run under Flash 11, when compiled with Stage3D support. What I find is that the latest Flash Firefox plugin will not display it for Linux, but Google Chrome still plays it. It’s an animation that should be fixed, but, since I neither have the software anymore which I once used to author it, nor the ability to expect browsers to support Flash in the future, I have just skipped fixing that animation.

What I may do at some point in the future, however, is to create some other sort of 3D content, that can be published as part of Web-pages. And, through the use of HTML5 and WebGL, this is quite feasible. The only question which struck me next was, What sort of platform could I use, eventually, that is Free and Open-Source? And the answer that presents itself, is Blend4Web – Community Edition!

Because this platform, which I’ve tested partially, is fully open-source, the licensing requires that I publish any and all source code used to create my future content, including source code belonging to Blend4Web-CE itself. Thus, to avoid procrastinating on that front, I have made the Open-Source version of that code available Here.

This way, whenever I want to create some 3D content, I will not need to worry much about the licensing requirement. Yet, if my readers want to, they may go to the company’s Web-site, linked to above, and purchase the paid-for version of the software instead, differently from the Open-Source version, which I really prefer and use. (:1)

I want to caution my readers however. This software tree comprises 1.4GB, and if the readers wish to download it, I’d strongly urge them to do so from the company’s Web-site, not mine, because the company has a Content Delivery Network – a CDN – that will enable many downloads, while I do not.

Note: Differently from what some readers have already inferred, Yes, the company Web-site also offers free downloads, of the Open-Source version, which is referred to as the ‘Community Edition’.

(Updated 01/05/2020, 11h40 … )

Continue reading On to the Future of 3D Web Content: Blend4Web

Now, I have LuxCoreRender working on one of my computers.

In This Earlier Posting, I wrote that a rendering-engine exists, which is actually a (‘software-based’) ray-tracer, making it better in picture-quality, from what raster-based rendering can achieve, the latter of which is more-commonly associated with hardware acceleration, but that this rendering engine has been written in a variant of C, which makes it suitable both in syntax and in semantics, to run under OpenCL, which, in turn, is a driver for running massively-parallel computations on our GPU – on our Graphics Processing Unit. Assuming we have a sufficiently-strong graphics card.

That ray-tracer is known as “LuxCoreRender”.

Well previously I had spent a long time, trying to get this to run on my computer, which I name ‘Plato’, using the wrong methodologies, and thus consuming a whole day of my time, and tiring me out.

What I finally did was to register with the user forums of LuxCoreRender, and asking them for advice. And the advice they gave me, solved that problem within about 30 minutes.

Their advice was:

  1. Download up-to-date Blender 2.79b, from the Web-site, not the package-installed 2.78a, and then just unpack the binary into a local, user-space folder on my Linux computer,
  2. Insert the binary BlendLuxCore / Tell Blender 2.79b to install it directly from its .ZIP-File.

It now works like a charm, and I am able to define 3D Scenes, which I want LuxCoreRender to render! :-)  And running the code on the GPU – using OpenCL – also works fully.

luxcore_test1

I suppose that one advantage which ray-tracing affords, over raster-based graphics, is that the Material which we give models is not limited to U,V-mapped texture images and their H/W-based shaders, but can rather be complex Materials, which Blender allows us to edit using its Node-Editor, and the input-textures for which can be mathematically-based noise-patterns, as shown above.


 

(Update 8/21/2019, 23h55 : )

I should note that since the original time of this posting, Debian / Stretch has increased the version-number of their Blender to 2.79b as well. However, the Debian-packaged version of Blender, still cannot be used with LuxCore Render, and I imagine this is for the same reason as before. It’s just another example in which an object was given a new name, but remained the same object.

Dirk