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Cosmic Blobs"3D software for kids"
While 3D animation can be found in virtually all aspects of our screen viewing, from the computer screen to the TV screen to the big screen, 3D animation software still remains largely in the realm of high end users. During the 1990s, there were a few entry level 3D tools, but they have largely disappeared, and there weren't any for children, except for a Disney 2D tool.
Software developer SolidWorks has released an application that is targeted square at children, giving them the tool necessary to play around in the 3D world. Called Cosmic Blobs, the $44 ($39.99 download) software sports a funky, Nickelodeon-like interface and entices children to be creative. We take a look at it here with this first look review.
Cosmic Blobs is unlike any other software on the market. It doesn't conform at all to the conventional windowing interface. In fact, there is hardly any text that tells you what each tool does. Rather, you mouse over the tools, which are all exposed and not hidden in pull down menus, to get a sense of what each does.
Cosmic Blobs runs on the Windows and Macintosh platform and requires a Windows 98SE system or later running a 1GHz Pentium III CPU or faster, 256MB RAM, 32MB 3D video card, and 200MB free hard disk space. Macintosh requirements include a 1.25GHz G4 processor running mac OS X 10.3 Panther or 10.4 Tiger, 256MB RAM, and 200MB free hard disk space.
Start with a shape. When you launch Cosmic Blobs, the first thing you do is pick a 3D shape from one of the lab beaker's. You have a choice here of picking a sphere, cylinder, cone, cube, sheet, and torus.
For example, if you have put a shape on the screen and wish to get rid of the shape, click on the trash can icon with the radioactive sign on the side, mouse over to the object you wish to delete, and a stick of dynamite icon with the letters TNT appears. Click again and the object is gone.
Once you've got a shape that you are happy with, you can decorate it via Decoration mode. In decoration mode you can add objects to your shape such as eyes, and you can also change the color of your shape as well as backgrounds.
The final mode is the animation mode. Here is where you make your blob move using the various prebuilt animation styles included in Cosmic Blobs, including walking, running, slithering, galloping, trotting, etc. You can slow down or speed up the animation using sliders. Once you are satisfied with the animation, you can record it, and Cosmic Blobs will create an AVI animation of your blob.
That is it
The characters that you can create and animate in Cosmic Blobs are only limited by your animation. Follow the tutorials on the Cosmicblobs.com website to get a handle on how to use the tools that are in the application, because no manual is included. The tutorials will get you up to speed in just a few minutes. Cosmic Blobs is a very cool animation tool for children, but, it can be a blast for anyone of any age. For more information, visit www.cosmicblobs.com
John Virata is senior editor of Digital Media Online. You can email him at email@example.com
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