Director 8.5 Shockwave Studio - Part 1

Reviewed by: Dave Bell, send e-mail
Published by: Macromedia , go to the web site
Requires: Intel PII processor, Windows 95,98,2000,NT4 or ME, Mac G3 or higher, 64MB RAM, 100MB of available disk space, MS DirectX 5.2 or higher and a 3D accelerator
MSRP: $1199 US

(Editor's note: This is the first of two parts - part 2 is located here)

Macromedia Director 8.5 Shockwave Studio is designed for professional Web developers and 3D content developers to combine graphics, sound, animation, text and video to create streaming, interactive, 3-dimensional, multiuser content that is easy to deploy on CD-ROM or DVD-ROM, in kiosks, and on corporate intranets or the Web. Director 8.5 Shockwave Studio can now also use Real Networks RealVideo and RealAudio formats directly within Shockwave content.

The Shockwave Studio 8.5 package includes Fireworks 4, Shockwave Multiuser Server 3 and sound editors. It is a large, all-inclusive program and definitely not for the faint of heart or bargain basement Web site designer. However, for the professional web developer and multimedia designer this program has the potential to generate enormously creative output for marketing and 3D animated game productions.

I was pleasantly surprised on opening the package to find included with the program a Lingo Dictionary that permitted unlimited control over modeling by using object-oriented scripting language. With many authoring programs 'what you see is what you get', however Lingo provides developers who have a basic understanding of Java script or Visual Basic with the option to customize the application using Lingo's syntax.

The program software loaded smoothly and I began working my way through the first couple of tutorials to get a feel for the program and an understanding of how the pop-up menus work. As I worked through the manual I began to develop a bit of over-confidence and had to backtrack several times. It was sort of like stepping out of a four cylinder Chevette into a Maserati and I started to lose control on the curves. Not a fault of the program, but rather of enthusiasm and impatience on my part to see what it could do. Web developers experienced with previous versions of Shockwave will be able to 'give it a little more gas'. Being new to the Shockwave experience I had to travel with a little more caution.

There are several very interesting features in this program such as bones animation and motion blending, which provide unusual creative control. Bones animation allows developers to use data points along a fixed path (e.g.: a stick figure inside a character animation) to create movement, instead of data points for the entire model. Motion blending is used to realistically transact the animation from one complex motion to another, e.g.: walking to running. The Shockwave Multiuser Server 3 component of the studio helps developers create multiuser Web destinations with features such as real-time messaging, chat rooms, white board discussions, auctions and multiplayer games. This platform can handle up to 2000 multiusers at one time.

I would be remiss in not including a brief word or two on Fireworks 4, included in the package. I have had previous experience with several other graphics programs and find that for versatility and user-friendly operation Fireworks is always my first choice. Fireworks 4 is no exception.

Initially, I have found Director 8.5 Shockwave Studio very user friendly and easy to implement. The versatility of this program is limited only by the Web developer and 3D content developer's imagination and ability.

Two thumbs up to Macromedia on this one!

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