New version of Ab3d.PowerToys gets FreeCamera and many other improvements

by abenedik 2. September 2015 18:26

I am happy to inform you that a new version of Ab3d.PowerToys has been released.

The biggest new feature of the new version is the introduction of a new camera type - FreeCamera. The FreeCamera is a camera that allows free rotation around any axis.

The first difference between FreeCamera and other cameras from Ab3d.PowerToys is that the FreeCamera is not defined by Heading, Attitude and Bank angles. Instead the camera is defined by CameraPosition, TargetPosition and UpDirection. Another difference is that the FreeCamera can be rotated freely around any axis and not only around Y axis as other cameras. This extra freedom can be useful for an experienced user. 

But you need to be careful when using the camera, because most of the users can quickly become disoriented and can struggle to align the objects correctly. With other cameras you rotate the camera as you would have your target object on the desk and you would move around the object and view it from different corners. This is the most natural way to rotate the camera. The felling of horizontal plane and up direction is preserved and you can easily navigate around. 

It is also interested that some previous versions of Autodesk products (for example 3D Studio max 2009) allowed users to rotate the camera in a similar way to what FreeCamera allows. This was allowed only with ViewCube rotation. When camera was rotated with mouse the rotation was not free but was bound to Y axis. The interesting part is that later versions (3D Studio Max 2014 and Autodesk Revit 2014) removed the free rotation with ViewCume and now ViewCube allows rotations only around fixed y axis. It looks like at Autodesk they found out that increased rotation freedom is not better for users and therefore they removed it and used the proven and more intuitive rotation around y axis.

Some users have been asking for FreeCamera for quite some time. I hope that they will be satisfied. Though I would recommend them to at least test this with their users.

 

The new version of the Ab3d.PowerToys also brings some other improvements and fixed. Many of them are related to the Ab3d.DXEngine and improve using Ab3d.PowerToys in the Ab3d.DXEngine. The Ab3d.DXEngine is a brand new DirectX 11 rendering engine that can render existing WPF 3D graphics with a super-fast and much more accurate DirectX 11 rendering engine. The engine is already available as release candidate version and can be downloaded form the Downloads page. Some additiona information about the engine can be froud on its web page. You can expect more information about the engin in the next blog post.

Here is the whole list of changes and new features:

  • Added FreeCamera - a new camera type that can be used to freely rotate the camera around without locking the rotation around y axis.
  • Fixed reading materials with ReaderObj - before a black EmissiveMaterial was added to each material.
  • Moved CameraLight and ShowCameraLight properties and StartRotate, EndRotate and all related methods from SphericalCamera to BaseCamera (this allows its usage on FreeCamera).
  • Added AutomaticallyUpdateWhenOriginalModelIsChanged to WireframeVisual3D
  • Improved WireframeVisual3D to not generate the wireframe geometry until it is added to the parent Visual3D / Viewport3D. This can prevent multiple wireframe geometry generation in the initialization phase. Also improved xml comment (for help) and sample regarding that.
  • Improved changing ShowCameraLight property at design time (before light was not always changed when the ShowCameraLight property was changed).
  • Improved using ShowCameraLight's Auto property - before when this property was set to Auto, the camera light was not shown if the scene contained AmbientLight; now camera light is added in this case (it is not added only when DirectionalLight, PointLight or SpotLight are defined).
  • Improved automatic finding of Viewport3D in BaseCamera faster and more reliable (when TargetViewport3D is not set).

Changes related to Ab3d.DXEngine:

  • Updated BaseCamera to correctly find the Viewport3D if used inside DXEngine and if TargetViewport3D or TargetViewport3DName are not set.
  • Fixed updating line color when the line color is changed after the line is already shown (when rendered with hardware accelerated in Ab3d.DXEngine).
  • Improved EventsManager3D when EventsManager3D.CustomEventsSourceElement is not set - now the default event source is DXViewportView instead of Viewport3D.
  • Improved MouseCameraController - it is not needed any more to set the EventsSourceElement to DXViewportView; now if EventsSourceElement is not set, it will be automatically set to DXViewportView.
  • Improved sending lines data to Ab3d.DXEngine (so that the lines can be created in geometry shader).

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Ab3d.PowerToys

Amazing new samples and features of the next major version of Ab3d.PowerToys library

by abenedik 18. June 2015 21:14

I am really happy to announce that I have just published the biggest update in the history of the AB4D Company. 

This update brings many great new features, improvements and fixes to Ab3d.PowerToys library - best library for rapid 3D application development. What is more, there are some new samples that show the power of the library. The samples can also jump start your development with providing the startup code for the standard 3D use cases.

 

Let’s start with a few screenshots of the new samples:

The following screenshot shows a sample that allows user to show the scene from different angles and with different rendering settings (in top row user can also change the layout of the scene views):

Multi scene layout with Ab3d.PowerToys library

 

The following sample shows visualization of sample data in 3D graph. The graph also supports selection of single or multiple spheres. The lower left corner of the screenshot is showing a new MouseCameraContollerInfo control that shows which mouse buttons and keyboard keys are used to rotate and move the camera:

3D graph with Ab3d.PowerToys library

 

The following image shows new ModelMoverVisual3D that simplifies moving 3D models:

Model mover to move 3D models in the 3D scene

 

And now to the list of new features:

Major new features:

  • Added LightingRigVisual3D that adds 3 DirectionalLights and one AmbientLight to the scene. The lights define the so called standard lighting rig with key, fill and back light.
  • Added TubeLinesVisual3D and TubeLinesMesh3D that can be used to create 3D lines from 3D tube objects. Those lines does not require LinesUpdater to update their geometry when camera is changed and can therefore greatly improve performance when the application is running (but require a little bit more time to initialize)
  • Added ModelMoverVisual3D that can be used to help users move 3D objects. The ModelMoverVisual3D shows 3 arrows for all three axes and allow users to move object along the axis. It can also show 3 rectangles that allow users to move the object on the plane defined by the rectangle.
  • Added support for touch events and touch manipulation events to EventManager3D (TouchEnter, TouchDown, TouchMove, TouchUp, TouchLeave; ManipulationStarted, ManipulationDelta and ManipulationCompleted) (only in .Net 4 version of the library)
  • Added MultiPolyLineVisual3D to show multiple polylines with one Visual3D – this improves performance because LinesUpdated needs to check less objects.
  • Added Ab3d.Utilities.RenderToBitmap method to render any FrameworkElement to bitmap (with support for custom size, antialasing and custom dpi setting).
  • Added RenderToBitmap to BaseCamera to render current Viewport3D to bitmap.
  • Added support for creating 3D trapezoid objects with TrapezoidVisual3D, TrapezoidUIElement3D and Ab3d.Meshes.TrapezoidMesh3D classes and with new Ab3d.Models.Model3DFactory.CreateTrapezoid and Ab3d.Meshes.TrapezoidMesh3D method
  • Added MouseCameraControllerInfo control that shows which mouse button and keyboard is required to rotate and move the camera. Also added MouseWithButtons, KeyboardKey user controls.
  • Added Ab3d.Utilities.Dump methods that can dump 3D model information into Visual Studio Immediate Window – useful for getting information about 3D objects during debugging.

 

Improvements and fixes:

Cameras:

  • Added MoveOnlyHorizontally property to MouseCameraController to restrict the camera movements to horizontal plane.
  • Added IsRotationDirectionAdjusted property to MouseCameraController. It can be used to enable adjusting camera rotation direction based on current mouse position and current attitude value. 
  • Added CameraRotateStared, CameraRotateEnded, CameraMoveStared, CameraMoveEnded events to MouseCameraController
  • Fixed calculating camera bank angle when using Ab3d.Utilities.CameraUtils.CalculateCameraAngles method.
  • Added static GetCameraMatrixes method to BaseCamera that takes Viewport3D and returns camera matrixes. Also the GetCameraMatrixes now returns Boolean instead of void - it returns false if camera matrixes cannot be calculated.
  • Fixed showing camera light after the previous Light visual was manually removed from Viewport3D.Children
  • Improved CameraLight property in Ab3d.Cameras objects. The property is used to get or set a custom light for camera’s light. In previous version under some circumstances the property's value was not set to the actual Light object that is used to illuminate the scene.
  • Added GetMousePositionOnPlane method to all cameras from Ab3d.PowerToys library
  • Added GetNormalizedHeading, GetNormalizedAttitude, GetNormalizedBank methods that return Heading, Attitude and Bank angles that between 0 and 360.

 

3D Lines:

  • Fixed updating 3D lines for WireGridVisual3D when its IsClosed property was set to true.
  • Improved LinesUpdater with adding a RegisteredLinesCount property to get number of registered lines. Also added UnregisterLine method that takes any 3D line visual from Ab3d.PowerToys.
  • Improved performance of LinesUpdater.
  • Removed memory leak from LinesUpdater - some lines that were disconnected from parent Visual3D were not disposed and were checked on each frame.
  • Improved LinesUpdater so that it did not regenerate some geometry models when the camera (or some other property) is not changed.
  • Improved rendering lines when Othographics camera is used and the lines have the same direction as the camera.
  • Fixed hiding 3D lines when IsVisible is set to false and the line is child of another ModelVisual3D

 

3D objects:

  • Improved rendering Arrow3D - before the arrow tip was rendered with a single position and that made the arrow shading too dark.
  • Changed default value for Length property on AxisVisual3D and ColorAxisVisual from 1 to 100.
  • Fixed changing DefaultMaterial on ObjModelVisual3D after the obj file has been already read. In previous version all materials were replaced by new DefaultMaterial even if obj file defined their own material and DefaultMaterial was not used.
  • Added DefaultBackMaterial to ObjModelVisual3D to specify the back material of the read models.

 

Other:

  • Added RayPlaneIntersection method to Ab3d.Utilities.MathUtils to calculate intersection of 3D ray and a plane.
  • Added ReplaceMaterial to Ab3d.Utilities.ModelUtils to replace one material with another material in a Model3D
  • Prevented freezing objects with ModelOptimizer when FreezeAll is not set to true.
  • Prevented throwing exception when MeshGeometry3D have TriangleIndices set to null in CollectModelCounters, GetDumpString and GetMeshInitializationCode methods. 
  • Improved performance of ModelOptimizer and MeshUtils.CalculateNormals
  • Added new overloads to TransparencySorter constructor, SimpleSort and SortByCameraDistance methods that also take ContainerUIElement3D as parameter.
  • Improved ModelDecoratorVisual3D when showing normal vectors on an objects that has been scaled by transformation
  • Fixed CreateFromCurvePositions method in BezierCurve - the method has thrown an exception when there were less than 6 curve points (instead of less than 2).
  • Changed return type of the HeightMapMesh3D.GetGradientColorsArray method - now the method returns array of Color value instead of array of uint values. If you still want to get array of uint values, call the new GetGradientColorsUIntArray method.

 

As mentioned before – this is the longest new features list so far. And guess what. This is not the whole list. The samples project have two additional new controls that are available with full source code:

  • AxisWireBoxVisual3D – Visual3D that shows a wireframe box with Y axis lines and values that can be used to show 3D data.
  • SceneView3D – UserControl that can show 3D models in Viewport3D and has ComboBox to specify the view angle (top, left, right, front, etc.) and a ContextMenu that specify how the 3D models are rendered (with solid model or wireframe) and what type of camera is used (perspective or orthographic). 

 

I am really excited about this new release. I hope that after checking out the new samples you will share that excitement with me.

As always, the licensed users can download their commercial version from their User Account page. Others are welcome to try the new evaluation version that can be download from our downloads page.

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Ab3d.PowerToys

Import 3D models from almost any 3D file with new major update of Ab3d.PowerToys library

by abenedik 27. November 2014 23:43

I am really happy that after a long development all great new features of Ab3d.PowerToys library are now available.

The biggest new feature is that now it is possible to import 3D models into WPF or WinForms application from almost any 3D file – including Collada, fbx, blend, dxf, ase, lwg and many more (see http://assimp.sourceforge.net/main_features_formats.html).

This is possible with help of Open Source Assimp importer library and a new Ab3d.PowerToys.Assimp helper library that converts Assimp’s Scene object into WPF 3D objects.

For example the following XAML imports a Collada duck.dae file:

<assimpVisuals:AssimpModelVisual3D Source="/Resources/duck.dae" 
                            Position="0 0 0" PositionType="Center"
                            SizeX="100"//>

And the result is of course the standard Collada duck 3D model:

Collada duck model opened with Ab3d.PowerToys.Assimp

And what is more, just as Assimp importer is free to use, the new Ab3d.PowerToys.Assimp library is also free to use without need to purchase a commercial version of Ab3d.PowerToys (when not used with commercial version of Ab3d.PowerToys, Ab3d.PowerToys.Assimp is distributed under MIT license).

 

And today I have many other very good news for you.

 

Let’s continue with presenting you a whole new sample project – Ab3d.PowerToys.AssimpViewer.

This project uses Assimp library to import 3D models from file and show 3D model in the application. What makes it very interesting is that it has some advanced features like:

  • Shows objects names and hierarchies 
  • Shows detailed information about 3D objects
  • Allows object selection with mouse
  • Showing bounding box, normals and triangles for selected object.

For example the following image shows selected duck model with bounding box, triangles and normals:

AssimpViewer with shown bounding box, normals and triangles

This makes it similar to what is possible with Viewer3ds application. The main difference is that for AssimpViewer you can see the whole source code.

This application also demonstrates a new ModelDecoratorVisual3D class that makes showing selected object incredibly simple – for example:

<visuals1:ModelDecoratorVisual3D x:Name="SelectedModelDecorator" 
                                     ShowBoundingBox="False" BoundingBoxLineColor="Red" BoundingBoxLineThickness="2"
                                     ShowNormals="True" NormalsLineColor="Blue" NormalsLineThickness="1"
                                     ShowTriangles="True" TrianglesLineColor="Green" TrianglesLineThickness="1"
                                     TargetModel3D="{Binding ElementName=MyModel3D}"
                                     RootModelVisual3D="{Binding ElementName=ContentRootVisual3D}"/>

As you can see, we just set the target model (selected model), parent Visual and then decide how we want to decorate the selected model – with bounding box, with normal or with triangles. Super simple.

Another improvement from the new version of Ab3d.PowerToys library is a better and nicer CameraAxisPanel – as seen in the lower right corner the new version now shows real 3D arrows instead of 3D lines with arrows. This looks much nicer.

This sample is still under construction (version 0.8). I have big plans with it. I want to turn it into a simple 3D editor where you will be able to add multiple 3D objects from multiple files, move the models around, scale and rotate them. I know that many customers are working on some similar applications. Creating such sample application could mean a huge development time saving for many of them.

 

And now to some other new features.

Many customers are concerned about WPF 3D performance when they need to show very complex 3D models with a lot of 3D parts. One reason for performance problem can be that WPF is using DirectX 9 rendering and that it does not have an optimal rendering pipeline. But many times the reason for slow rendering is that simply too many GeometryModel3D objects are rendered.

This can cause problems because each GeometryModel3D is rendered with using its own DirectX draw call. Draw call is a low level command, that instructs graphics driver and graphics card how to draw one object. Because graphics drivers need to prepare many things before the data from draw call can be send to graphics card, draw calls are very expensive operations. This is also true for DirectX and high end 3D games – usually games tend to keep number of draw calls per frame under 3000. Higher numbers can slow down rendering regardless of the hardware.

With Ab3d.PowerToys we cannot improve the WPF 3D rendering pipeline, but with a new ModelOptimizer it is possible to significantly reduce the number of required draw calls and therefore improve rendering performance. This is done with analyzing the model and combing all models that have the same material into one model – so that only one draw call is needed instead of many.

The following image shows the ModelOptimizer sample that shows (marked with red arrow) that ModelOptimizer has reduces number of objects from 3381 to only 30. 

ModelOptimized sample

This had significant impact on performance. With optimized model the frame rate was easily at 60 FPS (on i7 3770 CPU and GeForce 560 Ti). But when the original model was shown, the FPS dropped to 14.

A drawback of using ModelOptimizer is that you loose the original object structure (but this can be solved with saving the hierarchy and individual objects data into some custom data structure before optimizing the model).

 

There have been some other improvements. 

For example showing 3D models from obj files has been simplified with adding ObjModelVisual3D that can be used in XAML. MaterialTypeConverter has also been improved so that it now Visual Studio 2013 designer can show textures on 3D models. Updating 3D lines has also been improved to allow more flexibility when the lines are updates and when not.

To simplify debugging there are now many extension methods that can be called from Visual Studio Immediate Window to show you many details of the 3D object (see “Dump and Name sample” for more info).

Now it is also very easy to set name to any Model3D object, Visual3D, MeshGeometry or Material – this can be simply done with new extension method: SetName. To get the name, you just call GetName method.

The whole list of improvements and fixes is really long. You can see it on the PowerToys web page (scroll down to versions history).

 

Finally I would like describe my future plans. I have already mentioned that I want to improve AssimpViewer sample. To do that I will add new helper objects that will make moving, rotating and scaling selected object very easy. I am also planning to add support for reading compiled 3D model files (Visual Studio 2013 can compile 3D models from fbx, dae and obj files into its own file format). This would remove the need to use Assimp importer in your projects.

And I am also working hard on a new DirectX 11 rendering engine that should eradicate rendering performance problems and will also bring improved rendering quality to WPF 3D world. I hope that I will be able to release a first open beta version in the beginning of the next year.

 

As always, the existing customers can get the latest version of Ab3d.PowerToys (and Ab3d.PowerToys.Assimp library) from their User Account pages. Others please install the new evaluation version form our Downloads page.

 

And the final great news is a reward to all of you that have read this blog post to the end – to get the reward check out our web site today!

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Ab3d.PowerToys

Improved performance and WinForms sample in new version of Ab3d.PowerToys

by abenedik 14. September 2014 22:52

I am happy to announce that a new version of Ab3d.PowerToys has been published.

The new version has the following new features:

  • Greatly improved performance of SphereVisual3D and BoxVisual3D.
  • Fixed updating 3D lines when Viewport3D is inside TabControl or when the Viewport3D is moved from one control to another (for example in Avalon dock when the docking of Viewport3D is changed)
  • Optimized LinesUpdater to minimize the number of newly created object each rendering frame.
  • Added WinForms sample that shows how easy is to show 3D graphics in WinForms with embedded WPF and Ab3d.PowerToys

The biggest new feature is performance improvement that is achieved by caching the MeshGeometry3D for the sphere and box models. Before each time the position or size of the sphere or box was changed, the whole MeshGeometry3D was regenerated. Now all the spheres (with the same segment count) and boxes share the same MeshGeometry3D. To create the sphere and box at the specified position and size, a MatrixTransform is used.

The biggest performance gain of the new rendering is get when the spheres and boxes are animated – when the position or size is changed. Because now it is not needed to recreate the whole MeshGeometry3D the animation can be much smoother – on some computers even more than 20 times faster.

Because the new model generation algorithm reuses the MeshGeometry3D, much less data is sent to graphics card and therefore the models can be rendered much faster. On some computers more than 5 times better frame rate can be achieved. 

To test the new functionality a new sample was added to the Ab3d.PowerToys samples. The following screenshot shows the sample running and showing the number of spheres, triangles and positions and the current frame rate (on Intel i7 3770 and a more than 2 years old NVidia 560 GTX Ti):

WPF 3D performance with Ab3d.PowerToys

 

Sceptics of WPF 3D can see that when WPF 3D is used property it can have quite decent performance – animating (changing size) for 3375 spheres (more than 3 million triangles and more than 17 million positions) runs at 33 frames per second.

The new sample can be also very appealing visually – the following image shows one of such interesting screenshots (animated version is even better):

WPF 3D performance with Ab3d.PowerToys

 

Delivering the best possible performance for WPF 3D graphics have always been our goal. Therefore I am planning to add some additional performance improvement to the next version – this time improving performance of complex 3D models read with Reader3ds or some other model importer.

I would also like to say a few more things about using WPF 3D inside WinForms application. 

And now to WinForms. Surprisingly a lot of .Net developers are still using WinForms. For them I have prepared two samples that shows how easy is to add 3D graphics to WinForms. It is not needed to spend half a year to learn DirectX or some other game engine. With using ElementHost control the developers can enjoy in using the easiest 3D API: WPF 3D with Ab3d.PowerToys.

The first sample that comes with the new version of Ab3d.PowerToys library show that with a little bit more than 200 lines of c# code, it is possible to create an interesting 3D scene with dynamic objects that change color on mouse actions. The following image shows a screenshot of the sample:

WPF 3D inside WinForms

 

WinForms developer will be glad to hear that that do not need to use XAML, binding or any other new concept that is introduced by WPF. 

On the other hand the second sample shows that it is also possible to define the whole 3D scene in XAML. When using WinForms designer this scenario is very well supported: after adding ElementHost to the form, it is possible to click on a small right arrow in the upper right corner and from a drop down menu select from all the WPF’s UserControls in the solution. This way it is possible to design the scene in XAML and use Visual studio designer to preview the 3D scene.

 

I would like to conclude this blog post with the following announcement: I am already working on next major released of Ab3d.PowerToys. It will contains the already mentioned functionality to optimize the 3D models for best performance. But the biggest new feature will be added support for importing 3D models from almost all 3D file formats.

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Ab3d.PowerToys

3D visualization of Kinect skeleton

by abenedik 11. April 2014 10:14

In this blog post I will show you how easy is to show Kinect skeleton as a 3D model.

Ab3d.PowerToys Kinect sample

To jump start into 3D programming we will be using WPF and Ab3d.PowerToys library. The library will help us with providing the standard 3D models that will be used to display the skeleton and cameras that can be easily controller by the user.

The image above shows us that the skeleton is created from yellow spheres that represent the joints and bi-pyramids are used to connect the joints together. To make the sample more interesting the skeleton has a Darth Wader’s head. Below the skeleton model a 3D wire grid is shown. It represents the floor.

In the lower right corner three different types of arrow buttons are shown. They can be used to control the camera – move, rotate and zoom in / out the camera. They are created by simply adding CameraControlPanel to the Window. Camera can be controlled also without using buttons. The MouseCameraController lets you rotate the camera with holding down the left mouse button, zoom in and out with mouse wheel and move the camera with holding control key and left mouse button. The MouseCameraController also provides easy way to specify different combinations of keys and mouse buttons for rotate and move actions.

Before diving into the code that shows the 3D model, let’s quickly look how we get the required 3D data from Kinect. Kinect SKD can provide real time skeleton and depth data. To make the sample work without having an actual Kinect device and an actual actor in front of the sensor, the Kinect data was saved into files with using Kinect Toolkit (an open source helper library). This way we can replay the recorded data any time we want.

For each recorded frame we get data for all recorded skeleton models. For each skeleton we get collection of joints and BoneOrientation objects. With them it is quite easy to get the actual 3D positions of the joints and the transformations (rotations and translations) applied on each of the joint. Once we have that data we can start on code that will show our 3D model.

In our sample we can show the 3D model in 4 different ways.  User can change that by selecting different value in the “Skeleton display mode” ComboBox. The following are the available options:

  • Lines,
  • Pyramids,
  • BiPyramids,
  • TransformedBiPyramids


Using 3D lines

The simplest solution to show 3D model is to show it with 3D lines. Actually, if we would be using only standard WPF 3D objects without Ab3d.PowerToys, this would be the hardest solution to implement. The problem is that WPF 3D does not have native support for 3D lines and therefore they need to be created manually by defining the triangles that would show 3D line. Luckily Ab3d.PowerToys library adds that support to WPF. With the Ab3d.PowerToys library the code to add 3D line between two joints is the following:

AddSkeletonLines(Point3D startPoint, Point3D endPoint)
{
    var lineVisual3D = new LineVisual3D()
    {
        StartPosition = startPoint,
        EndPosition = endPoint,
        LineColor = Colors.Green,
        LineThickness = _skeletonThickness * 100.0
    };

    Placeholder3D.Children.Add(lineVisual3D);
}

The following image shows how the skeleton is shown when using 3D lines:

Ab3d.PowerToys Kinect sample

Note that it is very easy to define the line thickness.

Using pyramids

Using 3D lines already gives you some 3D feeling of the model, especially because you can rotate the camera around the model and observe it from any angle.

To give the model a better 3D look, we will use 3D pyramids to connect joints.

Because we need to orient the pyramid model based on start and end position, we cannot use standard pyramid model from Ab3d.PowerToys library. Instead we need to use a low level object - DirectedPyramidMesh3D. It can create a MeshGeometry3D that represent a pyramid oriented in such a way that the pyramid’s center is defined by start point and the pyramid’s top is define by end position.

The following screenshot shows the skeleton displayed with pyramid:

Ab3d.PowerToys Kinect sample

Using bi-pyramids

Pyramids already gave us a better 3D representation that is more similar to actual 3D person model. But this can be further improved with using bi-pyramids. Bi-pyramids are objects that are created with combining two pyramids together.

We could easily create bi-pyramid with using two objects created with DirectedPyramidMesh3D. All we needed to do is to use the end position of the first directed pyramid as the start position of the second directed pyramid.

But to demonstrate some advanced features of the Ab3d.PowerToys we will create bi-pyramids with using lathe 3D objects. Lathe 3D object is an object that is defined by a 2D shape and start and end position. The 2D shape is than rotated around an axis defined by start and end position. This creates a 3D object – typical lathe objects are glasses and vases.

The following image shows a screenshot from samples that come with Ab3d.PowerToys library and show how a lathe 3D object was created (the 2D shape is shown on the right with red line):


The 2D shape used to define the lathe object is defined by LatheSections. Bi-pyramid is actually one of the simplest lathe objects possible – it requires only one section definition. This section defines how wide the bi-pyramid is.

After implementing the creation of bi-pyramids our skeleton looks like the first image in this blog.

From the list of display mode options you can see that it is also possible to show the skeleton as TransformedBiPyramids. This option shows the same skeleton as with bi-pyramids, but instead of using start and end position to define the object orientation, this time the transformation of the joint is used to rotate the bi-pyramid. This option provides a possible optimization. It can be achieved by creating the bi-pyramid model only once and then apply different transformation to it.

Similar optimization was used for showing joint spheres. Here we create only one instance of sphere GeometryModel3D and then use different transformations to position and scale the individual joint models around the skeleton.

The only thing yet to describe is how the head was created. We used a Darth Wader image and use it as a texture shown on a 3D plane. Once we have the position of the head and a head transformation, it is super easy to add Darth Wader head to the skeleton:

// Add head - show image for head
var headPosition = skeleton.Joints[JointType.Head].Position.ToPoint3D(_skeletonScale) + offset;

var headPlane = new PlaneVisual3D()
{
    CenterPosition = headPosition,
    Material = _headMaterial,
    BackMaterial = _headMaterial,
    HeightDirection = new Vector3D(0, 1, 0),
    Normal = new Vector3D(0, 0, 1),
    Size = new Size(_skeletonScale * 0.3, _skeletonScale * 0.3),
    Transform = skeleton.BoneOrientations[JointType.Head].AbsoluteRotation.ToRotateTransform3D(headPosition)
};

Placeholder3D.Children.Add(headPlane);

Adding special model for head finishes our 3D visualization of Kinect skeleton.

As you have seen, having the right tools makes the job very easy. And Ab3d.PowerToys library contains the ultimate collection of tools to add 3D content to your .Net application very easy. More about the library can be read from Ab3d.PowerToys web page.

The sample with full source code is available with Ab3d.PowerToys library. The trial version of the library can be downloaded from downloads page.

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Ab3d.PowerToys

New version of Ab3d.PowerToys with better wireframe support and many other improvements

by abenedik 2. April 2014 21:19

I am very happy to announce that a new version of Ab3d.PowerToys is available.

The biggest new feature of the new version is a new WireframeVisual3D class. It can be used to show a 3D model with wireframe rendering. You just need to set a 3D model to OriginalModel property (or set the model as content in XAML) and then decide how you want to show the model and set the WireframeType property accordingly – you can show the model as wireframe only, as wireframe with solid model (can be also used to create wireframe with hidden lines) or as solid model only. What is more, the wireframe color can be fixed (for example all lines black) or the color of the lines can be determined by the color of the model’s material. The same choice can be made for solid model – it can be shown with original color or with fixed color.

The following two screenshots show two sample usages (screenshots from new samples that come with the library):

<visuals:WireframeVisual3D WireframeType="WireframeWithSingleColorSolidModel"
 LineThickness="2" UseModelColor="True" SolidModelColor="Black" > 
     <GeometryModel3D> …

WireframeVisual3D sample 1

 


<visuals:WireframeVisual3D WireframeType="WireframeWithOriginalSolidModel"  LineThickness="2" LineColor="Black" UseModelColor="False" >      <GeometryModel3D> …

WireframeVisual3D sample 1

 

What is more, the code in the new DXEngine (DirectX rendering engine that is being developed by AB4D) is specially optimized to render the wireframe and solid model in the most efficient way.

The new Ab3d.PowerToys also uses an improved algorithm for triangulation. Triangulation is used to create a 3D model (define triangles) from a 2D polygon. The code in the previous version used another version of algorithm that had some problems with some of the polygons. The new code is much better and should handle all possible polygons. But it does not support polygons with holes.

There is also a new DirectedPyramidMesh3D object that can be used to create a pyramid that is facing its peat to the specified direction.

And as always there are also some other improvements and bug fixes. The following is a list of all the changes:

  • Added WireframeVisual3D to simplify showing models with wireframe.
  • Improved triangulator - before in some cases a wrongly triangulated object was returned or an "Improperly formed polygon" error was thrown.
  • Added DirectedPyramidMesh3D to create a pyramid object that is oriented in a specified direction.
  • Added Ab3d.Utilities.ModelUtils class that contains ChangeMaterial (change material on all child Model3D objects) and CopyModel (copy child Model3D objects) methods.
  • Improved 3D Lathe creator - now it is allowed to specify only one segment when start and end positions are closed.
  • Added GetPerpendicularVectors to MathUtil - calculate two vectors that are perpendicular to the input vector.
  • Fixed calling PreviewCameraChanged and CameraChanged events when CameraWidth is changed in Orthographic camera.
  • Fixed Point3DTo2D and Rect3DTo2D if size of Viewport3D is changed or if CameraWidth in Orthographic camera is changed.
  • Added Dump extension methods that can dump (write to Debug console) various WPF 3D objects (Matrix3D, Model3D, Geometry3D, Transform3D, Material, Rect3D). This is very useful to get detaled information in Visual Studio Immediate Window - Window – for example you can write "Ab3d.Utilities.Dumper.Dump(myModel3D)".
  • Added GetWorldToViewportMatrix method to BaseCamera.
  • Fixed Creating wireframe with WireframeFactory when model groups have transformations.
  • Cleaned the code to remove compiler warings when compiling source code.
  • Added overrides to CreateWireframe with additional removedDuplicates parameter - when the parameter is true this can significanlty increase time to create wireframe model, but creates less lines because duplicate lines are removed (this was used in the previous version). Not it is possible to set removedDuplicates to false to greatly reduce the initial creation time but end up with having more 3D lines. This can be user when rendering the lines with DXEngine were rendering lines is super-fast compared to WPF 3D where it is very slow.
  • Added Microsoft Kinect 3D player sample.

 

The list of changes in the Ab3d.PowerToys library ends here. But this is not everything that is new is the new version. There is also a brand new sample project. It was developed with help of a customer that wanted to show the 3D skeleton that was captured with Microsoft Kinect with a 3D model where the user can rotate the camera around the model.

The sample showed again that when having the right tools (Ab3d.PowerToys in this case), it is very easy to create an application that show 3D models and allow user to rotate and move the camera around. You can check the sample with downloading the latest version of the library (note: you will need to install Microsoft Kinect SDK). I will write a separate blog post with more details about that sample in the following days. For now here is a screenshot of the sample:

WireframeVisual3D sample 1

Tags:

Ab3d.PowerToys

Special offer and new price for Ab3d.PowerToys

by abenedik 29. November 2013 20:08

Let’s start with the good news:
All products on AB4D.com are 20% off until the end of December 2013.

This makes December the best time to buy new products or renew the license. Even if your license is not close to expiration yet, it is worth buying a renewal now and get additional year of free upgrades and priority support.


Now to the other news:
After 1st January 2014 the following licensing changes will happen:

  • price for Ab3d.PowerToys will increase,
  • reader libraries and viewers will be sold only as pro licenses (no more basic licenses).


The Ab3d.PowerToys library has been improved many times in the last years and now has really a lot of features. With the latest version the library also got obj file reader so it is possible to import 3D models from obj files. This means that in most cases you do not need the Ab3d.Reader3ds library any more (see the previous blog post for the differences between 3ds and obj file to check if you still need 3ds files).

The new prices for Ab3d.PowerToys will be:

  • Single developer license price: $399
  • Team developer license price: $799
  • Site developer license price: $1599
  • Price for source code will remain the same at $490

Another change related to this price increase is that it will not be possible to buy both Ab3d.Reader3ds and Ab3d.PowerToys for the price of Ab3d.Reader3ds + 1 USD (getting Ab3d.PowerToys for 1 USD). After 1st January you will still be able to get both libraries with discounted price, but this time the discount will be 30% of the total price.

Another licensing change is that from 1st January 2014 on only Pro version of reader libraries and viewers will be sold. This means that it will not be possible to buy basic version of Viewer3ds or basic version of Reader3ds. The reason for that is that very little basic licenses were sold and that this concept added quite some confusion when potential customer tried to decide which version to buy. So from 1st January on instead of 4 types of licenses only 2 types will be available: one with viewer only (Viewer3ds, ViewerSvg or Paste2Xaml) and the other with library license (Ab3d.Reader3ds with Viewer3ds, Ab2d.ReaderSvg with ViewerSvg, Ab2d.ReaderWmf with Past2Xaml).

So to conclude in a better tone, I would just like to say that the Ab3d.PowerToys price increase is just another very good reason to buy the license renewal now.


Tags:

Ab3d.PowerToys | Reader3ds | ReaderSvg | ReaderWmf