capsule review

Amapi 3D 6.1

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For Mac users, finding a 3-D modeler-renderer that's both inexpensive and capable of building complex organic surfaces can be a challenge. Amapi 3D 6.1, with its limited object-management, rendering, and animation features, doesn't quite rise to the challenge.

Smooth Operator

One of Amapi's most unusual and useful capabilities is that it lets you easily create complex smooth surfaces from simple shapes cobbled out of primitive objects. Version 6.1 improves on that feature by offering better control over smoothing tension. Although Amapi's modeling tools are fast, they lack functionality such as precise control over curve and tangent continuity.

Amapi 3D 6.1 lets you toggle between two modes: a quirky "workshop" interface that hides the modeling tools until you tap the screen's edge with the cursor, and a new Mac-like interface with floating palettes. But you can't use the workshop interface when you have the Dock enabled in OS X's Classic mode, and Amapi's performance in Classic is generally slow. Eovia says that an upcoming Carbonized version will fix these problems.

Missing Management

Amapi's strength lies in modeling; as an environment for texture mapping, lighting, animation, and assembling large collections of objects, it's not impressive. For example, most 3-D tools offer layers and hierarchical outlines for managing objects, but in Amapi you simply group objects. As a result, scenes with many objects quickly turn into an unintelligible tangle of wireframes.

Because Amapi's rudimentary animation tools are based on keyframes, they're poorly suited to character animation and complex situations. The renderer lacks special effects, such as glows and particles. And although Eovia touts Amapi's new support for TGS's 3Space Web format--which lets you add compact, animated 3-D objects to a site--the browser plug-in required to view those objects is not yet available for the Mac.

Macworld's Buying Advice

Amapi 3D 6.1 is useful for creating still images or elements for inclusion in other graphics, but its limitations mean that few creative professionals are likely to rely on it as a mainstay of their work.

Slick Surfaces: Amapi's smoothing tool turns polygonal shapes into fluid surfaces.
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