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View Full Version : Shaxam Launched!



Bog
09-21-2007, 06:20 AM
It is with very great pleasure that I can finally announce the release of our tool for converting LightWave scenes to WPF, Shaxam. (http://www.shaxam.com) (Pronounced "Shazam", to go with the "Zammel" pronounciation of XAML).

What Shaxam lets you do is export lit, textured, animated scenes directly from LightWave Layout to the XAML file format, to create 3D content for Windows Vista, or Windows XP running Service Pack 2 and .NET 3.

In slightly plainer language, this means you can drop your 3D animations straight into applications in Vista or Internet Explorer 7. So, for example, we used Shaxam to create the book model animations for the British Library's Turning The Pages system. (http://www.bl.uk/ttp2/ttp1.html)

In essence, you can build stuff in LightWave, make it really pretty, then make it run in easy-to-build applications without huge amounts of messy programming or unfamiliar interfaces.

Here's a LightWave demo scene example! (http://www.imaginetix.co.uk/shaxam/LipSync.zip)

Shaxam costs €50, which gets you a license keyed to your LightWave dongle, support, and a freely-distributable DLL that lets you use your endomorph animations directly in WPF. We've got some basic tutorials online for now, and some demo material for users to play with, and we'll be adding to that library and showcasing material that people produce as time goes on.

http://www.shaxam.com

-EsHrA-
09-21-2007, 10:33 AM
very nice! i tried the lw demo scene example knowing it wouldnt run (w2kpro) but i didnt expect it too crash.
maybe an info window telling me i dont have the correct hard and software. just a thought.
will try the demo scene again on xp ofcoz :)...

carry on!


mlon

Bog
09-21-2007, 12:45 PM
The demo we've posted is an example of loading a scene in LightWave, exporting it to XAML, loading it into Blend, slapping on the ShaxamAnimation.DLL and saving it out as an executable. Adding "...and here's how you add warning screens to indicate that it won't work under Windows 2000" wouldn't really seem like a pertinant part of the documentation to most of our potential users ;)

Elmar Moelzer
09-21-2007, 01:42 PM
Congratualtions Mark!!!
Good to see you guys finally releasing that baby!
CU
Elmar

Andyjaggy
09-21-2007, 01:55 PM
Is this why you haven't been around much bog?

Exception
09-21-2007, 03:50 PM
Well done, old chap.
Now get your overworked derriere back in here, as we all miss you dearly.

Captain Obvious
09-21-2007, 04:00 PM
Let's have a pint to celebrate! ;)

Bog
09-21-2007, 04:06 PM
That's really touching guys, thank you :)

I've not been around much because, yeah, of Shaxam, and also a bunch of other things I've been working my beehive off on - got a fairly major bit of video going live on Tuesday that I'm really looking forward to pointing you at, had a big shin-dig with Microsoft that I had to get up on stage and give a keynote at (eeeek!) Fortunately, I was demoing something Regularfry had done, so all I had to do was speak clearly, pace my words, and click the right button ;) Between that, a bit of teaching, and another lennnngthy project for the Sunday Mail (of all things!) that'll be out in the next Period of Time (I'll let you know when!) it's been a complete frenzy.

Busy busy busy - world ain't save itself ;)

Exception
09-21-2007, 04:47 PM
had a big shin-dig with Microsoft that I had to get up on stage and give a keynote at (eeeek!)

Wot?
He's a skinjob!
Cylon on the bridge!

They got you too man. *shakes head*

;)

Um, perhaps I should be cutting down on those blasted BSG episodes...

Bog
09-21-2007, 04:50 PM
I bet you shout "PEEBLERS!" and reach for Vera whenever anyone mentions Modo, don't'cha?

(browncoat reference, carry on chaps)

Bog
09-21-2007, 07:18 PM
I feel it's important to say that we have an opportunity here, lads and ladettes, chaps and ladies. We can make LightWave the 3D Photoshop of Vista.

Stop for a second, and look at what I've said. There are other 3D content options available for Vista, yes - but none of them know how to morph. None of them even accept that vertex deformations are possible.

There are about 20 million installed copies of Vista right now, worldwide, and that number is not going to shrink - only grow. And you can drop your content straight out of LightWave, and use it.

I want LightWave to be Vista's 3D Photoshop. I want us to be everywhere.

So muck in. Get busy. Get building your websites and your visual toys, convert your scenes that you've built into web-ready 3D, start making cartoons and interfaces and 3D shorts, and just bust a move for what we can do.

Make a scene, everyone. Otherwise, it's gonna be something from Autodesk, or something from eRain, and you know what? We're better than that. And what's worse, I'll have to see you all whinging about Max being used for all websites in Vista, when I stood here and handed you something better on a plate.

We're poised to be what Photoshop was - WPF doesn't know how to do vertex deformations, and we're giving that technology away as a free-distributable with Shaxam. We're WAY ahead of the curve!

If LightWave isn't the Photoshop of 3D for Windows in a years' time, it won't because I didn't do my part.

Want it to be because you didn't do yours?

Captain Obvious
09-23-2007, 04:37 PM
Want it to be because you didn't do yours?
Quite frankly, I couldn't care less. :p

Bog
09-23-2007, 04:41 PM
Forgive me for attempting to throw down a gauntlet, if in doing so I appeared ungentle.

Right. I'll make a deal with you guys. I'll set up some kind of giveaway and comptetition, and make it worth the participants' while to actually start using this beast.

I want LightWave 3D to be Photoshop for Vista. I'm sure that none of you would kick that idea out of bed.

I ask one thing. Look at your content directories. Look at what's less than 100,000 polys in a frame at once, and give it a bit of thought about exporting it. Microsoft are currently willing to pimp any IE7/Vista 3D content they can field. And we can conduit that content.

Look and think - PM or email me with your ideas, and we'll look at getting it out there. Exposure for you, exposure for LW, exposure for Shaxam.

Want a piece? Take a ticket - I've got plenty.

zapper1998
09-23-2007, 05:42 PM
sounds awesome

Tzan
09-23-2007, 08:37 PM
Forgive me for attempting to throw down a gauntlet, if in doing so I appeared ungentle.



I enjoyed the gauntlet throwing, well done :)

I'm just not involved in that field.

Lightwolf
09-24-2007, 01:42 AM
I've tried and tried, but I can't find any personal or professional use for this, sorry. Seems kinda specialized for some niche productions.
I still think the same way about Flash ;)

Seriously though, Silverlight is a very intriguing platform, and 3D is only a small part of it. V1.1 will be a lot more interesting it seems, and once MS supposrt my browser of choice (Opera) I'll surely have another look.

Cheers,
Mike

regularfry
09-24-2007, 02:26 AM
If I throw Shaxam content on a web page, does it automatically load on every configuration like IE, FireFox, Safari etc? Does it auto-download the needed player parts? If it doesn't and if it requires any kind of manual download and installation, it's as good as useless for mass appeal.
It works out of the box on IE7. .NET 3.5 will support FireFox, and that's due out early next year.

Web distribution is only one side of the offering, though - it's great for client-side apps too.

Lightwolf
09-24-2007, 03:09 AM
Does it run on a Mac? In Safari? Firefox?

Why don't you just have a look yourself? http://www.microsoft.com/silverlight/downloads.aspx

Cheers,
Mike

Lightwolf
09-24-2007, 03:19 AM
Mike, I was asking about Shaxam :)

But I guess I already know the answer if it's .net 3.0 based.
Ah, allright. Well, I still see it as a development tool... and since you should develop on a system that is close to your customers... and most customers use windows... I see that as a fairly moot point.

(Then again, I don't see many of our customers adaopting something like that quickly... give them 2-3 years and then, maybe, they will).

Cheers,
Mike

omeone
09-24-2007, 05:02 AM
I still think the same way about Flash ;)

Seriously though, Silverlight is a very intriguing platform, and 3D is only a small part of it. V1.1 will be a lot more interesting it seems, and once MS supposrt my browser of choice (Opera) I'll surely have another look.

Cheers,
Mike

I'm coming from exactly the same place, but I've decided to give Blend / Silverlight and fair lash, try and get into it from the ground up. I've got a copy of Expression Studio... now I just need to learn how to code :(

Congratulation Bog, but if you want LightWave to become the Photoshop of Vista - why not make Shaxam free?


JOKING!!! And just to prove it, I'm going to show my support in cash right now... even though I can't see myself getting to look at this for another month :(

Bog, what do you think the chances are that we will see support for this content in Silverlight, or will always remain in WPF *.exe's (I know that's nothing to do with you guys, just asking your opinion)

regularfry
09-24-2007, 05:03 AM
Mike, I was asking about Shaxam :)

But I guess I already know the answer if it's .net 3.0 based.
We can certainly do a build for Mac LW if there's demand. It's just a cross-compile.

The XAML file format it spits out is an XML dialect, so it's happy no matter what platform it's generated on. We don't actually use any of the .NET runtime to generate it - it's vanilla C under the hood.

omeone
09-24-2007, 05:10 AM
um... silly question(?)... should I be entering my hardware lock into an unsecure web form?

regularfry
09-24-2007, 05:14 AM
Ah, allright. Well, I still see it as a development tool... and since you should develop on a system that is close to your customers...

Yup. The typical person who'll be using the XAML output from the plugin will have at least Expression Blend and the Windows SDK installed. That doesn't necessarily have to be the same person that's driving LightWave, though.

regularfry
09-24-2007, 05:16 AM
um... silly question(?)... should I be entering my hardware lock into an unsecure web form?
The web form's actually a PayPal button - it submits the details over https. Your lock ID doesn't appear on the wire in the clear.

regularfry
09-24-2007, 05:21 AM
I'm coming from exactly the same place, but I've decided to give Blend / Silverlight and fair lash, try and get into it from the ground up. I've got a copy of Expression Studio... now I just need to learn how to code :(

If you need any pointers using the XAML the plugin generates, drop by the (currently rather unoccupied, because we've only just launched) forum at http://www.shaxam.com/forum.



JOKING!!! And just to prove it, I'm going to show my support in cash right now... even though I can't see myself getting to look at this for another month :(

Yay! :D


Bog, what do you think the chances are that we will see support for this content in Silverlight, or will always remain in WPF *.exe's (I know that's nothing to do with you guys, just asking your opinion)
I think I can answer that one. 3D content just isn't on the Silverlight team's radar at the moment, but there is a potential pathway (which we haven't tested out yet - it's a little new) via Swift 3D. The content works nicely in WPF xbaps, though.

omeone
09-24-2007, 05:25 AM
thanks regularfry :)

Bog
09-24-2007, 10:56 AM
It is interesting, this whole thing. Trying to explain that any current Windows box, and a lot of the last-gen boxen (that is, XP with SP2, .NET and E7) can just, y'know, Do 3D out of the box can be a bit tricky.

Neverko, it's not so much that it's a mass market, it's that there's a humongous supply of niche markets. Things like our British Library macguffin are an example of high-budget high-end stuff, but there's no end to the different bits and pieces that could be turned out.

Also, the web-browser thing's potentially misleading. It's not just web stuff - any Vista app that you fancy whistling up can have content created with LightWave as part of it: as interface elements, as information-bearing surfaces, as simple eye candy, or as part of a game. It's a bit of a big dealie.

So, no - it doesn't work under OS10. It doesn't currently work in Opera. Linux guys won't get any joy from this. However, ninety-something percent of the machines being sold at the moment (and for the last decade or something) are PCs, so it's not exactly a hugely limited market. Given the choice of being able to do something wildly cool that a majority of people can use, or something less shiny that everyone can use... well, "wildly cool" is more important to me than a 6% marketshare ;)

Lightwolf
09-24-2007, 11:04 AM
It is interesting, this whole thing. Trying to explain that any current Windows box, and a lot of the last-gen boxen (that is, XP with SP2, .NET and E7) can just, y'know, Do 3D out of the box can be a bit tricky.
Erm, didn't we have Shockwave 3D for, like, y'know, ages? ;)


So, no - it doesn't work under OS10. It doesn't currently work in Opera. Linux guys won't get any joy from this. However, ninety-something percent of the machines being sold at the moment (and for the last decade or something) are PCs, so it's not exactly a hugely limited market.
Erm, yeah, but you may as well use any 3D engine then... I mean, the exciting part (at least for me) is Silverlight. Anything beyond that is just a proprietary authoring platform (and there are a few of those out there) - see above ;)

Mind you, with MS behind it it will be huge in a few years time, kudos for jumping on it this early.

Cheers,
Mike

Bog
09-24-2007, 11:24 AM
Yeah, there were a bunch of good reasons we didn't use Shockwave 3D for the book job. Just asked Alex and neither of us can remember what they were. It didn't do something we wanted, or something. Could have been "Business Reasons" (as we were but humble freelancers, jobbing for The Man on the BL gig).

Anyroadup, it's always nice to be able to offer your clients multiple options - I've got some architectural work coming up, for example, and saying "Fancy a web-browser explorer for it?" as a knock-on to the gig's a nice ability. Just dropping an already-done gig into a little app that's got mouse-look and keyboard-controlled walk-around ability is a nice little extra to offer.

omeone
09-24-2007, 11:45 AM
I've got some architectural work coming up, for example, and saying "Fancy a web-browser explorer for it?" as a knock-on to the gig's a nice ability.

just to clarify - you would need to ask each visitor to download and install an ActiveX (or whatever its called these days) controller for this?

Lightwolf
09-24-2007, 11:51 AM
Yeah, there were a bunch of good reasons we didn't use Shockwave 3D for the book job.
Hehe, I bet there were. Honestly though, thanks for releasing this. Having more options available is never a bad thing.
While I don't expect to see it catch on on a big scale quickly, I can surely see some good reasons to use it.

Cheers,
Mike

regularfry
09-24-2007, 11:54 AM
just to clarify - you would need to ask each visitor to download and install an ActiveX (or whatever its called these days) controller for this?
As long as they've got .NET 3.0 installed, xbaps run in IE6 or IE7 without needing anything extra. They run on Vista out of the box, without needing anything extra installed at all.

Phil
09-24-2007, 12:23 PM
Erm, yeah, but you may as well use any 3D engine then... I mean, the exciting part (at least for me) is Silverlight. Anything beyond that is just a proprietary authoring platform (and there are a few of those out there) - see above ;)

Mind you, with MS behind it it will be huge in a few years time, kudos for jumping on it this early.

Cheers,
Mike

It depends, I guess, on how MS live up to their promises to keep this platform-neutral via the Novell/Moonlight(Mono) setup. Past history suggests that they will, at some point, no longer document their implementations in order to lock the market to the Windows platform.

T-Light
09-29-2007, 08:15 AM
Sorry, just noticed this.

Very best of luck you two :thumbsup: