Don Brittain is CEO and a founder of Instant Effects, a California company that develops software to visually enhance presentations, communications, and collaboration. Dr. Brittain has designed commercial interactive graphics software for more than two decades, having been VP Research at Wavefront Technologies and one of the principal architects of 3dsmax from Autodesk prior to helping found Instant Effects almost a decade ago.
In this conversation, Don discusses 3D-Hub, a new 3D initiative spearheaded by Instant Effects (USA) and White Space Productions (UK).
Geetesh: What is 3D-Hub – and how can it benefit presenters, educators, or anyone else who wants to show interactive 3D content?
Don: 3D-Hub was designed to meet a rising need in classroom education. The basic goal is to promote 3D software and media to improve learning while maintaining the advantages a traditional classroom learning environment already offers. This means that the media should be interactive (so that the teacher can easily respond to questions and encourage exploration), compelling (to keep the attention and interest of the students), and allow for animation (so processes, flows, and interlinked components become visually obvious). Furthermore, since many classroom-based studies have shown that using stereo 3D displays improves understanding, 3D-Hub is also able to take full advantage of stereo 3D projectors and 3D TVs wherever and whenever they are available.
Finally, since all of this is on the leading edge, we have also built 3D-Hub to be an online community where people can go to discuss teaching techniques, request additional 3D models, and ask for improvements to current material to help improve its effectiveness. As such, the goal is for 3D-Hub to play a key role in moving classroom education forward in a meaningful way.
Geetesh: What are the 3D models that work with the 3D-Hub Player – what is available now, and what else can we look forward to in the near future?
Don: For our initial launch, 3D-Hub offers approximately 30 interactive models in the fields of biology, geography, space, and engineering. Many, many more models are under construction, and a key tenet of 3D-Hub is that users can ask for new models and we will custom create them and quickly make them available on the site. This allows us to meet the needs of real teachers and real students in a timely manner, with the models having the level of detail and interactivity most needed to achieve the best results in classroom education.
Another aspect of 3D-Hub is that we actively encourage others to offer content through our site. People with 3D content right now can offer it for download to the 3D-Hub community. Our media experts will make sure the models have been placed into a consistent presentation environment (designed to work with mouse interaction as well as with interactive white boards) so that navigation of the material will be consistent and easy to follow no matter which model is loaded. And for the small subset of content that is best presented in “movie form” (e.g. a film of a live event), the 3D-Hub player also supports 3D videos directly.
One other point that may be of interest is that 3D-Hub benefits from the confluence of 3D special effects techniques, as used by the film and game industries, coupled with techniques honed by professional presenters designed to direct audience focus and provide efficient transfer of knowledge. The 3D-Hub models are built using our authoring toolkit plugin for 3dsmax (from Autodesk), and the user interface and interaction components are all originally authored in PowerPoint.
By interviewing hundreds of teachers, educators, and IT professionals working in schools, we have tailored our offerings to augment and complement traditional education techniques. We want to keep what works well while also moving education forward in a manner consistent with the high expectations of today’s students with respect to their media experiences.