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SIGGRAPH 2014: Clara.io – Cloud-based 3D Modeling, Rendering, and Animation

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Although SIGGRAPH is primarily focused on computer graphics (CG) as it relates to media and entertainment (M&E), there were several technologies that could be used constructively in the MCAD arena.

One of the more interesting ones we came across with possible MCAD implications was Clara.io, a web-based 3D computer graphics software developed by Exocortex, a Canadian software company. Clara.io was announced in July 2013 and first presented as part of the SIGGRAPH 2013 program later that month. With that in mind, we checked it out earlier this month at SIGGRAPH 2014 in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Clara.io: Basics of Polygon Modeling

Clara.io is offered on what the company calls a freemium basis, a pricing strategy by which a product or service (typically a digital offering such as software, media, games or web services) is provided free of charge, but money (premium) is charged for proprietary features and functionality. Clar.io freemium pricing structure is discussed below.

Clara.io is part of an ongoing proliferation of web/cloud-based 3D technologies. WebGL, HMTL5, CSS3D, and Canvas were the start, and were followed by a myriad libraries and other 3D software that runs inside web browsers, and also can run under any OS, tablet, or smartphone.

Clara.io is an impressive example of such burgeoning cloud-based technology. Instead of being a proof of concept or a set of limited features, Clara.io is a comprehensive 3D app. It’s also open source and promises to support the Blender file format in the future (more about Blender later).

Clara.io: Real-time Collaboration

Clara.io has many interesting following features, including:

  • Hierarchical scene graph
  • Lights and cameras
  • Robust support for Polymeshes, including indexed UV, Normal and Color maps
  • Flexible operators (known as “modifiers” in 3DS Max.
  • Keyframe-based animation
  • Powerful sub-object editing
  • Renderer and pass management
  • Extensive materials
  • Sharing/collaboration capabilities
  • Rudimentary bones and skinning
  • Real-time multi-user collaborative editing
  • Automatic versioning with history (somewhat analogous to parametric, history-based CAD modeling and a PDM system)
  • Plugin model
  • Script log
  • FBX, Collada, OBJ, ThreeJS and STL file format support.

(more…)

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