Deep Exploration provides 3D image management - and much more.
I recently came across a program that I've found totally invaluable when it comes to handling 3D files - Deep Exploration from Right Hemisphere. The central idea behind it is very simple. It provides image management much like any number of utilities from ThumbsPlus to CompuPic Pro based on an Explorer-style panel with which you navigate your hard disk, a thumbnails panel in which you see and manage all the image files in the currently selected directory and a large preview panel in which the currently selected image is displayed.
Where Deep Exploration begins to move into new territory is in the image formats that it supports. Alongside the usual bitmap suspects of JPEG, GIF, PNG, TIFF and PSD, Deep Exploration supports a vast array of 3D formats ranging from the standards 3DS, DXF/DWG, LWO/LWS, OBJ, COB and VRML through to less common formats such as Quake, Cinema 4D and Direct X files. And if you have 3DS max or Maya installed on your system there are plug-ins to support these applications' native formats too. Another nice touch is the in-built support for ZIP files as these are so useful for collecting together finished models and their associated texture maps.
The next major difference you'll notice is in the large preview window - it's live! Select one of your 3D models for example and you can freely rotate, pan and scale it in 3D space and instantly swap between solid, wireframe, bounding box and a host of other display modes. Even better, you can choose to either use the lighting and smoothing information from the file or apply your own. Right-clicking on the model opens up other options such as the ability to select any embedded camera view and to change the background colour or image. And when you've got the display just as you want it, you can hit the Render command and a fully ray-traced version is produced complete with optional anti-aliasing, shadows and reflections. You can even set up and render key-framed animations.
That's not all. Next to the preview is the Objects List which shows all the objects and materials that make up the model. Double-click on these and you are presented with an exhaustive amount of information covering everything from the specularity setting to the co-ordinates of every vertex! And it's not just information. Many of the properties are editable so that you can, for example, change an object's opacity, or its texture map or even its index of refraction. Using the 3D Editor toolbar you can also get hands-on and move, scale and rotate individual objects.
Of course if you're editing at this level you want to be able to save your changes and that's simply a case of choosing Deep Exploration's Save As command. Best of all, as you can choose from all the main supported file standards, you can use Deep Exploration to convert between 3D formats - an absolute life saver in an area where incompatibility is such a headache. And Deep Exploration lets you batch convert files too.
It keeps going with some extraordinary Web capabilities. Using the HTML Publish Wizard you can produce a thumbnailed web page that links through to copies of your selected 2D and 3D images. What makes the feature unique is that Deep Exploration will automatically produce Shockwave or VRML versions of your models for interactive web display! The icing on the cake is Deep Exploration's web search capabilities. I had no idea what this would do so entered "elephant" and hit OK. Deep Exploration quickly came back with a range of models that I could view and order and a couple that were free to download. Double-clicking on one of these automatically downloaded it and, using Deep Exploration, I was then able to open the ZIP, view the COB model, change its texture map and convert it to the more common 3DS standard ready for vector processing in Swift 3D!
It's impressive stuff but I do have one complaint: there's no manual as such, the help file is confusing and the web site is hardly more enlightening. It's not a huge problem as soon as you begin using Deep Exploration as the program is so well designed that it's virtually self-explanatory, but there is so much power hidden under the hood that it would be nice to know that you aren't missing out on any. The real problem is that many users won't get this far. Right Hemisphere is guilty of hiding Deep Exploration's light under a bushel (the same is true of its Deep Paint and Deep Paint 3D applications all of which deserve to be far better known). Don't be put of though and do yourself a favour and check out the free demo version(s). Deep Exploration might look like a simple utility, but pretty soon it becomes central to your 3D workflow and productivity.
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