Let us take a quick glimpse into a not-so-distant past to when the first full-blown Flash websites were created.
Flash websites have seriously made our jaws drop with their text and lines jumping across the screen and allowing us to groove to the techno sounds that seemed to be continuously (some, forever) looping.
Don't get me wrong, these sites were great and perhaps became the stepping stones of some of the websites we see to date.
Birth Of A Trend
After quite a while, we slowly noticed the birth of rotating cubes and 3D arrows. There was so much hype at that time that any website having cube animation or a rotating 3D arrow was extremely popular!
Whether we liked it or not, this was the era that led to our realization of pushing the possibilities of how the web could be, in terms of presentation.
I remember trying to create a three dimensional cube myself in Flash but it was very time consuming and it took me hours to accomplish an almost perfect rotating 3D cube!
Fortunately, those days are finally over and with all the latest programs, software plug-ins, high-end video cards and ultra high-speed internet connections, the web experience has dramatically evolved - and continues to do so.
Using Flash, almost anything is possible to showcase on the web these days. Flash-based online presentations are constantly advancing and can be very well compared with how video games have firmly matured through the years.
We have all played Zelda, Mario Brothers, Donkey Kong and much more or are at least very familiar with the classic two dimensional video games. We witnessed their amazing transition to the mind-blowing cutting-edge three-dimensional experience.
While the development of technology is in constant evolution, the same lies true for web surfers.
Similarly with the video game community, web surfers are unconsciously looking for that 3rd dimension.
In order to meet these invisible demands, we are slowly witnessing the rise of Flash designers sporting eye-popping 3D animated elements injected into every interactive presentation.
I can only imagine what websites are going to look like in five to ten years from now!
All that being said, I am not going to tackle 'the evolution' or plug any techno music into this article but instead, I am going to review the effective impact of vector three-dimensional elements integrated into websites and how overwhelmingly powerful they are when incorporated – smartly - into websites.
The Next Frontier
Today people of all ages are highly familiar and amused with genius crafted animated films such as Finding Nemo, Shrek, Spiderman, etc…
The film makers have a knack for bringing to life that which is out of the ordinary. As surreal as they seem to be, filmmakers (such as Pixar) have smartly and successfully created a strong relationship between their creatures and the viewers.
The integration of a third dimension into an animated artwork has proven effective not only in offline presentations such as in television commercials or in films but it is undeniably influential in websites as well.
One Flash soldier I met at the FlashForward Conference once told me "Dude, Flash Vector 3D is kinda like the next frontier...". I giggled and just replied back "Yeah man, we need this certain magic we experience in films to be on the web as well."
The whole flash design army is definitely not far from deploying such brilliant ways of presenting their substance on the web because they have the best potential to bring this magic across the internet.
Vector vs. Bitmap
Unfortunately regardless of all the numerous current advancements in web gadgets, web designers and developers are still faced with numerous limitations.
The reality that not all machines are super computers (yet) and that there are still millions out there who are not hooked up with the fastest internet connections are a few limitations to point out.
There is quite a very good number of 3D animated websites out there and some of them are undoubtedly eye-catching. However, most of them are raster graphics and extremely computer processor-hungry which obviously causes my grandma's computer to helplessly crash.
So needlessly to say, this is the part where the valor of vector 3D comes to the rescue.
There are many articles and forums here and there regarding the 'vector versus bitmap' issue. Both parties serve different purposes and give stunning results but it all boils down to the careful examination of the project’s initial goal.
The use of the third axis is well-efficient enough to grab the interest of millions. Combine that with sufficient skills and knowledge in vector graphics, I therefore declare that vector-based 3D animation is absolutely the answer to my grandma's headaches.
The great era of rotating arrows and cube animation is already history.
The instant boom of vector 3D applications for the web thus made its way to successful existence that gave designers a bigger room to explore and to create more complex shapes and animations in a snap of time.
Unluckily, most of them did not stand the test of time - except eRain's Swift 3D.
"Swift 3D is the only 3D application to directly integrate with Macromedia Flash and provides unrivaled vector rendering quality and output style options. Swift 3D's toolset and interface allows anyone to quickly create 3D content while providing a full set of advanced tools to grow into!"
With its latest version, it boasts a wider range of exporting capabilities - such as AVI, Quicktime, FLV and more. This gives flash animators the means to showcase their vector obra maestras not only on the web but on other mediums.
True Character Within
Any creation without a charismatic flair injected into it is almost as good as useless - most especially in selling or grabbing the enthusiasm of the masses.
This also implies the creation of an ultimate online experience.
Originality and whip-smart ideas play an extremely critical part in delivering a message across.
It has been proven, even before Mickey Mouse or Felix the Cat, that characters give an overwhelming impact to their audience.
These 'supposed-to-be-animals" were nurtured with a unique dynamism to reach the widest range of audience and to build an interrelationship between them and the people.
In translation to advertising and marketing, a 3D rotating logo alone just won’t cut it.
Who can’t remember the old guy with a black hat and long white hair on the Quaker Oats box? KoolAid anyone? Oh, and those rounded candy creatures in different colors?
These characters will always have a place in our remembering-box and will continuously be a part of our everyday life. We need this kind of material on the web.
The Obvious Secret
Theoretically, we need the same formula the legendary storytellers have been using; a creative formula infused deep within any creation that brings out the inner life from it - which creates a powerful personal interconnection to its audience through its charismatic dynamism.
About the author, Albert Castillo
Albert Castillo is the Creative Director of D.R.E.A.M. Studio Design, the Design Regiment Embodied with (highly) Artistic Men. Hailing from Quebec, Canada and highly acclaimed for their work throughout the industry.