New Projects - Fresh from the Labs

Moonlight|3D—3-D Image Modeling (www.moonlight3d.eu)

This last project looks really cool and impressed me, but I'm afraid documentation is nonexistent, so hopefully some of you folks at home can help these guys out. According to the Freshmeat page:

Moonlight|3D is a modeling and animation tool for three-dimensional art. It currently supports mesh-based modeling. It's a redesign of Moonlight Atelier, formed after Moonlight Atelier/Creator died in 1999/2000. Rendering is done through pluggable back ends. It currently supports Sunflow, with support for RenderMan and others in planning.

Some great results from someone who actually knows how to use Moonlight|3D.

The Web site sheds further light on the project, which states one of its goals as: “In order to speed up the progress of our development efforts, we open up the project to the general public, and we hope to attract the support of many developers and users, bringing the project forward faster.”

Installation

In terms of requirements, the only thing I needed to install to get Moonlight running was Java, so thankfully, the dependencies are fairly minimal. As for choices of packages at the Web site, there's a nightly build available as a binary or the latest source code (I ran with the binary). Grab the latest, extract it to a local folder, and open a terminal in the new folder. Then, enter the command:

$ ./moonlight.sh

Provided you have everything installed, it now should start. Once you're inside, I'm sorry, I really can't be of much help. There are the usual windows in a 3-D editor for height, width, depth and a 3-D view, and on the left are quick selection panes for objects, such as boxes, cones, spheres and so on (actually, the pane on the left has access to just about everything you need—it's pretty cool). Scouting about, a number of cool functions really jumped out at me, like multiple preview modes; changeable light, camera sources and positions; and most important, the ability to make your own animations. If only I could find a way to use them.

This project really does look pretty cool, and it seems to be a decent alternative to programs like Blender, but there honestly is no documentation. All links to documentation lead to a page saying the documentation doesn't exist yet and provides a link to the on-line forums. The forums also happen to have very little that's of use to someone without any prior knowledge of the interface, and I assume all those already on the forum are users of the original Moonlight Atelier. Nevertheless, the project does look interesting and seems to be quite stable. I look forward to seeing what happens with this project once some documentation is in place.

John Knight is a 24-year-old, drumming- and climbing-obsessed maniac from the world's most isolated city—Perth, Western Australia. He can usually be found either buried in an Audacity screen or thrashing a kick-drum beyond recognition.

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John Knight is the New Projects columnist for Linux Journal.

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