Design Visualization

First Look Review: Strata 3D CX v5.0

5 Sep, 2006 By: Ron LaFon

Sophisticated visualization, modeling and animation tool improves connection with Adobe products, adds Lua scripting.

Strata 3D CX 5.0 is the latest version of Strata 3D's premier product for modeling, animating and visualizing. This latest release adds a wealth of usability features and new capabilities. Adobe customers will find the Strata 3D CX interface is now much closer to Adobe's, making it easier to move back and forth between applications such as Adobe Photoshop and Strata 3D CX.

Artist Kip Kubisz modeled this car in Strata 3D CX.

The Adobe connection features in Strata 3D CX are perhaps the most powerful new features in this release. Native Photoshop file import is improved, with linked 3D textures and improved native Adobe Illustrator import for creating 3D objects. The Filter FX feature allows users to apply Photoshop-style filters

Strata 3D CX v5.0
Pros: Very sophisticated and capable visualization tool with useful companion applications.
Cons: None significant.
Price: $695; $995 Strata 3D Suite (Strata 3D CX 5.0, Strata Live 3D and Strata Foto 3D bundle)


to any object or scene, based on position, size, direction, depth, light color, light direction and light distance. Users can now Render To Layers, where each image component is rendered as a separate layer in a Photoshop PSD file. Designers, illustrators and mixed media artists who use Adobe products will find the links between those products and Strata 3D CX to be a powerful combination of top-notch tools.

Also new with this release is the integration of the Lua scripting language that is used in a number of 3D games and engines. Lua scripting lets users add almost any feature or effect they desire. For those who don't do their own scripting, several ship with Strata 3D CX 5.0, including Twist, Bend and Wave. There are also a number of third-party developers and users who create and share new scripts.

We also briefly looked at two companion products from Strata, both of which operate as standalone applications and also integrate with Strata 3D CX 5.0. Strata Live 3D works with 3D modeling applications such as Strata 3D CX, Strata Foto 3D, 3ds Max, Maya and others. Using premade models from commercial model collections and online sources such as, users can add to their products with Strata Live 3D.

The other Strata 3D product that we glanced at is Strata Foto 3D, which is a tool for creating professional-quality 3D content from still images. With a conventional camera, users can generate photos of objects on a printed mat that can be viewed from a variety of directions in 3D. Both Strata Live 3D and Strata Foto 3D ($495 each) are available separately or bundled with Strata 3D CX 5.0.

Pricing for Strata 3D CX 5.0 is $695. A Strata 3D Suite is available for $995 -- which bundles Strata 3D CX 5.0, Strata Live 3D and Strata Foto 3D, a savings of $690.

The minimum Windows system requirements for Strata 3D CX 5.0 are Windows XP/2000 with Service Pack 4 installed, a Pentium-compatible or better processor, at least 256MB of RAM, 330MB of hard disk space and a VGA display with a resolution of at least 1024x768. As with most graphics applications, a faster processor and more RAM result in better performance. A CD-ROM drive is also required for software installation.

On the Macintosh, the minimum system requirements are a Power Macintosh with Mac OS X 10.3+, 256MB of RAM, 330MB of free hard disk space and a monitor capable of resolutions of at least 1024x768.

Strata 3D CX can also be used for architectural renderings, as in this image from Christian Moore of a condominium bedroom.

For additional information, visit the Strata Web site to find a wealth of information, a more complete feature list, animations showing the various features, examples of work created with Strata 3D and an active community of users who share information on the use of the products. Order Strata 3D CX with a full 30-day money back satisfaction guarantee, or download the trial version. Strata 3D CX 5 is a very flexible and capable visualization tool with excellent features, integration and depth
-- more than we can enumerate within the constraints of this review.

About the Author: Ron LaFon

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