Design Visualization

First Look Review: VizUp v2

9 Apr, 2006 By: Ron LaFon

A polygon reducer that balances detail and file size to simplify 3D model repurposing.

Highly Recommended If you've tried to move a complex 3D model into a form for virtual reality use or for real-time visualization applications on the Web, your efforts probably resulted in a file that was really too big and too detailed for the repurposing you had in mind. The complex operation of polygon reduction may feel daunting, but VizUp simplifies and speeds up the process with aplomb.

The VizUp polygon reducer helps you achieve an optimal balance between maintaining the necessary detail in a model and a file size that is

VizUp Professional v2.09
Pros: Speedy, good reduction algorithms, good file format support
Cons: None significant
Price: Standard $299; Professional $595; Enterprise $2,495


sufficiently compact that users can download it in a reasonable amount of time.

VizUp is available in three versions: Standard, which offers fast reduction; Professional, with advanced reduction capabilities; and Enterprise, which is optimized for very large models. I got to experiment with VizUp v2.09 Professional.

VizUp supports the VRML 2.0/97 file formats (WRL) and StereoLitho (STL) import and export in the latest release. The application is very simple to use and requires no arcane knowledge to operate. Import your model and simply choose the level of polygon reduction from buttons located just above the viewing area of the application. Then choose the Reduce option from the pull-down menu. Model optimization is performed automatically.

A boat model in its original, uncompressed form with 820,555 triangles, shown in VizUp.

The same boat model reduced from its original 820,555 triangles to 123,083 triangles using VizUp -- an 85% reduction with no visible side effects.

VizUp Professional offers a batch mode reduction operation and a Command line interface that allows you to perform model optimization according to a set of parameters for all files in a specified folder -- a very useful capability when you're working with a large number of models.

Manual or Automatic
You have an option not to set any parameters manually, in which case VizUp will automatically pick the most suitable ones for your particular model. You can save polygon-reduced models in the VIZUP file format, which retains the relevant reduction information so you can revisit the file later if you need a different reduction percentage for another purpose; you don't have to convert the model again unless the original has changed.

In testing, I found polygon reduction relatively fast and very clean. The process of optimization results in the deletion of some vertices, but it does not change the coordinates of the remaining vertices, resulting in minimal distortions during texture mapping.

VizUp interface showing the original, uncompressed form of a plane model, which contains 185,996 triangles.

The same plane model shown in VizUp, reduced from its original 185,996 triangles to 18,599 triangles -- a 90% reduction with no visible side effects.

VizUp runs under Windows 98, Me, NT, 2000, XP and Windows Server 2003. Registered users are entitled to updates with discounts and technical support, and an evaluation version (with the Save command disabled) is available from the VizUp Web site. On the site you'll also find before-and-after model-conversion examples, and you can download converted models for examination. VizUp is a speedy and capable, yet easy-to-use, polygon-reduction application that you might find is a useful addition to your tool kit.

Highly Recommended

About the Author: Ron LaFon

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