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Virtual Flower - What's New?
The animation frames show the picture exactly as it gets shown in Virtual Flower. However the flash movie requires the image to be redrawn in a format suitable for Flash to use - and also only some particular features in Flash get used for this. So it may not look identical - I've programmed it as close as I can with the tools to hand.
The flash save can't cope with the anaglyphs because the two colours need to overlap to make, e.g. black in red cyan anaglyphs - the save will do it as one or the other of the two colours where they overlap, e.g. red or cyan instead of black.
Also it can't cope with faces that intersect with each other at present. If you zoom in closely on the sunflower movie you will see that the stalk isn't always shown quite central. That is because actually it intersects with the flower head and part of it should be cropped . This works fine in Virtual Flower with the highest quality option - but not at present in the Flash movie save. Here it doesn't detract much from the movie but some of the more intricate mathematical shapes particularly won't save well as Flash movies even though they may have low polygon counts.
However, with the more challenging shapes you can also make a flash animated jpeg consisting of a number of jpeg images put together to make an animation sequence - as an alternative to the more usual animated gifs.
Here is one - an animated stereoscopic view of one of the geometrical shapes you can make with Virtual Flower
For a view with motion and zoom controls: Small dodekic icosidodecahedron
There is a trick to looking at these - well you can use a special stereoscopic viewer of course. But it is possible to see them as they are without a viewer.
The other way is to hold your finger up in front of the image, look at your finger, and let your eyes go cross-eyed. You see two copies of both the shapes - and want the centre two images to overlap until they coincide. Don't worry if they don't overlap exactly - this is common, depending on your eyesight, and the eye is well able to compensate for small discrepancies in the positions of the images.
Just adjust the position of your finger until they coincide as nearly .as you can make it - and then wait and after a while you may see a shape floating in front of the screen in the middle - with the other two ones to either side still lying flat back in the screen. It will be floating quite a way in front of the screen. . The key actually is to get your finger at the right distance from the screen to match the position of the shape. Now gently move your finger away and mask the shapes to either side with your hands positioned at the same distance as the object - and with a bit of luck, you will see it floating in mid air between your hands :-).
This movie is quite small to reduce the download size. Larger ones are easier to see - try them out with Virtual Flower itself :-). You make the animation from Images | Animation frames | Make flash animated jpeg - and you show the stereoscopic view from Picture | Anaglyph and Stereoscopic pair.
Some optimising of picture refreshes. Quality level 4 (depth order + shaded) is now just about as fast as quality level 1 (outline type appearnce), so it's now the standard setting.
Sorry, I uploaded it on 2nd June but forgot to rename it to the file you download. Okay now. Also fixed another bug found.
For details see 2nd June.
Added File | Print, Page Setup, Copy, and Copy size so that one can copy your pictures as bitmaps of any size to other documents or print out your pictures. Also other print buttons in the wizards, and the Picture | Picture - turn and move window - these print your shape at the same position it is in in the picture in that dialog.
Added a resource check to check level of resources in Windows 95 / 98 - you can see the levels from Help | About and if you get down to 1 % resources it will stop close any windows apart from the main window and pop up an alert so you can choose to exit Virtual Flower at that point too - the 1% here is just a place holder - go to Help | About to set it to whoever level you want, e.g. 5% or 7% would probably be appropriate, if you have a tendency to go low on resources and want Virtual Flower to respond like this. Also has an option to automatically close Virtual flower if resources ever drop to 0. When this happens, VF will exit, and then pop up a message to ask if you want to start it up again - and you can then click Yes when ready if you do, or No.
A little work improving the layout to make it easier to see what does what.
Note. I will soon be adding an option to Virtual Flower to show the trees and flowers using OpenGL - this will mean you can turn them around in VF even if quite complex, just as you can do in Cortona and other 3D programs. Watch this space :-) ... well - if you want to know when the OpenGL version of VF is ready then add yourself to the VF mailing list.
More work improving the layout of the new wizards.
Also, now when you save a file to replace one that already exists, it suggests a new name based on the most recent reset you did in FTS. E.g. if you made it using the MakeTrailing Flower button, then modified it, then will suggest the name "Trailing Flower 1.wrl" or if that already exists, "Trailing Flower 2.wrl" and so on. You accept that new name by answering Alt + Yes to the message, or Alt + no to just change the name but not save, so you can edit it yourself first.
Wizards | Easy Object Wizard
Wizards | Easy Star SphereWizard
Made it so that the text about when you need to reduce number of layers only shows if needed, also the Show complete button likewise.
Various improvements in layout for the wizards.
In the view showing the branches as lines - the one you see when you drag the tree if it is set to medium quality - now shows the branches as two parallel lines instead of one, to indicate the width of the tree.
Reduced the amount of resources needed for brushes in Windows 9x for colour shades - by only making them when needed and deleting them all at the end of the refresh - this makes a big difference if you set the number of colour shades high from Picture | Options.
Output | Output | Show as dots (or the same check box on the output page of the wizards) - now approximates the tree with an oval of the same size, so you can still see the size of the tree when you show the avenue or forest as dots. Main reason for showing it as dots is that it can be drawn faster that way for trees with many layers or much detail, or on a slower computer.
Changed the splash screen to a new screen shot of the sunflowers in Cortona.
Renamed "Baby flowering tree wizard" to "Easy flowering tree wizard".
Added the Netscape named colours to the easy version of the colour wheel.
More work on the wizards.
Wizards | Baby Flowering Tree Wizard
More work on the wizards generally.
File | Virtual Flower Files | Compress all wrl files made (in original location)
- with this selected then whenever you save a .wrl file then it gets saved in the gzipped format (smaller files), which is understood by VRML editors, and is suitable for use for web pages. The other (default) option is to keep your files as you work on them in uncompressed form, but compress them all when ready to upload using Compress All, which puts the compressed files into a sub-folder of your current folder.
File | Applets & Thumbnails
Make thumbnails pages... - this makes a web page of thumbnails of the .wrl files saved from Virtual Flower in current directory.
You can use this to make a web site like this one: Star Spheres
Index all wrl files (not just Virtual Flower ones) - this can be used with any .wrl files you have e.g. so that you can get an overview of all the .wrl files in a folder. You need to unselect .BMP for .wrl files not made in VF - then the thumbnails will just be the .wrl files embedded several to a page.
Open all bitmaps in - opens all the bitmaps as they are made in another application (such as Windows Paint). You can then use that application to save them in another format such as .gif to use for the links on the web page.
File | Virtual Flower Files | Add Thumbnails
Moved the applets thumbnails page construction button to Random Virtual Flower and applets
File | Random Virtual Flower and Applets | BMP
- saves thumbnail bitmaps of all the files as made in Virtual Flower. You can change the extension to show in href links in the Links field - defaults to bmp. Good ones to use with the VF images are gifs or pngs. The idea is to convert the bitmaps to gifs or pngs in another application - then remake the index with the Links field set to say "gif" and then all the html pages will use links to your new gifs instead of the original bitmaps.
File | Virtual Flower Files | Add Thumbnails
This adds thumbnails to the web page of applets you make here. The thumbnails are miniature versions of the applet - when the page loads then user has to wait for the blaxxun applet to load once as usual for a single page with an applet on it. Then after that, most of the files are only two or three K, smaller than a gif even.
You can see it in action in this new page:
Note though that it works best if you have not too many applets per page, and if the first page the visitor encounters has only one applet (otherwise it mightn't download completely into their cache). There is some interesting kind of cut off operating here - when you have 30 per page, then the total rate at which the data downloads for the entire page suddenly plummets to less than 100 bits per second on low bandwidth connection - while other pages on the same computer continue to download at the normal page. Anyone know why that is??
Several uploads in the last few days - mainly for the vertex figure options - see Wizards | Objects and Star Sphere Wizard. Can now make star polyhedra, and with vertices with the faces winding round them more than once. Also you can now colour a star polygon distinctly from an ordinary polygon of the same number of sides. Can now save as several indexed face sets one for each polygon type as an alternative to using colour indexes - which is useful for java applets. Now you can make polygons with intersecting sides and ensure that they will look the same in all VRML browsers as they do in VF - with the faces filled in according to the winding number about the point.
Also the information about the polyhedron you make from the vertex figure now shows if all the edges connect up, or if there are gaps.
In any of the windows which show the virtual flower, you can now change the branches, or the stalks, or turn it as you wish, instead of having some windows that you can only move it around in and some you can change the shape in as it was before.
To do that, click on the text at top left where it says e.g. Change Branches. It will cycle through Change Stalks, Move, and then show no text, so that you can copy the picture or save it with no text on it - it will in fact still be set up to let you Move it. Then back to Change Branches again. Use right click to go through them in reverse order.
See Output | Output Options | Split intersecting polygons, and Ok to use colourindex (which can now be unselected)
Also some work on the File | Virtual Flower Files
It now lets you add a thumbnail version of the applet to the applets page, also can make the java applets in any sub-folder you happen to have as your current directory.
Option to make polyhedra from the vertex figures Wizards | Objects and Star Sphere Wizard , then select Vertex Figure from the drop list
Top left of picture shows whether you can use it to change branches, stalks, or to move the tree. By clicking on this text you cycle through all those, and then finally hide the text (in move mode).
New wizards menu Wizards | Flowering Tree Wizard, and Wizards | Objects and Star Sphere Wizard,
Menu in File | Virtual Flower Files now shows just the file names by default with check box one can use to see the indications about whether the file is included in the random virtual flower, or list of virtual flowers to use to make java applets.
New button Picture | Drawing Options | Refresh
Work on introductory help page.
Work on Help | Intro | More Options | Musical Geometries.
New approach for showing Ok / Cancel etc type messages - you can move the parent window around behind the message (with its caption unhighlighted), and even minimize it, and you don't get a beep when you clickon the parent because that's a valid thing to do to now - click on it in order to move it. I think it may possibly be a first - never seen it done like this before.
More work on Output | Musical Geometry | and the help for that page.
The audio clips made from the templates now automatically get the file names re-[arranged so that the tokens are in alphanumerical order - e.g 1s3_1s7_3s7.mp3 instead of 3s7_1s3_1s7..mp3. This is useful in case one wants to use the saem clips in several models - perhaps all in the same folder for a web page to reduce the download size. So long as each individual token is also done in the same order too - e.g. 1s3 instead of 3s1 - in the templates then the same clip has the same file name in all the models. This is most relevant for anyone making new templates to use with this option.
All the templates now have the main grouping node labelled
DEF ROOT Transform
This makes them easy to use with the Blaxxun applet in Study mode.
Added study java templates for the option to make java applet web pages for all the virtual flowers using Java. Changed location for the templates to the templates sub folder of the java_applets folder. Also now you have a new check box
File | Virtual Flower Files | Ok for Java Study.
Added Output | Musical Geometry | Sun Au for Java (needs latest version of Fractal Tune Smithy).
Found out that you need to get a license to show Blaxxun applets on your web site commercially, and pay $499 a year for that - I'd been under the impression it was completely free. Investigating various options and meanwhile removed the applet from the download page, and updated the help accordingly.
Files | Virtual Flower Files | Shift + Ok to remake all the virutal flowers again from scratch - e.g. if one wants to remake them all with / without Protos, or whatever.
Output | Output Options | Add file names to defs - prefixes the defs in the VRML by the file name - which is useful if you want to include several of the models in a single VRML file.
Files | Virtual Flower Files | Prepare for Java Applets..., All and Show - use this to make web pages for all your virtual flowers in one go for a java applet X3D viewer such as Blaxxun 3D. Makes them complete with links from one to the next.
The musical geometry models when saved in the general audio format (i.e.leaving file type selection to user of Fractal Tune Smithy) now add a line
to the list of audio clips for FTS to make - FTS then can go through the .wrl file looking for e.g. .wav" and replace them with the current audio format as selected in FTS, say, or Sun au, or whatever.
More work on the help paage with two new sections on the applets, and on ray tracing.
28th October - a bit later in the day - more work on the help page, and a little more work on the dialogs layout.
Work on the help page. Updated version number to 1.2 - cummulative effect of various recent updates.
Work on layout of many of the dialogs and the tabbed dialogs. Made sure all the tabbed dialogs by default show only one row of tabs. (c.f. Tabbed dialogs Hall of Shame). Removed buttons that lead to distantly related windows from some of the dialogs - and generally removing anything that looks like "clutter" in the dialogs.
Each menu now has its own separate tabbed dialog, e.g. the Shape menu has a tabbed dialog with the Tree, Angles and Branches windows in it. You can add / remove windows from them using Help | Organise Tabbed Dialogs.
New button Flowers Etc | Leaves | Reflect right over to left.
Version number update to 1.1 - result of accumulation of many additions and bug fixes. Some work on the help too.
Help section on the new musical geometry window in Help | Intro | A few highlights -
Picture | More Options | Normal - the extra check box makes it clearer that there are three options - stereographic pair, anaglyph, and normal.
Picture | Options | Show Stationary settings and Picture | Options | Show On Move settings - these originally had the same name Show settings which is confusing.
Output | Musical Geometry. - make models of musical geometries - scales based on geometrical shapes by Erv Wilson and others.
File | Virtual Flower Files | Compress Source and Compress All.
This removes the comments and white space, and then compresses it using gzip, which is the standard for VRML compression.
Colours | Colour Wheel Scroll bars for hue. saturation and brightness.
Picture | Drawing Options | Custom background colour Change the background colour for the picture you show in Virtual Flower.
Picture | More Options | Show as Anaglyph - background colour - custom. Here the idea is that by changing the background colour one may reduce the effect of faint lines in the background that one can sometimes see in anaglyphs (faint lines in the colour that is supposed to be hidden from that eye) - by choosing a background colour that the fainter lines will merge into
20th September afternoon
Picture | More Picture Options | Show as stereoscopic pair
Flowers Etc | Objects | 2 line colours - for the geodesic sphere type subdivisions. See my new Geods page for it in action.
When selected, it outlines the original shape used to make the geodesic sphere in a distinct colour - the two colours used are the ones for Output | Colours | Flowers. The two colours of lines at present only gets shown in Virtual Flower for the 1st and 2nd (wire frame type) views - but get saved to the VRML anyway whatever your selections, so long as you select Output | Output Options | Save Lines.
Flowers Etc | Objects | Geod. last. If you do it first, you will then connect the face centres etc. of the geodesic sphere, often making a shape with many hexagonal or pentagonal faces. If you do it last you get a geodesic sphere type shape with many triangular shapes (sometimes with gaps where the original faces had more than four sides).
Flowers Etc | Objects | Skip non geod. polys - Skips any faces with more than four sides for geodesic subdivisions. One could divide these into triangles too, even the pentagon etc (irregular triangles), and certainly the hexagon, but for now, Virtual Flower just skips them, normally leaving a gap. Unselect this check box to show the original faces in this case. Since they don't get subdivided, you get gaps around the edges where they don't quite meet up with the new geodesic sphere vertices.
Flowers Etc | Objects | Sub-divide into planar faces - here the new thing is that you can unselect it - was in action before but always on.
Faster install, and slightly smaller installer (by about 200 K).
New option to turn the objects and flowers in any direction on the tree. - Flowers Etc | Objects | A, R and T.
New window Picture | Drawing Options - and some re-organising of the other windows.
Added an option to change the dimension of the tesseract and simplex. Also means of rotating them into any higher space dimensions up to 10 by click and drag.
Updated the coloured anaglyphs so that both the red and the cyan components get varied, instead of just red - lets one have dark colours. Still have to have green and yellow looking much the same in the coloured anaglyphs because they only differ in the red component, - Can't think of anything you can do about that.
Added prisms, anti-prisms, pyramids, hypercubes and simplexes (4D tetrahedra) to Flowers Etc | 3D Flowers Etc | 3D shapes to make
You can rotate the four dimensional figures into the fourth space dimension by dragging the picture with Caps Lock on - this is a rotation about two of the dimensions used for the 3D projection, with one of those also turning. (A four dimensional planar rotation is a rotation of two dimensions about two other dimensions, rather than the two about one that we are used to in 3D).
You can also use the drag and release method to set them spinning in the fourth space dimension
Added context sensitive Ctrl + C = copies picture bitmap, viewpoint, audio clip node, polyrhythm for pasting into Fractal Tune Smithy, or HTML list of links to virtual flower files depending which window has the focus. (Picture, Audio, Animation Cycles, and Virtual Flower Files respectively).
New virtual flower files - Tesseract tree, and Treasured ring.
Updates of Daisy red tipped, Reed bed animated, and Red and blue ash leaf arrangment.
Added an opalescent sheen to the flowers and leaves for the Jewel trees example VRML files, and make the branches more gold like in appearance.
Flowers Etc | Petals - scroll bars for all the numbers of petals. For ones that come in clusters of several petals at varied angles, width etc such as the daisy, sunflower, or ones with narrow "stamens" such as the scottish bluebell, then a scroll bar at the top of the window also shows up to choose which cluster to change the values for
Also for shapes such as the daffodil with two distinct shapes of petal (the basic petal shape and the trumpet shape in that case), another scroll bar shows up to change the type of petal for each cluster.
Jewel Trees updated with cone shaped petals - were flat, also with twist top option for the trunks so that they dovetail together neatly.
Separate drawing time outs for changing the picture (when the mouse button is down) and when it is done (on release), defaults to 1 and 1.5 seconds respectively.
The bug fixes include some important updates of the .wrl files - any from 3rd September needing to be updated will automatically be updated when you run the installer.
Added a new button Files | @@ to update .wrl files from .vfl backups.
Flowers Etc | Petals - now shows how many petal shapes you have (as it already does for the sheet flowers) - e.g. for the daffodills, shows Petal shape 1 of 2. Also if you change to a new petal number or increase the maximum number, it automatically makes a copy of the previous one, rather than clearing the new petal as it did before - one can alway clear it using the clear button if needed.
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© Robert Walker 2008
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Create virtual flowers, Lissajous curves, and geometrical patterns in 3D - 3D Art