DesignWorkshop 1.7

Quest 3D Pro v2.5 from Act3D
theatre masks

This VR world building software may well be the way of the future for our VR/Theatre experiments.  With the demise of Sense8's WorldUp software we were looking for something that was easy to use, flexible and graphically sophisticated.  Quest3D from Act3D seems to fit the bill nicely.  The learning curve is a bit steeper than most graphic programs that you might run across but it is well worth it to invest the time learning the program.  This is a latest generation application that is constantly being upgraded and added to.  As a result we have features that we never had at our command before in consumer grade real-time VR.  Dynamic light sources, cast shadows and per-pixel textures such as fur are just some of the new tricks that Quest3D lets us play with.

The interface is rather unique. As you can see from the screen shot, the various aspects of the VR simulation are represented by "channels".  To build the simulation you drag channels (window, lights, input devices, object behaviors, etc.) from the lists on the left of the screen to the right window. The channels are then connected by dragging lines between them to form connections. A wide variety of channels are available and more are being added by the company and other users all the time. Models can be imported from  a very wide range of design software packages including all leading industry standard software like 3DS MAX, AutoCAD, Lightwave, Maya, SoftImage, trueSpace, SolidWorks, Pro/Engineer, SolidEdge and many more.  These models then become channels and can be added to the VR simulations.  If you are really clever you can break into the world of programming and make channels of your own that can then be used over and over.

Once you have mastered the interface work goes fast.  One very helpful property is the ability to set up templates for quick accessibility.  For example, you could have a VR world ready to go with a model theatre space, default lighting, an input device such as a joystick.  And then you can drop in the model scenery of your current show and you are ready to show off to the rest of the production crew.

If the program has a weak spot it might be a lack of built-in support for VR devices such as motion trackers and stereoscopic displays.  Because we are using Nvidia based video cards we are able get some stereographic functionality by adding Nvidia's 3D drivers to the typical drivers for the board and letting it do the work.

Quest3D's advertised features:

Friendly graphical user interface

High performance

Powerful graphics

Everything in real-time

Physics simulation

Path finding

Optimized scenery and crowds

Publish directly to executable

Quest3D Pro is now up to version 3, which is listed at $1,088 
Quest3DLite is available for $156
Quest Enterprise Edition is $2,783
Quest3D VR is $10,892

An educational version are available which has the functionality of the "enterprise" edition. Look to their web site for details. A fully featured demo program can be found there, with a limited trial period and no saving of files.

Mark Reaney

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