Review: Ulead Cool 3D Studio
Posted May 1, 2003

Ulead Cool 3D Studio is a professional 3D text and graphics imaging tool designed for creating self-contained projects or as a complementary titling and animation product for pro-level NLEs like Adobe Premiere and Ulead's own Media Studio Pro and Video Studio Pro, both of which will be available in full-step new versions by the time this review hits the streets. With a straightforward interface, preset templates, filters, easily mastered motion-creation techniques, and a modest price of $129 ($79.95 as a downloadable upgrade for registered users of Cool 3D 3.5), 3D Studio presents an accessible and mostly intuitive way for video creators to add sophisticated 3D effects to their video projects, with effects created in 3D Studio exported as compatible AVI video files.

With Cool 3D Studio's preset templates and graphics, I had a nice animation with moving 3D objects and texts up and running in minutes after installing the software. Main elements of the user interface include the Project Window, Timeline, Attribute Panel, Object Manager, Camera View Panel, and EasyPalette. The EasyPalette makes a good starting point with its gallery of preset objects, effects, attributes, and filters that can be quickly implemented and applied. In the Text Editor, you can enter text and set attributes like font, style, color, and size. This text can then be added to your existing animations, rendered in 3D, and easily rotated, inverted, and more with simple mouse-dragging. Within the Attribute Panel, you control each attribute of the objects in your project, and adjust them and add effects as needed.

Beyond the preset templates, you can import 3D models from higher-end modeling tools into the Project Window and integrate and manipulate them within Cool 3D Studio as needed. If you want to design your own 3D objects from scratch, you work in Cool 3D Studio's Path Editor and Lathe Editor to build them. Import drawings created in other projects as vectors or raster programs to the Path Editor, or start your drawing in the editor itself. Then open them up in the Attribute Editor to set them in motion, apply filters, etc. The Object Lathe Tool allows users to create cylindrical objects by more or less spinning your drawings into 3D around either the X or Y axis as you prefer.

Cool 3D projects can be saved as AVI, QuickTime, RealNetworks, or WMV files and imported into other programs as such. Other format options for Web distribution include Macromedia Flash and animated GIF.

Recommended system requirements include Pentium 3 800mHz or higher running Windows 98, 98 SE, NT 4 SP 6 and above, 2000, Me, or XP; 256MB RAM, 3D-accelerated display adapter with 32MB display memory, 120MB available HDD space for installation, and DirectX 8.1 or above. Formats supported for file import include AVI, MOV, and WMV for video; BMP and JPG for still images; MP3, WAV, or AIFF for audio; and DirectX, 3DS, or X Models for 3D models. Export options in addition to those mentioned earlier include BMP, JPG, TGA, and RealText 3D for images and image sequences; DirectX and 3D Studio files for 3D models; and Macromedia Flash for EXEs.