Join Mike Rankin for an in-depth discussion in this video Adding 3D content, part of iBooks Author for Teachers: The Basics.
By adding 3D widgets to your projects, you can allow your students to explore an illustration from any angle and bring content to life in a way that still pictures and even video can't match. Once you become familiar with widgets in iBooks Author, it's no problem at all to add 3D models to your projects. The bigger question is, where do you get 3D files to place into your projects? The first thing to know is that iBooks Author accepts only one file format for 3D, COLLADA files with the extension .DAE.
If you want to try your hand at drawing your own 3D illustrations, you can use one of several programs for the Mac that can export to COLLADA, format including Trimble SketchUp, Blender, Autodesk Maya, and 3D tools by Strata. It's worth noting that some of these applications are quite expensive and complex. But one relatively inexpensive option for the Mac is Strata Design 3D SE. Trimble SkecthUp comes in a free version, although as of this recording, it lacks the ability to set a viewing position that iBooks Author will match.
So when you place the COLLADA file in iBooks Author, the initial view will be different from what you see in SkecthUp. For now, the workaround is to rotate your model in SketchUp to compensate for the initial view iBooks Author shows you. If you don't want to try drawing your own 3D models, there are several sources online where you can download models that other people have created. Some are free, others you have to pay for it. So let's look at a few of those. Trimble 3D Warehouse is the companion website for SketchUp, where users upload their creations.
You can browse or search for something specific and when you find what you want, you can download the file and open it in SketchUp, then export the COLLADA file. Again, you may have a little work to do in SketchUp to rotate the model so it appears with the correct initial view in iBooks Author. Another site where you can find free COLLADA files is ourbricks.com. After you set up an account at ourbricks.com, you can download 3D models. You can search the site and results are displayed with the terms of the license for each item. Again, some are free, others are not.
Some are public domain, some have a price, and some have Creative Commons licenses. You can click the license link to find out more. I'll switch over to the Finder, and here I have a COLLADA file, note the .DAE extension. If I press the Spacebar, I can use the Mac's quick look feature to preview the 3D model, and I can drag to view it from different angles. I'll press the Spacebar again to close it, switch over to iBooks Author, and let's create a 3D widget.
I'll switch back to the finder. Some DAE files are self-contained, containing all the 3D information they need, others have separate files like this .tif file. I could either drag the entire folder into iBooks Author or just the .DAE file. iBooks Author takes a moment to place the file, and there it is. Over in the Widget inspector, I can choose a different 3D file, I can set Object Rotation options, so I can allow it to freely rotate, or restrict rotation in either horizontal or horizontal and vertical dimensions.
I can also set the object to auto-rotate while idle, so it will spin on its own. In the Layout tab, I can set a Title, Caption, and Background. Also, when I have the models selected, I can go to the Graphic inspector and set a fill color. I'll pick a gray color. I'll go back to the Widget inspector. I'll keep the Label at None and turn the Caption off. I'll use the title for our direction line, I'll select it all, and I'll use the Format bar to make it Bold and Centered.
I can't preview this 3D widget here in iBooks Author. So if I wanted to check it, I'd have to either use the Quick Look feature in the Finder, as I did earlier or I could open the COLLADA file in the Mac's Preview application, or I can connect my iPad and preview my project, which we'll see how to do in a later movie. Adding 3D models is definitely a way to increase the wow factor in your projects, and there's almost nothing you have to do to get them to work inside iBooks Author. Instead, the work is done ahead of time, either by you in a 3D modeling application, or by someone else whose work you can purchase or use for free from one of the various sites on the web devoted to 3D modeling.
- Creating and editing layouts
- Setting text preferences
- Working with color and images
- Importing and moving content
- Adding an image gallery widget
- Creating scrolling sidebars and pop-overs
- Incorporating audio and video
- Creating reviews with multiple choice and matching questions
- Sharing iBooks Author projects via email and PDF