Clara.io: New Features and Open Access to All.

Clara.io, the leading online 3D modeling and rendering software from computer graphics veterans Exocortex, is getting even better!

- Ben Houston

November 5, 2013: Exocortex is proud to announce the start of the Clara.io (online 3D modeling and rendering software) open beta. Clara.io is the leading web-based professionally oriented 3D content creation platform. Along with opening the doors to unlimited registrations, we are also pleased to announce the Scene Player, improved Format support, a better History tab, complex scene navigation, a plugin SDK and a REST API.

"It is amazing what they have achieved. Essentially it is 3D Studio Max in a browser. Incredible :)"
— Chris Neale, Co-founder at UsableHQ.

We only just announced Clara.io (signup here) back in July and without too much fanfare. We knew there was a need for easy-to-use and collaborative 3D creation and we knew that delivering it via the web and WebGL is the way of the future. What we didn't expect is that over 14,000 people from over 60 countries would register for our closed beta! None of us here at Exocortex has ever seen such a enthusiastic response from the community. Some quick statistics: during the closed beta, each Clara.io user has, on average, created 2.3 scenes, imported 0.2 files and made more than 200 edits. Besides the overwhelming positive response, we have also received hundreds of feature requests. Thank you so much!

Here are the details on the new features:

Scene Player

Clara.io users have said that they want to be able to show off their creations easily. In response we have created an easy to use scene player. The Clara.io player can be used standalone (such as this Ducati motorbike example), or as an embeddable iframe (such as the Luxo Jr. animation above.)

To get the player for one of your Clara.io scenes just go to “File > Player Settings...” menu to enable the player and to get its embed codes or URL.

You have the option of setting a license for your content which allows others clone your scene and make their own modifications.

Bones, Skinning and Keyframe Animation

We have spent a lot of time polishing our bone, skinning and keyframe animation systems. You can either create your own bones and skins or you can import them from your favorite desktop-based 3D tool using FBX or Collada and touch them up. Bones, Skins and Keyframe Animation are extremely useful for creating dynamic content for the Web (such as the Luxo Jr. animation above) and for video games content.

You can find our documentation on our keyframe animation here.

"Who would have expected something like this would be possible in a browser a few years ago?"
— Mickel Andersson, Founder at PixelTango.

Modelling Improvements

We have continued to add more modelling tools to complete our tool set. The most requested features we’ve just added are: “Ring Select”, “Loop Select”, interactive “Slice”, “Border Select”, and "Bevel." Also if you hold down shift while switching between sub-object modes, your selection will be automatically converted to the appropriate elements.

Here is a quick 3 minute demonstration of polygon modelling in Clara.io:

Expanded Format Support

We have expanded our import format support to include;

  • Blender scenes, .blend
  • 3D Studio, .3ds
  • Polygon File Format, .ply
  • Modo scene files, .lxo

As well as 20 other formats, including Quake, Doom files. We have also made our Autodesk FBX (.fbx), Collada (.dae), ThreeJS (.json), and Stereolithography (.stl) importers and exporters significantly faster and more robust.

We also now support multi-file exports delivered to you as a single zip file.

In the next few weeks we will be adding export support for the new Kronos glTF format as well Microsoft's Babylon.js game engine format.

"Clara.io is looking pretty good!"
— Mr Doob (Ricardo Cabello), Creator of ThreeJS.

Scene Sharing and Collaboration

Clara.io has always supported simultaneous multi-user editing of the same scene, but it wasn't easy to invite others to join you in editing when the closed beta started. To make this easier we have improved our scene sharing system with a new dialog and easier to use permissions. To see how to do this, check out the “Sharing” video tutorial:

Internet Explorer 11 Support

Recently, Microsoft has introduced WebGL support in the new Internet Explorer 11. We have been working over the past few months with Microsoft's technical team to ensure that Clara.io has robust support for Internet Explorer 11, both the editor as well as the new scene player. We are happy to say that with IE11's support of WebGL, WebGL is now a mainstream technology.

Faster, Faster, Faster

We have sped up Clara.io both in its importers, scene loading, and editing. We have also partnered with Amazon to distribute our content to more than 20 secure servers around the world so that no matter were you are, you will find that Clara.io loads fast. We have moved from a text-based format for our assets, to a very efficient binary format. We have also restructured our importers (and made them more robust) so that you can get your large and complex scenes into Clara.io more than 3x faster. Also we have made numerous optimizations to our editor so that we can handle larger, more complex scenes and respond faster even on lower end and home computers. And we aren't done yet!

Friendlier History Tab

We have polished the history tab to give you better descriptions of your changes and also to more easily see who made which change. When you undo (via Ctrl-Z), we strike through that line of the history view to indicate which change you undid.

Navigating Complex Scenes

As Clara.io becomes more capable our users are creating more complex scenes. To help manage the increasing Clara.io scene complexity, we have made a number of improvements. First, we have added a fast scene search field in the Scene Explorer. You can type in names or search by type or status using our global selector system, e.g. %PolyMesh, or %Camera. Second, it is now possible to show and hide nodes by type via the viewport menu in the top left corner. Third, you can jump to your currently selected node in the Scene Explorer by hovering over the Scene Explorer and hitting the 'F' key.

"Clara.io is definitely awesome."
-- Ian De La Cruz, CEO of Cruz International.

Boolean Constructive Solid Geometry

One of the benefits of building Clara.io on the foundation of MrDoob's Three.JS is that there is so many libraries compatible with Three.JS. One of those libraries is ThreeCSG by Chandler Prall. We have done a integration of this library into Clara.io to enable constructive solid geometry booleans. Just a warning, this initial Boolean CSG support is experimental and may not work properly in all cases.

Here is an animation showing a Boolean CSG Subtraction operation between three cylinders and a block:

REST API & Plugin SDK

As developers of numerous plugins used in desktop 3D packages, we know the importance of being able to extend these types of tools. Thus we have released a plugin SDK as well as a REST API that can be used to both extend Clara.io’s functionality and to control Clara.io remotely. Have a look and let us know how we can further improve it.

"This is one of the most interesting tools enabled by WebGL, it turns the web browser from surfing content into a creation tool. Just think about how disruptive this could be."
— Rémi Arnaud, Co-creator of the Collada and REST3D standards.

And Coming Soon, Streaming Interactive V-Ray Rendering

And lastly in terms of features, but importantly, we will be starting the beta of our real-time V-Ray integration in the next few weeks. Our V-Ray integration features all f the built-in Advanced V-Ray materials and features fast progressive streaming of rendered results. Here is a teaser of our V-Ray integration that we have released a few months ago:

More details on our V-Ray integration beta program will be released soon.

Thanks to our Great Community!

Clara.io would be nothing without our great community. When talking about our community, we have to single out one individual in particular: Carlos Ribeiro. Carlos not only translated our documentation to Portuguese, but also gave a presentation on Clara.io as part of the official Latinoware 2013 conference! Carlos, you rock. Also we have to thank Catherine Leung who wrote a great blog post on Clara.io's launch (she also created this Zelda sword!) A great big thank you to Reiner Prokein, Eduard Gotwig, Leendert Hartog, Paul Griswold, Andrew Devis, Alex Melen, Roman Liutikov, Craig Blum, Jason Shoumar and Alvaro Castañeda for their great and volumenous feedback.

Learn More about Clara.io

To stay up to date and track the progress of Clara.io, please like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and add us to your G+ circle. Until the next update!

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