Navigating 3D Space
Navigating in Google's SketchUp 6 with
the SpaceNavigator is utterly amazing once you get the knack
of it. You set up the SpaceNavigator to work with your left
hand (if you are right handed) and you use your mouse to
control things like push/pull and other tools common to 3d
or CAD programs.
A comparison of these operations in SketchUp
can be seen in a series of QuickTime movies (QuickTime:
qt1 - qt2) which demonstrate typical SketchUp navigation
using zoom, pan, and orbital rotate tools versus using the
SpaceNavigator. With the SpaceNavigator you can
and orbital rotate all at the same time.
It takes about
5-15 minutes to become comfortable with the device. Children
may find the device more difficult but you can make it
easier for them by eliminating the tilt/roll functions. In
that may be good advice for all beginners. In general, mastering
the device is very easy.
: QuickTime Movie
To navigate around a model it is helpful to
think of the object(s) you are working with in 3d as being
the cap of the device. To move the object toward you you
grasp the cap and pull it gently up and towards you. To fly
up and gain a bird's-eye view of the model you push
the cap downward away from you, as if pushing the model away
from you. To see this explained in action view the QuickTime
The benefit of using the SpaceNavigator with
a tool like SketchUp or form.Z or any other 3d application
becomes obvious within the first half hour of use. In a nutshell,
you can work twice as fast. How? Because in all 3d CAD or
modeling applications in order to model an object, be it
a house or a car, you need to constantly turn around and
work on that object from different sides. This means you
must stop modeling and "navigate" to another
angle or side and then go back to modeling. With the SpaceNavigator
you don't have to take the cursor off the modeling
tools to navigate because your left hand just moves the object
naturally (and within time it feels as natural as driving
a car) to the position you want it in in order to complete
process becomes effortless and graceful.
Other benefits of the SpaceNavigator include
the ability to do "live" fly-by's for client presentations
and to zoom around Google Earth as if you were Superman.
device can be used to navigate traditional 2D programs but
we were not able to test that out as support on the Mac for
the device is still very limited.
3Dconnexion is selling the SpaceNavigator PE
(personal edition) for 59.USD (the standard edition is 99.USD).
Frankly, I think the product is priced too low; at this price
Google should be bundling every copy of SketchUp with one.
And the same goes for every 3d application company out there.
current software support is limited now in the public beta
to just three applications but this will
expand quickly, no doubt, to many more apps, including
Google Earth which was shown
running with the SpaceNavigator
Expo. Our advice to the 3Dconnexion folks is to
get out a Mac OS X version of their SDK out (software development
kit) as soon as humanly possible. The company told us this
should be coming within in about a month's time. And our
follow-up advice is for Mac CAD/3D developers to rush
support for their app.
using the SpaceNavigator with SketchUp for several days the
thought of not using it becomes horrific. SketchUp is transformed
into an entirely different realm with the SpaceNavigator
at its side. How could anyone ever go back? I know I wouldn't.
The SpaceNavigator fits that "insanely great" product
definition made famous by Steve Jobs. It is so darn good
how on earth Apple didn't come up with it first. For
anyone serious about modeling on the Mac this is a product
you need to keep an eye on. For those who are doing Maya,
form.Z and SketchUp today, our advice to you is simple: what
are you waiting for? Trust us, you will not regret it. ---- Anthony
For more information on 3Dconnexion's SpaceNavigator
for Mac please go to: www.3dconnexion.com.
Published: 16 Feb 2007.
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