Cool 3D 2.0

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Type of Product

Ulead Cool 3D is a 3D utility program that helps you achieve still and animated 3D titles and headlines for Web pages, documents, videos, and multimedia. Version 2.0 is an upgrade.

User Level

Beginning, intermediate, and advanced PC users. It is intuitive enough for beginners who can use the preset examples, while powerful enough for more advanced users who want to create their own effects. There are numerous sophisticated controls to fine-tune features

New and Enhanced Features

  • Manipulate multiple letters and graphics individually
  • Import Windows Metafile (WMF/EMF) files
  • Alignment text (right, left, center)
  • Unlimited text attributes
  • Use plug-ins for unlimited bevel styles
  • Separate settings for each bevel means you can map different textures onto each 3D face & bevel
  • Key frames & timelines for each object/attribute gives you precise animation control
  • Fire, explosion, and twist plug-in effects
  • Mounting of objects on "Boards" to create double-sided animations
  • Export/Import support for EasyPalette
  • Insert Cool 3D objects into FrontPage
  • 199 levels of undo


Installing, User Guide, & Tutorials--Cool 3D was easy to install. I perused the 32 page User Guide that comes with the program and, to put it politely, it contains minimal information, and I had to use a magnifying glass to see the screen shots of the toolbars. On the plus side is Ulead's Help section on the Standard Toolbar, which is extensive, clear, and easy to follow. I went to Ulead's Web page and printed their tutorials for Cool 3D which were also clear and easy to understand. There are six tutorials: Basics, Video Titles, X-, Y-, and Z-Axis, Key Frames, Fire Plug-ins, and Explosion Plug-ins. I followed each tutorial and within a short time felt like I was a pro.

Interface--The interface is simple and not cutesy. The screen is divided into three sections: toolbars at top except for Attributes which is at bottom, middle has a viewing screen for rendered 3D text, and the bottom has libraries of various 3D effects displayed as thumbnails. The thumbnails are especially handy for beginners who are unfamiliar with 3D concepts such as lighting, textures, or camera angles as the thumbnails graphically display the results of each effect.

Toolbars--There are five toolbars, which can be hidden, opened or moved:

Standard–contains frequently used commands such as Open, Save, Undo, and Redo; and tools for changing font style, size and orientation.

Attribute–allows you to change settings of a currently selected thumbnail. Works with EasyPalette.

Animation–lets you specify the key frames for creating animated series of images. Can also specify the object property for each frame.

Location–allows you to fine tune the current special placement of the title, lights, and title texture depending on which tool is active.

Text–allows you to adjust space between characters and lines and align your text.

Text--Text creation is straightforward in the Text dialog box. You can scroll through a list of fonts and Cool 3D automatically displays an on-the-fly sample. You can add 3D effects to the text, such as light, color, texture, camera angles, backgrounds and type styles. You can start from scratch or use one of the program's preset combos. Each preset folder has a different group of thumbnails.

EasyPalette–Lets you drag-and-drop still and animated features into your image. You can use presets, that combine style, color, lighting, and texture, from the Gallery. You can customize features by using the Attribute Toolbar, and then can save these settings on the EasyPalette for future use. The EasyPalette contains:

Object Style–contains the Gallery (samples combining style, color, lighting, and texture), Bevel, Light & Color, Texture, Board, and Motion sub-folders where attributes can be fine-tuned.

Templates–samples of Objects (graphics & icons) and Composition (project templates) to use.

Camera–allows you to control the distance and type of lens used.

Background–samples that can be used as a background.

Objects Effects--Twist and Explosion plug-in effects.

Global Effects--Fire plug-in effect.

Beginners--An easy way to start for a beginner is to use the Compositions under Templates in the EasyPalette. I used this approach. After dragging-and-dropping a composition onto the window, I replaced the sample text with my own. Then I examined the attributes for each feature to see how Ulead got the result. Then I applied other thumbnails and changed attributes. In no time, I was creating spinning, twisting, exploding, and on-fire images.

Realtime--Cool 3D uses Microsoft Direct 3D to create and render 3D titles, thus you can manipulate 3D text in real time, with no lag for redrawing and re-rendering. The presets take longer to render, though. There are five image display and output settings from draft to optimal to balance the detail of the display with the speed of rendering.

Animation--By using Ulead's tutorials on X-, Y-, and Z-Axis, Key Frames, and Fire and Explosion Plug-ins you easily create an animation. Key Frames let you set points in the duration of a video where changes to text objects occur. Thus if you want a text object to spin left for the first half of your video, then suddenly change directions and spin down, you would use key frames to change the text object's spin-attributes at the desired point. And each individual object can now be given its own texture, color, font, bevel, and animation path.

Saving--Files can be saved as JPEGs, TIFs, BMPs, animated GIFs, or video


Would I buy this product? Yes. Did I find it easy to learn and use? Yes. It made animation seem easy. With some programs where you are limited to its graphics, styles, etc., your output can sometimes scream ready-made. Because you can use plug-ins and import graphics in Ulead, you can create original looking objects.

Wish List

It would be helpful to have rulers. When I was trying to gauge the size of my creations, I had to go into the dimensions dialog box. It would have been handier if there would have been on-screen rulers.


System Requirements

Processor: Pentium-class PC (Pentium 166 with MMX or above recommended)
Operating System: Windows 95/98 or NT 4.0
Memory: 16 MB (32 MB recommended)
Hard Disk Space: 32 MB (64 MB recommended
Hardware: Hi-Color or True Color display adapter and monitor
Drivers: DirectX 5.0 or above (for Windows 95/98; DirectX3.0 or above (for Windows NT 4.0)
CD-ROM drive

Other Goodies

500 Bonus Textures
25 Bonus Fonts
5,000 Bonus Web Objects and Animations
DirectX driver, if you don't already have it
Two 3D samples, which I could not view for some reason
Ulead's GIF Animator 1.5; there is a Version 2.0 for Animator for $19.95.

Technical Support

Their Web site with product information, FAQ, tutorials, artist interviews, and examples is excellent.