[vtkusers] PDF 3D support

Michail Vidiassov master at iaas.msu.ru
Sun Dec 16 10:09:01 EST 2007

  Dear All,

Since nobody replied to my previous post, I have to do that myself

> did anybody try to make VTK produce U3D files
> (a 3D model file format Adobe Reader is player for)?

What is it:

for those of you interested in seeing how 3-d PDF can be used in the 
physical sciences you might like to see this paper.
While the subject area of the paper is 3-d PDF for astronomy publishing,
it could equally be applied to many other areas of science.

VTK examples in pdf:


How can it be achieved:

Using the available tools:

vtk exoprts to some 3d model file, say VRML ->
Acrobat 3D (Windows) converts it to u3d format and embedes in pdf.
Acrobat 3D Toolkit allows limited edition of the model.

The other tool is Deep Exploration (older version of it is distributed as 
Acrobat 3D Toolkit), it can produce u3d and, optionally, make a standalone 
pdf with it.
Acrobat (not 3D, say on Mac) and pdfLaTeX with movie15 package can embed
a ready U3D file into pdf.

The drawbacks are having to
  shell out money
  go through Windows GUI every time you regenerate the model and retypeset the document
  do with the VRML import limitations.

My proposal:

> Intel provides a (free&open) compiler that makes U3D files
> from text scene description files it seems to be easy to export to.

It really turned out to be not that hard to convert vtkVRMLExporter into
vtkIDTFExporter (even given my zero knowledge of vtk and C programming 
skills acquired in USSR high school long ago).
The bad news were that Intel soft turned out to be hard to compile on Mac.
Intel distributes Win32 binaries and promises of portability to Linux and 
Mac, 32 and 64 bit, big- and low-endian machines.

The results of the pipeline (running on Mac OS 10.5)
file.cxx -> vtkIDTFExporter -> file.idtf -> IDTFconverter -> file.u3d -> 
pdflatex -> file.pdf
you can see at



> On the positive side - is there public interest in having such an exporter written?

As far as I can see my converter serves my needs,
  if someone who wants more turns up I am ready to share the code and discuss improvements
(like textures support, optimisation, Intel software packaging).

Please, do not ask me about making u3d directly (without IDTF stage).
U3D file format spec has parts numbered as (ta-da-dA-DA)!
It seems really deep to me. And yet the doc does not cover it all, if the 
Intel support answers a question the usual answer is "Use the Source, Luke"!

  Sincerely, Michail

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