Interactive web animations with Blender

I’ve been interested with the idea of creating interactive scenes in Blender, which can be embedded directly on web pages. There doesn’t appear to be a mainstream way of doing this yet, and several possible approaches might or might not exist. I’d like to know what the available ones are, what their possibilities and limitations are, and which is best. This is what I know so far:

At first there was talk of creating a web player for the game engine, and Burster eventually filled that gap. But from what I heard it didn’t have a great success… possibly because it requires installing their plugin to your web browser, and unlike Adobe Flash it’s not something everyone will be tempted to get.

Thankfully something even more suited for this purpose recently popped up: Blend4Web. It’s an awesome addon for Blender which lets you export an interactive 3D scene, with sound and various material effects. It uses HTML5 and webGL so it doesn’t require users to install their own plugins either, just to have a modern web browser. The free version is also GPL licensed like Blender, which makes it even better! So this is certainly the method I’m most tempted to go with.

Still, I couldn’t help also wondering about flash. Blender can export animations to the swf format… although by default this allows no interactivity. This is considerable because many art sites and gallery systems only accept flash, no HTML5 yet. Of course, flash doesn’t support 3D. But you could still add things like buttons to play various parts of a rendered animation… so you can add different scenes or make simple games in which you control the outcome.

Flash does not work on mobile platforms, so you’d be excluding at least 50% of your visitors. Avoid Flash at this point.

For web 3d content WebGL is the way forward (which Blend4Wen also uses). Another option for non-programmers is CopperCube (