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Using an iPad as a 3D Input Controller


Here's something that caught my eye: using an iPad as a multi-touch input controller for 3D modeling. Can someone hook that up with Blender, please?

About the Author

Avatar image for Bart Veldhuizen
Bart Veldhuizen

I have a LONG history with Blender - I wrote some of the earliest Blender tutorials, worked for Not a Number and helped run the crowdfunding campaign that open sourced Blender (the first one on the internet!). I founded BlenderNation in 2006 and have been editing it every single day since then ;-) I also run the Blender Artists forum and I'm Head of Community at Sketchfab.


  1. Some time ago I had also some ideas for iPad with Blender. If you checkout the Making of Avatar on youtube you will see that James Cameron used some sort of virtual/analog camera to make virtual cams to act more in natural, handycam way. I think that after this bridge here was made, there are no big problems finaly to realise it. (Ok, of course besides the v-signal syncing between devices =)
    unfortunately I have no time right now for such things, but if someone would like..

  2. Since last year when I spoke on digital puppets at blender conference, I have been trying to do this!

    The real key is the connection of 2.5's RNA to OSC. I think that's sufficient enough for now.

    Fabian Fricke helped me realize that feature, and in its very early stages it works

    Just imagine that combined with TouchOSC and you've got the right idea.

    What those parameters are that are actually being controlled though I contest should be much more meaningful and interesting. And though I *did* buy an iPad, I can safely say that a big flat surface is not the end-all device for getting multiple simultaneous granular inputs because people like to interface with hardware in a lot of different ways, and really -- if you're trying to watch the computer screen (ie, Blender) for the conversion to animation you need something that is easy to understand without you looking at your hands. That's why I chose a game controller, personally. But the iPad is great for sliders and dials and readouts (OSC goes both ways) of information. It's all stuff I want to do.

    If this one video has sparked the interest of any developers, I think they should talk to Fabian and myself. I can tell you first hand that OSC+2.5's RNA would be FANTASTIC and darn it if I could only get it to work I could show you why in so many ways.

  3. The iPad as a 3D controller seems like a contradiction in terms.
    There are numerous true 3D controllers out there that speed up working in 3D and some support Blender (SpaceNavigator does I think).

    Even if a PDA-like device were an option, I would prefer a Linux-based or other open-source system over the choking lock-in that Apple offers.

    Even better: can't we design the ultimate 3D-controller for Blender as an open-source hardware project?

  4. @mastafrog
    Using an iPhone as 3d orientation is a cool idea.
    Rather expensive though, and not very handy when getting a call during shoot. ;)

    And using a 600,= device as an input device seems a bit over the top to me.
    Cool looking and pushing frontier barriers , but, you know, also useless and pricy.
    Fun when you need to clay a 5 blobby blob.
    The conversion from 2d to 3d does not seem to get easier with this.
    The 5 dots seems to stay on the same 2d plane. That interface needs a lot of work until it get usefull.

    I rather see a virtual keyboard ( hotkey preset pad ) on the iPad, or even a numpad on my touch for my laptop.
    Who-s up for that? O wait.
    With maybe a history on screen or even macros stored. something like but with the keyboard layout for 2.49 / 2.55 and with configurable macro keys. There seems to be space left for often used keys and history listing and ... stuff.
    But only if you got one, I'm not going to buy one for it.

  5. Why stop at two dimensions for input? I'm picturing a pressure-sensitive clay-like substance or assembly that would feed the 3d information to the computer. Maybe such a thing exists already.

  6. Woah! I want 3d printer now! ))
    I hope that 3d printers' prices will become lower than 1000$ and materials will become cheaper.

  7. @Scott
    As long as Google isn't going to meddle, okay.

    I totally agree. Even if it doesn't exist, I believe it could be done...

    Won't take more than a few years. And some open-source hardware 3D printers are cheaper than $1000 already!

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