Playing 3D content with Shockwave Player

We've assembled the information below to help ensure that you have the best Shockwave 3D experience possible. If you encounter a problem with the Shockwave player, you may find the solution below. We also encourage you to submit a bug report.

  1. Compare your system to the system requirements.
  2. Update your video card drivers and other system software components wherever possible.
  3. Use hardware rendering instead of software rendering.
  4. See the Frequently Asked Questions section below if you are still having problems.

Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between hardware and software rendering?
Shockwave 3D can use two different schemes for rendering 3D content: hardware and software rendering.

Hardware rendering uses a video card's abilities, which are often designed to accelerate 3D graphics using industry standard programming interfaces, such as DirectX and OpenGL.

Software rendering uses a computer's main processor (CPU) to draw 3D graphics, instead of relying on a video card to support 3D. The CPU performs all of the calculations needed to draw a 3D image. The system's video card simply displays what the CPU has processed. It allows users with poor, or no 3D support from their video card to see 3D content.
How can I switch between hardware and software rendering when using Shockwave Player 3D?
To switch your 3D renderer, start by playing any Shockwave movie in your browser. Once the movie appears, bring up the context menu by:

Windows: Right-clicking on the movie
Macintosh: Control-clicking on the movie

From the context menu, go to "3D Renderer" and select the 3D renderer of your choice. Note: It is recommended that you stay with the default "Obey Content Settings" for the most optimal experience. If a renderer is dimmed, it is not available on your system.
What can I do to correct visual glitches and anomalies on my display when rendering 3D objects?
Make sure that you have downloaded and installed the latest drivers for your video adapter. Some cards do not support all modern 3D features used by Shockwave 3D. Cards that cannot handle the rendering of some 3D elements in hardware force the CPU to draw the images instead ("software rendering"). This greatly affects authoring and playback performance of Shockwave 3D content. Poor 3D graphics support and a slow CPU limits the Shockwave 3D experience. See the Minimum Requirements.
I already have a current hardware accelerated 3D video adapter with the latest drivers. What can I do to improve performance?
Try changing the desktop from 256 colors (8-bit color), to Thousands (16-bit) or Millions ( 32-bit) of colors. 3D can only utilize hardware acceleration in 16-bit or greater display modes.
What should I do if I'm still experiencing 3D rendering defects even after installing the latest drivers?
Check to see if you have the required version of DirectX (Windows) or OpenGL (Macintosh) installed. These are system software components that are used by your video card to render images on your display. Read your driver's Readme document or release notes to determine what version of DirectX or OpenGL is required for your driver. Shockwave 3D and other applications that use 3D hardware rendering may experience 3D rendering glitches if your system has a version of DirectX or OpenGL installed that is actually older than what is required by an installed display driver. This is not a Shockwave issue. You may need to download a newer version of DirectX or OpenGL from the Third Party System Updates sites listed above.

Note: A display driver made for DirectX 5 may work fine on a DirectX7 system. However, a DX7 display driver could have problems functioning on DX5 system.
I just upgraded to Windows XP or bought a new video adapter for my Windows XP machine. What can I do to ensure that I am taking advantage of hardware accelerated 3D rendering?
Windows XP may not provide 3D support with its own drivers for your product. You may need to download drivers from your video card manufacturer.
Why do 3D objects appear much darker when using hardware OpenGL rendering than with DirectX or software renderers? Why aren't the specular highlights as visible?
In software rendering mode, or when using DirectX, specular lighting is applied "on top" of textures. By default, OpenGL adds specular lighting "below" textures. Shockwave 3D takes advantage of OpenGL extensions that make the result look like DirectX and software, but not all video cards or OpenGL implementations support these extensions.
I have a 3D video adapter for my Macintosh system and its software driver is installed. Why isn't OpenGL 3D hardware rendering available even after I downloaded and installed OpenGL from Apple's support site?
Apple's OpenGL installer may overwrite some of your video adapter extensions during the OpenGL installation. Try reinstalling your video adapter software driver after installing Apple's OpenGL.

3D minimum playback system requirements

The following system requirements pertain to viewing 3D content with the Shockwave Player. Keep in mind that these are minimum system requirements. Lower-end systems that still meet these requirements will likely perform significantly slower than higher-end systems.


  • Pentium II 266 MHz (with a current hardware accelerated 3D video adapter)
  • Pentium II-class 300 MHz (without hardware accelerated 3D video adapter)
  • Windows 95 (or newer)
  • DirectX version 5 (or newer)
  • 32 MB System RAM for playback
  • MB Video RAM for 16-bit usage on hardware accelerated 3D video adapter
  • Browsers: Netscape 4.x, IE 4.x, AOL 4.0


  • PPC 233 (with a current hardware accelerated 3D video adapter)
  • G3 300 (without hardware accelerated 3D video adapter)
  • OS 8.1 (or newer)
  • Open GL 1.1.2 (or newer)
  • 32 MB System RAM for playback
  • 4 MB Video RAM for 16-bit usage on hardware accelerated 3D video adapter
  • Browsers: Netscape 4.x, IE 4.5, AOL 4.0

Note: the term "current" as applied to hardware-accelerated 3D video adapters refers to products released during 1998 or later. Performance varies among video adapters . These products are often referred to as "second-generation 3D video adapters." The latest 3D video adapters use features like 32-bit rendering, multi-texturing, alpha-blending (transparency), anti-aliasing, and so on.

Third-party updates

3D hardware chipset support/drivers

Shockwave 3D performs best on the newest software drivers available for any given video adapter . It is important to update all drivers on a regular basis, perhaps every six to nine months if possible. Support for DirectX (version 5 or newer) is critical for Windows PCs. Support for OpenGL (version 1.1.2 or newer) is critical for Macintosh.

Driver recommendations

Windows system updates

Updating core components of an operating system can often generate performance improvements.

Macintosh system updates

Updating core components of an operating system can often generate performance improvements. Macintosh users should keep their operating system updated.

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