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While AppleInsider has heard earlier mention of Scene Kit, a developer familiar with Lion has explained that the new framework will support the import, manipulation and rendering of three dimensional assets, handing the complex end of 3D graphics for app developers.
This makes Scene Kit similar to the Core Animation data visualization API Apple launched in 10.5 Leopard (which was based upon the Layer Kit developed for the iPhone OS to provide easy to use transitions and other motion graphic effects).
The developer noted that Scene Kit is "consistent" with the APIs of Apple's other graphical frameworks, including Image Kit and Core Animation, and does not require advanced 3D graphical programming skills.
This will reportedly make it easy for third party apps to add consistent, familiar, and easy to use 3D object manipulation and rendering to their apps.
The new Scene Kit framework imports 3D assets using COLLADA, an open, XML-based interchange file format managed by Khronos Group, the standards body behind OpenGL, OpenCL, and WebGL.
COLLADA was originally developed by Sony, with collaboration from Alias, Autodesk and Avid. It is widely used by video game engines and is the standard used by Google in SketchUp Pro 8.0 and later, as well as Google Earth 4 and later.
Lion's new Scene Kit is designed to import COLLADA 3D objects and build scenes composed by cameras, lights, and meshes, with the framework providing tools for manipulating the bounding volumes, geometry and materials used in the scene.