KOWBOY's kickass 3D Studio Max r3 tutorial

Part 5 - Lights, camera and ACTION!


This is the last article in the basic crash course of max that I'll write. The others will be more on effects, modelling techniques and such. That is... IF I get some feedback on these of course. :)

Anyway. This time we will set up some cameras, animate them and some other elements. Let's get the show started shall we...

Like always when you want to create stuff you will find what you are looking for among the create tools. So this is where the cameras can be found.

There are only two kinds of cameras to select from, the target one and the free one. These two types function in the same nice manner as the lights we looked at in the last article. I.e. the target one has a target, which the free one doesn't have. As simple as that. So let's create a target camera aiming towards a couple of boxes. This is what it could look like:

So now we want to see from inside the camera in one of the viewports. Let's right-click on the Perspective viewports nametag and from there select views->camera01. Now you see that the perspective viewport changed to the camera you created. Taaadaaaa...

This made it very easy for us to change what we normally would see in the perspective viewport. Let's change the camera's position so we get a scene looking more dramatic. Simply move the camera in the other viewports and you will see the result instantly.

Now isn't that a much more dramatic view. :)

So let's take a look at the properties for the camera. Select the camera and enter the modify menu to see the props as usual.

There are not so many options for cameras as there is for the lights.

You can change the different lens types, the fov (field of view), ranges and some clipping. It's easy to understand what these options do. Try them out if you don't understand what they do and you will see very quickly what they do.

Hmm... with what we now know from this and the tutors before shouldn't we be able to make some animations? But of course we could. To make a small animation from the scene we just created we do like this. First we locate the animation toolbars. They are located at the bottom of your max window. This is the animation slider:

And this is the animation tools:

The slider indicates on which frame you are in your animation. The animation tools area contains a big nice animations button, and this is the one we are gonna click on in just a few seconds, but first let me tell you how to set up an animation. See the little nice button with a window and a clock? This is called the Time Configuration button. Guess what you can configure when pressing this button. In the window that appears you can select fps (frames per second), length of animation and what time mode to display (stick to frames, which is default).

Ok. ACTION bitte! So now we want to animate our scene. Click the big animate button and it turns red. This means that you are in animation mode. You are recording. Everything you know do, changes to parameters, textures, positioning etc etc will be animated. You can actually animate almost everything in max. But let's keep it a bit simple and start with a camera move. You drag the animation slider to 30, i.e. with a framerate of 30fps one second forward in time, with the animate button clicked. Then move the camera to another position, move the slider again, move the camera and keep doing this until you are satisfied and have reached frame 100 (end of animation).

Click the animation button so that it is not red anymore, i.e. we are out of the animation mode. Now select the camera viewport and click the play button and then your animation will be played in the selected viewport. Easy huh?

If you want to tweak some of your movement you can do this by selecting the keyframes, pressing the animation button and moving the camera to another position. The keyframes are the small ovals below the animation slider.

In this picture it is white because it is selected otherwise it would have been gray.

So now we want to render the animation, to a nice avi file perhaps. Enter the Render Scene dialog. In Time Dialog select Active Time Segment 0 to 100. This tells max to render all frames and not just the one we are currently at. But we will also need to tell max that it should render it to a file, an avi file. Below the Render Output click the Files button and then browse to where you want the file to be saved and select the filetype to be .avi. You can also set up properties for the avi output, select different codecs and such. Then click OK and DO lower the resolution of your scene if you don't have a monster computer. :) Remaining now is only clicking the Render button and waiting. That wasn't so hard now, was it?

Yes. This is the end of this article.

If you are nice and give me feedback (tips, suggestions, questions), you will see 5 more articles in the next issue of Hugi.