Outside the Box:
By Paul "Villam" Steed
Anything I say comes from me and represents my personal opinions, views and subtle plans for influencing society. Read, ruminate over and remember at your own risk. If I teach you something and it helps, teach someone else.
igh. I want to start this TOTB off with an apology for my last installment covering the first Max animation tutorial. See, I stole it off of this super cool, super intelligent Belgian kid whoÖuh, just kidding. No, I have to apologize for last ish because it was just plain lame. Iíll explain.
Iím giving a lecture at the GDC in a couple weeks about optimizing 3D models and while polishing up my presentation I came to the conclusion that Iím not very knowledgeable in 3DS Max. In fact, I started casually perusing and navigating through all the programs on my desktop and realized Iím not even close to being an expert in any of the programs I use every day. WTF? You ask yourself? Itís like this. Iím not an expert in Max, Max plugins, Photoshop, Word, Excel or whatever because I donít need to be.
Just like I never built an entire command ship for the Quake 2 Intro (just the top and part of one side) I learn just enough from any tool to get the job done at the level I find acceptable and then move on. If I learn anything more than that itís by pure serendipity or fortuitous accident (us one-man modeling and animation shows are kinda ee-koh-nah-mee-kohl like that).
Hence one big reason for the lame exercise last time. Iím not qualified to give you a rundown on the animation basics of 3DS Max R2.5 and the more I think about (comes the second reason) why would I even want to? I mean those guys, a hundred times more qualified spend months and months writing these big thick manuals and tutorials for some right proper edification. Go read their stuff and their tutorials. Iím not paid to be an expert in Max. Iím paid to create and animate low-poly models. Iím paid to get the job done. Iíll use whatever it takes and discard it tomorrow if something better comes along and the learning curve doesnít prohibit its implementation. This approach gives me some unique if somewhat limited skill-sets to share with unsuspecting (or suspecting) masses such as yourselves.
In past modeling tutorials, many of the tips and techniques I threw out can be applied across the board with most other modeling packages. Much of it is ideological or philosophical in nature anyway. But animation is different. When I made Shauna Ďwalk the walkí awhile back note that I talked about posing her this way or that way and didnít instruct you on how to precisely do it in Max per se. That was intentional since I didnít want to force you to start using Max if you havenít already. However, although I seemed like I had decided to get off the fence and commit to Max last TOTB when discussing how I animate characters, the results were just plain too basic and lame. Everything I covered can be found in the book(s) that come with Max.
So, hereís the deal. From now on until not, Iím going to be covering what Iíd consider Ďspecificí tutorials (maybe even advanced). Iím going to cover exactly how Iíve been animating models for that little project Iíve been working on for about a year now and how I use Max and Character Studio 2 to bludgeon my little creatures into submission. Iíll be doing this in installments beginning with this one and along the way will hopefully teach you something new. Just remember if I do something goofy or bass-ackwards itís because I donít know any better.
Like I said, Iím not an expert ;]
CHARACTER STUDIO PART 1: ADJUSTING YOUR BIPED
The first stop in getting your character in the game after itís built is Character Studio. Two reasons. One, itís a very decent tool and Jeff Yates over at Kinetix has gone to great lengths to make sure it keeps getting better. Two, once we put the game out, Iíll release a couple .bip file that you can plug into your Physiqued model and have it completely animated and synched to the gameís animation requirements in a mouse click. Thus saving you lots and lots of time.
Hereís our studly model now:
Notice his head, arms, lower and upper body are separate. Now that youíve noticed, letís select and freeze him.
Now go to Create/Systems/Biped (turns active green color), put the arrow at the modelís feet and drag the blue box up to the top of the modelís head.
Credits: Thinking Outside the Box logo illustrated and is © 1999 Dan Zalkus. Thinking Outside the Box is © 1999 Paul Steed. All other content is © 1999 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited, so don't even try it. We've got really big guns, and we're ripped, baby.