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As the most widely used 3D animation software in the world, 3ds Max is capable of creating stunning visual effects for a broad range of purposes. It can be used to create effects for everything from video games and feature films to architectural walkthroughs and mechanical designs. In 3ds Max 2009 Essential Training, instructor Steve Nelle provides a thorough introduction to the principles of 3D modeling, while also sharing practical techniques that experienced users can apply to their own workflows. Steve establishes the principles and best practices of the 3D production process, introduces the 3ds Max interface, and explores modeling in depth. He also demonstrates how to create and transform primitive objects, use specific modeling techniques, work at the sub-object level, and apply a variety of modifiers. Example files accompany the course.
Special Note: Further 3ds Max 2009 features, such as materials, lighting, cameras, animation, and rendering, will be covered in 3ds Max 2009 Beyond the Basics, coming soon.
The 3D animation is one of the most intense and complex tasks that you can ask a computer to perform, and because of that, when working in 3ds Max, it's vital that you will always be contentious of ways that you can lighten the load. You see as your scenes continue to get larger and larger, Max will constantly be pushed to do more and more. And the more you shove down the programs through, well the more likely, things are going to start slowing down. Your computer, no matter how fast or how much RAM you have, will begin to start showing signs of fatigue. And that means, when you move something, it will take a little longer before it's ready for the next move.
When you go to take color pictures, a process referred to as rendering, well the picture will take longer to complete. Even when it's time to save your file, that process slows down too. Everything becomes harder to accomplish. It would be like going an uphill hike with 50 pounds in your backpack instead of 5. That 50-pound load would certainly make you work a lot harder. Well, Max is the same way. Well, the more you add to its backpack, the more you expect it to gobble up, the tougher and slower the process becomes. And all of a sudden, you are waiting instead of working and nobody likes that.
So the question then becomes "are there things that you can do to lighten the load?" The answer is "absolutely." These little lines you see on the ball are referred to as segments. They control a couple of things, how smooth or blocky the object is and just how hard the computer has to work to do its job. Now, some jobs require you to create objects that consist of hundreds, if not thousands, of those little wide lines. Creating a detailed character for a feature film would be a perfect example. Other jobs like working on a video game will demand that the line count be kept to a minimum simply so the game can play in real time.
So, above all else, realize that different jobs will have different requirements. But even with that understanding, it will always be important for you to think as light as possible, creating objects that have the detailed they need but using the least or fused amount of lines to achieve that detail. Remember, as the number of objects in your scene go up, even the light lines, the one with just a few lines will add up to what Max has to calculate and display. Notice also that Max only displays one of its viewports and what it's referred to is shaded mode, meaning that you can see the surface or the skin, you can see that in a lower right hand view.
All the other three views are by default displayed in what is called wire frame representing a wire or a line only view of your scene. Now, why do you think that's the case? Well, the answer ought to make sense. It's less for Max to have to calculate, just less to slow down the process. Now, it doesn't mean that all your views can't be shaded mode or all the views in wire frame mode for that matter as we have done here. It's just a matter of the way that Max sets up the interface to try to work as efficiently as possible. It still gives you the information on the screen that you need.
Now, those are just two of the issues you need to be aware of in your attempt to optimize your workflow. Those issues being the line count the way that viewports are displayed. Other things to take into consideration, how many lights in your scene cast shadows, how many objects have a bumpy or reflective surface, and here is a big one, how many special effects you have added into your scene, things like explosions and smoke and fire. Each of those issues if not monitored is capable of bringing your scene to a complete standstill. So, that will give you something else to store when that list of things to remember lighten up on what Max has to deal with whenever possible.
Again, try to optimize your scene at every turn. Now, sometimes, those heavy objects, those bumpy surfaces and shadow casting lights, they are just necessary, there is really no way of getting around them. But other times, just working a little smarter and thinking ahead of it can really pay off in both speed and efficiency. In our next video, I would like to introduce you to a great way to get answers to your questions directly inside Max. The software has one of the most comprehensive built-in help systems in the business and you need to know how to get the most out of it. Let's go take a look.
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