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In 3ds Max 2011 Essential Training, author Aaron F. Ross demonstrates how to use this top-tier application for digital content creation, widely used in diverse industries such as architecture, industrial design, motion pictures, games and virtual worlds. This course covers modeling with polygons, curves, and subdivision surfaces, defining surface properties with materials and maps, setting up cameras and lights, animating objects, and final output rendering. Exercise files accompany the course.
Once you've set up your animation and your lighting and materials and your scene is ready to render, you want to go into the Render Setup dialog to set the Rendering options. There's a handy button on the main toolbar to get to the Render Setup dialog. Within this dialog, you will see that there are numerous tabs. And the tabs you see will vary depending upon which renderer you have chosen. Remember, that 3ds Max has multiple renderers. It's got the default Scanline Renderer and the mental ray Renderer and so on. So these tabs will change depending upon which renderer you have chosen.
You'll see here that I'm using the Default Scanline Renderer. And that's listed at the top of the dialog box. The most important parameters that I want to look at right now are in the Common tab. So, for example, in the Common Parameters here, I can choose whether I want to render a single frame or a sequence. So currently, it's set to Single frame. So I'll choose the Active Time Segment. And that means it will render out all of the frames that are currently visible in my Timeline. And so that's from 0 seconds, 0 frames to 8 seconds 0 frames currently.
Now if I wish to, I could render a range other than the Timeline. So, for example, let's say you've rendered out the first 100 frames and then you had to cancel their renderings so that you can use your computer for something else. You could go in here afterwards and plug in a number and pick up rendering on Frame 101. So right now, however, I'm just going to do the Active Time Segment. Then below here you'll see Area to Render. You want to make sure that this is set to View. That means it will render the entire frame. You've got different options. You can render out just a region of the frame, but I do want to render out the entire frame, so I'll choose View.
Then below this, you'll see the Render Output Size. And I'm just going to use the default Render Output which is 640x480. But of course, I could plug- in whatever values I wish. Scrolling down a little bit further, we have the option to turn off certain effects. I'm going to leave them all on. Scrolling down a little bit further, you'll see the Render Output sequence here in the Render Output section. So this is the most important part. If this Save File is turned off, then you'll end up rendering just to the screen and nothing is going to get saved to your disk.
So you do need to make sure that you enable this switch, and then additionally you'll need to click on the Files button in order to define where you're going to save out to and in what format. So I'll click the Files button. And now I've got a dialog that lets me determine where I'm going to save out to. So if the Output File dialog doesn't take you directly to the renderoutput folder in your project, then you can navigate there. So in this case, on my desktop I've got a folder that says Exercise Files.
And we want to save into the renderoutput folder. So that's the designated location to render image sequences. So I'll go in there. And additionally, in this case, I want to create a subfolder, so that I can save this sequence into a folder by itself. And this is important, because if you don't do this then if you have multiple sequences in your project, let's say you're doing a movie that has several different shots, if you don't create subfolders, then all of your sequences are going to get dumped into this renderoutput folder. And it will be difficult for you to manage, because you'll be dealing with hundreds or perhaps thousands of files that are all kind of sitting in the same place.
So it really is important that you observe a best practice and actually create a folder inside here. And I'll call this one robot_sequence. And I do like to use underscores. It's not required that you do this, but I don't like white spaces in file names. So I put an underscore there. So I've created that folder. And then I'll double-click to enter into that folder. And because I had worked on this scene previously, you'll see that a file name is already present here. And likewise, you'll see that there's already something here.
The first time that you go into this dialog, this will be blank. And it will actually say All Formats. So you will need to give it a File name, and I'm actually going to put an underscore at the end of my file name. That just makes it a little bit easier for me to read, because this will end up saying robotArm_001, robot_0002, etcetera. So it just makes it a little bit easier for me to read when I put that underscore in. And then I need to choose a file format.
And so you'll see these are all the file formats that 3ds Max can output to. So what's good here? Well, I'll tell you what's not good, JPEG. If you save out to a JPEG file that's going to be lossy compressed. And so you'll actually be throwing away information at this initial stage of your production. So you don't want to do that. You want to make sure that you're saving out to either an uncompressed image sequence or a losslessly compressed image sequence. So what's a good option? TIF is a good option.
Targa is a good option. And PNG or Portable Network Graphics is also a good one. So I'm actually going to go for PNG, because that's kind of the safest one. And Windows File Viewer will be able to show me thumbnails of PNGs. So I'm going to go into PNG. Now when I click Save, if I haven't already defined my options for the particular file format that I've chosen, then an option box will pop up. And in fact, it did. PNG Configuration.
And you'll see all these options here. Well, in fact, the default option is not what you see here right now. The default actually is RGB 48 bit with an alpha channel. And that's not a good option in this case. A 48 bit file cannot be understood by most programs. For example, Photoshop will be able to read a 48 bit file, but Windows File Viewer will not. So what I want here is an RGB 24 bit. And I don't need an alpha channel, because an alpha channel is a transparency mask, and this file is not going to be composited with any other image sequence.
So I don't need an alpha channel, because the alpha channel will just make the files bigger, and it won't actually give me any benefit. So this is the option that you want to use for a "plain-vanilla" PNG file. 24 bits. That's eight bits per channel, red, green, blue with no alpha, go ahead and click OK. And now you'll see that I've got the path shown here. Now if I do need to go back and change any of those options, I can just go back into the Files dialog.
And once you've entered in something for the setup for the configuration of those files, you can actually go back in here to the setup and change that up if you need to. Very good, so I've got my render options set. And I'm going to save my file now, so that all those options are now saved into my Max scene. And I'll just go ahead and click the big Render button.
The Rendered Frame Window opens up. And I'm looking at the rendering as it goes by. So 3ds Max allows me to see the images as they're being rendered. Now in fact, I could close the Rendered Frame Window if I wanted. And rendering would still continue. We'll see over here in this dialog that we're getting some information about what's going on. What frame am I on? How long did it take to render the last frame? How long does 3ds Max estimate that this entire job will take? What viewport are we rendering and so on? Cool! So as you can see, this would take about an hour to complete.
So we're going to fast- forward until that's finished. Then we'll take all these images and compress them together into a movie file.
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