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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.
In this chapter we are going to have a brief introduction to NURBS modeling. NURBS is an acronym that stands for Non-Uniform Rational Basis Spline. That's a bit of a mouthful, but basically a NURBS object is a type of object that's based solely on curves, and that's what a Basis Spline is. It's a type of Spline. And by Non-Uniform is meant that different points on the NURBS Curve can have different weights.
In this example we will see this artistic looking cocktail table, and the base of the table is built from NURBS. And you can see here, we have got a NURBS surface. One of the really valuable things about NURBS, besides the ability to adjust the shape in real-time by moving these curves around, for example, that's one cool thing about NURBS. Another cool thing is that the level of detail is adaptive. In other words, I can define a level of detail for these objects in the Viewport separately from the renderer.
So you can see here, this is looking kind of a little bit blocky. We are not getting very good approximation of the surface here. But if I do a rendering, you will see it's nice and smooth. So this is one of the big advantages of NURBS is that the level of detail can be defined separately for Viewports and for the renderer, and that we can basically dial the level of detail up and down at will. So NURBS really lends itself well to hard surface objects that have flowing organic curves.
And in fact, NURBS are used to design many of the industrial objects, or consumer objects that we see in our daily lives. Cars, iPods, all sorts of objects that we see and use are actually designed using NURBS modeling. This is typically done in an industrial design application. 3ds Max doesn't fall into that category. 3ds Max is a visualization application that can bring in a NURBS model from another program and put beautiful lights and rendering and materials on there, but 3ds Max is not an industrial design application.
So you wouldn't design your automobile in 3ds Max, but you would render it and make it look beautiful for a TV commercial, for example. Having said that, 3ds Max does have a NURBS implementation within it, which will allow you to construct models using this particular modeling methodology.
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