| The scene
editor is where you
build sets, adding objects and figures, cameras and lights, and
your final scenes. Everything can be animated; cameras, lights, and
characters. And you can save the output as a sequence of still images,
or as an .avi movie file. You can even generate stereo views!
You enter the Scene Editor from the Mode->Scene menu item.
basic scene editor is shown below. You can configure it to show either
4 views (front, top, side, and perspective), a single
view from either of these views, and orthographic view, or from the
camera's view. The usual menu, toolbar, and status bar are there, and a
track bar that shows the current frame.
| In addition to the normal select, move, rotate, and scale
buttons in the toolbar, there are several more that perform functions
specific to the scene editor.
use the VCR style block of buttons to control the playback of
your scenes. They work in the usual fashion.
|| The axis
button makes a joint's rotational limits and axis visible when you are
animating joint positions
can show or hide your figures' bodies with the figure objects
button. This can make editing joints much easier.
|| The camera
button controls the visibility of your camera and lights. They aren't
shown in the camera's view, the one that you normally use to render
|| The path
button sets the visibility of object's paths. Any object that you
select will display its path as an editable spline.
|| The key
or animate button enables animation. When it's pressed, the
changes you make to the location, orientation, size and other aspects
of objects in your scene will be animated when you play the scene.
| An element
is a part of a scene.
A new scene contains two default elements, the world and the camera.
The world is the global coordinate system. The location and orientation
of everything in a scene is, ultimately, relative to the
world. The camera is the viewpoint for the movies you make. You cannot
delete either the world or the camera.
that you can add to a scene, including lights, objects,
figures, and targets, are also called elements.
add objects to a scene by selecting the Build->AddObject menu item.
This brings up a dialog showing all of the objects in your project.
Select the one that you want and click OK. It will be added to the
center of the scene. This is not the actual object; you cannot edit it
from within the scene editor. Instead it is a link to the object. But
you can scale the view of it within the scene, and add multiple copies
of it. The screen shot of the scene above has three instances of the
seaweed object in it.
will often find it more useful to select world coordinates when adding objects to a scene. They are
"dropped" into the scene at the center, at coordinates <0,0,0>,
and are selected. Make sure that the move button is set, and then you can use the left mouse
button to drag the new object around on the ground plane from within
any viewpoint. The
right mouse button will raised and lower it. You can also scale and
rotate an objects
size and orientation, and animate them by specifying a series of key
add figures in the same manner with the Build->AddFigure menu item.
They are dropped at the center of the scene. You must move them to
their proper place. You can animate the position of figures with key
frames, and you can also attach predefined sequences of motion, as
| The camera is the
reference point for the final animation. It's fully animatable. You can
change its position, field of view, direction, etc. You can
also animate it for any variety of pans, tilts, or dollies. You can
a camera to another moving object for fluid tracking shots, lock a
camera's direction on a moving target, and even move right through
"solid" objects. To see what the camera sees, select the
View->Camera menu item or type <Num-1> (the 1 key on the
| You can add additional cameras to a scene with the
Build->AddCamera command. The camera's Active controller sets which camera
is currently active. Double click on a Camera to show it's
properties dialog to set the Active value or use the animation
track. Don't forget to enable animation with the animate key if you want your
scene to use multiple cameras!
| When you first create a scene, there are two default
lights in it. They give the scene an overall level of illumination
so that you can see what you are doing. You can't move them about or
change their properties. In general you should add your
own user lights for better results. When you do the default
lights are automatically deleted.
|You add lights to a scene with the Build->AddLight
menu item. This adds a light directly overhead with default properties.
Double click on the light to change its color or other attribute, and
drag it around the scene to change its position or direction.
|Like other kinds of objects, lights are fully animatable,
including their color.
|There are three kinds of lights that you can use in Anim8or:
or directional lights cast an even light on all
objects in a scene, with all of the rays parallel, like the sun. Close
and far things are illuminated with the same level of
lights emit light that radiates out in all
direction from a particular point in the scene, like the bulb in a
Objects between the camera and the light are backlit, while those
the light are front lit. The further an object is from a local light,
less illumination it receives from that light.
are similar to local lights, but they only illuminate objects that lie
within a particular cone. Things in the center are fully illuminated,
while things near to the edge of the code are gradually lit with less
|Lights do not appear in the final scene, or rather in any
perspective or camera view. If you want an object to appear to emit
light, then you must add a light in the same location as the object.
You can also toggle the visibility of lights in the other views with
the show camera button.
| A target is a dummy point of reference. You use
them as points of
interest for the camera to follow, or as a parent of a group of objects
that you want to move. They are fully animatable, and do not appear in
the final scene. You add a target with the Build->AddTarget menu
can edit various properties of any kind of element by double
clicking on it. This brings up a dialog similar to the Object Element
Editor shown to the right.
You can animate any value that has a controller button next to it, changing its value throughout a scene. Values with white backgrounds are fixed for the scene. You can edit them directly in this dialog. Values that are grayed out are animated. You edit their values by clicking on the adjacent button.
If you want to animate a fixed value, click on the button to add a controller. Controllers are explained in more detail later in this chapter.
| There are several common fields to all element types:
element's name within this scene. Remember, an object element in a
scene is only a reference to the actual object. There can be
more than one occurrence of the same actual object in the
same scene. If you change the original object in the Object editor then
all of the references to it in your scenes will change as well.
actual element's name. You can select any object in your current
project with the drop down dialog.
location of an object in <x,y,z> coordinates is shown here. This
is the location relative to its parent's
location and in it's parent's coordinate system. You can animate the
element can have another element for its parent. Then when the parent's
position changes the element's position will change
as well. With a parent, the location is a relative position. To specify
a parent for an element, enter the parent's name in this box. To remove
an element's parent entirely, clear the box or use the default world
value shows you element's orientation in degrees of pitch, yaw,
and roll. Pitch is a rotation around the X-axis, yaw the
Y-axis, and roll the Z-axis. The values shown are a relative
orientation to one of several coordinate systems. It can be either
relative to its parent, to its path or direction of movement, to the
orientation of another element's, or it can always facing a particular
element. You can animate the relative orientation.
can disable an element's roll, keeping it "upright".
You normally what to keep your camera upright so by default the camera
cannot roll, but everything else can. Enable Roll can be animated.
can animate the visibility of elements too so that they appear or
disappear during your scene.
add realism to your scenes but are very expensive to compute.
You can decide which elements cause shadows and which ones
show shadows on them. If you want an element to cast a shadow you must
enable it with the casts checkbox. If you want it to show
check the receives checkbox.
Editing Properties values are useful when editing you scene. You can hide
an element by checking the "hide" box. This is useful to allow you to
see what's behind something, or to simplify a scene for faster drawing.
To show a hidden element, either uncheck
the "hide" box, or select the Edit->ShowAll menu item.
can lock an element by checking the "locked" box. This prevents
any changes to any of its properties within the scene,
such as location or orientation. This does not mean that it cannot
If it is initially animated, it will stay that way. Locking only
you from accidentally changing that animation.
This does not mean that the element cannot be changed in any way.
For example, if it has a parent, then when the parent's location
changes, so will the element's position, since it's definition of
location is relative to the parents.
| These values are only present for certain kinds of elements:
element's size can be animated. However you do not use
a dialog to do it. Instead you simply select scaling , enable
animation , and
change the size.
can set and animate the camera's fov or field of view,
the angle of the width of the image the camera shows on
the screen. This value is in degrees.
can also animate the color or brightness of a light.
have some unique settings
that you can use. You access these from the Light Editor dialog by
clicking on a light.
You change the color of a light by entering the numeric value directly, or by clicking on the next to the color sample. You can animate its color with the next to the numeric color values.
You can change your light into an infinite, local, or spot light in the Fixed Properties area. To access more advanced settings click on the button.
can set several important lighting properties in the Advanced Light
Parameters dialog. For local and spotlights you can set limit the
light's range. These lights have a
steady brightness out to a certain distance called the inner radius.
Beyond that distance the light's strength gradually diminishes until at
the outer radius and beyond the light has no effect at all.
Spotlights are basically cones of light projecting from a point. You can set the angle of this cone as well as how sharply it falls off to the edge. Within the inner angle the spotlight has full brightness. Outside that angle the light's illumination gradually weakens until the outer angle where it had no further effect.
default lights do not cast shadows. You enable shadow casting by
checking a light's casts shadows checkbox.
Shadows in the real world are not totally dark. Some light is scattered off of nearby objects into these areas. You can illuminate the shadows in Anim8or as well with the percent dark parameter. This only allows diffuse light into shadows so that there are no shiny highlights, which would appear unrealistic.
There are two main kinds of shadows, volume and ray traced. You select which
kind you want you light to cast in this dialog. Ray traced shadows can cast soft
edges. You control how soft the shadow is with the size parameter. For infinite lights this is the angle that the shadow spreads from the edge of an object. For local and spotlights this is the physical size of the light. Objects closer to these
lights will cast softer shadows than those further away.
You can set the minimum and maximum number of samples used to calculate soft shadows in this dialog as well.
The section on Shadows has more information on using shadows.
are a very important part of an image. They can also consume an
enormous amount of computer time. It's important that you understand
how they work or you may waste a lot of time waiting for your images to
are only visible in rendered images made from the Scene
editor. They are only cast from light that you add yourself. And they
are only cast by object that you choose. To enable shadows you need to:
shadows are usually much faster to render than ray traced
shadows but they have some limitations. They have hard edges and you
cannot use them to cast soft shadows. This tends to make your images
bigger limitation is that you cannot use volume shadows to cast shadows
from within an enclosed object such as a jack-o-lantern. While this is
not a problem in most scenes it can cause you some unwanted "surprises"
if one of your lights moves into an area enclosed by a single object.
can work around this problem by splitting the object into two or more
or by using a ray-traced shadow for the offending light.
traced shadows are the most versatile. They can also consume a very
substantial amount of time to render.
traced shadows can be either hard or soft. Hard shadows
have a very distinct boundary between what is inside the shadow and
is outside. Your shadow form the sun on the ground is an example of a
shadows don't have a distinct boundary. Instead the amount of
light gradually lessens until the shadow reaches its maximum darkness.
The shadow cast by a florescent light is an example of a soft shadow.
Such shadows are soft because the apparent size of the light casting
them is large.
As you can see below soft shadows can be much more realistic.
shadows are costly to computer. Many individual shadow samples are used
to make a soft shadow. Anim8or therefore limits soft shadows to
anti-aliased images where multiple image samples are used for each
pixel. High quality soft shadows often require even more samples than
Anim8or uses for anti-aliasing. To limit the total cost of these
computations, Anim8or adapts the number of samples to the image as it
is being rendered. If there is nothing "interesting" in an area then
only a few samples are taken. If a shadow edge is detected, however,
more samples are taken to improve the image. You can set the minimum
and maximum number of samples used for each light in the Advanced Light
general, you will need to set the number of samples higher for larger
sized lights that cast soft shadows. You will also have to increase the
number when a light is very close to an object since this will magnify
it's shadow's soft part.
| You can use the Environment Settings dialog to control
several things in your scenes. You can add a background image.
It can be either a fixed image or a panorama that moves with
the camera pans. You can also add fog effects. You open this with the
the background area you can set the background for your scene several
ways. By default it is a solid color. You can change the color with the
next to the color sample.
You can also use a fixed image for the background. To do this select the "image" button and load a background image from a file with the button.
You can also use an image as a panorama. The image is wrapped around your scene in a big arc. When the camera moves it will pan across the background. The diagram below shows how this works.
Note: backgrounds only appear in the Camera view.
| You can remove the default ground grid from your
scene by un-checking the Ground Grid box.
| Distant fog can add realism to your scenes. It is
useful for underwater shots as well as distant outdoor views. You
enable for by checking the box at the top of the fog section of the
Environment dialog. You can set the color, the distance from the camera
at which fog begins to appear, and the distance beyond which it has
maximum saturation. You can also limit the maximum effect it has so
don't disappear entirely in the distance.
|Shadow bias is an advanced technique used to hide
ugly rendering artifacts that can appear when shadows are used. These
artifacts are caused because the lighting computations assume that your
models have smoothly curved surfaces. In reality they are made of flat
Shadow computations are based on these flat faces and don't always get
with the lighting computations.
| To overcome this discrepancy, a
shadow bias is used to push shadows slightly back away from the viewer.
Then everything looks fine.
|You normally shouldn't have to change the shadow bias.
the bottom of the window is the scene's time track. If it isn't
visible on the screen, select the Options->TrackWindow menu item:
the left is the scene's title. It is the top of a tree description of
the elements that make up your scene. If you click on the "open"
you can expand the window to show the objects contained in the scene.
You can change height of the expanded track window by dragging the
vertical resize bar up or down, and the width of the name field by
dragging the horizontal resize bar to the
right or left.
right part of the track is a time line for the scene. If you click on
it, the display will switch to the time you selected. Each tick mark
represents one frame. Seconds are marked with full vertical lines.
Normally there are 24 frames/second but you can change this to other
frame rates with the View->Preferences dialog. The current frame is
in dark gray.
can click and drag the mouse it will select a range of frames. Use
Shift-Click to select a new frame range while still keeping the same
expanded, the left part of the track shows the objects in your scene.
There is a lot of useful information here. You can see what an object's
parent is, what properties have been animated, which bones can be
and such. In the view above the highlighted object shark1spot's parent
the world. Its location is animated and it has a child object called
If you see an "open" box by an item then it has more information that you
can display by clicking on the box.
can select and edit items shown in the name section of the track by
clicking and double clicking on them. Mouse buttons have their normal
meanings with the right one adding to the selection and the middle one
subtracting. Double clicking is how you can edit the numeric value of
animated properties like an element scale that does not appear in a
can preview a software rendered image of any view with the
Render->RenderImage command. You can set the size and background
used to make the image, and can choose to make it
You can also use the Render->RenderImage command to do this in the Scene Editor.
you render an image, you can isolate the elements in your scene from
the background. You can save both the images of your elements and a
mask showing where they are. This mask is called an alpha channel.
It's really nothing more that a black-and-white
image in the shape of your elements. It has a value of 0 where your
are drawn, and 1 where they aren't Transparent parts and edged in
images will have a value in-between representing how much of the pixel
elements "own". You can use the alpha channel to combine images made in
Anim8or with other images in a paint program, as you will see below.
make an alpha channel by selecting the "Alpha Channel" button in the
can also make two very useful images with one rendering by selecting
the "Image + Alpha Channel" button. One is an ordinary alpha channel
the other is a special element image that has been pre-multiplied
by the alpha channel. It shows your elements normally but is black
your elements are not. Partially transparent parts of your elements are
dimmed to the degree that they are transparent. You can then use these
images for a variety of special effects, such as image compositing
which is described next.
| With image compositing you can insert a
computer generated model into an ordinary photograph or movie, or
computer generated ones. You first render an "Image + Alpha Channel" image and then
use a paint program such as Adobe Photoshop to add Anim8or's output to
the photo. The steps in this process are shown below. It's
best to enable anti-aliasing to prevent annoying jaggies in the result.
| Step 1: Render an "Image + Alpha
Channel" of your model in Anim8or. The result is two images as
|Camera view in Anim8or
||Pre-multiplied by Alpha||Alpha Channel|
| Step 2: In a paint program, multiply the photographic image
by the alpha channel image. This will mask out a hole in the
photo for your model:
| Step 3: Still in the paint program, add the Anim8or image
to previous result:
| Masked Photograph
|| Pre-multiplied by Alpha
|| Final Composite
|It's important to try and match
the lighting on your model to that in the photo. Otherwise the
computer generated part won't blend in very well. In this example
the bobcat is lit by the sun from behind and to the right but the bird
has some front lighting as well which makes it look artificial.
(You would think it was a real bird otherwise, right?)
|To render an .avi movie, display the camera's view on the screen with View->Camera, and then select Render->RenderMovie. Select AVI and any other settings you prefer, and Anim8or will render your movie.|
your graphics card supports advanced shaders you may choose to use an
alternate OpenGL renderer that uses the graphics accelerator in your
computer to make images and movies. This renderer is much faster
than the default Scanline renderer but it does not support all of
Anim8or's options. Most notably, shadows and advanced user lights
are not supported.
You choose the renderer in the Render->Renderer dialog. If the "OpenGL" entry is not present Anim8or cannot render using your computer's graphics hardware.
|This page was last updated on May
||Copyright 2006 R. Steven Glanville