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Ian Ross has just released a book on Anim8or. It's perect for a beginner and a good reference for experienced users. It contains detailed chapters on every aspect, with many examples. Get your own copy here: "Anim8or Tutorial Book"

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Messages - ENSONIQ5

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General Anim8or Forum / Re: Decal questiion
« on: January 14, 2021, 08:02:17 pm »
Double-click the object with UV tool activated to access the Texture Coordinate Parameters dialog box which includes a 'Reset to default' option.

I'm not entirely sure what your ultimate goal is so I may be off the mark, in which case I apologise in advance.  Rather than rotating the figure to obtain your eight cardinal-point views it might be easier to 'orbit' the camera around a static figure.  In Scene mode this could be done by placing a target helper object at the rotational centre of the figure and making it the parent of the camera.  With the camera set at an appropriate distance from the figure, rotating the target helper object in 45-degree steps in an 8-frame animation would sweep the camera around the object through each of the cardinal points.  Render to a set of still images and you have your set of 8 images for the figure.

General Anim8or Forum / Re: 2 Possibly Dumb Questions
« on: December 11, 2020, 10:12:56 pm »
Achieving 'realism' in a CGI image is not easy, but it all boils down to attention to detail.  We all have pretty good built-in bulls&%t detectors and can tell when something doesn't look quite right, but in some cases it can be difficult to know exactly why.  There are a bunch of elements that all need to be considered when attempting to create a realistic-looking render:

1) The model: Using Rudy's excellent examples above, the 'Knobs' image in particular, notice the tiny gap between the knobs and the font panel, the rounding of the edges of the front panel as they meet the case, the gap in the case suggesting it's made of two halves.  In the MorseKey image, notice how the shiny metal armature is a bit convex on top, just as would happen when polishing a piece of metal like that.  Notice how its edges are not perfectly sharp, which is easy to achieve in the digital world but much harder (and more dangerous!) in reality.  This sort of attention to the reality of engineering is important and when it is overlooked the image can look too 'perfect', a sure sign that it's not real.

2) Materials: While Anim8or's materials are relatively simple compared to other 3D packages they are still complex with a massive range of possibilities.  Getting to grips with the ART parameters is critical, it has its own set of instructions and permits things like complex reflections, glossy surfaces, dielectrics, refractions etc.  What makes glass look like glass, considering it's effectively transparent?  Again, using Rudy's Vase6 render above, it's the complex interplay between transparency, dielectics, refraction and reflection that makes it look so real.  The best advice I can give is to learn what the material settings do, reconstruct the samples in the literature, and do a bunch of test renders to see what's going on.  There's really no trick to this, it just takes time.

3) Lighting: As has been said before, lighting is one of the most critical things to get right.  For example, consider a render of a comms satellite in Earth orbit.  Technically there will only be a single light source (the Sun) but it will also be illuminating the Earth below, which will be acting as a second, diffuse, bluish light source from 'below'. Parts of the satellite hidden from both the Sun and Earth will be totally black with nothing to illuminate them (other than starlight I guess).  However, a scene in a room lit by sunlight streaming through an open window will be very different, as the sunlight will be bouncing around the room banishing most shadows and casting different shades of light on the objects.  This 'secondary' illumination can be simulated in a rudimentary way with the ambient light setting and some more complex systems can simulate secondary (tertiary etc.) lighting, but well-considered positioning of fill lights in an Anim8or scene can go a long way towards improving the realism of a scene.  Having an understanding of how light behaves in different situations is critical in the accurate positioning of these fill lights.

4) Filth: As I said above, perfection is a sure sign that something's off.  Looking at Rudy's MorseKey image, imagine if there were fingerprints on the shiny metal part and the Bakelite knob or a bit of rust pitting; if this was the case I'm not sure I would have recognised it as anything other than a photograph of a real object.  Imperfection is everywhere, from the rough and damaged edges of a desktop to rain spots on a window pane or machining marks on a polished metal surface.  Simulating imperfection can go a long way towards achieving realism, mostly it will be done in the materials but thinking about it at the modelling stage is also worthwhile.

There are other things that can destroy the perception of reality, such as movement in an animation that doesn't respect physics, but I would say these are the main ones.  I don't believe there are 'tricks' to achieving realism, every realistic CGI image I have ever seen (here or elsewhere) has been created by someone with lots of experience and folders full of earlier renders, many of which they would be embarrassed to share now.  It's a learning curve, every render you do will be better than the one before it.  The best advice I can give is build, render, post in forums like this one and take on board what others say.

General Anim8or Forum / Re: Textures & Materials: Make Or Break Question
« on: November 25, 2020, 12:47:10 am »
In the Edit mode toolbox, just above the Shapes section is the UV function.  Select your object, select UV, and use the different mouse buttons to scale, rotate & move the UV coords.  A yellow grid reticule overlay shows what's going on.  Double click to open a dialog to change the mapping geometry or reset the UV coords to the default.  The process is identical for individual selected faces via the UV tool in the Point edit toolbox.

For more complex UV mapping there are a bunch of external UV mappers capable of 'flattening' complex meshes to create UV maps, I personally use Lithunwrap.

General Anim8or Forum / Re: Textures & Materials: Make Or Break Question
« on: November 24, 2020, 02:21:00 am »
To summarise the steps in creating and applying basic materials:

  • Click the Materials icon in the top bar (looks like 4 balls) to open the materials panel
  • You have two panels to choose from, File and Object.  Materials created in File are available for all objects, materials in Object are only available for the specific object *
  • Double click the empty material slot titled 'New' to open the material editor.  There's more to this editor than I can cover here, the manual covers it better than I can, but to start with use the colour selector to choose a basic colour in the Ambient and Diffuse channels, eg. red.  Click OK and your red material should show at the top of the materials panel
  • To create a second material, double click the 'New' slot and do the same process as above
  • In Object/Edit mode (arrow at top left of the toolbox), click the object, then click the colour slot you want, then click 'Apply' at the top of the materials panel.  This will apply that material to the whole object
  • To apply your second colour to just one face, change to Object/Point edit mode (3 dots in toolbox), ensure Face select is selected in the toolbox below XYZ, ensure 'Front' is selected in the row below that, and click on the face whose material you want to change. As before, click the material you want in the materials panel and click Apply to apply that colour to just the selected face

Obviously you can select multiple faces to apply the second colour to as required.  UV mapping in Anim8or is quite powerful and easy to control but needs a bit more explanation, we can cover this once you have the gist of creating and applying materials.  I attempted to create a video but my screen capture software is prehistoric and the resolution is terrible, and W10's Game Bar capture software doesn't seem to capture pop-up menus, annoyingly.

* Copying and pasting a mesh from one Object to another Object within the same project also copies any object-specific materials it uses into the new object.  Since this can get a bit messy with duplicates if (like me) you tend to build meshes in one Object and assemble them in another, I normally use the 'File' panel pretty much exclusively.

General Anim8or Forum / Re: Why Can't I Generate A New Poly/Face?
« on: November 20, 2020, 07:58:52 pm »
I'm not saying set builders aren't engineers, just that they have different goals.  An engineer builds something that works, a set builder builds something that looks like it works but is filmable.

Take, for example, a train carriage.  A 3D CGI model builder who is into trains might start by building the wheels and bogeys, then the chassis, the wall frames, the exterior cladding, the windows, the interior panels, light fittings, seats, etc.  It might be a faithful model of a train carriage that satisfies the builder and might work very well for exterior shots, but it probably wouldn't be practical to use as a set for movie scenes taking place inside the carriage.  A set builder's approach would be to ignore the undercarriage entirely and build each wall and the ceiling as separate objects (or object groups with light fittings, windows etc.) that can be hidden at will to allow cameras to be positioned in different locations in an unrestricted way.

Building a real train carriage that way would be insane, so a train enthusiast hired to build a filmable movie set of a train carriage might have a hard time forcing themselves to ignore what they know about how real train carriages are built, and build something that's totally wrong but looks right :)

From personal experience it's helps A LOT if the director/writer/whoever you're working for can provide storyboards, or at least some visual idea of the 'shots' required.  This will inform how the models should be built and whether any sort of modularity is required.  I can also recommend a 'pre-vis' stage, where simple block-form models are used as stand-ins of the real, detailed models, with only basic lighting and texturing but with the cameras in position.  This can help to determine how a camera should track through animated scenes and allows the director to request adjustments that don't result in many more hours work for you.

General Anim8or Forum / Re: Making Progress
« on: November 20, 2020, 07:23:28 pm »
Regarding the lifting points, I'm not sure what method you used to build them but (like so many things in Anim8or) there are several different approaches you could have taken.  The method outlined below took about 5 minutes, including the time to screenshot the steps.

Start with an N-gon, setting the number of steps to whatever seems reasonable (max is 100, in the example below I set it to 24). Copy/paste and enlarge the copy so there are two concentric circles, being the lifting point 'hole' and the outer rounded top part (2nd image).  Select both circles, Build > Join Splines, then Build > Extrude.  In the extrude dialog ensure end caps are selected and choose the extrusion axis that's towards you (ie. the axis not shown at bottom left of the screen - green arrow in the third image below).  Pull the points in the bottom part of the outer circle into a squared-off shape, snapping to the grid (4th image).  Adjust thickness of the object if required.

I should point out that I'm not saying this is the 'best' method, just a quick one.  The best method to use in any case depends largely on the ultimate purpose of the model, for example if the intention was to smooth or subdivide the object it would be better to use a method that doesn't create 3-sided polygons (such as using the lathe tool to create the 'donut' in step 3 before pulling the points out).  The Join Splines and Extrude tools can be a quick way to create complex perforated objects, such as the second attachment.

General Anim8or Forum / Re: Why Can't I Generate A New Poly/Face?
« on: November 19, 2020, 12:59:05 am »
So many cats to be skinned, so many ways to skin them!  Another approach would be to construct the cross section of the semi-cylindrical hut and lathe it around a centre line, then remove the bottom half.  This effectively builds the smooth inside and the ribbed outside of the model in a single operation, already joined.  In the example attached, note that the cross section is built offset from the centre line (green arrow) around which it will be lathed.

I would also recommend building separate interior and exterior 'sets' as the alternative comes with all the same drawbacks as on-location filming.  Thinking like a set builder rather than an engineer can be helpful, for example interior sets can be built in a modular fashion with removable sections to allow cameras to pull back further than they would if they were constrained within a fixed structure.  A real-life example is the filming of Silent Running which was done largely in an aircraft carrier (the Valley Forge) with very restricted spaces.  The camera operators' heads were measured to find the smallest one, so he could jamb himself deeper into corners of rooms behind the camera for the widest possible shot!  Also, the main set for Apollo 13 was very modular with parts that could be removed to poke cameras in.

From bitter experience this is definitely worth thinking about at the modelling stage, not once everything has been assembled and rigged and you can't get the camera where you need it!

General Anim8or Forum / Re: Odd (To Me) Behavior Of Normals
« on: November 17, 2020, 04:42:35 am »
Using a geodesic sphere is a good solution, and as you say the topology lends itself to being easily bisected into halves, quarters etc.  I'm not a big fan of the irregularity of it though, starting with a polygonal primitive results in all 'panes' being identical.  But, like most things in Anim8or, there are multiple ways of achieving what you need :)

General Anim8or Forum / Re: Question Re: Build>Convert to Subdivided
« on: November 15, 2020, 06:45:46 am »
Yes, you can do the same operations to the underlying mesh of a subdivision object as you can to any mesh.  The subdivision mesh is mathematically generated from the underlying mesh, so changes to the underlying mesh are reflected in the subdivision mesh.  Having said that, cutting meshes and faces may have some undesirable effects on the subdivision mesh.  An alternate method would be to create the subdivision object, convert it to a mesh so it's no longer mathematically derived, and then cut or otherwise edit the mesh as required.

General Anim8or Forum / Re: Odd (To Me) Behavior Of Normals
« on: November 15, 2020, 05:56:44 am »
I've made a few domes with Anim8or, below is a way I've found that does a reasonably good job for smallish domes.  It's not strictly geodesic but has a regular appearance.  If the empty faces should be filled with 'glass' I would create a copy of the object at the third stage below, slightly reduce the size, give it a transparent material and overlay it with the 'frame' object.

This modelling technique doesn't give a triangular cross section of the frame elements, that could be simulated by (painstakingly) selecting the 'centreline' nodes in each frame segment and increasing the scale.

General Anim8or Forum / Re: Odd (To Me) Behavior Of Normals
« on: November 10, 2020, 01:29:40 am »
Old Codger, there's one more step required after joining the solids.  You'll need to select just the points that are concurrent in both halves, and Edit > Merge Points.  Depending on the size of the sphere you might need to change the merge value, since the points are concurrent going small (eg. .001) should work without dragging non-concurrent points together.  Merging the points will restore the uniformity of the mesh, otherwise even though two dome halves have been joined into one solid they will still be separate meshes.

General Anim8or Forum / Re: Size Control
« on: November 06, 2020, 03:01:10 am »
I don't have Daz but I do have Carrara which has Daz/Poser object import algorithms.  On creating some test cubes in Anim8or and importing them to Carrara via the OBJ format the following appears to be the case:

Anim8or: 1 units
OBJ: 0.0254 units
Carrara: .0254 metres
Poser/Daz: 2.439 metres

So it seems, at least for these tests, that 1 Anim8or unit translates to 1 inch as a straight import, and 96 inches for a Daz Studio or Poser import (which maps 96 'Carrara units' to 1 OBJ unit).

Finished Works and Works in Progress / Re: older recent test
« on: October 23, 2020, 09:52:40 am »
The movement of the mannequins in 'Escher' is particularly good.  The figures appear to have real 'weight', like it's an actual effort for them to climb the stairs, and the climbing and descending 'gaits' are perfect.  The transitions from 'climbing' to 'walking' to 'descending' could be smoother but sequence transitions are never easy.  Very impressive work!

A tricky workaround might be to use four cameras co-located and 'splayed' horizontally and vertically, then stitch the images together externally ;)

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