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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: 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 ;)

Since holograms that are animated and aren’t viewed through a photographic plate are still the stuff of science fiction there is no ‘canonical’ way they should look.  It’s pseudo-science so you are free to make it look however you like, ie. there’s no ‘wrong’ way to do it.

A hologram is an effect of light and has no solidity (OK, Star Trek ones do but whatever) so the holographic object and any projection cone you include probably shouldn’t receive or cast shadows.  Also, I’m not sure whether it’s possible in Anim8or but ideally they shouldn’t be affected by lights in the scene other than one positioned near the projector illuminating the holographic object directly.

Including a greyscale white-to-black gradient image mapped in the transparency field in the ‘projection cone’ object will make it appear to fade away at the top.

This quick test incorporates Kevin Gales’ concept and johnar’s flickering idea.  There is a green light illuminating the hologram from below, perhaps a script in the light colour/brightness channel that incorporates randomisation would look interesting, adding a bit of flicker.  I have minimised the effect of scene lights by reducing the specular amount in the textures used for the holographic elements to zero and increased the emissive value to about 0.5 with a green colour to make the holographic elements appear to glow.  I haven’t done it but including a soft green ‘bulb’ light in the centre of the holographic object that casts a bit of a green glow on surrounding objects would be a nice touch too.

Anim8or Challenges / Re: Re: Challenge suggestions.
« on: August 04, 2020, 08:23:57 am »
I guess most of the help I'd need is rigging and sequencing. Some form of particle effects (at least mimicking) would be helpful too. I am no where near being proficient with the lip synching. And any improvements or suggestions on models would be great too. I'd like it to be a collaborative project. Maybe it's wishful thinking, but that would be my ideal scenario.

I've been involved in a zero-budget collaboration for some years now, and from a CGI artist's perspective the most critical things are a story/script and a visual storyboard.  As you would be aware, developing 3D imagery is VERY time consuming, any artists wanting to get on board with a project will need to know that the work they are doing is "right" and they're not wasting time designing, building, rigging, animating and rendering assets that don't fit the story and won't ultimately be used.  In my case the writer/director provides descriptive but relatively low-detail storyboards, or searches the web for images that have the right kind of feel for what he needs.  Without these I would have left the project a long time ago.

Putting together a 'development team' to throw around ideas and build concepts into a script and storyboard would also be worthwhile.  As a real-world example, the author of The Martian book (and movie) crowd-sourced a lot of the science in the story, since he wasn't particularly science-literate.

As johnar says, and as I can attest from experience, it is a huge job driving a collaborative project of this sort.  You are likely to have artists drop in and out of the project so you will want to have a central location for assets (we use a Google drive extended to 100GB) to ensure you don't lose anything.  I have seen great projects crash and burn due to a single participant going AWOL and taking their models with them.

I am over-committed with projects at the moment and wouldn't be able to assist in any direct way, but if you are really keen to do this (and you will need to be really keen) I encourage you to do it.  It can be fun, inspiring and rewarding, however you need to remember that there is nothing in it for anybody in any real sense, other than a sense of achievement, seeing your name in the credits and, if you're lucky, maybe picking up a couple of awards here and there.  The more work you can do up-front with the story and storyboard the more likely you will be to attract and keep artists in the project.

With nothing but sincerity I wish you well and I hope it does happen, it's been a while since I've seen a collaborative project based on Anim8or and with recent developments to the platform I think it's long overdue.

Finished Works and Works in Progress / Re: Mission: Backup Earth!
« on: June 19, 2020, 07:30:42 am »
So, johnar reminded me that it had been a long time since I had posted anything here (almost 2.5 years!).  I know this thread is old but I figure it's acceptable, etiquette-wise, to resurrect one's own vintage threads.

The Mission Backup Earth project ( is still keeping me busy, as an ongoing web series with CGI in every scene (yes... every, single, scene!) there is an awful lot to keep me occupied.  It's interesting to look back on the early work done in this project to see how things have improved, particularly with CGI/live action integration.  It is common now for renders to align perfectly with the live action, "plug and play" as Alex often says.  Considering that there can often be a year or more between filming the live action and the background plates being modeled and rendered this is quite an achievement.

Below is a sequence I created a few weeks ago for an upcoming episode.  All modeling was done with Anim8or (including Arik's ubiquitous triangular cargo containers) but rendered in Carrara.  Anim8or's renderer is much improved speed-wise and somehow its renders are just more beautiful than Carrara's, but Carrara still has a speed advantage with network rendering (3 x i7 quaddies supplying 24 rendering threads, and this scene still took several hours to render).

Hopefully the Youtube link works, if not please bear with me while I work it out again!

Finished Works and Works in Progress / Re: lipsync and animation 2
« on: June 19, 2020, 06:51:31 am »
 Long time no see.
 Yes, don't know where i'd be without the good old pen and paper.
 Thanks for the post. Hope all is going well in your 'digital endeavours'
 (havn't seen anything from you in a while. )

Yes, it has been a while since I've posted anything, I'll pop something up soon for old times' sake :)
I log in regularly to check out updates, see what people are up to and generally lurk a bit.  Still working on the Mission Backup Earth project, mainly live action over CG backgrounds so no lip-sync required yet ;)

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