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So far, you’ve rendered single still images. For your animation, you will be rendering a series of still images (your frames) to create your video file.

To change your render settings, click on the Rendering menu and click Render Setup (or press F10, or the button with the teapot and the menu.



For previous renders, the Time Output was set to “Single.”

To render your entire animation, select “Active Time Segment.”

If you wish to do test renders to see how things are looking but do not want to wait hours to render your entire animation, you can choose the “Range” option and select a group of frames (enter start and end frames). OR, choose Active Time Segment and then change the number where it says Every Nth Frame. Here you can tell it to render every 5th frame or every 1oth, instead of every single frame.


Ask your instructor about the recommended “Output Size” to render your animation. General rule is to render as large as you can while still being able to render within a few hours. Render time will vary depending on the complexity of your lighting, geometry, and materials. 640×480 is a safe size to start with. You may be able to go up to 800×600, or may have to reduce to 320×480, depending on the complexity of your animation.


Save your file as an .AVI file. It is recommended that you render to the computer’s hard drive (local disk C:), as opposed to the network VPA drive. After rendering to the local disk, you can move your final render (.avi) to your class folder. Remember to make back ups.



The default render may come up as Mental Ray Renderer. Change your renderers to Default Scanline Renderer.


Remember, it may take two or more hours to render your animation.
Happy Rendering!


Time to work with both form AND function.

For your final 106 project, you must use a mousetrap as the engine for an aesthetically interesting functioning vehicle. Yes, this is a project done by kids in science classes across the country, but not only must you get your vehicle to work, you need to get it to work WELL (think speed and distance) and look good!

Consider the following…

The spring in the mousetrap will provide the energy — what other pieces do you need for the car to function?
What materials could you use?
Don’t forget, this problem is about visual design as well as functional design. What formal design elements can you use to make your design visually pleasing?

Remember that the 3ds Max help file is very complete and easy to follow. If you are having trouble remembering how to do something, check there first. (When using 3ds Max, just press F1).

Some How-Tos:

MAKE A BALL ROLL (click to see tutorial)

USE A DUMMY (Bouncing Ball example)

Using a Dummy to Control Motion

Combining the bouncing motion of a ball with the forward motion of a dummy results in a moving bouncing ball.

To create a complex bounce motion using a dummy object:

  1. Start with a sphere, then create a dummy object below the sphere, and link the sphere as a child of the dummy.*
  2. Animate the sphere bouncing up and down above the dummy.
  3. Animate the dummy moving.The sphere bounces on top of the dummy object as the dummy moves around the scene. You can easily change the height and speed of the bounce by changing the sphere animation. You can change the path through the scene by changing the dummy animation.


(Information taken from 3ds Max help file)

*To create a Dummy object,click on the Create tab, then the Helpers button, and click on Dummy.


*To link two objects, click the Select and Link button, click the first object, drag and click on the second object. Now the objects are linked.




Let’s say you have a lever with a fulcrum that is off center, and you want that lever to rotate and tip as part of your Rube Goldberg machine. If you rotate it as is, it won’t rotate on your fulcrum.


You need to change your center point (pivot point) to the location of your fulcrum, not the center of your lever.

Click on the Hierarchy tab, then click on Pivot. Click Affect Pivot Only. Now you can use the Select and Move button to move your pivot point.


Now turn off Affect Pivot Only and click on your box. When you rotate the box it will rotate around the new  pivot location.


And just for fun:

The Honda Rube Goldberg commercial…

Here are some images and links to get you thinking about your Art of Can project.

Fun Forever blog (pics from Red Bull’s Art of Can)

Tesscar Aluminum Craft

Frames in Time
Animation is the rapid display of a sequential series of still images in order to produce the illusion of movement. The still image is called a Frame.

Animations can move at a variety of rates, described as frames per second (FPS). Standard NTSC video is 30 fps, and NTSC film is 24 fps. Animations are created at a variety of frame rates depending on their final format and method of distribution.

Before you get started on your final project, you will have to create a storyboard for your animation. A storyboard is a sketch of your animation, showing only the key moments – kind of like a comic strip. Your storyboard should consist of your key frames – the significant events in your story.


Key Frames
Key Frames are the most significant frames in your animation. In traditional hand-drawn cel animation, the master artist draws the cels for the key moments, and assistants would create the cels needed to go in between these key frames; these in between frames are called “tweens” and the creation of them is a process called “tweening”. With 3ds Max, you are the master artist and the software is your assistant.

The controls used for animating in 3ds Max are found at the bottom of the screen. You will find the easily recognizable play, forward, and back buttons. Below those buttons is a box that shows you which frame you are currently on.
Note: The animation will play only in the selected viewport.


The button next to that box is the Time Configuration button. Click this button to open the Time Configuration settings. These settings allow you to choose your frame rate and the number of frames needed for your animation.


We will use the default NTSC 30 fps. You need to make a 12 second animation. How many frames do you need?

Auto Key
Auto Key will automatically create a key frame for the frame you are at in the timeline. Click the button labeled auto key, drag the Time Slider to the desired place in your time line, and move or modify your object. The change will be saved with the automatically created key frame. The program will automatically create the tween frames.


Set Key
You won’t always want the program to automatically create a key frame every time you change something. In this case, click the button labeled Set Key. When this option is selected you can move and modify objects within your scene and the movements will not create a key frame – they will not be animated. In order to have your change animated and saved as a key frame, click the large button marked with the key. Clicking this button will create a key frame. The program will automatically generate the tween frames, animating your form.

You can animate Move, Scale, and Modifiers.

Your next 106 project requires the use of aluminum cans. Start collecting cans now. Keep in mind that you may want to have all of the same kind of can for a unified surface.

This project was inspired by the Red Bull Art of Can contest. If you wish to participate in the contest, follow the link and follow the rules. Submissions are due May 15.

Pretty soon you’ll be starting the Paper Object assignment in your 106 class. Successful solutions to this problem will depend on object selection, creative cropping/fragmenting of your object, accurate measuring, and meticulous craft.

Object Selection

Like the wire project you just completed, the form you start with has a lot to do with the form you end up with. When picking your object, consider: uniqueness, complex curves (paper is a planar material and can only bend in one direction at a time), dimensionality, detail, size, and complexity.


This is where the real designing comes in. How will you put your own stamp on this object? What can you remove from the form to make it more dynamic and/or visually compelling? The original object should still be recognizable in your fragmented version; from the assignment guidelines: “Objects that at first glance draw in the viewer’s interest to discover its true nature are desired.”


This problem requires accurate measuring and accurate proportion. Your fragmented object should be scaled so that the longest dimension = 15″ to 18″. Use orthographic projections to consider all sides of your form and record your measurements.


Solutions must be well-crafted. Paper surface should be clean, glue should not be visible. Cut edges should be clean and not frayed.

Success in these areas is sure to produce outstanding results.

Oldenburg Clothespin

Oldenburg Clothespin

You will need to use basic modeling to solve some of your 106 computer assignments. Here are some reminders of what tools you can use to create a variety of results…


For your remaining 106 computer problems, you will need to do basic form creation and modeling. The following guide references features you may want to use to complete your assignments.

When creating a new object or form, use the Create Tab.

There are several types of objects that can be created from Geometry (marked by the sphere button). Use the drop-down menu to select the type of Geometry you wish to make. For our purposes, you need only worry about Standard Primitives, though you may wish to use Extended Primitives and Compound Objects.

Geometry Parameters…Note that each type of geometry comes with parameters that can be edited, such as the number of segments that compose each side of a box. You can modify these parameters before creating your geometry, or after, using the Modify tab.
The Slice and Hemisphere parameters for spheres can be very useful.

Standard Primitives…Use any of the available object types to create 3D forms. These forms are the basic forms you will probably use more than the others.

Extended Primitives…These forms work like the Standard Primitives, only they are more complex or unique forms, not as commonly used.

Compound Objects…Compound objects combine multiple objects (Geometry and/or Shapes) to create a single new object. The two types of compound objects you might want to use are Boolean and Loft.

Boolean…Comparable to the Pathfinder tools in Adobe Illustrator, a Boolean object combines two other objects by performing a Boolean operation on them.

Union…The Boolean object contains the volume of both original objects. The intersecting or overlapping portion of the geometry is removed.

Intersection…The Boolean object contains only the volume that was common to both original objects (in other words, where they overlapped).

Subtraction…The Boolean object contains the volume of one original object with the intersection volume subtracted from it.

TO USE BOOLEAN: Select the first object (“operand A”). Then click the Pick Operand B button. Select the second object.

Reference synchronizes modifier-induced changes to the original object with Operand B, but not vice-versa.

Copy reuses operand B for other purposes in the scene.

Instance synchronizes animation of the Boolean object with animated changes to the original B object, and vice-versa.

Move (the default) is used if you’ve created the operand B geometry only to create a Boolean, and have no other use for it.

Loft… Loft objects are two-dimensional shapes extruded along a third axis. You create loft objects from two or more existing spline objects.


  1. Create and select a shape as the first cross-section shape.
  2. Click Create Panel > Geometry > Compound Objects > Loft.
  3. On the Creation Method rollout, click Get Path.
    Choose Move, Copy, or Instance (see descriptions above).
  4. Click a shape for the path.

(if you choose to “Get Shape” instead of “Get Path”, first select your path, then select your shape.)

Shapes are 2D objects. Familiarize yourself with the Splines shapes. Splines may also be useful when creating custom forms or paths when doing animation.

Once you have created some objects, you can experiment with modifying them to create custom forms.

To Convert your Object to Editable Poly or Editable Mesh: Right click on the object and select Editable Poly or Editable Mesh from the menu that appears.

Editable Mesh…Once you convert your object to Editable Mesh (or Editable Poly) you can modify the form by selecting Vertex, Edge, Border, Polygon, or Element (under the Modify tab) and using the Select and Move feature to change the shape of your form (like you did in the first tessellation assignment).

Vertex is the point where edges meet; define the structure of faces.
Edge is a line connecting two vertices that forms the side of a polygon.
Border is usually a sequence of edges with polygons on only one side.
Polygon is a closed sequence of three or more edges connected by a surface. Polygons provide the renderable surface of editable poly objects.
Element is the complete form.

TO APPLY A MODIFIER: Modifiers are added under the Modify tab. Select the object you wish to modify, then click the Modifier List drop-down list and select the desired modifier.

Some modifiers you may wish to use for your 106 assignments:

Face Extrude…Face Extrude will extrude the selected Polygon, creating new faces along the extrusion. The size of the extrusion is determined by the Amount parameter (can be positive or negative).  The extruded face can be larger or smaller than the original polygon face, and is determined by the Scale parameter.

Bend…The Bend modifier allows you to bend the selected object. You can adjust the degree of the bend by changing the Angle parameter, and you can choose which way the object bends by adjusting the Direction parameter. Note that you must also select the Bend Axis to make sure that your form is bending along the correct axis.

Taper… Taper produces a tapered contour by scaling both ends of an object’s geometry; one end is scaled up, and the other is scaled down. You can control the amount and curve of the taper (Amount parameter and Curve parameter) on two sets of axes (Taper Axis parameter, Primary and Effect). You can also limit the taper to a section of the geometry.

Free Form Deformations… The FFD modifier surrounds the selected geometry with a lattice. By adjusting the control points of the lattice, you deform the enclosed geometry. The number of control points of the lattice is determined by the type of FFD modifier you select.

Stretch…Use the Stretch and Amplify parameters to stretch your geometry over the selected axis.

Lathe… The Lathe modifier creates a 3D object by rotating a shape (or NURBS curve) about an axis. Create a shape (such as a spline) and apply the Lathe modifier.

Material Editor Reminders…

Blinn Basic Parameters

Diffuse is your “main” color. Click on the color to pull up the Color Selector window and customize your color.

Ambient is your “shadow” color. If your shadows don’t look rich enough, unlock Diffuse and Ambient and change your Ambient color to a dark value.

Specular is your “highlight” color. Click on the color to pull up the Color Selector window to customize your color.

Specular Level lets you make you choose how much highlight shows up in your material.

Glossiness determines how focused your highlight is.

Soften affects the edge of the highlight.

Self-illumination will make it seem as though the light is coming from within the material.

Opacity determines how transparent or opaque the material is.

Get Materials

Click the Get Material button or click Get Material from the Material drop-down menu to open the Material/Map Browser.

Double click on a desired material to add it to your Materials Editor.

Material Libraries

When in the Material/Map Browser, you can open a Material Library by selecting “Mtl Library” under the “Browse From” section.

Under File, click Open…

Browse to the location where the Material Libraries are saved (ask Instructor). Material Libraries .mat files.

Select the desired library and click Open.


Note: The sphere indicates a ready-to-use Material. The rhombus shape indicates a Map that can be used in creating or customizing your own materials.


If you want to add an image or texture to your material, then you need to use Maps. In the Material Editor, find the Maps section. Click a Map button (these buttons say “None” in the example below) to add a map to any of the available slots.


This will open the Material/Map browser and you can select a Map to apply to your material.

Depending on the type of Map you apply, you will have further options to customize, including Coordinates and Parameters.



Some materials used for the Still Life objects have Multi/Sub-Object materials. This means a single material is composed of multiple different types of materials. You can customize each sub-material within the Multi/Sub-Object material.


The material shown here is used for the clock. A different Sub-Material is used for each of the face, wood, handle, and gold trim.

UVW Map Modifier

You may find it necessary to further control the way a map material is mapped to an object in your scene. You can use the UVW Map Modifier for this.

Select the object you wish to modify, and use the Modify tab to select UVW Mapping from the Modifier List.

Here you have a list of Parameters that allow you to choose how the map is applied to your form. For example, you may choose Spherical if your form is a sphere, etc.

*Tiling can be done when customizing the material, or when applying the UVW map. Tiling may be necessary to make your materials fit your object or environment (bricks, carpet, etc.).

106 is now moving on to the assignment called Thinking Inside the Box. This problem lets you re-examine your understanding of design elements and principles of organization as you apply them within a shallow 1 1/2″ box. A successful solution to this problem exhibits a strong composition, exaggerated sense of depth, and a variety of textures and materials that work together to produce a cohesive, unified whole.

Thinking Inside the Box Problem Guidelines

Remember the following ways of manipulating design elements to create the illusion (or in this case exaggerate the perception) of depth…

  • Overlap…if shape A overlaps shape B, we perceive A as being in front of B.
  • Vertical Placement…because we look for horizon lines, shapes placed near the top of the picture plane appear to be further away, and those near the bottom appear to be closer.
  • Proportion…Larger items will appear closer, and smaller items will appear further away.
  • Atmospheric Perspective…Detailed shapes and forms appear to be closer, and items with less detail appear further away.
  • Linear Perspective…Lines converging to a vanishing point imply a dramatic sense of depth.