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Getting started with DX9 for designers and 3d artists

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Hi, Just recently our company has started to delv into the wide world of directx and are aiming to create our own simulation software using this engine. I have always encouraged this transition (from our previous buggy and sluggish OpenGL engine) and can see from many of todays up and coming DX9 games, the many benifits visually and technically. At the moment our coder is still trying to get his head around the DX9 sdk and the technical side of things, and i have volenteered, to hopefully speed up the process and to have a creative foot in the door from the begining, to help him out and do some research into the visual side of things. My job here at the company is a 3d modeller, animator, texture artist and designer all in one, and what i want to know is , are there any tutorials of info which are aimed at these specific areas, eg. creating animation for Directx''s .x format, texture and shader techniques and (maybe) basic programing of shaders. Also im looking for some good tools to do these jobs with. At the moment all I have is the tools that come with the SDK. Im using 3dstudio max 5.1 and 6 and have already had a play with the model export features (panda exporter..is this the best?) and the basic model viewer, with so far, limited results. Anyway, any advice or info you can provide me with is much apreciated. Just point me in the right direction Cheers Rob

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