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TallyWack

how much of 3dsMax to use?

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aside from modeling the object, 3d studio max offers alot of animation features and the character studio expansion allows for 'biped' animation linked to your 3d model. but i'm thinking, most of those features are for creating quality CGI movies /cutscenes... so for my main character's model, do i not use 3ds to max the animations? i just export the model in a 'da vinci' pose and use the game engine to move the vertices using a pre-calculated matrix for animation? i know the directx .x file supports animation...so if i were to setup frames in 3ds i could have frame 1-10 for walking, frame 11-21 for jumping, frame 22-32 for dieing, etc and store all that animation in the exported model file? that seems like a lot of vertices to store...is that typical? also, if i am to use character studio to animate a model for use in a game...when i export..it also exports all the faces/vertices for that biped 'inside' my model...is that necessary? something i'm missing? any information is greatly appreciated

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welll, there are a lot of things in 3ds max that you may "think" you'll never use. but if ou're like me you may like to get advanced in your texturing and modeling... so when i am making a level i have two instances of 3ds max running. one is for the actual making of the level while the other is for either actually making textures from scratch by modeling them or i will use the other 3ds max to bake the shadows (and in some cases specularity) into the texture.
and with animating, use whatever program you're most comfortable with, however from what i've heard 3ds max can do character animations pretty well.
as for the specifics of your questions... well i can't help you there since i don't do characters (i'm just a world artist atm).

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>>"so for my main character's model, do i not use 3ds to max the animations? i just export the model in a 'da vinci' pose and use the game engine to move the vertices using a pre-calculated matrix for animation?"
>There's something to clear up here. The 'game engine' 'moves' the vertices using animations people have made, possibly in 3ds. In most professional games, the animations are exported as files individual from the character mesh, and have to do with bone rotation, not vertex matrix manipulation (as far as I know). This is so two characters can use the same 'walk.xx' animation file, meaning smaller file sizes, and loading the file only once. If you are modding a game, you should import a character and see how its set up... it'll be a mesh, bone system, and Skin modifier, in all likelihood. There will be no animation in the character model file.

>>"i know the directx .x file supports animation...so if i were to setup frames in 3ds i could have frame 1-10 for walking, frame 11-21 for jumping, frame 22-32 for dieing, etc and store all that animation in the exported model file?"
>Like stated above, animation is normally not stored in the model file. For smaller games, or self-contained formats such as .x, the animation is stored in the file. And yes, upon export, you can specify what frames are specific animation sequences in the .x file.

>>that seems like a lot of vertices to store...is that typical?
>It would be, yes. Hence the reason games seperate their skeleton/mesh information into different files.

>>also, if i am to use character studio to animate a model for use in a game...when i export..it also exports all the faces/vertices for that biped 'inside' my model...is that necessary? something i'm missing?
>.x is a bad format to consider when you're thinking about commercial engines/games. Its really a bad format to use, it has a ton of baggage and quirks with it. Plus its really difficult to import back into a modelling program. But yes, you can use character studio to animate your model, then export as .x. AFAIK .x animation uses vertex calculations, and not based on bones, but I think there is an option to change that or keep the bones. But you need the actual model because it animates based on vertices, not bone information (ie, you can't export the animation seperately and combine it with a rigged model).

Normally, character workflow from scratch goes like this:
1-Skeleton created (using BIPED)
2-Model created using skeleton for posture reference
3-Texture
4-Binding/Skinning
5-export mesh/bones
6-Rigging skeleton
7-Animating
8-export animations
9-tell engine what animation/animation set the character model file uses

With .x you eliminate steps 5, 6, and 8, exporting to .x format when finished.

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Quote:
In most professional games, the animations are exported as files individual from the character mesh, and have to do with bone rotation, not vertex matrix manipulation (as far as I know). This is so two characters can use the same 'walk.xx' animation file, meaning smaller file sizes, and loading the file only once. If you are modding a game, you should import a character and see how its set up... it'll be a mesh, bone system, and Skin modifier, in all likelihood. There will be no animation in the character model file.

Vertex matrix manipulation is done. Some file formats (such as .x) support both vertex matrix data and bone data within the file format itself. While it is becoming increasingly popular to have individual model files with separate bone and skin data files, this isn't necessarily always the case.

Quote:
AFAIK .x animation uses vertex calculations, and not based on bones, but I think there is an option to change that or keep the bones. But you need the actual model because it animates based on vertices, not bone information (ie, you can't export the animation seperately and combine it with a rigged model).

.x support FK bone rigs. Matrix transforms can be done on the bones to manipulate the model, depending on how a game engine is written. The bone information is still kept within the .x file, however.

to OP -
I'm not familiar with Character Studio, but those faces/vertices you're refering to, aren't those the skeleton? After a mesh has been bound to a skeleton, you simply control the skeleton to make manipulations easier.

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