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3ds Max Maya
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Author Aaron F. Ross

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3ds Max: Tips, Tricks, and Techniques weekly series

June 19, 2017

3ds Max is a powerful, deep, and multifaceted program, so there's always more to learn. This weekly series aims to keep you on top of the latest tools and techniques, and introduces fresh perspectives on traditional methods for architectural and product visualization, animation, visual effects, games and virtual worlds, and motion graphics.

Instructor Aaron F. Ross presents a new topic every week, spanning the full range of 3D graphics tasks, including modeling, rigging and animation, shading and lighting, camera operation, and rendering. He gives special attention to streamlining workflows, such as automation of time-consuming tasks, so your productions run more smoothly and efficiently. Come back every Wednesday for a new tutorial to expand your 3ds Max knowledge and skills.

3ds Max: Rendering with Arnold

June 5, 2017

The Arnold renderer in 3ds Max makes photorealism easier than ever. Learn to light, shade, and render using Arnold’s powerful tools in this course, 3ds Max: Rendering with Arnold.

Arnold is a high-quality rendering engine in 3ds Max 2018. Realistic rendering is easier than ever with this brute force Monte Carlo ray tracer. The physically-based rendering of Arnold accurately simulates light in the real world, but allows the breaking of physical laws to achieve artistic styles. This course is an overview of the core features of Arnold for lighting, materials, and rendering in 3ds Max.

Topics include:

Arnold rendering concepts
Arnold lights such as quad, spot, and distant
Modifying Arnold object properties
Filtering light with the gobo filter modifier
Image-based lighting with Skydome
Daylight simulation with Physical Sky
Arnold Standard Surface material parameters
Diffuse, opacity, and bump mapping
Rendering refractions with Transmission
Building an Arnold shading network
Test rendering with utility map
Mesh subdivision and displacement at render time
Atmospheric perspective with scene environment fog
Rendering a spherical environment with VR Camera

3ds Max 2018 Essential Training

June 5, 2017

Learn what you need to know to use 3ds Max 2018 to create professional 3D models, animations, and motion graphics. This essential training course covers spline and polygonal modeling, as well as texturing, lighting, and rendering.

3ds Max is best known for its modeling and rendering tools. These strengths come into play in architecture, manufacturing, game development, industrial design, and motion graphics. There are dozens of features and techniques to master, from sculpting and texturing to lighting and rendering. This course covers 3ds Max from the ground up, providing an overview of the entire package as well as essential skills that 3D artists need to create professional models and animations.

Learn how to get around the 3ds Max interface and customize it to suit your production pipeline. Discover how to model different objects using splines, NURBS, polygons, subdivision surfaces, and tools such as Paint Deform. Then, find out how to construct hierarchies, add cameras and lights to a scene, and animate with keyframes. Author Aaron F. Ross also takes an in-depth look at materials and texture mapping as well as the rendering options, including an introduction to Arnold, the new production renderer.

Topics include:

Customizing and configuring the interface
Selecting, duplicating, and editing objects
Working with sub-objects in the modifier stack
Performing polygonal and subdivision surface modeling
Freeform modeling and sculpting
Modeling with splines and NURBS
Linking objects in hierarchies
Framing shots with cameras
Creating and editing keyframes
Controlling lights and shadows
Building materials
Mapping textures
Rendering sequences

3ds Max 2018 New Features

April 12, 2017

3ds Max 2018 includes several new features for content creation and visualization. Most notably, the Arnold renderer replaces mental ray as the high-end global illumination render engine. In this course, take a first look at materials, lighting, and rendering in Arnold. Examine the new features introduced in 3ds Max 2017 updates, such as the Data Channel Modifier and the Blended Box Map. Additionally, see how easy it is to customize the user interface. By the end of this course, you’ll have an overview of what’s new in 3ds Max 2018.

Topics include:

Interactively customizing the interface
Processing mesh information with Data Channel
Projecting textures with Blended Box Map
Editing position animation with Motion Paths
Configuring Arnold for performance and compatibility
Optimizing render time with Arnold settings
Lighting with Arnold
Applying a filter to an Arnold light
Shading with the Arnold Standard Surface material

3ds Max Cinematography

January 17, 2017

3ds Max offers a full suite of powerful 3D camera features for design visualization, animation, and visual effects. This course covers core topics in camera rigging, animation, and special effects such as motion blur and depth of field. You’ll apply the principles of live action cinematography using the tools of 3D computer animation. Along the way, you’ll learn best practices, both technical and aesthetic, in virtual cinematography. These techniques save time and effort by streamlining the camera animation process. The goal of this course is to help you more quickly and easily achieve professional results from the 3ds Max camera tools.

Topics include:

Improving productivity in the viewports
Interactive walkthrough with keyboard shortcuts
Customizing display and camera options
Rigging a camera for animation
Controlling and keyframing rotations
Prioritizing pan, tilt, and roll Axis Order
Keyframing camera movement such as pan and dolly
Keyframing compound camera movement
Animating a camera crane or jib arm
Animating a walkthrough with Path Constraint
Projecting an isometric view
Defining Motion Blur parameters
Blurring by distance with Depth of Field

Maya: Rendering with Arnold 4

January 9, 2017

Arnold is the new high-quality rendering engine in Maya 2017. Realistic rendering in Maya is easier than ever with this brute force Monte Carlo ray tracer. Arnold’s physically-based rendering accurately simulates light in the real world, but allows breaking physical laws to achieve artistic styles. This course is an overview of features for lighting, materials, and rendering in Maya with Arnold core version 4.

Topics include:

Arnold rendering concepts
Lighting with Maya and Arnold lights
Controlling exposure
Filtering light with Barndoor and Gobo
Light attenuation with Decay
Image-based lighting with Skydome
Exterior daylight with Physical Sky
Arnold Standard material attributes
Mapping material attributes
Rendering refractions
Mesh Subdivision and Displacement at render time
Shading effects such as Ambient Occlusion and Vertex Color
Camera effects such as Fisheye and Depth of Field
Animation image sequence rendering

3ds Max: Advanced Lighting

January 5, 2017

Realistic lighting is easier, faster, and better than ever in 3ds Max. Photometric lighting and a choice of rendering options gives you the power to create a convincing illusion. This course focuses on architectural visualization, but the techniques apply to other applications such as motion picture production. Author Aaron F. Ross provides a conceptual overview of advanced lighting and rendering, then demonstrates how to construct various lighting scenarios in 3ds Max. He shows how to render scenes with exterior and interior daylight, practical artificial lighting, and manufacturer photometric data. The course includes a chapter on special effects such as light exclusion and lens effects. By the end of the course, you'll have seen how to control the powerful lighting tools in 3ds Max to achieve photorealistic results.

Topics include:

Photometric lighting and gamma correction
High dynamic range and exposure control
Global illumination
Exterior and interior daylight
Image-based lighting
Atmospheric effects
Practical artificial lighting
Studio lighting techniques
Importing photometric data
Light and shadow exclusion
Mapping light with Projector Map
Lens Effects

3ds Max: Advanced Materials

October 4, 2016

Physically-based rendering (PBR) simulates the way light works in the real world. It achieves greater realism with less effort than traditional 3D rendering. This course focuses on PBR shading techniques in 3ds Max, using the Physical Material to achieve photorealistic surfaces such as stone, glass, and metal. Author Aaron F. Ross also looks at building shading networks, and combining and adjusting maps in interesting ways. Procedural maps such as ambient occlusion and substance deserve special attention, and you'll also see how to bake them out to bitmap files for cross-application and renderer compatibility. By the end of the course, you'll have a firm foundation in advanced shading workflows in 3ds Max.

Topics include:

Streamlining material editor workflow
Managing Xrefs and materials
Laying out a scene for material testing
Using the Physical Material
Controlling highlights with Roughness
Directing reflections and refractions
Simulating translucency and scattering
Building a shading network
Combining and color correcting maps
Baking maps such as ambient occlusion
Procedural mapping with Substance
Using relief maps: bump, normal, and displacement

Maya Bifröst: Dynamic Simulations

August 17, 2016

Bifröst is a fluid dynamics engine for high-quality liquids in visual effects, combining the best of volumetric and particle solvers in one tool. This course offers an overview of the Bifröst implementation in Autodesk Maya. Using emitter, collider, accelerator, and liquid property nodes, Aaron F. Ross simulates a medium-scale liquid effect and stores it to disk as a cache. Rendering the surface at full quality requires generating an animated polygon mesh; for a convincing layered material, he shows how to extract Bifröst channel data such as Vorticity and apply it in a shading network. The course concludes with a look at the Aero Solver for atmospheric effects.

Topics include:

Understanding Bifröst
Analyzing the node structure
Emitting from a polygon mesh
Colliding with meshes
Pushing and damping fluid motion with Accelerators
Optimizing voxel and time accuracy
Caching simulations
Meshing liquid and exporting to Alembic
Shading with the Bifröst Liquid Material
Designing mental ray materials
Layering shaders with Bifröst channel data
Adding mist with an Aero simulation
Texturing an Aero Material

VUE: Animating a Landscape

June 9, 2016

Rendering a photorealistic animated digital landscape has never been easier with VUE software. VUE is the leading application for computer-generated natural environments for visual effects, animation, architectural visualization, and illustration. In this course, Aaron F. Ross demonstrates the VUE workflow for digital nature, including interoperability with other 3D programs, terrain sculpting, populating the scene with plants, daylighting and atmospheres, complex material functions, keyframe animation, and production rendering.

Realistic skies and lighting are achieved with VUE’s photometric spectral atmosphere model. We add animation to plants, water, and clouds with procedural wind effects. To create a camera move, we employ the Timeline’s intuitive tools for animation and curve editing. Rendering many animation frames poses challenges not experienced with still image rendering, and so the course concludes with key strategies for optimizing the balance between image quality and rendering time.

Topics include:

Laying out the scene
Importing and sculpting models
Adding water, plants and clouds
Directing sunlight and atmosphere
Customizing exposure and tonemapping
Building procedural materials
Working in the Function Graph
Automatic and manual keyframing
Editing splines in the Animation Graph
Adding wind
Keyframing the atmosphere
Optimizing render settings for animation

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