I quote the first post of that thread of Neeky, and add some info (in blue) that I could collect around the forum, checkin some tips very useful for every animator
Before going any further, Im gonna let you here the link that leads you directly to the original topic from manutoo:
Information about Animations & Creating them
This is not a Max tutorial, I just explain the way I create new animation using Max, so there may be some flaws, some errors, some incorrections, but you'll be able to make your own animations nonetheless.
To begin to understand Max, here are some video tutorials :
Lynda.com is a great site for software tutorials and if you know where to look, you can easily find them in full version.
This tut is not definite and will change, it's obvious. I will edit it if some problems are solved in the thread, so everybody can have the answers in the first page.
THIS A LONG READ, SO TAKE YOUR TIME.
I apologize in advance for every grammatical and orthographic errors and evey misspellings etc...
1. First of all, what you need :
3ds Max 8: unfortunately, this Max version is very old one,I cant put any link to downloaded it cause is an unofficial version
Manutoo's modified .x exporter : unzip it in the 'stdplugs' directory of you MAX installation - http://www.managames.com/Forum/download/file.php?id=6410
The biped file ( with mesh thanks to Manutoo) : http://www.managames.com/download.php?T ... trikes.rar ; it contains a bunch of strikes ; it'll help you to start and also show you where the sweet spot is on each strike.
A video of the corresponding animation or multiples depending of the angle of the view.
We are set.
2. Max Interface
Now open Max, the interface seems quite simple, but the functionalities are nearly endless. Don't worry, even though Max is a huge software, there are a few functions that you need.
You won't need to use the menu on the top (file, edit, tools etc...) nor the toolbar one on the right.
The only toolbars you will need to use is the one on the top (with undo, redo, select etc...) and the timeline at the bottom.
The top toolbar will help you in with some settings. I recommand to let the 'select object', and 'angle snap toggle' buttons clicked on. It's easier to deal with this way above all if you have some difficulties to see in 3d. Let the 'reference coordinate system' on view : it changes the Gizmo with the actual view it's easier like that.
The timeline will help you animate by fixing elements position and key frames (but I'll explain it later).
By default, you have four views (top, front, right and perspective). It enough for me, even too much, because I don't really use the 'top' view. I'm used to deal with 3d, so I mainly use the perspective view. Right and top views are only used to fix details (feet on the ground, racquet firmly in hand etc.) for me.
Each view has its title. If you right click on it you can change the settings of the view. I let them with 'smooth + highlight' (make the biped in 3d more concrete), and 'show grid' (create a gridded ground and help you see the environnement better) checked. You don't need anything else to animate.
There are only two commands you need to know to animate : rotate and move.
You can see them on the top toolbar : 'move' with cross with arrows, and 'rotate' with the arrow ended arc of circle
A few more is necessary like "undo" and "redo" first one on the top toolbar.
Those commands are also displayed when you right in a view a multiple menu is then seeable "move", "rotate" or "select"
To select, you click and drag to make appear a dotted rectangle.
I forgot to tell that we will only use the right menu to know what we are selecting. If you have the bipen open and click on one of its members you'll see the dialog box under 'name and color' change. It's important to know what you are selecting because it can mess up your whole animation sometimes.
I stronlgy recommend you to use shorcuts. "W" for move, and "E" for rotate. You should also know "Z" to zoom on a selected part or to zoom out when the whole biped is selected. You also need to know "ctrl + A" to select all "ctrl + Z" to undo and "ctrl + Y" to redo.
4. Working and navigate in 3d
The grid you see in the scene is the ground, the height 0 level, meaning that when you'll open the biped file, its feet will stand on this grid.
To navigate in this environment you only need your mouse's middle button.
"mid button" sets the pan view which helps you move the view on a vertical plan.
"alt + mid button" sets the orbit view which make you rotate the around the biped.
"ctrl + alt + mid button" makes you zoom in and out. The scroll wheels does the same.
5. The Biped.
Ok, so you know the basics in handling Max, now you can open the biped file.
Either you open it (ctrl + O | file/open) or you click and drag on the empty scene. Click on continue about the missing message, it's not important.
As you can see, if you have similar settings than me, the biped have is left side in blue, the right one in green, is pelvis in yellow, head in light blue and spine blue/green. Left toes and fingers are red and right ones are yellow. It is also holding a racquet.
This racquet is special because it's attached to the right hand, which means that when we will have to move the racquet we will have to move the hand to do so. It also means that you don't animate a left hander. Once you'll have export your animation, the game will make it left or right hander depending on the hand of your player so you don't need to worry about that.
Secondly, the racquet is made of two things : the 'racquet' (the grey structure) and the 'bone rocket' (the grey shape). If you select by error the 'racquet' and animate it, it will create glitches in your animation. One of those two elements handles the racquet image, so you need them to be always together. Two solutions then : you always select both or you only select the 'bone rocket' (the shape). The image is linked to the bone, and not the opposite : that means that by selecting the bone it will select the whole.
Normally you won't need to select animate the racquet, because in the players' motions, the racquet never quits the hand. So knowing that the racquet is linked to the hand, by animate the hand, you animate the racquet.
The biped is a whole bunch of linked elements that are hierarchised. It's important to know because it implies many things.
Links have a direction and a linked element DEPENDS on the one is linked to. Clearer (or not) : the ending finger is linked to the finger which is linked to the hand which is linked to the forearm which is linked to the upperarm which is linked to the shoulder, itself linked to the spine. The link's way states then that to animating the upperarm will make all inferior elements move. One the opposite, if you animate the hand, the forearm and obviously the upperarm will stay where they are.
Well it's not totally true, because you can force that : if and hand or a foot is moved somewhere, the rest will naturally follow, but just keep in mind that you to make a general animation you will move the highest ending element possible and to be more precise, you will have to move a specific body element and Max will help you by moving the rest of the body in correspondence. That's all.
6. The Gizmo.
You may have noticed by now, but there is a strange thing that appears when you use the move or rotate commands : It is yellow, green, blue or red and has either sqares and arrows (move) or multipes circles (rotate). It's Max's Transformation Gizmo. It's a reaaaaaaly helpful thing. As beginners you should use it. Eh, you must use it.
The Gizmo help you transform the biped on specific planes. Remember you are working in 3d so you may not see it but.
There are three planes (ie, three dimensions) following the axis : XY is horizontal, XZ is the vertical one FACING the biped and YZ is the vertical one SIDING the biped. Well the Gizmo makes it sure to move following one those three planes.
The Gizmo also appears at different places following what is selected. If you select one element, it appears at its orgin. If you select multiples body elements, it appears at the "gravity center" of those (for example, if you select the left foot and the right calf is will appears a little above the ground between the legs), meaning that if you select all the body, it will appears in the pelvis
The Move Gizmo is made of squares and arrows.
When you select an arrow (highlighted then in yellow), it moves the selected element to one DIRECTION
When you select a square (and the corresponding arrows), it moves the selected element on one PLANE
This difference is important to know, because if you want to move a foot a little higher in front of the body, don't move it front first then up. Select the YZ square and move it directly to the position. Once again, it's easier.
Just to know, you can select the command after or before selecting an element. This is slightly different, but you might want to know : if you select the command first it will stays until you changes the command : all selected elements will have the Gizmo corresponding to the selected command. It's faster to do this way and that's what I recommend you to do.
The other way, is to use the selection command "the arrow" in the top toolbar (no Gizmo appearance, only the axis), then select the body element to finally select the command.
Hum, just do the first way ^^
The Rotate Gizmo is made of 4 circles of 4 different colors
Once again, its helps you to choose the plane you want to work in.
Blue is XY, Green is XZ and Red is YZ. Don't use the grey one (the bigger one).
Yon don't see it, but this Gizmo is more than three circles : it's a globe.
If you don't follow the circles, it will rotate according to the globe, I recommand to use this only when you become familiar with this command. To start, just follow the plans for this command, it's a longer way to do things but it's surer.
So that's it for the basics, I think. I may have forgotten some, but I think you have a good overview of things.
Just to get used to it, open the biped.
The Timeline is the most important thing to animate. Before continuing, click on "auto key" (it has to be in red), it's the easiest way to animate. Auto key on means everytime you make a transformation, it is recorded on the timeline at the frame the transformation is made.
Ex : I'm at frame 9, I move the feet, the new feet position is recorded.
To change the frame, you can either click on the scrollbar and change it, a little blue shape highlights it, or directly enter the frame number on the little box at the left bottom. You can also use the arrows just upon this box. "Go to start", "Previous frame" etc... If you click on play, you will see an endless animation.
As you can see, the animation by default is the waiting animation.
Every number you see from the original .biped file is a frame.
In this file there are 35 frames, so at 30frames/sec, it means you animate a little more than a second. You can switch to 60 frames/sec, it will double the frame, making it a more precise animation, but I keep the 30 frames/sec. I like the way it is.
You may want to change that, so at the right of the frame number box, there is a little button name "time configuration". CLick on it.
If you want to change the frame rate to 60, check Custom and enter 60. But I recommend to stay at 30
If you want to increase the number of frames, change the End Time number. Personnally, I always change it to 150 to begin. That means 5 seconds of animation, which is long enough to most motions.
Let the playback on loop, real time and 1x.
So FPS to 30, and end frame at 150.
Now let's understand the timeline. Go on the viewport you want and select everything. yOU can now see all the body parts highligthed and some rectangles on the timeline.
Those rectangles means that at this particular frame there is a specific position of one or multiples body parts. So, on 35 frames, there are only 5 frames defining the body position. The rest is calculated by the software.
What you also have to know is that not every part is animated, sometimes there is only one, but the rectangle is still here. For example, click on the biped's legs. There is only one frame, at the start ! You can conclude that the feet have only a starting position and the rest of the animations is for the upper body.
To know what specific part of the body is animated you have to right click on a defined frame to see.
There is only an exception. Select everything and look the timeline at frames 10 and 20. The timeline tells us there have been some transformations there. But clicking on each part of the body separately never highlights those two frames. It's because the body AS A WHOLE was transformed : to move the whole body (to make the biped lean forward for example), you have to select all the parts to move it, that means if you click on each part of the body, you won't be able to do or see any transformation.
Now, we are gonna start but we need a clean animation, so we are going to erase all the existing frames except the first one (frame 0). Select everything, the rectangles on the timeline all show up. You have to know one thing before erasing though.
I told you before everytime to select everything : it gives you an overview of all the frames. This way you control the animation better. When you erase a frame with all parts selected, you erase all the defined position and transformations at this frame for every parts. You have to know that, because, if you select only a body part or even multiples ones, and erase the transformation at a given frame, there may remain some transformation done here for other parts.
I don't know if I'm clear and this is a really annoying part of animating, but the body parts taken as a whole or separately act differently. Just keep that in mind.
HOW TO COPY A FRAME
This is an important element, since you always need it for the animation, this way, always gonna look smoother and dont gonna have any big transition between the beginning and ending, avoiding bugs.
To copy a key ,choose the body part you want to move,selected in the timeline, then press left shift + left mouse button,hold it and now move it till the last frame.
Most of the time, you gonna need this tool when you create some servicewaiting
HOW TO USED THE PLANTED KEY
To have static feet, you should use the "Set Planted Key" button in "Motion -> Key Info" tab (or "Set Sliding Key" in some cases), instead of setting a Key per frame. This tool copy the last step of the foot in the key your set it, avoidin you the slide motion,and helpin you a BIG TIME in every animation thats requires some steps
HOW TO MOVE THE SWEETSPOT OF AN ALREADY CREATED ANIM
About this tool, manutoo recomended to do it this way:
manutoo wrote:- click on Motion -> Biped -> Move All Mode, and enter the needed delta on X : the whole animation will be moved
- un-click Move All Mode
- after go to the 1st frame of anim, select the left foot & set its key to free, idem for the right foot, and then select the whole biped, move it back to the center, set all the keys
- then right-click on the frame number to copy all keys to the last frame of the animation (sometimes, you need to do separately the copy with the vertical biped key)
- after if the anim has few keys for the footsteps, then you'll have only to move, redo or delete 5 or 6 footstep keys, around the beginning and the end of the anim ; it often needs less than 20 minutes to get it done
this video show you how you can do it, or at least I do it this way
you can try this and tell if works for you
ANIMATE A LITTLE
You just have to erase all existing frames (start excepted).
Go on any viewport, select everything then, click on the timeline (its background became white instead of grey) and click and drag to select the frames from 10 to 30 and erase them.
Beware ! If you don't select the timeline, you will erase the biped. Don't worry, you can undo this if you did (ctrl + z).
Now if we click on play, the scrollbar moves but there is no animation because the only frame existing is the starting one. Rule #5456546 : to animate, you need a start and a different finish like a vector.
Just to mess around go to frame 25, select everything, and move the body vertically a little towards the ground. You can see the timeline created a defined frame. CLick on play and see the movement. That's an animation.
Remember that, when you transform (rotate or move) the biped, a keyframe is created or modified : if you understand, that mean that when you will make animations, you will have to get to a particular frame, make every transformations you have to, then jump to another and go on. That's how you do : creating key moments at keyframes.
****COMMENTS ON ANIMATIONS IN GENERAL ****
First, you have to know that there is no gravity in max, you can place your biped anywhere, it will never get back to 0, it you don't bring it to it. So, always be sure, that elements supposed to touch the ground are close enough and not under the ground.
Second, when you make an animation, get a vid with you and search for the frames that matters, the moments where you think the motion is defined. You don't need to make the anims frame by frame using the video, because it will result in an absolutely ugly and unfluent motion.
In Max, you create key points : the animations go through this point to the next one and the sotfware calculate the in bewteens.
Third, here my method to actually design an anim
-Make a general animation creating a new key point every 5 keyframes in Max (we don't care about the timing yet)
-Confirm the good look of the anim by playing the animation multiples times to see if it looks 'right'
-Adjut the timings : speed up the moments where the ball is hit, slow down the other ones etc. Just accord the timings with the video played at actual speed.
-Take care of details (the position of the hand, the wrist motion when the ball is hit, the feets, folded legs or arms, the head looking at the ball or not, the shoulders etc...). This will make the difference between a good and a bad anim.
-Once all details, all timings and the general look of the animation are done, you gotta the fix the fluency, this is important because that make the animations believable, more realistic. The only way to do so is to let the software take care of it. Meaning, you have to erase non essential frames. The more your animations contains, the less fluent it is. So to improve it, get to a keyframe you think is non essential then erase it and see the difference. If it's not too different, jump on the next one.
-When you think the animation is good enough, compare it to the video multiples times, and then you can export it.
-Test it ingame and verify if it's fluent enough (you will be fooled because ingame the players are bigger than a skeleton...), if it looks good, if the key moments (hit, throw) are well placed etc...
-If not, go back to Max and modify, then test it again and so on until you're satisfied.
How to deal with the spine
As I see it :
-Spine 0 (bottom one) : modify it to make the biped lean (to the sides or to the front)
-Spine 1 (middle one) : should not be touched IMO
-Spine 2 (top one) : modify it to increase the upper body curve or the shoulder rotation if necessary.
COMMENTS ON DONE ANIMATIONSS:
you have some descriptions of animations with links to the .max files to practice and understand.
KARLOVIC SERVE :
Frame 0-40 : Waiting serve - 41 frames
--- Frame 0 and 40 are THE SAME. Like that you can have a good looking loop for the waiting animation.
Frame 15-25 : Ball throw
--- Just the hand animation, it's poorly done because it was when I began to animate, now I animate the whole arm (sometimes the whole body, i.e Bartoli's serve animation), it's more realistic. The thing is, you got to have a stiff body, it can't move because the ball throw will look ugly once in the game (or not). Anyway, Frame 15 and 25 must be the same and to do so, you have to copy those to frame 14 and frame 26, so the whole body is frozen.
Frame 40-112 : Serve - 73 frames
--- Well, this is the main animation. I make it start a the same frame I end the waiting. Keep in mind that Frame 40 became the first frame of the second animation.
Frame 89 : The throw
Frame 100 : The hit
Frame 108 : The landing
Info: 01 15 25 17 // ReadyToServe - LoopBegin - LoopEnd - ThrowBall
I guess it's self explanatory. Manutoo let the descriptions for us to know.
Remember, that the first frame is Frame 0, so always add one more frame to the number of the last frame when you count the number of frames.
Info: 60.0 60.0 49.0 // Hit ball - Max Extension - Throw Ball
I always put the throw ball when the rising arm just passed the horizontal stance.
The number of the frame are defined by the substraction of the number of the wanted frame by the first one.
So 89 - 40 = 49, then you got your number. For those options file, this is the number of the frame that counts.
DOLGOPOLOV BACKHAND SLICE
Frame 0 - 59 : The backhand - 60 frames.
Well it's simple, it's a backhand, but the first and last frame should be the same. Like that, all transitions between differents animations are smooth and unnoticed. My steps are crappy I know, and I should have animate sidesteps instead of some lame wlaking, but I was lazy.
Info: 21.5 21.5 // Hit ball - Max Extension
Nope, the frame number is not necessarely an integer. You can write up 21.2 or maybe 21.29 (didn't try that precise to be honest) if you think the hit is clearer this way.
GAUDIO 'STUPID' ANIMATION
Frame 0-45 : Disappointment animation
Frame 45-80 : He stays down
Frame 80-100 : He gets up to starting position.
For mood animations, always start and end by the same frame.
There are no options for this kind of animation.
New: This are some of the animations you can use to work with.
How the .txt file works
About the .txt file, it works this way :
For an animation named "abcdef.x", you have an .txt file named "abcdef.txt". This file can be edited with notepad (or Word if one prefers, but it's not necessary)
When you open the abcdef.txt, you have those 3 lines.
- Code: Select all
Anim : abcdef.x // <<< this the name of the corresponding animation file (ie .x file you exported for the animation). It's better to name both the .x file and .txt file similarly.
Info : 00.0 00.0 // <<< depending of the animation, you can have from 1 to 4 numbers to write. Those numbers correspond to specific frames in MAX. More info, below.
Speed : 1.0 // <<< this number just sets the animation's speed. I always let it a 1.0 because, I try to make the animation as fast as in real life, so I don't have to touch this number.
About the info line (i'm just talking about strokes & serves, NOT MOVEMENTS).
First of all, those number can havez decimals. They can be "in between frames". Myself, I never make the frame when the ball is hit or thrown, I always let the software do it, therefore, you can have those foloowing number : 50.5, 20.3 or even 60.58 if you feel like it's better. It's up to you.
Second, the numbers being specific frames, they're only right if the speed is at 1. The product of "speed x info", should always be the same as the one set with speed 1. So, if you decide to speed up your animation because, it looks too slow, don't forget to change the numbers of info, because if not, they will be wrong with the new speed.
STROKES (2 numbers)
A. first number sets the moment when the ball is hit
B. second number sets the "max extension". I don't know what that means but I always write the same number as A.
A and B are often similar, but I saw in some of Manutoo's animations different numbers, so it's not a rule. It may be useful sometimes, but I can't explain when and why. If you want to know, you should ask Manutoo.
SERVES (3 numbers)
10.00 10.0 0.00
A. first number sets the moment when the ball is hit.
B. second number sets the "max extension". See before.
C. third number sets the moment when the ball is supposed to be thown from the hand.
A and B are always bigger than C because, obviously, the ball is thrown before being hit. -_-
SERVE PREPARATION (4 numbers)
1.0 15.0 30.0 17.0
A. first number sets the start of the serve animation. Now I always let 1.0 because when people push the button to serve, I want
B. second number sets the start of the LOOP. This loop is the period when the server makes the ball bounce. What I do is that I
C. third number sets the end of the LOOP
D. fourth number sets the time when the player drop the ball for the bounce.
D should ALWAYS be between B and C, because the ball bounce is IN THE LOOP.
To make the loop proper, the frames of the animation at position 14, 15, 30 and 31 are exactly the same ! This way, you can have a endless loop without glitches (MAX animation can be compared to splines (in mathematics), when two close points have the same coordinates, that makes a straight line meaning that in the animation, nothing moves)). Then, at frame 20, I move the the biped's right arm to the low position. That done, that means that approximatively at frame 17, the ball is dropped which is the fourth number.
EXPORT THE ANIMATION
A lot of the guys who start to animate(includin myself ) , always got some issues with this,Im gonna try to make you easy to understand how to export your animation
First,you need to have your anim ready (this doesnt mean that need to be a final version )
-Then open File, and look for Export.:
-After that, it will open a dialog box, where you will be asked to save your animation:
by default in that dialog, in Type, you got 3D Studio (*.3DS)
Expand the Type dialog, and search for kW X-port (*.X)
Now, you click on Save and a new dialog will open, now with the options for export the animation:
Now, this are the default settings, came with the official BaseRallyStrikes animation released by manutoo.
First of all, you need to delete the lines below Name, in the pic is: BackHand_1H
To erased this, just click in it, then click on Remove, and thats it. You need to do this before go any further in the export.
After that,You have to change only 3 lines in this export dialog:
First Frame: is the frame where your animation start.
Num. Frames: is the amount of frames that your animation had.
Stretch Time:this is for the speed of the animation. If you decreased the values, ie: 900,800, your animation INGAME gonna be faster. This way, if you increased the values, the anim gonna be slow. So, you ALWAYS keep this line in 1.000, or 1.
Done this, your anim became an .X file, now is time to turned it into .anim file
convert .X file into .anim file
A little line to explain it, you only need to put the .X file inside of your playermale folder (should be located inside your Data/Models/anim)
Run TE and go to the character sheet.
In there, select your player, the number of the animation,and you can see that the game now is running your anim.If you go again to your playermale folder, youll see the new file named XX.anim (being XX name of your animation)
How to export anim
Creating 2-H backhands
Well, the animators who have already made a 2h backhand know the problem with the left hand because we have to modify it frame by frame to have a descent looking anmation. And sometimes it's not enough because the hand's position is not precise enough. I don't know if it has been posted yet, but here's a solution.
1. Be at frame 0
2. Click on the biped's left hand
3. Go to the "Motion" (#4) panel in the right bar
4. Go to the "Key Info" tab and expand it
5. Expand the "+IK" submenu which will then become "-IK"
6. Click on the right-up white arrow next to the rectangle
7. Click on the grey racquet shape aka the "bone_rocket" object
8. Select "object" just above the rectangle where should now be written "Bone_rocket"
9. Increase "IK Blend" (still inside the "-IK" submenu) to 1.0
Now, the left hand will stick to the racquet wherever it goes. If it goes to far, it will still follow it but won't be able to "grab" it unless you make it come closer, then it will return to the position where it was touching before the reach was too far.
The hand starting position isn't important because you can still adjust the left arm / left hand when it's position becomes awkward.
Change racket from one hand to another: Gesture
How to link the racquet to the hand you want and changing it whenever you want during your animation
You can easily link the racquet to differents objects through the animation.
1. Click on the racquet
2. Select a particular frame
3. Go to the "motion" panel
4. Go to the "Link params" submenu
5. Click on "add link" then click on the object you want thte racquet to be linked to (head, foot, hand, whatever you want)
6. Then animate the object so the racquet can follow
7. You can link the racquet back to the right hand if wanted, just do the same at another frame
8. You can delete the links created easily by selecting the link in the dialog box then clicking on "delete link".
HOW TO CREATED A SPHERE FOR SWEETSPOT IN A BIPED WITHOUT ONE
How to create those spheres :
1. Go the right panel
2. Click on the "Create" white arrow symbol
3. Click on "Sphere" in object type then develop the "Keyboard Entry"
- Creation Method : Center
- Let other values as is
4. In Keyboard Entry, enter the coordinates of the sweet spot with the average coordinates (ie : x = 8.8, y = -2.9, z = 10.7 for a 1h-BH) and a 0.2cm radius, then click on create.
5. The sphere is created. If you want, you can select it on frame 0 then "freeze selection". It's not necessary but it can be useful. But, don't forget that if you want to unfreeze it, in MAX8, you will have to unfreeze ALL frozen elements and not just one...
6. Now you can make your animation with the center of the racquet passing by this sphere. This will give you the frame without having to actually create it.
7. To be more precise when looking for the right keyframe once your animation is finished, I advise you to upgrade your frame rate to a custom 300 FPS in the time configuration window to have a 0.1 precision keyframe.
8. The number of the frame will be multiplied ten times, so you should divide it by ten to have your hitpoint keyframe (ie : frame 176 => 17.6)
9. Don't forget to erase the Spheres before exporting your animation :p
10. To manage the sweet spots, enter "H" in Max, they will appear at the bottom. Double click on one to select it.
this tuto cover almost all the angles in the creation of animation. If there is something missing, please let me know.
A big thanks to Neeky,for create the first tutorial and make possible to continue here
And of course to manutoo who gives us this wonderful tool to animate.
And, as Neeky says:
Now grap your mouses and keyboards and do some homework