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Posted: March 21, 2007
Carlos Fillion
41. Volume Select Modifier


Besides mesh objects, you can use patch objects and NURBS objects. In addition, if you turn on Soft Selection rollout > Use Soft Selection, you can use spline objects and particle systems to define the selection. This latter option is quite powerful because the selection changes as the particles move.

42. Camera Map Modifier


There are three ways you can render objects in 3DS MAX to blend seamlessly into a background environment:

By assigning a Matte/Shadow Material

By assigning a 100% self-illuminated diffuse texture to an object using Camera Mapping

By assigning a 100% self-illuminated diffuse texture using Environment/Screen projection

43. Displacement


Use Disp Approx to displace editable meshes. Use Displace Mesh for previewing, as in the first item, but avoid using Snapshot. The mesh created by using Displace Mesh and Snapshot can have a high polygon count. This makes it slow to use interactively, and can cause smoothing problems, where the underlying mesh edges are visible.

44. Material Modifier


If the material ID is animated, the change to a new material ID is abrupt, from one frame to the next.

If you want a gradual blend from one material to another, try animating the Mix parameter on a Blend material.

45. MaterialByElement


When animated, this effect is useful for such applications as an office building at night with window illumination turning on and off at random.

46. Normal Modifier


If you are animating the creation of a complex object such as a nested Boolean or a loft, and you think the operation might result in inconsistent faces, apply Normal to the result and turn on Unify.

47. Normal Modifier


The Lathe modifier sometimes creates an object with normals pointing inward. Use the Normal modifier with both Unify and Flip turned on to fix "inside-out" lathe objects.

48. Lights


Soften Diffuse Edge reduces the amount of light, slightly. You can counter this, to some extent, by increasing the Multiplier value.

49. UVW Map Modifier


You can change the name of a UVW Map modifier in the Edit Modifier Stack dialog to correlate the modifier to the bitmap.

50. VertexPaint Modifier


If you select faces in Edit Mesh, Mesh Select or Editable Mesh and then apply a VertexPaint modifier, you restrict your painting to only the selected faces, as opposed to all faces. This allows you to sharply define the edges of your painted selection.

51. FFD Modifier


To see which points lie in the source volume (and therefore will be deformed), temporarily deactivate the modifier by clicking the light bulb icon in the Modifier Stack rollout.

52. Surface Mapper (WSM)


To fine-tune the map placement on the mesh, you can use the NURBS surface's Edit Texture Surface dialog.

53. Pivot Point


It's important to remember that the Align, Normal Align, and Align to View functions in the toolbar are all affected by the state of Affect Pivot Only, Affect Object Only, and Affect Hierarchy Only. Snap mode allows you to snap the pivot to its own object, or any other object in the scene.

54. Vertex Colors Utility


55. Camera Match Utility


To use the keyboard, first click in the X field, enter its value, and then press Tab to move to the next field and enter its value. Continue this until you tab to the Create button, and then press Enter to create the CamPoint, followed by Tab to move back to the X field, where you can start again. You can create all six objects with default names, and then use the Select By Name floater (Tools > Selection Floater) to select and rename the six pointers.

56. Dynamics


If you find that some objects aren't colliding properly with others (they're going through them), increase the Calc Intervals Per Frame value.

57. LOD Utility


You can use the Level of Detail utility to create objects that display very simple geometry in the viewports, while displaying complex geometry in the rendered scene. Create a grouped Level of Detail object consisting of only two objects, the complex object and the simple object. Select the simple object in the list window and, in the Thresholds are, set its Min Size and its Max Size to 0. This will display the simple object in the viewports, but the complex object will always appear in the rendered scene, regardless of its apparent size.

58. MAX File Finder Utility


You can combine this tool with the powers of the Properties dialogs. If you are in a team of animators, you can have the individual animators use the File menu > Properties dialog to create Categories, Keywords and Comments that you can search for using MAX File Finder. They can also use the Contents and Custom Tabs as well. All are searchable using the Finder.

59. Motion Capture


In the Time Configuration dialog, you can reduce the viewport playback speed, test or record at the lower speed, and then reset the speed to normal to view the results.

60. Motion Capture


Because a single keyboard key can only generate either a positive or negative value, if you want to control both directions of a Bend Angle, for example, use a List controller. First, make sure there's a standard controller (such as a Bezier controller) assigned first in the list to maintain the center position. Then add two Keyboard Motion Capture controllers to the list (one assigned to one key, and the other assigned to a different key.) Set the range of one to the positive extent and the range of the other to the negative extent.

61. Camera Tracker


Typically when setting up tracker gizmos you should create and position them all roughly in a zoomed-out view, then zoom in on one of them, fine-tune its position and bounds, then tab to the next gizmo and repeat.

62. FOV


Dragging down widens (increases) the FOV angle, reduces lens length, displays more of your scene, and exaggerates perspective.

Dragging up narrows (decreases) the FOV angle, increases lens length, displays less of your scene, and flattens perspective.

63. Zooming


If you want to zoom in close on an area of the Perspective view, switch the viewport to User view first (press u). Use the Region Zoom to zoom in, then switch back to Perspective view (press p).

64. Viewport Clipping


This is useful in complex scenes where you want to work on details that are obscured from view.

65. Time Configuration


Change the Time Display to Frames/Ticks before you rescale time smaller. This is turn on subframe animation, and you'll be sure not to lose any keyframes.

66. Keyboard (Advanced)


To constrain some operations, hold down the SHIFT key.

To accelerate the effect, hold down the CTRL key

67. Crossing Selection


If you're making sub-object selections of faces and you select more faces than you want, make sure Crossing is off and Window is on.