Tutorial 1: Biped and Physique

Lesson 1: Creating a Biped

In this lesson, you will create a default biped: a simple skeleton consisting of bones that are connected in a hierarchy. A default biped is different from a skeleton of 3D Studio MAX bone system objects, because the biped structure automatically has built-in joints like a human being. You can bend your knee so your foot touches the back of your thigh, but you can't bend it forwards so your toe touches the front of your thigh. Biped creates skeletons in the same fashion. They are ready to animate, and work correctly without further setup.


Creating a Biped

  1. On the Create panel, click Systems.

  2. On the Object Type rollout, click Biped.

    The Biped button turns green.

    The Create Biped Rollout is displayed on the command panel.

  3. If you can't see the Height spinner in the Create Biped rollout, scroll to the bottom of the command panel.

  4. In the Perspective viewport, place your cursor over the center of the grid. Press and drag upwards.

    A blue box appears and grows with your cursor movement.

  5. Drag upwards until the Height spinner on the Create Biped rollout reads approximately 70 units, then release.

    A biped is created in the viewport.

    The biped is a hierarchy of special objects. Its parent object (Bip01) is its center of mass (COM). The COM is displayed in the viewports as a small tetrahedron, initially centered in the biped's pelvis. After you create a biped, only the center of mass object is selected (not the entire biped).

Modifying the Biped

  1. Zoom into the Perspective viewport to get a closer look at the biped.

    In zoom mode you can switch to pan with the middle mouse button, and rotate by pressing Alt and the middle mouse button.

    Default Biped

  2. Zoom into each viewport to view the biped.

  3. Change the Tail Links spinner from 0 to 5, and back to 0.

    In the Left view you can see the biped growing with a tail.

    Biped With tail

    As long as this biped remains selected you can make changes to the Create Biped parameters and see the effects.

  4. Change the Height of the biped to 50.

    The biped shrinks and its feet stay on the ground.

  5. Change the Height back to 70.

    If you deselect and reselect the biped, changes you make in this rollout no longer affect the selected biped. You can change the selected biped's structure parameters by going to the Motion panel (rather than the Modify panel), choosing Figure mode and making changes to the parameters found in the Structure rollout.

    Next you'll add a motion file to the biped you just created.

Loading and viewing a footstep animation

  1. Click the Motion panel.

    The biped rollouts are displayed in the panel.

    If the rollout appears empty you have inadvertantly deselected the biped. If this is the case, press H and highlight Bip01, then click Select to close the dialog.

  2. In the General Rollout click Load File and select cstudio\tutorial\tutorial 1\ballet.bip. Then click Open.

    The motion file is loaded. It is a character studio animation that uses the footstep method.

  3. Click Zoom Extents All.

    The biped and its footsteps are centered in all viewports. Adjust all your viewports so you can see the biped and the footsteps.

    Tip: You can switch to User view with the keyboard shortcut U. Use region zoom to frame your shot, then change back to Perspective by pressing P.

  4. In the Perspective viewport, use the middle mouse button to pan down.

    Make sure Perspective is the active viewport before you go to the next step.

  5. Play the animation in the viewport by clicking Play in the VCR controls. Click Play again to stop the playback.

    The animation plays shaded in the viewport

Biped Playback

Biped has a special playback mode that displays the motion on a stick figure. This helps you focus on the motion only, because the biped geometry and everything else in the scene is hidden in this playback mode.

  1. In the General rollout, click Biped Playback.

    The biped becomes a stick figure and the motion preview plays repeatedly.

  2. Click Biped Playback again to stop the playback.

    The animation stops at the current frame.

    Warning: Don't use both kinds of playback simultaneously.

    Tip: By default, 3DS MAX drops frames to maintain a real-time frame rate during playback. Turn off Real Time in the Time Configuration dialog to display every frame during playback.

    You just loaded a footstep animation. Now you'll load a freeform animation.

Loading and Viewing a freeform animation

  1. On the Motion panel, click Load file and select drive.bip.

    This is a freeform animation. There are no footsteps visible, because freeform animation does not use Biped's footstep method. The biped is driving, not walking: he may move his feet, but he doesn't move on his feet.

  2. Again, adjust your perspective viewport and play the animation.

  3. Use Ctrl + Alt + middle mouse button to quickly zoom in.

    Freeform animation of driving biped

    You can find a library of character studio motion files in the subdirectories under cstudio\motions. For a complete list of motion files see Motion Library.

Loading and viewing a combined footstep and freeform animation

  1. On the Motion panel, click Load file and select banana.bip.

  2. Play the animation.

    This is an animation that combines footstep and freeform. This animation starts with footsteps and then has a period of freeform when the biped slips on an invisible banana peel and takes a pratfall.

    Footstep animation with Freeform period


Saving the file as a 3D Studio MAX scene

  1. From the 3DS MAX menu choose File > Save.

  2. Type mycstut1.max, and click OK.

    The program saves your scene as a .max file in the default scenes directory. This file contains the figure and the animation in a single file. To save and load just the biped animation, use the load and save buttons in the General rollout on the Motion panel.