character studio 3 for 3D Studio MAX R3.1 combines evolutionary and revolutionary enhancements to the 3D character animation process. These improvements offer dramatic new capabilities for:
Nonlinear animation (Biped Motion Flow)
Track operations (Biped)
Behavioral crowd animation (Crowd)
Inverse kinematic pivots (Biped)
Keyframe animation workflow (Biped)
Skin deformation (Physique)
Programmatic access (Biped and Crowds)
Unique enhancements to the Motion Flow Editor accelerate layout, tuning, and sharing of large-scale nonlinear animation systems between Biped characters.
Create Clips from Files. Lets you load multiple files into the motion flow editor in a single step. See Motion Flow Graph.
Synthesize Motion Flow Graph. This will create optimized transition between all the clips in the motion flow graph. This allows you to quickly create scripts or random motion. With a single click, hundreds of stock animations on disk can be assembled automatically into a nonlinear Motion Flow graph representing every possible nonlinear transition.
Optimize Selected Transitions. Selection of blend points for each transition in the graph means that best-case blending of large nonlinear Motion Flow graphs can be delivered in hours instead of weeks.
Create Random Motion. Probability-based traversal of a nonlinear motion flow graphs means that a character's animation can cycle autonomously, within its prescribed Motion Flow graph, based on per-transition probabilities.
Shared Motion Flow. Sharing of Motion Flow graphs between Bipeds means that 100's of characters in a scene can motivate from a central nonlinear graph of possible motions and probabilities, each yielding a unique, but predictable behavior. Built-in Biped motion mapping means that sharing of Motion Flow graphs between characters of different size and bone structure is trivial.
Create Unified Motion. Any path through a nonlinear Motion Flow graph (called a Motion Flow Script) can be now be unified with the click of a button to yield a high-quality animation segment that incorporates IK constraints and pivot points through each blend period.
A simple, yet powerful extension to Biped's existing compliment of track operations opens new doors for transferring entire tracks of motion between Biped body parts, between separate Bipeds, and even between stacked layers of Biped motion.
Copy/Paste Tracks. Allows the entire motion from any Biped track to be copied into a buffer and easily reflected or pasted onto any other biped part. Tracks can also be copied and pasted between different biped characters - with motion mapping adaptation automatically applied. Biped motion stored within Biped layers can now be separated and recombined onto other Bipeds - or reordered within the same Biped.
character studio 3 provides tools and controls for intelligent animation of large systems of arbitrary characters via the Crowd system.
New Crowd and Delegate helper objects let you design crowd animation which can be based on behaviors. Use animated 3DS MAX objects to create flocks and herds, or use bipeds to make groups of humans with motion-flow script driven animation. When using bipeds and delegates together, you can take the speed from the biped motion, and the turning and position from the motion of the delegate. When using standard animated 3DS MAX objects, an extension to Block Controllers called Clip Controllers are used to attach non-bipedal animated 3DS MAX objects to the crowd of delegates.
Delegate Helper Objects. Crowd delegates are lightweight placeholders, or dummy objects, that may be assigned any number of available stock behaviors like seek, repel, or follow surface. The delegate object acts as a behavioral driver for its assigned character (a biped or 3D Studio MAX object).
Delegate Attributes. Independent of the behaviors, delegates have their own weighted attributes for speed, turning and banking. Attribute values can also be selectively randomized across hundreds of delegates in a single selection, for efficient control of large populations. These attributes may be modified or animated individually, separately from their behaviors, to give each a unique personality.
Teams. Delegates may be organized into teams, to help simplify behavior assignment for large systems. See Delegate Helpers.
Crowd Helper Objects. The crowd object acts as a handle for managing the entire crowd system and its assigned delegates; it is the primary source for configuring and solving crowd simulations. Allows you to scatter delegates in various positions based on a random seed. Crowd objects provide the interface to create and assign behaviors, edit multiple delegates, link objects to delegates, access the cognitive controller editor, and more. Solving a crowd simulation generates key-framed motion for every delegate that has been assigned to the system. Use Step Solve with the spacebar to solve a frame at a time. See Crowd Helper Objects.
Behaviors. Delegate helper objects can be animated via behaviors. Delegates can avoid each other, or a delegate can seek another delegate or an object. You can fine-tune and name stock behaviors, or develop completely new ones using MAXScript. You can even animate the intensity of a particular behavior for a delegate or team over time, providing intuitive mixing control for delegates with multiple behaviors. Behaviors include: Avoid, Orientation, Path Follow, Repel, Scripted, Seek, Space Warp, Speed Vary, Surface Arrive, Surface Follow, Wall Repel, Wall Seek, and Wander.
Use the space warps that affect particles and dynamics. Use MAXScript to write other behaviors. Behavior parameters appear in a behavior rollout in the crowd object. See Crowd Behaviors.
Cognitive Controllers. Create decision trees, using the Cognitive Controller Editor to create states to work with the Behaviors. Different behaviors will be applied depending on the state. See Cognitive Controllers.
Vector Fields. Create Vector Field space warps to use with crowds and behaviors. Computed from arbitrary 3D objects, vector fields generate structured forces that can repel or contain. See Vector Field Space Warps.
When a crowd system is solved, characters in the scene that have been attached to crowd delegates move along the delegates' paths. A crowd delegate can be attached either to a Biped or to an arbitrary 3D Studio MAX object that represents a character.
Crowd uses two different methods for attaching delegates to Bipeds and to arbitrary 3D Studio MAX objects and for managing their respective motions. This separation allows the Crowd system to work well for any "non-terrestrial" 3D Studio MAX character, but to also take full advantage of Biped's nonlinear motion flow features and motion mapping capabilities for "terrestrial" bipedal characters. This latter connection brings the full power of Biped animation tools to bear on the behavioral animation of large systems of bipedal characters.
For delegate-driven bipeds, the Motion Flow graph provides critical information to the crowd system about the character's library of possible moves. With this advance knowledge, the crowd system solves the delegate's path and speed accordingly, while selecting and bending "best fit" motion clips from the Biped's Motion Flow graph - driving the character over terrain and through obstacles - synchronizing its motion with the ground at all times. After solution, each Biped possesses a lightweight Motion script which may be viewed and edited for maximum control.
The use of shared Motion Flow graphs between Bipeds driven by a crowd system allows hundreds of Bipeds to potentially share the identical motion flow graph and assets - and yet move through a scene with completely unique results.
Global motion clips and master motion clips can be used to apply best fit motion clips from an existing animation sequence to non-Biped objects linked to delegates, based on the trajectory of the delegates. This is ideally suited for realistically animating such phenomena as flocks of birds and schools of fish.
Using Crowd Animation
Crowd Animation User Interface
Animated Pivot Points for hands and feet. The Biped inverse kinematic system now incorporates a fast, intuitive method for animating between user-specified pivot points on the hands and feet. Pivot points establish a center for rotation during a period of IK contact with a surface. Since they can be specified on a per-key-frame basis, complex interactions between feet, hands, and surfaces can be rapidly set up and animated, with high-integrity interpolation between keyframes with different pivot points.
Select Pivot. Lets you select and keyframe pivot points in the viewport. Now you can animate the foot pivoting on the heel at one frame, and pivoting on the ball of the foot at another frame, then the toe at another. Includes a special feature, if the pivot is on the ball of the foot, to allow the toes to stay locked in world space so they don't dip below the floor plane. Similarly, you can select pivots for the hands and fingers. Selecting the pivot instantly sets the IK Blend information at that keyframe. If you set the pivot at the toe, you can raise the knee and the heel will raise up, leaving the toes on the ground.
Quadruped animation. Unification of pivot point animation for both hands and feet opens the door to more sophisticated quadruped use of the Biped armature. Because the hands and feet now offer identical capabilities and IK interpolation, quadruped animation using Biped is more fluid and controllable - and transferable. Even walking fingers may be animated with surprising ease, since pivot points can be transferred to the ends of different fingers on a pose-by-pose basis.
Ankle tension spinner. This determines joint precedence between the ankle and the knee. With Ankle Tension set to 1, the ankles remain stiff, like walking in snowboarding boots.
Set Planted, Sliding or Free Keys. New set key buttons in the IK Key Info rollout let you do in one step what used to take three. Setting a Planted Key will change IK Blend to 1, will turn on Join to Prev IK Key, and will select Object space. Setting a sliding key sets IK Blend to 1, and turns on Object space, but leaves join to Prev IK Key off. Set a Free Key and IK Blend is set to 0, and Body space is turned on.
IK Key Info rollout. A new rollout for faster workflow combines the existing IK Blend and Body/Object space controls with new icons for creating planted, sliding or free keys.
Custom Key Presets. New tear-off custom key sets provide traditional animators with the most efficient means available for setting up and tuning straight-ahead character animation - with all the power of blended inverse and forward kinematic solutions. With MacroKeys, traditional animators can configure their favorite key types, combining up to 13 different "set key" attributes, and store them by name, for rapid access via the new character studio tool panel.
Copy and Paste Tracks. Provides simple and rapid transfer of Biped track motion between body parts, between Bipeds, and even between Biped layers.
Trajectories. You can now see and edit Biped trajectories directly in the viewport. Use the Biped Display rollout to view the trajectories, edit the keys on the trajectory by turning on Sub-object and using the Transform gizmo.
Footstep Placement with AutoGrid. Footsteps can be placed on an arbitrary terrain by turning on AutoGrid. Footsteps will automatically snap to the center of each face.
Changing Footstep Duration. Inserting, deleting or changing the IK space or blending will now change footstep duration in footstep animations. Previously, this was only possible through Track View manipulation of the footstep track. Footsteps can also be created and deleted by changing IK blend key parameters.
Better conversion between freeform and footstep animation. This new IK constraint system provides for two-way conversion between freeform and footstep animations that are more consistent and accurate. You can now convert back and forth between the two modes without loss of motion.
Most Recent .fig file. You can now define the figure file you will use before you create a biped. You can load the FIG file directly from the Biped Creation rollout, or choose to use the most recent FIG file.
File import. Now you can load BVH and CSM file types directly.
Better motion capture file conversion and editing. The new IK constraint system allows for more precise and accurate motion capture file conversion. Motion capture import with no key reduction using footstep extraction provides a precise means of dramatically editing raw motion files.
Prop Bone. Import for CSM file now supports additional bones for extra elements. For swords, canes, hats and any else held in the hands. See Prop Bone.
Physique offers dramatic improvements in performance and deformation functionality, especially for highly detailed polygon and Bezier patch characters.
Performance. Every major aspect of Physique's performance has been optimized and multithreaded to provide new levels of interactivity. Load times, stack updates, and general interactivity in the viewport have been tripled, or greater, even on single processor systems. Multi-threading means that users with dual-processor systems running Windows NT or Windows 2000 can approach another doubling of speed over equivalent single-processor systems. Additionally, new user-configurable Stack Update settings allow Physique to respond intelligently to animated changes in the 3D Studio MAX modifier stack. When enabled, these new settings ensure proper behavior when Physique is applied on top of animated modifiers like Morph or Mesh Smooth. When disabled, they allow Physique to focus on interactive performance, when minimal changes are occurring beneath it in the modifier stack.
Deformation Tools. Physique now supports the use of non-linked bones and splines for animating and deforming non-hierarchical portions of a character. For example, facial animation, muscle-effects, and "breathing bones" can now be implemented by simply adding a bone or spline to Physique's list of bones for a given character. All of Physique's familiar deformation envelopes and vertex weighting tools may be used to control regional influence and deformation effects along each bone or spline. Animating the bone or the individual points along the spline yield a corresponding change in the mesh.
Biped. This version of Biped has been exposed to MAXScript to allow comprehensive "set" and "get" functions for creation, editing, and export of all aspects of Biped character data. New areas of programmatic access include biped creation, loading and saving, setting and getting keys and all key attributes, footprints, Motion Capture import, and Motion Flow I/O.
Crowds. The Crowd system is exposed to MAXScript, primarily for setting and getting of delegate attributes, for creation of cognitive controller and clip controller logic, and for creation of entirely new behaviors. These capabilities are detailed in a new update to the MAXScript online help system.
Note: A number of character studio 3-specific additions have been made to the MAXScript language. The MAXScript Reference is updated when you install the character studio software, and is still available online from Help menu > MAXScript Reference. MAXScript information specific to this product are also available as a separate chapter in the printed Reference.