Anim8or - Basics to Advanced/Rendering Movies

Rendering a movie: see Anim8tor help file.

Exporting a movie with an alpha mask: Anima8tor allows you to export a movie with an alpha channel. This option allows you to create very advanced professional effects once the footage is imported into a video editing program such as AfterEffects. You can export your movie in three ways: AVI, BMP sequence or JPG sequence. It is recommended you export your 3D movie (with alpha) as a BMP sequence with alpha. In the render movie window, make sure you have checked the box Movie with Alpha. With a BMP sequence each frame will be exported with no compression at the highest possible quality. Always import raw footage into a video editor with no compression. Compress you movie out of AfterEffects, but not going into AE. All source footage and images should be extremely high resolution.

NOTE: In the SAME folder you have selected to accept your BMP sequence, there will be two sets of files. This is not evident at first, so look carefully. On a PC choose LIST from window viewing option. If you scroll down there will be a second sequence of BMP pics, but these will be the ALPHA channel pics. They will be black and white. They will have nearly the same name as the movie bmp sequence and this can trip you up if you don't look carefully. It is the reason I have taken time to get online and write this page. I want to save others two days of wasted time.

You will have two sequences in the same folder. Recommend you drag-select and cut-paste the second BMP alpha sequence to its own folder, to avoid confusion.

In the editor, we will use AfterEffects as example, create a new file and new composition. IMPORT FILE and navigate to your folder where you saved your anim8tor sequence. RIGHT CLICK on the first name001.bmp file and then BMP SEQUENCE will become an option in that window. Repeat and now import your alpha (black and white) bmp sequence. The two names will be separated only by one letter, pay attention. Drag your movie onto the timeline. Drag your alpha on top of that layer. You can now use the AE track matte feature to turn the alpha sequence into a mask. Google 'track matte' if you are not sure how to do get that going.

Anim8tor is not a complex 3D program overall, there is no argument with that fact - however, the creator of Anim8tor, Steven, is/was a coder involved in 3D video card drivers - so interestingly his particular approach involved putting many basic, powerful functions into Anim8tor.

Using Modifiers in Anim8tor: The Anim8tor help manual is thin when it comes to explaining MODIFIERS so I'd like to share some of my trouble solving research and hopefully save you some time. Please read the basic tutorials on modifiers available in the anim8tor manual and within online tutorials and refer back to this article later if you find something not obvious with those guys.

There are probably two basic reasons to use the modifier. When building your model, perhaps to get an exact shape or angle of a piece. Secondly down the road when you have finished your model and you want to animate the object so it moves and bends realistically in the SCENE MODE time line.

Select the MODIFIER tool. The yellow modifier grid box will begin to grow exactly at the tip of the cursor arrow. As you drag the mouse the yellow box will grow but if you position the cursor in the middle of an object and click-drag, note that you will not see the yellow box until you have dragged it to be large enough to see outside of object. Don't get fixated on drawing the modifier yellow grid box too exactly. Its quite adjustable after and I recommend you draw it next to the object or part of your object to be modified so you can see the box growing as you drag. After you finish click-dragging out the modifier box you can select the MOVE TOOL and move the yellow box around as you would any object. As well you can select either one of the SCALE tools. Try selecting the NON-UNIFORM SCALE tool as this will allow you to adjust the width of the modifier box. To scale the height, grab the uniform scale tool, and then again the non-uniform to tweak the width. Move the yellow modifier box over the area to be modified. Use the ARCH ROTATE viewing tool to rotate your view, so you can get the yellow box exactly in place. One thing to keep in mind when sizing your modifier box and placing it over the area to be deformed, is how completely the modifier box encompasses the object. You may need to experiment and what I have found is that you may get strange results if you put the modifier box over a portion of an object and not all. Which may result only part of the object deforming and leaving some jagged artifact bits stretched out. Again, it just depends so experiment and if all else fails just put the box over the whole portion, so all of the mesh moves together.

Another note about the modifier box, in BEND mode I have noticed that after you have positioned and scaled your yellow grid box, you might want to ROTATE the grid box so you it bends in the direction you want. The modifier box can be rotated in place easily. Select VIEW and then LEFT from the top menu so you are looking at the side of the object now. Select the modifier box and then select the ROTATE tool and rotate the modifier box one quarter turn. Remember you can deselect any of the XYZ buttons so that the modifier box will only rotate about its axis, so it wont get all wobbly when you try to rotate it around a bit. Don't forget to toggle XYZ back on if you turned one off, btw.

After you have drawn a modifier box, moved it into position and rotated the box if needed, you can grab the SELECT tool and drag the marquee over the modifier box and the object so they are selected together and turn white - then choose BUILD at the top menu - then MODIFIERS and in the sub window you select BIND MODIFIER. Now the box is locked to your object, but nothing has happened. Next double click your modifier box and a window will pop-up allowing you to enter values. After you enter your values and hit OK, the modifier will bend, twist, or whatever you have chosen. To have an object bend in the opposite direction just put a minus before the number, example -45. Save often and experiment with different values. If you find that your box doesn't seem to be oriented right, you can go back to the top menu and choose UNBIND MODIFIER, now the yellow box will separate from the object as it was in the beginning and you can move the box around, or rotate it, or scale it. After you tweak, don't forget to BIND AGAIN. A subtle, quirky thing is to make the yellow box wide enough so even though the box may end mid portion of the object, if you imagine its lines continuing down, and you ensure that all of the object falls within the box (by scaling the box wider, taller etc.) you will probably be able to get the right bend you want without any weird left over distortions. It seems that the cubical influence of the modifier box extend further than the visible yellow lines, so just make sure everything in the zone of the box sort of falls within it. So why not just extend the modifier box entirely over the area to be bent - the problem with that is that everything within the box will bend uniformly. Imagine you've made a snake. Its straight as a stick after you model him. You could use the bend modifier to put some smooth bends in his body at various points, but if you put ALL of the snake inside the yellow box, he will bend in one big crescent arch. So you have to position the box over a portion of him, but as I explain making sure the although only a portion is within the yellow box, all of the snake is within the yellow box zone. What I do is use the ARCH ROTATE view tool, and move around so I can peek down into my yellow modifier box, like looking down a gun barrel, to make sure all the bits of the object fall within this box scope. As I say, you might not have problems with your modifier box and areas outside of it, but if you do, try the above.

After you have entered your values and hit OK and the object deformed, you need to finish up the modifier session by selecting again from the TOP MENU, BUILD, then choose MODIFIERS then choose EFFECT MODIFIERS. Now you have closed the that particular modifier session and the object will forever retain that shape. You can move on to another part of your object and repeat the process.

Someone posted an interesting tutorial on using a combination of MODIFIERS and MORPH TARGET so that you can create little movement groups and use the MORPH TARGET clips within the SCENE time line, thereby creating some sophisticated and ordered movements. Movements can as well be done with bones and joints, but using MODIFIERS and MORPH TARGET bundles is another animal and may suit your needs in particular cases better.