DMST 3600

Introduction to 3D Modeling & Animation - Spring 08

Catalog Description:

This course will serve as an introduction to 3d modeling, texturing, lighting and animation on the computer. Students will complete a series of projects in which the processes of preparing and producing a 3D piece will be explored. Various strategies and techniques for creating detailed models to be used in animation will be examined. Animation concepts, such as keyframing and procedural animation will be discussed and utilized in the student projects. Additional attention will be spent on virtual camera techniques as well as the use of compositing in creating final pieces. Current trends in the field will be addressed through the analysis and discussion of current and historical examples.

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Course Overview

This course will introduce you to digital 3D sculpting and digital imaging using the 3DS Max software package. This will be one of the most difficult pieces of software to learn because by its very design it is very open and typically used by a number of people who have specialized in various aspects of it. This course, combined with the second and third parts (DMST 3630 and 3650 3D Animation,) will build a foundation that will allow you to be able to use the software to further express your artistic ideas and enhance your other work in video, game creation, and digital imaging and visualization. This part of the course (DMST 3600) will introduce the software and concentrate on modeling, surfacing, lighting, rendering, and compositing. The second course (DMST 3630) will concentrate on animation and rigging, and the third course brings everything together. WARNING!! This class will be VERY time intensive. You will need to spend at least 5-10 hours outside of class each week to practice and work on assignments. Also understand that taking these three courses will not prepare you for jobs in industry houses such as PIXAR. These courses are meant as a basic foundation to allow you to use 3D in your creative work, games, and productions and a starting place for you to further develop your skills on your own or in a specialized institution. We will be seeing many examples of artists/designers who work in 3D animation and gaming as well as those who use 3D technology in creative ways in their productions.

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Course Objectives

By the end of this course you will:

  • Think critically about 3D space and digital imaging
  • Have knowledge of the history and future of CGI
  • Consider the strengths and weaknesses of using digital 3D imagery/content
  • Have working knowledge of various methods of digital modeling
  • Understand the process of planning and executing digital 3D work
  • Understand working with textures and lighting to simulate or distort realism
  • Understand rendering and compositing techniques
  • Create meaningful content laden digital environments, characters, and forms

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  • The recommended text for this course is "3ds Max 9 Essentials" or "Introducing 3ds Max 9." The latter is available for free via digital format through the library. Another strongly recommended text is Digital Lighting and Rendering (2nd Edition) (Paperback) by Jeremy Birn available from online retailers.
  • You will need at least 1GB of portable storage (flash or thumb drives, ipod, portable hard drive, etc.)
  • You must have or purchase a sketchbook approx. 8.5"x11"

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    This class will combine individual work in the lab with individual and group instruction. Students must come to class prepared to work. Showing up without necessary files or equipment is the same as not attending. Although students may also use their home computers to work on projects, this is not a valid reason to not attend. It will be necessary to work outside of class to complete all projects and assignments. A minimum of eight hours per week of work outside of class is suggested to get an average grade of a C. Computer failure, equipment malfunction, and file corruption are not accepted as excuses for late or unfinished work so BACK UP YOUR WORK. 3ds Max is widely known not only for crashing daily, but also for corrupting save files. You will need to increment your file saves in order to be sure you do not lose weeks worth of work with one save.

    The computer labs are used by many students, so the labs are in high demand. Budget time accordingly as "unavailable computer time" will also not be accepted as an excuse. Participation in all class discussions and critiques as well as constructive use of lab time is considered in the final grade for each project. At any time in the creation process students should be able to produce notes, drawings,charts etc from their sketchbooks, as well as discuss and articulate the nature of their work to their peers as well as to the instructor.

    Attendance is mandatory. Attending class is the responsibility of the student. Lectures and demonstrations may be given or changed without notice and every class will start with professional examples of relevant work so punctuality is essential. An individual who is absent, late or sleeps during class will be responsible for getting the information missed. Students will be allowed two (2) absences without penalty. Any absence in excess of two will result in a 10% grade reduction of the final grade for the course per absence. All absences will be counted. A student who misses 15 minutes or more of a class (late or leave early) is considered absent. A student who sleeps will be considered absent. A student who will acquire absences due to a University sponsored activities must provide necessary documentation from the appropriate office prior to the absence to make any special arrangements for missed work.

    For any absence due to religious beliefs, written notification should be provided in the first two weeks of the quarter; the student is responsible for any missed work. Any special medical or personal problems that occur, where absenteeism will exceed the allowed two, will require verification by a physician or emergency medical association (a letter from Student Affairs merely explains an absence, and will not qualify as an excuse). These situations may require course withdrawal or "Incomplete" status on the final grade. Six absences mandate an automatic grade of "F." Three late arrivals (less than 15 min.) will equal one absence.

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    Grades will consist of the following:

  • Assignments @ 50%
  • Project 1 @ 15%
  • Project 2 @ 25%
  • Participation @ 10%
  • Projects and assignments will be graded on the following basis, listed in order of importance.

  • Development, creativity and originality of concept or problem solution
  • Technical development and demonstration of skills
  • Craftsmanship and presentation of work
  • Participation in classroom discussions and critiques in connection with the work
  • Your grade will be calculated according to the following standards:

  • A = Excellent (100-90%)- work pushes far beyond the project stipulations and shows clear evidence of extreme time, dedication, care and thought about the project as evidenced in effective execution of original/thoughtful ideas.
  • B = Good (80-89%)- work exceeds the basic criteria, provides creative solutions to the problems and shows technical proficiency. Student has made the project "theirs" in that they do not need to explain project stipulations before showing the work.
  • C = Average (70-79%)- work fulfills all requirements, does not expand on techniques shown in class, ideas are close derivations of popular culture.
  • D = Unsatisfactory (60-69%)- work might meet basic criteria but in a careless and/or thoughtless way. Technical proficiency is rudimentary and no chances were taken.
  • F = Failure (0-59%)- the work does not meet the basic criteria.
  • Late projects will be penalized a letter grade for every class period they are late. Turning a project in after the beginning of the critique counts as one class day late.

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    Lab Rules

    It is your responsibility to adhere to all rules regarding the use of the DMS labs and equipment. You will be given a sheet stating all rules. Please see Kate Burns in the DMS office before class if you need a form to access the DMS lab.

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    Solutions to assignments you submit will be your own work. A student who is discovered to have plagiarized another's work will immediately receive a grade of F for the course, and a recommendation for disciplinary action will be forwarded to the Dean of Students.

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    While you are not required to purchase the software that we are using, not having the software is no excuse for failing to complete your projects. It is your responsibility to work out times when you can use the DMS labs or to make other arrangements for doing your work. Please do not download and/or install trial versions of this software or any other onto campus computers. 3ds Max can be purchased at academic pricing from online outlets and is available for only the Windows operating system.

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    Course Outline

    (The following schedule is open to revision at any point in the quarter.)

    03/25 - Introduction, history of CGI, thinking/working in 3d space, Assignment 1

    03/27 - 3ds Max introduction, interface, navigation, manipulation, Assignment 2

    04/01 - Objects, shapes, modifiers, selections, grouping, cloning, Assignment 3

    04/03 - Mesh editing, soft selection, smoothing, Box Modeling, Assignment 4

    04/08 - Project 1 sketches, inspirations, basic lighting and rendering, Assignment 5

    04/10 - Work in progress

    04/15 - No Class

    04/17 - No Class

    04/22 - Project 1 Due

    04/24 - Project 2 assigned, Patch modeling, creasing, slicing, connecting, boolean, Assignment 6

    04/29 - Modeling with references, Assignment 7

    05/01 - materials and surfaces, procedurals, Assignment 8

    05/06 - maps, composite materials

    05/08 - UVW mapping

    05/13 - lighting, shadows

    05/15 - Lighting and rendering for compositing

    05/20 - Mental Ray, advanced rendering, Assignment 9

    05/22 - Particles, animation basics

    05/27 - Work in Progress

    05/29 - Work in Progress

    06/03 - Final Critique 11:00pm - Project 2 Due

  • Project 1 = Experiential Spatiodynamic Forms
  • Project 2 = Final Project:
    For the final project, you will be creating an "organic" character that has to use a mechanical assistant device in order to navigate in our culture/society/environment/world. These assistant devices should be mechanical attempts at overcoming issues or problems that you find in our world, not variations of devices already made (wheelchairs or other mobility machines, breathing apparatus…) USE YOUR IMAGINATION. For the organic character, consider creatures that already exist so you do not have to resort to “aliens.” Consider how animals and plants are attempting to deal with the drastic changes we make to their surroundings. What are devices that you wish you could have to find calm in the media maelstrom or that would help you connect and relate to others? Issues could be personal or political. Figure out how the creature interacts with the device and how its form might suggest function. Use the lessons over the next few classes to add drastically more detail to both the model and the textures on the model. Finally, composite the creature+device into a scene, either photograph or digitally generated scene that shows the device in use so we understand why it is needed. Also consider why what you are doing neccesitates the use of 3d imaging (a ramp for your dog to get up on your bed could be built and shown easily with a photograph.)

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    - Lecture One

  • 3DS Max Links and Resources from Discreet
  • 3DS Max Tutorials from Discreet

  • - Lecture Two

  • TSA - Artist Using 3D for abstract work both on and off the computer.
  • Student examples from similar project
  • Student examples from similar project
  • Student examples from similar project

  • - Lecture Five

  • Architect and Designer Xefirotarch
  • Ambient Occlusion Tutorial
  • Detailed Lighting discussion

  • - Lecture 10

  • Wikipedia entry for Uncanny Valley
  • From Realism to Reality Effect and Affect: Epistemological Issues in Realist Theories of Animation
  • The Undead Zone: Why realistic graphics make humans look creepy.

  • - Lecture 11

  • Part 1 of Fish Modeling Tutorial on youtube
  • Part 2 of Fish Modeling Tutorial on youtube
  • Part 3 of Fish Modeling Tutorial on youtube
  • Part 4 of Fish Modeling Tutorial on youtube
  • Part 5 of Fish Modeling Tutorial on youtube
  • Modeling an LCD monitor, fast forward w/o sound
  • A blog with nothing but modeling tutorials for objects
  • Student examples for Project 2

  • - Lecture 12

  • A page with numerous free tutorials
  • A tutorial about procedural materials - see other tuts on this site also
  • Another tutorial about procedural materials
  • A tutorial about using complex textures and vertex painting
  • Link to Blender video tutorials - see intermediate section for Character building
  • Tutorials
  • Tutorials

  • - Lecture 13

  • sample lighting file

  • - Lecture 14

  • text based UVW tutorial
  • Organic modeling video tutorials including UVW and texture creation

  • - Lecture 15

  • Using Mental Ray Tutorial
  • Compositing 3DS in Photoshop

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