TG3, Max and spherical camera

Started by dhenry2112, January 24, 2014, 02:06:05 am

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Hello all,

I am working on an animation project in which a character I built in 3ds Max will be flying through landscapes rendered in Terragen. My character model has tons of moving parts and uses some transparency, and the model is too much for poseray to handle. My solution is to render the character animations separately in Max (using mental ray) and then composite it with the Terragen renders in After Effects. I understand how to create a spherical image with Terragen and then use that image as a spherical environment map in Max for the purpose of reflections and lighting references. This works great for still renders like the example below, however I fear this will not be adequate for animation. I'm thinking that what I need to do is render the Terragen animation using the spherical camera and then somehow use that animation as the environment map in Max rather than a still image. I have no idea how to accomplish this or if perhaps there is another way to go about this that would be easier.
I would greatly appreciate anyone that can help me out or point me in the right direction. I'm no animation guru, still just a noobie, but I am making progress :)


Hi. your first idea will work fine.

Now if your worried about things like shadow when the bug goes from well lit, to being in shadow (like it flies under a leaf or something) It should still be fine. Just darken the bug animation from blending modes using keys.

Or why not just make three Emaps; one for each situation the bug will be in. So then you just change maps in max at the right time, so the bug will look right in its animation when you composite it. You should be able to animate the map, that is, rotate it, lighten darken it, in max, and I know you can animate the map in AE.

Also remember this thread and tut:,16479.0.html,16451.0.html,16519.0.html

If you render the animation of the TG scene in spherical and the normal scene, thats going to be way to much rendering, I would think.
It has been eaten.


Not sure about Mental Ray, but here's a Vray version for max with HDRI. You can use any your own spherical hdr in place of the one I have. May work the same with mental ray where you put it in the Rendering/Environment dialogue, then copy an instance to the material editor, change to spherical and control other factors there as well. To see it in the viewport alt-B and click "use Environment Background". I would also do what Badger says and render separate passes to change lighting if needed, then edit in the right places in AE. Good luck, and post the video when done.


Thanks so much for the tips! I did see the above tuts but it mostly involves Maya, which I have but have not learned yet as well as I have Max.
Quote from: TheBadger on January 24, 2014, 12:27:48 pm
Just darken the bug animation from blending modes using keys.

I assume you mean in After Effects right?

Due to the fact that my dragonfly is textured using mental ray ray-tracing and all that, and that I don't have access to V-ray, I can't really use an hdr image to drive my lighting in max unless I replace the mental ray sun with a skylight. I've tested that route and it kills all my ray-trace and refraction shaders on my model. I am however using an hdr image for my environment map, then I export the sun from terragen via .fbx and use the combination of the two to line up my mental ray sun as it should be. It's a little crude as a work flow but at this point it's the only way I know to achieve what I want with the tools and knowledge I currently have. I figure I'm probably going to need to export my terragen camera paths to max as well. At least for certain scenes where the camera needs to turn to follow the model off screen.

I'm also doing multiple render passes for my model for cast shadows (using an invisible plane) and also for ambient occlusion. Here is a link to a very crude test render I did as a test for AO etc. Just a still image as background and not especially fluid as the purpose didn't warrant spending the extra time.


Hi man,

First, Im not an expert. And I gather that there are more ways to do any one thing than I will ever learn. So anyone reading this who knows better should please correct anything I say.

But dhenry, I believe you may have something backwards...
QuoteI figure I'm probably going to need to export my terragen camera paths to max as well. At least for certain scenes where the camera needs to turn to follow the model off screen.

If the focus of your animation is the robo bug, and not the TG environment, then you should export your camera paths *from max* to TG. That is, animate everything including your camera with your focus on the bug. And send that to TG.

QuoteI assume you mean in After Effects right?

YEs, sorry, should have been more clear.

QuoteDue to the fact that my dragonfly is textured using mental ray ray-tracing

Ok, now this is important, I did not catch it in your OP. I have run into problems with texturing and cross platform workflows too. Using one 3D package material shaders, and sending to another is highly problematic. As I understand things, people only use materials when they will be staying in the soft that provided the materials.
So now I understand what you want to do a little better.

This is one way I might do what your trying, after seeing your youtube video.

1) Export your terrain to max for a solid character & environment position reference.
2) Animate the character animation and charter environment animations.
3) Render out your spherical E maps from TG. Im guessing one will work, but maybe you will need two or even three. Don't render one super long animation, but instead render several shots to be edited!!!
4) Render your max animation.
5)render your TG animation,  and again, Don't render one super long animation!
6) Begin compositing.

BAsed on your youtube video, you should not worry so much about all these little details. Your making a cartoon, not a photo real film. Therefore, you have more freedom to do what you want, and do not have to make everything "perfect". You can getaway with a lot.

Really the only thing you have to make sure of, is that everything lines up and matches for compositing; camera moves match, basic lighting is the same (but not necessarily exact) You have a lot of power in AE to make things work together during post. In fact a little discrepancy may invoke some happy accidents and force more creativity... Its part of learning. And so is doing things over when they turn out wrong or undesirable.

Another option is to UV map your bug (if its not already done) and texture it in a way that you can export a "object sequence" to TG. THis would cut out a ton of guess work and trial and error.
You could also export to AE and use element3d, if the you can make the mechanics work.

Just my thoughts, nothing more.

It has been eaten.


Thank you TheBadger. All very helpful information which I appreciate. The only thing you've listed that I don't know how to do is how to export my terrain from TG to Max. I seem to recall reading somewhere that this required the use of a micro exporter node or something? I'll look into it more.


I followed this thread to the letter:

But all I get is errors like:

CreateObject: Unrecognised class: object_writer_
ObjectWriterTGO: Unable to open output file
WriteObjectFile: There was a problem writing the object file: terrain2

Not sure what I am doing wrong



What format files are you trying to use?




I'm trying to export a terrain as an .obj file so I can bring it into Max.
I followed the instructions in the above thread I linked but it doesn't seem to work.



What I suspect has happened is that you don't have an ".obj" file extension on the filename you're saving. v3.0.10.0 has a file format popup in the Micro exporter Save dialog so it should do this automatically but in earlier versions you will need to make sure you add the extension.

If you don't think this is the problem please set up a project ready to export a terrain and post the file so we can have a look at how you've done things.