CAP 201a - Computer Animation I


The basic assignment for each week is to complete the lesson for the week, and to turn in answers to the questions about the lesson posted in the notes for that lesson. (Lessons are in your text, notes and questions are on this web site.) As a courtesy, questions also appear below.

Week 1
  • Reading: Lessons 1 and 2; web notes as posted.
  • Questions for Lesson 1 due by start of class of week 2:
    • Exercise 3: Note the Reset command, shown in the text. It means to discard the current project work and start a new project. This exercise also introduces the command panel. Each time you click one of the six buttons at the top of the command panel, the rest of the panel can change dramatically, giving you options for that command set.
      Question 1: What is the name of each of those buttons?
    • Understand that one definition of a spline is a drafting device used for drawing curves.
      Question 2: Use a search engine to find more definitions on the Internet. Turn in what you think is a good one, along with a URL to your source.
    • Question from the syllabus: Explore the Autodesk web site, and turn in the system requirements to run 3DS Max.

Week 2
  • Reading: Lessons 1 and 2; web notes as posted.
  • Questions for Lesson 1 due by start of class of week 3:
    • Question 3: How do you quickly set a spinner control to its minimum allowable value?
    • Question 4: If a panel extends below the screen, how can you bring the hidden section into the user interface?
    • Question 5: Where in the user interface are the viewport navigation tools?
    • Question 6: What is a flyout?
    • The text discusses a few screen rendering modes that you should recognize and use: wireframe and smooth + highlights. In this discussion, it is only talking about how objects are shown in your viewports, not how they will appear in final (rendered) version at the end of a project.
      Question 7: What is the function key that switches between these two rendering modes?
    • Question 8: What is the keyboard command to undo the last View operation?
  • Questions for Lesson 2 due by start of class of week 3:
    • Question 1: When you create the sign post hanger, you will not see it in all views. According to the text, why is this so? (Remember to think three dimensionally.)
    • Exercise 3: This exercise begins with changing a viewport to show a different view.
      Question 2: Where do you click a viewport to make this kind of change?
    • The exercise asks you to create two new rectangles close to the three objects you just made. In between creating the first and second, you must turn off the Start New Shape option.
      Question 3: What is the effect of turning off this option as directed?
    • Question 4: How do you region-select several objects?
    • Question 5: Which menu is the Merge command on?
    • Question 6: Compare ctrl-clicking to region-selecting. What different circumstances might make each the right choice?
    • Question 7: The exercise tells you to use the Quick Render button. What is the icon on it?
    • Question 8: When you look at the timeline, how do you tell where the key frames are?
    • Question 9: What are the available rendering resolutions on the four default buttons in the Render Scene Dialog box?

Week 3
  • Reading: Lesson 3; web notes as posted.
  • Questions for Lesson 3 due by start of class of week 4:
    • Question 1: Which menu is the Units Setup choice on?
    • Question 2: Which setting is used to control the heavy grid lines?
    • Question 3: The text gives you a useful mnemonic: RGB=XYZ. What does this mnemonic mean?
    • Question 4: What is the base plane of the Left viewport for a new scene?
    • Question 5: How do you select one object?
    • Question 6: How can you select two objects at opposite sides of the scene (and no others) by clicking?
    • Question 7: Can you select two objects at opposite sides of the scene (and no others) by dragging?
    • Question 8: The exercise tells you to click the Zoom Extents Selected button. How do you get to it?
    • Question 9: When you create a new Selection Set, which drop down do you use? What must you do after typing the new set's name?
    • Question 10: How does creating a Group affect the number of objects in the Select Objects dialog box?

Week 4
  • Reading: Lesson 4; web notes as posted.
  • Questions for Lesson 4 due by start of class of week 5:
    • Exercise 2: Exercise 2 shows you how to modify the angle snap setting, and shows what effect it has.
      Question 1: This exercise also demonstrates using a coordinate system. Which one?
    • Exercise 3: This exercise shows you a reason to use the Pick coordinate system.
      Question 2: Why does the text have you use this system in this case?
    • Question 3: If you are trying to align two objects whose x axes are not in the same plane, how do you compensate?
    • Question 4: Where in the 3DS Max interface do you find the Make Unique command?
    • After completing Exercise 5, continue modifying the file with the array of nine birds. Review the lesson 2 material on animating.
      • Animate the bird scene: make the birds flap their wings.
      • Render your animation to an AVI file. Make sure to use the Cinepak, Indeo, or Microsoft codec (the default codec does not work in the classroom). Show me your AVI file for credit.

Week 5
  • Reading: Lesson 5; web notes as posted
  • Questions for Lesson 5 due by start of class of week 6:
    • Question 1: In exercise 2, why do you only have to apply a modifer to one of the braces of the water tower, instead of applying it to all of them?
    • Question 2: Which modifier is used to create random variation in the shape of an object?
    • Question 3: At the end of exercise 3, step 17, the cactus still look artificial. What modifier to you use to smooth out the angles on it?


Week 6
  • Reading: Lesson 6; web notes as posted
  • Questions for Lesson 6 due by start of class of week 7:
    • Question 1: What can you do after adding the Edit Poly modifier that you cannot do once you change the object to an Editable Poly?
    • Question 2: In the engine exercise, what effect does the Grow button on the Selection rollout have if you have selected a polygon?
    • Question 3: What does the Extrude command do in exercise 3?
    • Question 4: What is the effect, in step 11 of exercise 3, of dragging a selected polygon?
    • Question 5: The text does not explain a chamfer. What is a better description of the effect?
    • Question 6: Exercise 4 uses the Attach command. How do you attach one object to another?
    • Question 7: What does the Cap command do in exercise 5?
    • Question 8: What warning does the text give us about Iterations in the TurboSmooth modifier?


Week 7
  • Reading: Lesson 7; web notes as posted
  • Questions for Lesson 7 due by start of class of week 8:
    • Question 1: What do you do to set the options for the Snaps Toggle button?
    • Question 2: In exercise 1 step 24, you are told to close the spline. What does this mean?
      Question 3: In exercise 1 step 28, you add an Edit Spline modifier to the star. This gives you three sub-object buttons. What are they? (see step 29)
    • Question 4: At the end of exercise 2, the can/drum is incomplete. What tool does the text say you will use to complete the object?
    • Question 5: Exercise 3 has you change the type of several vertices and modify them. What is the purpose of these steps?
    • Question 6: In exercise 4, what is the problem that you are solving with the weld core option?
    • Question 7: Exercise 4 also has you reduce the number of faces in your can object. What action reduces the number most?
    • Question 8: In exercise 6, why is it necessary to create the bullnose before using the bevel profile modifier?


Week 8
  • Reading: Lesson 8; web notes as posted
  • Questions for Lesson 8 due by start of class of week 9:
    • Question 1: In exercise 1, after subtracting an object from another in steps 1 through 7, what does the text mean when it says we have a negative space?
    • Question 2: What is the effect of applying a Union operator to the upper and lower wall of the building?
    • Question 3: In exercise 2, you start with two shapes and a path. What are the two shapes?
    • Question 4: In exercise 2 step 14, you create a fast transition between the two shapes. What makes the transition faster than the one shown in the image for step 12?
      Question 5: In exercise 2 step 27, you see a twist in the object with the Compare tool. How do you recognize the first vertex of each shape in the Compare tool window?
    • Question 6: Exercise 3 has you change the scatter (distribution) type to Random Faces to simulate a natural environment. What would happen if you were to use Even distribution instead?
    • Question 7: What setting is used to allow variety in the height of the duplicated cacti?

Week 9
  • Reading: Lesson 9 and Lesson 10; web notes as posted
  • Questions for Lessons 9 and 10 due by start of class of week 10:
    • Lesson 9
    • Question 1: In exercise 1, why is the initial size of the plane unimportant?
    • Question 2: Exercise 1 step 7 tells you to choose the Quick Align tool from the Align flyout. How can you recognize which tool this is?
    • Question 3: In exercise 1 step 18, you are told to turn on Use Soft Selection. What is this for?
    • Question 4: In exercise 2 step 16, how do you make a rock different from all the other instances?
    • Question 5: In exercise 2 step 18, you make a selection set for all the rocks. How do you select all the rocks without having to click each one?
    • Question 6: In exercise 3, what part of the torus does Radius 1 describe? What part does Radius 2 describe?
    • Question 7: In exercise 3, what parameters are used with the Noise modifier to customize the new rock?
    • Lesson 10
    • Question 1: Exercise 1 step 6 tells you to use the ALT-W key combination. What happens if you press it again?
    • Question 2: Exercise 1 step 7 tells you to choose Properties from the quad menu. This is almost correct. What is name of the option you should select?
    • Question 3: Exercise 2 assumes you learned to use the Track View tool in the previous exercise. What does the button look like that you click to change a tangent type to Fast?
    • Question 4: To check how high an object is in the scene, you are told in exercise 2 step 7 to watch the coordinate values at the bottom of the screen. How can you use the coordinate values to set the altitude of the object instead of moving it manually?
    • Question 5: In exercise 4 step 2, the text forgets to tell you to something. What is it?
      Question 6: Exercise 4 uses several terms for what might seem to be the same thing. Why is squashing the jelly in step 4 anticipation, while squashing it in step 13 is follow-through?
    • Question 7: In exercise 5, what is the effect of adding two paths to the Path Constraint applied to the race car?
      Question 8: Even though you apply the Path Constraint to the car, it does not keep its nose pointed in the direction of motion. What are the two settings you need to use to accomplish this for the car?
      Question 9: What varies from frame to frame to move the car closer to the inside or outside border of the track?