CAP 211 - Interactive Design and Game Development

Chapter 44 - Using Atmospheric and Render Effects, part 2


This lesson concludes the chapter on special effects in 3DS Max. Objectives important to this lesson:

  1. Render effects
  2. Lens effects
  3. Other render effects

This chapter, like several we have seen, advertises features in other chapters. It tells us we will see how to add effects to an animation in post production in chapters 47 and 48. Then it begins the discussion of adding effects in the render process (production).

You are advised to select Rendering, Effects to see the Rendering Effects panel. This will show you the effects currently used in the scene. Buttons on this panel:

  • The Add button adds more effects (In order to use an effect more than once, you need to give each instance of the effect a different name.)
  • The Delete button removes selected effects
  • Move Up and Move Down reorder selected effects. The order in which they are applied to the scene can matter.
  • Merge allows you to open another file to load effects from it
  • In the Preview section of the screen, you can preview a change made to the scene or the original version before the change

The text continues with a discussion of Lens effects, which we are told are used more than the other types. As it has done before, the text goes on about setting after setting without giving any context for using them, making the discussion unintelligible. Realizing that this is only reference material, let's move on to a tutorial.

Tutorial Notes and Questions

Tutorial 1 (Creating shocking electricity from a plug outlet):

  1. Open the indicated file. Note that the scene includes a spline running from the electrical outlet to the unconnected electrical plug. The spline has a Noise modifier.
  2. Create a custom material as instructed. Note that the Self-Illumination color will be used to cause the spline to glow this color. Note the instructions to set the Material Effect channel to 1. This will match an action in the next step. Apply the material to the spline.
  3. Select Rendering, Effects from the menu bar. Add a Lens effect to the scene.
    1. Select the Lens effect in the effects list.
    2. Double click the Glow parameter, and select it to get to its properties. (Glow is a circular effect, making the object emit light for a limited distance.)
    3. Set the properties for the Glow, set the Material ID to match step 2, and render the scene to test it. (Higher intensity makes the Glow brighter and less transparent.)

Tutorial 2 (Creating neon):

  1. Begin by opening the specified file.
  2. Open the material editor, as you did in the tutorial above. Note that this time you will set the Diffuse color to one shade of blue, and the Self-Illumination color to a darker shade of blue. Again, set a Material Effects channel number for the material.
  3. As in step 3 above, create a Lens effect, and configure the Glow parameter properties.

The text moves on to describe other effects:

  • Ring - also a circular effect, but it includes Plane and Thickness properties that make it more two dimensional than Glow
  • Ray - can make the object appear like a star, emitting light in all directions; you can set the number of rays (Num property) and the blurriness of rays (Sharp property); the rays emitted are not regularly spaced (angle between rays will vary)
  • Star - oddly, this does not make the object look like a real star; can make the object look like a Christmas ornament star; the rays from a star are regularly spaces (equal angles between them)

Some other effects worth considering:

  • Blur - Uniform blurs equally across an image, Directional blurs increasingly in one direction (but you combine horizontal and vertical to get a diagonal direction), Radial allows you to blur around an object
  • Brightness and Contrast - lets you vary both of these qualities in a scene
  • Film Grain - allows you to apply a grainy effect to a scene or to the objects in a scene, useful when the objects need to match a background that is already grainy