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Using the exporter for 3D Studio Max

Director 8.5 includes a Shockwave 3D exporter for 3D Studio Max. It can be found in the 3D Translators folder on the Director 8.5 installation CD.

The exporter is a plug-in for 3D Studio Max. It operates from within the 3D Max application and allows you to save work created in Max as a W3D file for use in Shockwave 3D.

When you choose to export your work as a W3D file, the exporter's Scene Export Options dialog box appears. This dialog box allows you to do the following:

Select the scene assets to be written to the W3D file
Preview the scene exported (optional)
View a diagnostic display of the space taken by all scene assets in the W3D file (optional)
View diagnostic messages about items in the scene that may not export as expected (optional)

The Scene Export Options dialog box is divided into several sections, each containing choices related to a particular characteristic of the file that will be generated: preview options, scene export options, compression controls, and W3D file contents.

Preview options
The View W3D Scene After Export option in the Scene Export Options dialog box allows you to see how the file will look when imported into Director.

The preview window displays hidden scene resources. If some of your objects are not intended for export, save the assets you want exported to a new file and export that file. Note that the preview reflects the scene captured by the exporter, not necessarily the one written to the W3D file.

Scene export options
The Shockwave 3D Resources to Export section of the Scene Export Options dialog box allows you to select specific elements of the 3D scene to export. You can use these options to export specific parts of the scene for use in Director without exporting elements that are unnecessary to your project.

To create a library of bitmap images or animations to extend an existing 3D cast member in Director, create a scene in 3D Studio Max with these scene assets, and then select only the options that will export those elements. Shockwave 3D collects similar scene assets into collections or tables called palettes. The options selected determine which palettes are written to the Shockwave 3D file.

Note: The preview window will always show an entire scene, including the resources disabled for export. If Geometry Resources is not selected, the preview will show a black screen, and if Animations is not selected, no animation will appear in the scene. In all cases, the proper data will be written to the W3D file, except for the scene-disabled resources.

The scene export options are as follows:

Geometry Resources. This option exports all meshes and their associated bones to the Shockwave 3D file. If this option is deselected, the preview window will be completely black. All other selected resources will be written to the W3D file.

Shaders. Select the Shaders, Texture Map Resources, and Material Resources options as a group, whether you're exporting a scene or building a materials library. Shockwave 3D does not distinguish between Blinn, Phong, anisotropic, or any other shader algorithm that determines the rendered look of materials and maps. Only the Blinn and Phong shaders are supported, and they export as Gouraud shading. Shockwave 3D shaders are primarily pointers to texture map resources and material resources, which are exported by the next two options.

If you don't select the Shaders option, models will be invisible when first loaded into Director, because they will have no shading information (despite their being visible and fully shaded in the preview window). Once shaders are assigned to the models with Lingo, the models will become visible and look properly shaded.

Texture Map Resources. If this option is deselected, models will be untextured when first loaded into Director, because they will have no texture information (despite their being visible and fully shaded in the preview window). Once textures are assigned to the proper shaders with Lingo, the models will look properly textured.

Material Resources. This option determines whether material data is exported with the W3D file.

Light Resources. The only time you should deselect this option is when exporting just the animation, geometry, or texture data in a scene. Remember that there's a maximum of eight lights, and each new light results in a noticeable performance decrease.

Animations. By default, the Shockwave 3D exporter captures the animation of all objects in the scene in every frame. This data is compressed into a streaming format as the file is written. There may be times, however, when you only want to capture part of an animation or sample it more coarsely than once per frame. If you want to export motions only, select only this option. Do not select the Scenegraph Hierarchy option.

Scenegraph Hierarchy. This option controls whether the parent-child hierarchy between all geometry, light, group, and camera resources are written to the Shockwave 3D file. Always select this option when exporting an entire scene from 3D Studio Max. The Shockwave 3D scenegraph contains the following:

Information on parent-child relationships.
Information about what resources each scene element uses (for example, the model resource used by a model in the scenegraph).
Controls for any modifiers associated with the geometry resources.
Information about any cameras, lights, and groups in the scene. Shockwave 3D treats cameras, lights, and groups as less important resources and stores information about them only in the scenegraph.

Deselect this option only when exporting libraries of animations or texture maps.

Compression controls
You can control the order in which data streams with the User Properties section of the dialog box. To control how much the scene assets are compressed, use the Compression Controls section of the dialog box.

These options have values ranging from 0.1 to 100.0; higher values give less compression and better quality (a more faithful representation of the original model). The compression options do not have a linear scale, so a setting of 20.0 doesn't necessarily mean that the quality level of the resulting data is twice as good as that produced with a setting of 10.0.

W3D file contents
If you select both the View W3D Scene After Export and the ReportW3D File Contents options, a navigable window appears after the exporter preview window. The navigable window shows how scene assets take up space in the W3D file and how much of the file has to load before the scene will become visible in Shockwave.

For more information see, "Using the 3D SpeedPort Xtra."

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