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Author Topic: Exporting from MAX to X  (Read 17927 times)

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Daniel

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Exporting from MAX to X
« on: May 19, 2006, 03:48:32 PM »

Hi guys,

I need some assistance regarding the export of character models from MAX to X. I'm using MAX 8 and Panda Exporter 4.8.63.0 and my test case is the "Dr. X Mesh" sample that I downloaded from the Pandasoft site for the purpose of learning. This sample was made with MAX 7 but I think it should still work. (http://www.andytather.co.uk/Panda/Files/3dsmax7/Samples/DrXMesh.zip)

Now this sample comes with a .max file containing a mesh and a biped and there's also an .X file that is the result of the export. This X file plays animation perfectly in WME but the textures are loaded all wrong, and more so, I can't seem to recreate such a file with or without the textures problem. I tried many options inside MAX and in the Panda exporter itself but nothing I do brings me any closer to creating an X file similar to the one in the sample, or better - one that will load and play perfectly in WME.

If anyone has any experience with these things or can refer me to somewhere else on the web with a step-by-step tutorial on how to do this, please let me know cause I don't have any experience with such things and I'm a bit lost.

Thanks,
Daniel.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2006, 07:19:54 AM by Mnemonic »
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Re: Exporting from MAX to X
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2006, 04:00:25 PM »

Did you try exporting with texture sizes as powers of 2 ? There's an option to do this in the exporter's main dialogue box.
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Re: Exporting from MAX to X
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2006, 11:26:36 PM »

Hi Olivier and thanks for answering.

To your question, yes I tried that but the poor doctor still appears naked in Project Manager - no textures at all. I'm afraid I need a little more help than setting one option or another in the exporter though. I need something more basic since I understand close to nothing about these things so even if I check the "Scale texture to nearest power of 2" option but leave some other important option unchecked, it would still not work very well. I mean, should I convert the textures? Or maybe copy them? And what format do I need? .bmp? Or maybe .jpg?

See my problem? I'm completely lost with this...
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Re: Exporting from MAX to X
« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2006, 09:52:31 AM »

Hi Daniel, I was tracking down the texture issue and it's actually a bug. Certain models can use mismatched materials (specifically it seems to happen if the model contains materials which it doesn't use). I'll be releasing WME 1.6.1 maintenance release shortly which will get rid of this issue.
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Re: Exporting from MAX to X
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2006, 01:00:54 PM »

Hi Daniel, I was tracking down the texture issue and it's actually a bug. I'll be releasing WME 1.6.1 maintenance release shortly which will get rid of this issue.

Thank you, Mnemonic. You have no idea how happy I am to hear that. I suspected it might be a bug since the problem didn't occur in DirectX Viewer but as I understand close to nothing in all this 3D stuff, I couldn't be sure.

Ok, going back now to yet another endless trial-and-error session with the exporter. I still can't export the animation correctly and I have no idea why. So please, if anyone knows anything about this, I'll appreciate the help.

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Re: Exporting from MAX to X
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2006, 03:21:15 PM »

What's the animation behavior, you're getting?
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Re: Exporting from MAX to X
« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2006, 05:46:38 PM »

What's the animation behavior, you're getting?

Hi Meta, nice talking to you again.

About the behavior, well I get all sorts of behavior depending on what I try. It ranges from not getting any movement at all to getting some movement of a dark thingy that goes out of the actual body of the character itself and dances around it, to the entire biped going out of the body with the full animation but leaving the body motionless behind.

The problem is that I'm not even sure what I'm supposed to export from max. There are two objects in the sample file: nDoc_LabCoat and Bip01. I think nDoc_LabCoat represents the mesh while Bip01 represents the biped. Now since I'm trying to create one X file with the entire model including animation (for now, at least) I grouped these two and exported the selected group. Is that what I'm supposed to do? The result of such export is that the character's body remains still while a small dark thing moves around it (I suspect this dark thing is Bip01).

In addition, the max file has all the biped bones hidden and I noticed that what is hidden don't get exported for some reason. If I unhide them and make a group of the previous two objects plus the biped bones, the result export is again the character's body remains still while now the entire biped performs the animation leaving the body behind.

I can't even begin to tell you how frustrating this is for me... :(

I'll appreciate any help.


P.S. Mnemonic, I'll try 1.6.1 later today and let you know how goes. Thanks!
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Re: Exporting from MAX to X
« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2006, 10:56:37 PM »

Ok, I checked version 1.6.1 in regards to the textures issue and I'm not sure it's working very well. The original X file that came with the sample now loads ok and looks great in ProjectMan but I can't seem to reproduce this behavior. No matter how I make the export, ProjectMan always shows the actor without the textures (with no errors in ProjectMan.log) while DirectX Viewer always shows it perfectly with all textures. Is DirectX Viewer a good tool for testing my exports or not?
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Re: Exporting from MAX to X
« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2006, 08:25:59 AM »

No idea, but of course, if you send me the file you produced, I can look into it.

Some general suggestions when exporting from Panda (note that Panda is not really my forte, so this is probably not 100% correct!):

Output options
-mesh definition
-materials
-include animations
-bones

Object types
-geometric

Mesh options
-mesh normals
-mapping coordinates

Key options
-Position, Scale&Rotate

Texture conversion
-Scale texture to nearest power of 2

DX Frame
-Sub frame hierarchy

Coordinate system
-Left handed



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Re: Exporting from MAX to X
« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2006, 08:25:00 PM »

I tried the above settings with the exporter but still the problems remains. While the textures issue could turn out to be an engine problem (but I have no idea really), the animation problem I'm pretty sure has nothing to do with the engine but more to do with the way I'm exporting it.

Mnemonic, I sent you my files, hope they help in locating at least part of the problem, wherever it may be.

For the rest of the problem, namely the animation, I'd still appreciate any help anyone has to offer.

Thanks.
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Re: Exporting from MAX to X
« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2006, 09:21:37 PM »

can you send me the model? I can try the export for you.
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Re: Exporting from MAX to X
« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2006, 09:50:53 PM »

can you send me the model? I can try the export for you.

Thanks Meta, I really appreciate it. The model I'm playing with is in the sample file I mentioned in my first post but here it is again: http://www.andytather.co.uk/Panda/Files/3dsmax7/Samples/DrXMesh.zip. Inside this zip there's a max file that contains the model.

Many thanks!
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Re: Exporting from MAX to X
« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2006, 09:57:41 PM »

Daniel's model only contains two bones, "nDoc_LabCoat" with the entire mesh attached, and "Bip01" with some dummy object. The animations are only saved for this dummy object. So, the question is, how do you export the entire Biped skeleton in Max? Does the model needs to be modified somehow prior to exporting, or something like that?
Come on, guys, some of you are using Biped for your models, aren't you? We could use some hints here..
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Re: Exporting from MAX to X
« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2006, 10:03:21 PM »

hmm, export of this model doesn't work for me either. We don't use biped's - but as I was told they are different from typical skeletal approach. But ask gfx guys on that one. :)

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Re: Exporting from MAX to X
« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2006, 11:33:47 PM »

But ask gfx guys on that one. :)

I did speak with a few 3D character modelers but all I got from them was one big headache. They told me at length about the difference between the two approaches but they knew close to nothing or less about DirectX and the export to X, and so I came empty handed from my sessions with them. Since this export lies between two very different realms - the realm of 3D modeling and the realm of 3D programming - it is very difficult to find someone who actually knows both sides. I think the forum here is a good place to be looking for answers since I'm sure there are people frequenting this forum who have actually already achieved what I'm trying to do here.

The reason I'm trying to make it work with bipeds instead of bones, btw, is purely financial. The quality of the resulting characters might not be exactly the same as with traditional bones but it can be pretty close and using bipeds is way cheaper than using bones for a number of reasons. Since for now I'm financing everything by myself, I have no choice, I can't afford it otherwise...

Oh, and btw Mnemonic, the max file also includes all the biped's bones - they are just hidden. If you unhide all objects you will see them.
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Re: Exporting from MAX to X
« Reply #15 on: May 22, 2006, 07:20:05 AM »

Oh, and btw Mnemonic, the max file also includes all the biped's bones - they are just hidden. If you unhide all objects you will see them.
I wasn't talking about the max file, I was talking about your exported X file, because that's the reason of all the trouble. If you look into the original sample file, it contains sections for all the skeleton bones, your file only contains the root bone (Bip01). Perhaps you could try unhiding the bones before exporting them.
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Re: Exporting from MAX to X
« Reply #16 on: May 22, 2006, 08:08:46 AM »

Perhaps you could try unhiding the bones before exporting them.

I did try that before but the results are very weird. I'm sending you the file so you can see for yourself what I'm talking about. The entire biped goes for an out-of-body experience...  ???
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Re: Exporting from MAX to X
« Reply #17 on: May 22, 2006, 10:10:54 AM »

Hi Daniel,

As far as I know, the Pandasoft exporter doesn't support animations created with Character Studio's Bipeds, see
http://www.andytather.co.uk/Panda/directxmax_mainfeatures.aspx ("Skinning using Character Studio Physique and Max Bones/Skinning (Not Biped)")

On our project we did all the animations using standard bones. We were able to create Biped skeletons with CS and then convert them to regular bones with MAX scripts found on the internet, that saved a little time and money but the animations still had to be done by hand... (We had to convert Bipeds to bones before animating. The script we used didn't convert the IK chain so the artists had to recreate it too.)

Now as to why there is a MAX file with CS animations on the Pandasoft web site, I have no idea  :-\

Cheers,
  Olivier

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Re: Exporting from MAX to X
« Reply #18 on: May 22, 2006, 12:31:42 PM »

Now as to why there is a MAX file with CS animations on the Pandasoft web site, I have no idea
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Re: Exporting from MAX to X
« Reply #19 on: May 22, 2006, 01:40:50 PM »

I guess that you can convert Character Studio data (Biped + 'physique' skinning model) into standard MAX data (bones + skin) by saving a temporary file with the .FXB exporter (standard in MAX 7, dunno about other versions) and importing it again into a new scene. Then you'll be able to export the scene with pandasoft exporter and get your animation into WME

I tried it and it did convert the animations into bones & skin that worked in MAX but the resulting .X file did not work in the Direct X viewer. I don't have too much time to spend on that right now, maybe I'll have another try later on.

For my project I only worked with scenes that contained only the model and its bones and sometimes a dummy too, so all I had to do was export the whole scene to get it to work in WME.
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Re: Exporting from MAX to X
« Reply #20 on: May 23, 2006, 01:15:07 AM »

Well guys, it works!

The problem was neither with max nor with the Panda exporter proper, it was with the way I used to run the exporter. There seems to be some confusion regarding how to activate the exporter. I used to run it via a script that came with the exporter, a file named pandaxtools.ms. A pdf file that came with the script also explained how to install it and how to run the exporter. I followed the instructions to the word and it never even occurred to me that there could be another way of running the exporter besides this one. Well, to keep a very, very long story short, despite what is stated in the pdf file, that the script should work with max 8 - it doesn't, at least not in my case and that was to source of all my troubles.

The other way of running the exporter, a way that actually works for a change, is through the standard File->Export option in the main menu. In the dialog that opens, all I had to do was to choose "Panda DirectX (*.X)" as the "Save as type" and the exporter dialog opens. And that's it! Everything works when it opens like that. WME can load the resulting X file perfectly with all the textures and even with all the Biped animations! No export to FBX first or anything like it, the Biped animations are exported as is and play perfectly in WME.

Thanks everybody for all the assistance. I hope this knowledge will also help others avoid what I had to go through...
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Re: Exporting from MAX to X
« Reply #21 on: August 10, 2006, 09:10:26 PM »

Hi guys. I have nearly the same problem at all, so I have do dig this thread out.

I used the Panda Exporter via Export in Max 7, activated the here suggested options and tried it out and: It doesn't work
« Last Edit: August 10, 2006, 09:25:01 PM by Amo »
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Re: Exporting from MAX to X
« Reply #22 on: August 11, 2006, 07:39:27 AM »

Glad you figured it out. I hope one day we'll be able to put together a large knowledge base with such tips..
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Re: Exporting from MAX to X
« Reply #23 on: August 11, 2006, 10:39:46 AM »

Ok, another step done within the last hour. I created a very low poly (and very ugly, too  ;D ) charakter and animated him just for testing.
It works fine. Maybe a poly count problem? I thought about the envelopes of the physique but now this seems to be a bit unlogic.
Nevertheless, the guy walks around, but with an replace me texture.

So the next problem:
Where is my texture? I applyed one in MAX (16x16 just brown), and copied the texture in my actor folder. After no effect, I applied the copied texture to my guy, means, that one in the actor folder and exported again. Something is going wrong, the replace me again.
Suggestions, opinions, emotions?

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Re: Exporting from MAX to X
« Reply #24 on: August 11, 2006, 11:54:21 AM »

Try opening the generated X file in some text editor and find the texture name to see how it got exported. There shouldn't be any absolute path references, just the texture filename. Then WME will look for the texture in the same directory where the X file is located.
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Re: Exporting from MAX to X
« Reply #25 on: August 11, 2006, 12:05:27 PM »

Ah, thank you, I just wanted to ask where to change the path, because the WME.log told me that there is an absolute path.
It works now!
« Last Edit: August 11, 2006, 12:19:18 PM by Amo »
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Re: Exporting from MAX to X
« Reply #26 on: August 12, 2006, 08:20:20 AM »

Just in case someone want to know what is expected to work with panda. Biped Bone Skin and physique work and i have a model who use all this at same time ...

But hum ok few time the exported model not work (possibly a bug somewhere) when this happen i rebuild the bones and biped from the scrath and after everythings is good... and some time start a new scene (in 3ds max) and merge the old one with the new, seem to resolve unexpected things. Collapsing stack could help, like you said . Reset XForm can help to but i never need it with panda.

I still use 3ds max 6 and i do not know if it is the same things for max 7 and 8.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2006, 08:29:30 AM by leucome »
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Re: Exporting from MAX to X
« Reply #27 on: August 15, 2006, 09:37:25 PM »

Another part of questions. Which exporter did you use Mnemonic? Trinity is a Half life model as mentioned in the .txt file.
Which exporters are also effective to get a model out of max into WME?
In fact I am not very satisfied with the work of the panda.
One thing is, that all animationtypes were exported linear, as I recognized. E.g.: The animation of my model contains an rotation and an position key. In Max is everything nice, in WME first the leg moves forward, then the foot rotates. That looks crappy.
I thought about creating both keys right after another, but the time area of keyless frames is too short. Otherwise the walk would be too slow and the model needs too much resources.
How good works the interpolation between the keys really? Or other said: Is there a interpolation, or were keys generated for every frame?

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Re: Exporting from MAX to X
« Reply #28 on: August 16, 2006, 03:36:33 PM »

Which exporter did you use Mnemonic?
None. It's originally a half-life model, converted to MS3D, later converted to X. Not really a good example of how to do things.

Which exporters are also effective to get a model out of max into WME?
Everyone's using Panda, AFAIK.

In fact I am not very satisfied with the work of the panda.
One thing is, that all animationtypes were exported linear, as I recognized. E.g.: The animation of my model contains an rotation and an position key. In Max is everything nice, in WME first the leg moves forward, then the foot rotates. That looks crappy.
I thought about creating both keys right after another, but the time area of keyless frames is too short. Otherwise the walk would be too slow and the model needs too much resources.
How good works the interpolation between the keys really? Or other said: Is there a interpolation, or were keys generated for every frame?
WME always interpolates between two keyframes.
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Re: Exporting from MAX to X
« Reply #29 on: August 16, 2006, 05:04:26 PM »

Thank you for your answer. But now I really got a problem. In Max looks the animation very nice and in WME like a robot
« Last Edit: August 16, 2006, 05:13:59 PM by Amo »
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Re: Exporting from MAX to X
« Reply #30 on: August 16, 2006, 11:27:42 PM »

We need to put a key frame to all bones and biped for the first frame of an animation. to make the start position if not i think the engine use the last pose for unkeyed bones and that could give strange thing ..


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Re: Exporting from MAX to X
« Reply #31 on: August 17, 2006, 07:18:47 AM »

Quote
Next question: Our programmer wants to know which parameters of the lights (omni and spot) WME reads out of the geometry.3ds

see this thread

As a sidenote, please don't edit your posts to add new questions, better make a new post. Edited posts are not RSS friendly..
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Re: Exporting from MAX to X
« Reply #32 on: August 17, 2006, 09:31:10 AM »

@Mnemonic: Ok, I will do that from now on. Thank you for the link.

@leucome: I have actually a key at starting point and endpoint and one between. But it still looks a bit wooden.
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