Animating a Propeller in 3ds Max - Part 4 - Motion Blur with Adobe After Effects

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  • 2013
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7 min

Animating a Propeller in 3ds Max - Part 4 - Motion Blur with Adobe After Effects

In this tutorial, you create an animated bitmap to simulate a spinning propeller. Only this time, you will leverage Adobe After Effects, a compositing software, to create a Motion Blur Effect with the propellers.


  • Recorded in: 3ds Max 2013, After Effects CS5.5
  • This tutorial is intended for use with 3ds Max version 2013 or higher.


00:00:02 --> 00:00:09
In the last movie, you learned to create an animated bitmap to simulate a spinning propeller using only 3ds Max.

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If you're comfortable using compositing software, you may find it easier to create such an effect using applications like After Effects or Combustion.

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If you recall, early on you saved a single frame of the propeller in a static position.

00:00:24 --> 00:00:30
You will use this static frame and animate it in a 2D application to create a similar effect to what you achieved earlier.

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Let's try it first using Adobe After Effects, a very popular and powerful application that makes a good companion to 3ds Max.

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In After Effects, start a new project.

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Import the propeller.png image you saved earlier.

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Drag it down to the timeline to create a new 30-second-long composition.

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30 seconds is more than you need, you'll fix that in a second.

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The propeller appears in the composition window.

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Go to Composition > Composition Settings and set the duration to 2 seconds.

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While you're at it, change the background to white to see the propeller better.

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As you recall, this image file has alpha information and thus lets you see what lies behind it..

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Now expand the propeller track and its Transforms.

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Enable Animation mode on the rotation track. This will let you create keyframes to animate that layer.

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Go to the end of the animation and specify a number of turns for the propeller.

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A value of 2 should be fine for now. You can always change it later if you need to.

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Press the Space bar to view the animation.

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To add Motion Blur, it is much simpler here than in 3D software.

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Simply activate that property at the track level and then enable Motion Blur for all layers.

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Playback the animation again. Once it caches the information, it then plays in real-time.

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As you can see, it's much faster and not nearly as taxing as in 3D.

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To adjust Motion Blur quantity and quality, you can either alter the animation (in this case the number of revolutions of the propeller),

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or you can edit the Composition Settings.

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To alter the animation speed, go to the end of the animation and change the increase the number of revolutions to 10.

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Try it again. An interesting effect, but not exactly as anticipated.

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Increase it again to about 20 or 21.

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That's more like what we were expecting.

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If you feel that the amount of motion blur is inadequate, you can adjust it at the Composition Settings level.

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In the Advanced tab, you can adjust the Shutter Angle value. The higher the value, the more blur you get.

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Bring it down to about 120, or experiment with other values you care to try.

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The Shutter Phase is similar to the Shutter Offset value you learned about while setting the effect in 3ds Max.

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In a normal situation, it should be equal to a "negative-half" value of the shutter speed.

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So if you set the Shutter Angle to 120, Shutter Phase should be set to -60.

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You can adjust the samples for more blur quality but as you can see, 16 samples should be more than adequate.

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Ultimately, you only need to render out a handful of these images, probably a range between frames 16 and 30 for a perfect continuous loop.

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Adjust your Work Area accordingly to that purpose.

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Finally, add the composition to the Render Queue.

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Set the Render to the Work Area only,

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and choose an image type with Alpha channel, such as TIFF Sequence with Alpha.

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Finally, choose an output name and folder;

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and click Render.

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When it's done, and it should be quite fast, you now have an opacity animated map that you can use in 3ds Max.

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The process is the same as in the last movie, mainly using the TIF sequence as an opacity map, with transparency based on the Alpha channel.

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Also as you did earlier, you can use the composite map in 3ds Max as an added effect to better define the propeller "circle".

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The end result is quite similar to what you have seen before but was a bit easier to produce, mainly if you are familiar with After Effects.

00:06:36 --> 00:06:42
In the next and final movie, you achieve yet again the same results using Autodesk Combustion.
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  • 3ds Max
  • Animation
  • 2013
  • Simulation and Effects
  • Workflow
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