Animating Text in 3ds Max - Audio Animation Controller

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4 min

Animating Text in 3ds Max - Audio Animation Controller

In this tutorial, leverage the Audio Animation Controller to animate text to simulate musical instruments playing a jazz piece. First you create text and modify its shape to look like particular musical instruments, and then you apply audio files to control the animation of the text to stretch or bend based on parameters you specify. In this part 1 movie, you set the scene before you start modeling and animating text.

  • Recorded in: 3ds Max 2012
  • This tutorial is intended for use with 3ds Max version 2012 or higher.
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In this movie, you prepare the scene to animate text objects using the Audio Animation Controller.

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The idea is to animate text/instruments without keyframing them,

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by making them respond to audio files, controlling behaviors such as Stretch and Bend.

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In order for this to work, you need separate audio tracks for each instrument,

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in this case, a trumpet track, a bass track, and also separate tracks for the low and high congas.

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Each of these individual tracks is to be used to deform a line of text, but the overall mix is what you hear in the final animation.

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The difficulty here lies in creating such audio files.

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In this particular example, the 30-second music piece you'll be using was generated by a computer, using a MIDI setup.

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MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface.

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It enables you to hook up digital musical instruments to a computer and lets you save various instrument sounds on separate tracks.

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However, 3ds Max is not compatible with midi files as they are saved from a MIDI setup in .MID format.

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You still need to save the multiple tracks into individual .WAV files.

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This is how the .WAV files look in this particular instance, displayed in a freeware audio editor named Audacity.

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The .WAV files have been saved in mono to help with file size. You usually get better quality with stereo tracks.

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Notice how the mix of all instruments is pretty heavy with data, as instruments are playing simultaneously.

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Individually though, it's a different story.

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Notice how the conga sounds are sharper, more defined and intermittent.

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These will be easy to work with.

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The trumpet and the bass tracks are more continuous as these instruments "trail"or sustain their notes a little longer.

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The notes are typically sustained longer and sort of decay before they die off.

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Before creating the text simulating the musical instruments, remember that the music piece is about 30 seconds long.

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That's about 1000 frames based on a 30fps NTSC signal.

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So the first order of business is to start a new scene, and set the animation length to 1000 frames.

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Next you will assign the mix-down to play with the animation.

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From the Graph Editors menu, choose New Track View.

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Select the Sound track, and then right-click it and choose Properties.

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In the dialog that appears, click Add and then browse and select the all_instrumets.wav file you downloaded for this tutorial.

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Click the Close button in the bottom right corner to close the dialog.

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Close the Track View window as well.

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Playback the animation. Although the scene is empty at this time, you should be able to hear the music playing in the background.

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Go to the Slate material Editor and drag into it the four bitmaps needed for this tutorial

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These include the .jpg files named bass, conga, lakerefgold and jazz-bck.

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You will be creating materials based on these bitmaps later.

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Finally, set the rendering output to HDTV, in 960x540 resolution.

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For good measure, turn on the Show Safe Frames option in the Perspective view

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In the next movie, you start creating text and shape it to simulate the various musical instruments.
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