Creating City Blocks in 3ds Max - Part 28 - Animating Pedestrians Using Populate

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Industry
  • Design Visualization
Subject
  • Animation
  • Modeling
  • Scripting
  • 2014
  • Environment
  • Workflow
Products
  • 3ds Max
Skill Level
  • Intermediate
Duration
10 min


Creating City Blocks in 3ds Max - Part 28 - Animating Pedestrians Using Populate

In this tutorial, you use the Populate Tool to add animated pedestrians to your city scene.


Notes

  • Recorded in: 3ds Max 2014
  • This tutorial is intended for use with 3ds Max version 2014 or higher.

Transcript

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Continue working on your project, or open the file named CityBlocks_Bldgs-populate.max if you need to catch up.

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In this movie, you use the Populate tool to add animated pedestrians to your city, in particular in and around the park you created.

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If you are a regular visitor on this channel, you may have already seen the Populate tool in action in other tutorials.

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So here, we'll revisit and experiment with some of Populate's strengths and limitations.

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Maximize the top view, you will start there.

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Expand the ribbon and go to the Populate tab. You'll start by creating a pedestrian flow on the sidewalks surrounding the park.

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Note that there are chamfered corners around the building lot. This is significant as Populate doesn't like short distances too much.

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Click the Create Flow button and hover over the top view. A round brush appears.

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This brush dictates the width of the pedestrian flow. It seems a tad big for the size of the sidewalks.

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Bring the Width value down to about 9, this seems to match the scene a little bit better.

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To start the flow, pick a point on the sidewalk away from the corners and away from any pathway intersection.

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This will prevent any problems when you start inserting flow direction changes later on.

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Hold Shift down to work in ortho mode and go around the building lot without worrying about the chamfered corners.

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Right-click to end the flow.

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In the Modify panel, expand the single entry to access sub-object mode.

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Make any necessary adjustments to the flow points and segments.

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Make sure you move flow point and segments based on individual pivot points.

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Adjust the start and end points so that they share the same location.

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Next, you adjust the corners by adding extra segments.

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Zoom in on one corner. To add a new control point to a flow, use the Add to Flow button.

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Hover over the flow's center line around the corner area.

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Notice that a new segment appears in either a tan or green color.

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The tan color indicates a bad insertion point. In general, it happens when you are too close to another point.

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Make sure the line is green and click the mouse button.

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With the new inserted point selected, note what happens when you move closer to an adjacent point on the same flow: tan lines appear around the edges.

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This is an indication that the flow is broken; it is something you need to avoid.

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In shaded mode, you also lose the paths that pedestrians are supposed to follow, so again, make sure this doesn't happen.

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Adjust the two points as best you can to get a 45-degree corner without breaking the flow.

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Repeat for the remaining three corners.

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When you're done, exit sub-object mode. You're now ready to add more flows for the pathways.

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This can be done simply by using the Create Flow button again.

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However, before you do that, you need to remember that the Populate tool works in AutoGrid mode.

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This means the flow you just placed was created on top of the sidewalks, at Z=0.15m

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To ensure the pathways are also at the same elevation, you need to start them from the center of the park going outwards.

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If you start them from the street, then they'll be at Z=0 and the pedestrians feet will be below ground once they're in the park.

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There are ways to create elevation changes using ramp flows but we won't be using those here.

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Consider this flow I'm adding here. Watch what happens when I cross the existing sidewalks flow, and the three-arrow icon that appears.

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This shows a flow direction change but there are a few rules for that to work properly.

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For example, note what happens if the angle between the two flows becomes too sharp,

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The arrows disappear from the viewport signaling a flow change is no longer possible.

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Another problem that may cause this is when you have a flow point too close to the intersection.

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Keep that in mind as you design your flows.

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As always, you can place a flow and then fine-tune it at a sub-object level.

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You can also create idle areas, where people are just standing still, chatting or talking on their cell phones.

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You can use custom shapes or simple shapes for idle areas. Here I'll keep it simple and use the rectangle shape.

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Do the same and use the center area of the park, and don't step on the grass.!.

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For now, you simply created flows and idle areas using default settings. You'll get to experiment with that in a moment.

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Go back to your shaded camera view, and in fact, press P to turn it into a Perspective view temporarily.

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Orbit around to get a better view at the park.

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The scene animation is set to 600 frames but the Populate simulation is set to 300 by default.

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Set it to 600 to match the animation length and then click the Simulate button.

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After a few moments, you can see the pedestrians appear in the viewport.

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Playback the animation to see them better.

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If you need more pedestrians on a given flow or idle area, then you can select that element and adjust it in the modify panel.

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There are other parameters that you can control but let's just focus on density for this example.

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Remember that increasing density adds to the number of pedestrians, which affects render time.

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If you decide to make changes to one or more flows, you will need to run the simulation again.

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This also takes more time to process.

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Finally, you will need to make sure your pedestrians are not running into any obstacles.

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This may be hard to see with traffic lights, bus stops, and other urban elements hidden from view.

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You will need to unhide them, typing UDC to filter the selection,

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and then, you'd need to move any obstacles from the pedestrians' paths.

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This is certainly easier than editing pedestrian's flows.

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For example, we have here a man walking right through a bench,

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and over here we have a woman going through a bus stop.

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So take your time and move these objects out of the way. The top view is probably easiest to that effect.

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When you're done moving obstacles, you can select and hide the urban design components again and switch back to the animated camera view.

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Save your file.

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You have now completed the tutorial and are ready to do a final render.

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This 600-frame animation will take a while to render; it took almost 12 hours on the system used to record this movie.

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As an alternative, you can also view the end-results in the MP4 file you downloaded along with the scene files.

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In this tutorial, you learned a great many things.

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You learned how to build roads, sidewalks and building lots while keeping material application in-check and flexible.

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You learned to duplicate and place urban design components and in the case of traffic lights, you even learned to control their status as well.

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You also learned to create low-polygon buildings by going through the manual methods and then by using the Building Maker free script.

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Finally, you placed and animated a camera to get a shot at your new city,

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and you used the Populate tool to add animated pedestrians to your scene.

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As always, we hope you have enjoyed this series and we'll come back with more topics very soon.

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Tags
  • 3ds Max
  • Animation
  • Modeling
  • Scripting
  • 2014
  • Environment
  • Workflow
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