Using State Sets in 3ds Max - Part 7 - Opening the Link File in Adobe After Effects

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  • Design Visualization
  • Rendering
  • 2013
  • Interoperability
  • 3ds Max
Skill Level
  • Advanced
7 min

Using State Sets in 3ds Max - Part 7 - Opening the Link File in Adobe After Effects

In this tutorial, you will make the necessary changes and fine-tuning in an environment designed for production. Where you used the Compositor View in 3ds Max as a preview tool, you use After Effects to finalize your setup.


  • Recorded in: 3ds Max 2013, After Effect CS6
  • This tutorial is intended for use with 3ds Max version 2013 or higher.


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Once you have the plugins in place, you can start Adobe After Effects.

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In the File menu, notice the entry labeled "Open Compositor Link (Autodesk)".

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This option would not have appeared had you not copied the three plugin files to their needed locations.

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Use this tool to open the Compositor Link Settings dialog. It displays very much the same way it did in 3ds Max.

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Click the Create Link button to browse and select the .sof file you saved to disk earlier.

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Close the Link floater when done. You can always open it later if you need to.

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Various files appear in the bin including an Autodesk Link Composition.

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Double-click the composition entry in the bin to see the layers it's made of.

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You can also see the visual result in the workspace.

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Scrub the animation to see that the sequence was rendered as you set it up in 3ds Max, from the camera viewpoint. More on that later…

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Apart from the last two entries (a camera and a solid), the rest of the layers are ordered the same way you had set them up in 3ds Max.

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The blending modes have also been preserved. Notice for example how the AO layers are set to Multiply mode.

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You will get to work more on this in a moment.

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For the time being, hide all layers except the Vault layer.

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Notice that it's much darker than it showed when you were test-rendering the scene in 3ds Max.

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This Gamma discrepancy happens sometimes and can have various reasons.

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Sometimes, it's the gamma setup in 3ds Max, the chosen renderer, the output file type etc…

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This type of problem is more likely to happen with LDR file types than with HDR file types.

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However, it is easy to fix, especially in post.

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All you need to do is apply a Color Corrector in the shape of an Exposure filter.

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Change the Gamma Correction value from 1 to 2.2 and notice the difference.

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You will need to repeat this process on other layers as well, especially the beauty pass layers.

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Black & White layers such as Matte passes and AO passes are less likely to be a problem.

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Again make sure all layers are hidden except for the Vault layer.

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Now unhide the Vault AO layer.

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Notice the difference an AO pass has on the scene. It gives it more depth and make it look far more interesting.

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If the AO effect is very dark, you can adjust the gamma correction as you did earlier, or you can simply reduce the opacity of the layer.

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Make sure you are at the beginning of the animation and expand the Vault AO layer.

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Expand the Transform track.

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Notice the Opacity track: it is set to Animatable mode as seen by the little clock icon.

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If you are not planning to animate a track as is the case here, you can turn this mode off.

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Adjust the opacity value until you get an effect you like. A value of 75% should be fine but feel free to experiment.

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Collapse the layer when you're done.

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Next, you take a look at the self-illumination pass. If you recall, that was for the benefit of glowing the computer screens and the ceiling lights.

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However, the Vault Self-Illumination layer currently has no effect on the scene.

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This is because of a couple of factors: first, it needs a different blending mode and second and more importantly, it needs to sit on top of the beauty pass.

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You could have rewired that information when you were working in 3ds Max, but it is infinitely easier to use a simple click & drag in After Effects.

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Place this layer between the beauty pass and the AO pass.

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Make sure the layer is enabled and notice that it hides the beauty pass completely.

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When the blending mode is set to Normal, the color information is taken into account and one layer hides another underneath it.

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Change the self-illumination blending mode from Normal to Color Dodge. This is typically used for glow effects.

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Toggle it on and off to see the effect. You can actually duplicate this layer for a cumulative effect, or you can apply a Glow filter to it.

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Make sure the layer is selected and choose Effect > Stylize > Glow.

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Bring the Threshold value down from 60% to about 10%. Again toggle the visibility of the layer to see the end results.

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Next, you work on the security door.

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Unhide that layer.

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The glazing is almost fully transparent but you just now realized that it's not to your liking.

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Let's say you decide to have the glazing more opaque.

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Instead of adjusting the material's opacity in 3ds Max and re-rendering the sequence,

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you will instead use the Matte pass you foresaw might be handy.

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Place the Matte pass layer on top of the door layer and unhide it.

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It is already somewhat transparent because you already reduced its Opacity value in the Compositor View in 3ds Max.

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In Normal blending mode and with an Opacity value of 100%, it hides the rest of the scene.

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Set it to Screen mode instead. This way, only the white areas of the layer affect the scene.

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As the white areas represent the glass, you will be able to adjust the glazing transparency that way.

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Adjust the opacity to your liking. A value of about 20% should work well.

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Remember to disable Animate mode, unless you're planning to animate that effect.

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Enable the Arm beauty pass. This layer contains color and shadow information.

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If you recall, you set up shadows to be cast on invisible objects courtesy of the Matte/Shadow material in 3ds Max.

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In a perfect situation, you would probably separate that layer as well but it should work fine for our needs here.

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Finally, enable the Arm_Door AO pass to add more depth to the foreground.

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As you did with the vault, you may want to reduce the opacity for that layer.

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The scene is coming together but one last component remains to be studied: the solid used as a placeholder for a security screen.

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This is what you will do in the next movie.
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  • 3ds Max
  • Rendering
  • 2013
  • Interoperability
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