Using State Sets in 3ds Max - Part 8 - Working with Solids and PSD files

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

Using State Sets in 3ds Max - Part 8 - Working with Solids and PSD files

In this tutorial, you learn about the importance of 3ds Max's Cameras and Plane Primitives and how they properly translate into animated After Effects Cameras and 3D Solid layers. You then use that information to replace the flat plane look & feel with a Photoshop file, complete with various layers that you can control and animate.


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


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Now that the scene is globally adjusted, you work on the last component, the solid layer acting as a placeholder for a security screen.

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The rationale here is that the design for that screen may not have been ready when you were rendering your 3D scene.

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Now that you're working in post, the design is ready to be integrated.

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Enable both the camera and solid layers, and then select the solid layer.

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It is not visible at this time because of its place in the hierarchy.

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Move it on top of the Door Matte layer.

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Right-click the solid layer and notice how it is set as a 3D layer.

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This is significant because the 3ds Max camera is recognized as an After Effects counter-part, and the camera and solid therefore work in tandem.

00:00:51 --> 00:00:58
Scrub the animation and notice how the solid is animated to track the camera movements.

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Contrary to 2D layers, this solid layer has 3D Transform keys (in XYZ) that guarantees its position and location related to the animated camera.

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By comparison, a 2D layer has only XY screen coordinates.

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The camera also has transform keyframes to ensure camera animation in 3ds Max is translated properly into After Effects.

00:01:37 --> 00:01:47
So all that remains to be done is to import the new security screen design and somehow lock it to travel with the solid placeholder.

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Among the files you downloaded for this tutorial is a Photoshop file named hand.psd

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It has many layers many of which are currently set to 0% opacity.

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You will use this design and animate those layers to match the animation of the scene.

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Make sure the Project bin is visible and drag the psd file inside it.

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Make sure you import the file as a Composition, with Editable Layer Styles active.

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Also make sure that you are at the beginning of the animation.

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Drag this new composition on top of the solid placement in the hierarchy.

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It's probably too big for now but you will make the adjustments in a second.

00:02:46 --> 00:02:53
First and foremost, in order to have this layer travel with the Bio-Scan solid, you need to ensure a few things:

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First, the new composition "layer" must be set to 3D like the solid layer is.

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Second, at the beginning of the animation, both layers must be exactly in the same position (XYZ coordinates).

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Third and last: If the solid layer incoming from 3ds Max is animated, then you would also need to parent the new layer to the 3ds Max animated solid.

00:03:20 --> 00:03:25
This last part is not the case here. The camera is animated but the solid is not.

00:03:26 --> 00:03:32
To make the new layer a 3D layer, the task is very easy, and requires but a simple right-click.

00:03:33 --> 00:03:40
This actually relocates the layer. That's ok, as you still need to match the position in the space of the parent.

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Expand the Transform tracks of both layers...

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and copy the XYZ position of the Bio-Scan solid to the hand composition.

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If anything, the hand composition now fills the screen a few times over.

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Adjust the scale value to match the security box on the door. For this tutorial and using this particular file, you need a scale factor of 1.1%

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One final note, you need to set the Y-orientation value to 180 to mirror the file (this security screen is set for a left hand).

00:04:30 --> 00:04:36
Scrub the animation and notice how the new composition and the existing 3ds Max solid are travelling together.

00:04:37 --> 00:04:46
As mentioned earlier, if the 3ds Max solid was animated in its own right, you would need to parent the new composition to the animated solid.

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This is not the case here but it doesn't hurt to apply the parent/child relationship.

00:04:56 --> 00:05:02
At this point and before animating the psd file, you can make some extra adjustments.

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You can hide the solid altogether or maybe use it for a glow effect by applying a glow filter to it.

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You can also change its color under Layer > Solid settings.

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If you don't want the glow to affect the security box frame too much, you can always reorder the layers accordingly.

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Similarly, you can make adjustments to the new design such as setting the blending mode to Add mode.

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Try other blending modes to see which ones you like.

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In the next and final movie, you finalize the scene by animating the hand composition.

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You will animate the opacity of certain layers and add text to simulate randomized binary code.
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  • 3ds Max
  • Rendering
  • 2013
  • Interoperability
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