This tutorial will show you how to properly export a vertex animated mesh from 3ds Max using ActorX. If you don’t have ActorX you can download the correct version from here UDN – ActorX. Install the ActorX file into the 3ds Max scripts folder (example C:\Program Files\Autodesk\3ds Max 2009\Scripts). You can also download an example .Max file (3ds Max 2009) that includes a simple animated cylinder here TestTube.max. I will be using this file in the guide.
Things to keep in mind
- Unlike with 3DS2UNR the mesh need not stay within a bounding box of 128x128x128.
- The mesh must have a material applied to it. It can be just the basic gray material.
- You can use anything to animate a vertex mesh, when it is exported only the vertex information is saved.
In the .Max file you can see that I have animated the mesh using 3 different modifiers. The mesh has 3 animations which range from 0 to 32. For reference here are the 3 animations and frame animation that I will be exporting.
Bend Anim: Frames 0 – 10.
Spherize Anim: Frames 11 – 21.
Taper Anim: Frames 22 – 32.
So you have your mesh all animated and ready to export (the animations can be in a seperate .Max file each). The first step is to load up ActorX by going to Utilities. If ActorX isn’t in the list already then click on More and choose ActorX. Now it’s time to set up ActorX for vertex animation exporting.
These are the only settings you need, you can ignore all of the others
(scroll down for a screenshot).
Under the ActorX – Setup parameters section:
- check the “all textured” box.
Under the ActorX – Vertex Export parameters section:
- Choose an “output folder“. This is where the _d.3d and _a.3d files will be written to.
- In “mesh file name” input a name for the mesh. This will be the name of the _d.3d and _a.3d files. They can both be renamed later. For this tutorial I will use “TubeMesh” as the name.
- The “frame range” is where you put the range of frames you wish to export. For now leave it blank.
- If “append to existing” is checked the exporter will check for a _a.3d file that has the same name as the one you inputted in the mesh name field and append the animation to the end of the animations stored in that file. For the first animation this box must be left un-checked. For additional anims that you wish to append it mustbe checked. So make sure the box is un-checked to start with.
Let’s begin the export process!
The first animation ranges from frame 0 to frame 10. So in the “frame range” box input “0-10” (without quotations). Click “Export“. If successful you should see a “Note” that says “Vertex animation export successful. Written 11 frames to file [TubeMesh].“. If you check the output folder you should see it has created 2 new files, the _d.3d (this saves the mesh information) and the _a.3d file (this is the animation file).
The second animation ranges from frame 11 to frame 21. So in the “frame range” box input “11-21” (without quotations). Check the “append to existing” box and click “Export” again. You should get another successful message. You should also notice that the file size of the _a.3d file has increased.
The third and final animation ranges from frame 22 to frame 32. So in the “frame range” box input “22-32” (without the quotations). Make sure the “append to existing” box is still checked and click “Export” once more. Again, you should get a successful message.
Vertex animation exporting is as simple as that with ActorX! The _d.3d and _a.3d files can now be imported via UnrealScript, using the #exec directives. A list of vertex animation import directive can be found here: Vertex Mesh Importing.
- Error encountered writing vertex animation data. Either “all textured” was not checked or the mesh has no material applied, or both.
- File appending error. “Append to existing” was checked but there was no _a.3d file in the output folder that matched the name you inputted in the “mesh file name” field. The mesh file wont be written and the animation file that is created will be corrupted.
- File appending error: file on disk has no data. See above.
Here is a screenshot of the settings for the first animation (before we appended the remaining two).
TIP – In 3ds Max make sure the pivot of your mesh is correct and the mesh is centered in the scene.