Austin 3d Users Group - Meeting Wed. February 23, 2005

at 6:30 Wednesday February 23 at
Highland Business Center Campus of Austin Community College at
5930 Middle Fiskville Rd Austin, TX 78752

This is the second of three meetings on the theme of "STARTING UP".

Johnathan Vought: Render to Texture

Denis Loubet: Thoughts on startups, and creating an animation beginning with concept art.
Johnny Luce: Unreal Tournament "B" Movie mod / Masters' Thesis
Thanks to Bob McGoldrick and his staff at ACC for a great meeting place.
Contact Info:
Bob McGoldrick, PMP
Interim Director, Workforce Continuing Education
High Technology Institute
Austin Community College
(512) 223-7662
(512) 223-7030 (Fax)
Hi everyone,

Here are the minutes from last night's meeting:

We started with tech questions from attendees:

Is there an ASE importer for Max? -try or polytrans

How can you import CAD files into Max? ASE (I think) files?
-Jamie will look into 3DSMax 7.5 new features: new file link with Autodesk Revit, Viz tools

ADDED NOTE: 3/21/05 Adam Duran, the Application Engineer at Right Hemisphere, sent us this helpful suggestion:

Our company makes some software that converts CAD directly to Max, Maya, LW, OBJ, etc.
Here is the list of all supported formats.
It can be done using a program called Deep Exploration (DE) or its big brother called Deep Server (DS).
These packages specialize in reducing huge CAD to usable 3d poly files for CGI or real-time.
DE is pretty inexpensive (starts at $149)

*Austin Business Computers is a reseller for Right Hemisphere products. 

Johnny Luce: Any other people having trouble with DirectX lighting in viewports? (seems to be a common question)
-sometimes Max is picky with smoothing groups. If you oversmooth something, it might be showing up dark. Not sure if this resolved the issue

ACC FT faculty member in Producer/Designer category. Must have shipped a game. See ACC jobs page

PT teacher for Animation II course in Bob McGoldrick's program. Call Bob at 512-223-7662


Isaac Gallegos: Showed what he had despite losing much of his project to a system failure. Included: megatank, marshmallows, fish rendered with Final Render, sketches and sculptures. Emphatically recommended Jonathan Vought and Randy Polk's class environments. Declined to explain the state of his hair. : )

Erick Schaefer: Robotic battlefield created in 3DSMax/Premiere with terrain created in Photoshop. Showed off his camera shake created with a modifier.

Esteban Tamez /Bright Moon Animation: 3 short films and a commercial created in Maya /Final Cut/ After Effects/ Photoshop / Pro Tools (audio) "Getting Ice Cream" "In the Park" "David" and "Harry 'n' Slim" Esteban and his friends have just relocated to Austin to start an Animation studio, and are off to a very nice start.

Evan Gill and Dennis Thompson from TSTC: Doom3 Level
Finally, as we were running out of time, we crowded around as they shared some of their work in progress on the Doom3 engine. This level included robotic arms which moved objects/equipment and various rooms including an expanse of sewer lines. The level was nicely textured with Normal Maps and they talked about some of the similarities and differences between the Unreal Engine and the Doom Engine.
Thanks guys! We can't wait to see the final results!


Johnathan Vought: Render to Texture

Denis Loubet: Thoughts on startups, and creating an animation beginning with concept art.
Johnny Luce: Unreal Tournament "B" Movie mod / Masters' Thesis
Johnathan Vought: Render to Texture
Johnathan explained several ways to apply this extremely nifty and effective tool. He says it's a great way around the traditional UVW unwrap and UV paint programs. His method allows for creating textures without the clunky seams that often cause frustration with in-game models. Here are some examples:

Render to Texture can blend 10 bitmaps into one channel, or 10 channels into one bitmap.
It has the ability to take one channel, smear it into another, and bake it into the final texture map.
You can take multiple rendered textures into Photshop, Open them into separate layers, then use blending options, painting, filters, and other nifty tricks to create very sophisticated results.
This is a good way to achieve surprising detail on your models, even if your game engine doesn't support normal mapping.

Render to Texture can also be used to create animated textures by rendering to frames in an AVI. (don't render directly to an AVI because you will lose all your hard work if it crashes)
Best of all: Render to Texture is FAST!

Note for users: 3DSMax version 7 includes improvements to Render to Texture, including the integration of the Projection Modifier to allow you to create normal maps, a render element for creating height maps, better management options for existing UV mapping, support for sub-objects, and an easier interface. To find out more about the newest features in Max, contact us!

Thanks to Johnathan for this useful demonstration! Students who wish to learn this subject in greater detail may wish to check out his classes. contact

Denis Loubet: Thoughts on startups, and creating an animation beginning with concept art.

Denis shared his experiences with many projects. First, he shared a series of storyboards, concept art, and animation that he and Michael Morlan created at Origin for the Ultima series. He showed how the projects progressed from sketches to the final in-game cinematic results. He talked a bit about his background in illustration and how the SCA and paper games introduced him to a series of well documented game development opportunities.

Next, he described the trials and tribulations of his startup project. From the hard work, the revolving door of investors, the finances, the challenges, failures, and eventual fruition of the project, we gained a solid understanding of how the company came to be called Iron Will Games. He talked about the construction of the game, called Ashen Empires: a 2D sprite-based massively multiplayer online game. In the age of faster and faster technology, one unique quality of Ashen Empires is that it is built to run on low-end systems. This makes the game very accessible to a wide range of players.

His wry satirical rendition of his career path was very illuminating and entertaining, and our eyes were wide with attention!
What a treat! Thanks Denis!

Johnny Luce: Unreal Tournament "B" Movie mod / Masters' Thesis

Johnny graduated with an MA in computer art form the well-known Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). For his thesis, he created an game design based on narratives focusing on pop culture in the 40's and 50's. Johnny loves cinematography, so he focused on the "B movie" theme using the Unreal Engine. He shared the development of his project in great detail, from his research into the architecture, leisure, and common fears of the era represented by the project.

Johnny's diligence won him (and his cohort Stacy Dopson) an honorable mention in Nvidia's "Make Something Unreal" contest.

He also shared with us some of his environments, starting with aerial views, then the wireframe, textured, and ominously lit in-game results. His main focus is design, gameplay, environments and lighting. At the end he shared a few animations as well.

Johnny is looking for work and his web address is:
If anyone want to learn more about Johnny or his projects, contact him at

As Denis put it: Very thorough. Thanks Johnny!

Note for users: 3DSMax version 7.5 includes Hair and Fur, Mental Ray 3.4, and Autodesk VIZ tools. 7.5 is ONLY AVAILABLE to those customers who are on subscription. Contact us to find out more about the Subscription Program.

I hope that we didn't leave anyone out or grossly misspell any names. If so, please let us know!
Also, please drop us a line with job announcements, questions, comments, or suggestions regarding our group. Special thanks to the folks who filled out the questionnaire.

See you next month,

Jamie Crawford
Animation Representative
Austin Business Computers

Jamie Crawford 
Animation Representative 
Austin Business Computers 
Jonathan Vought 
Austin 3DS Max Users' Group 

Index of Previous Austin 3d Users Group Meetings