Farewell, ActiveX…

loocas | 3ds Max,maxscript,technical | Monday, February 25th, 2008


Microsoft, after a few years and a considerable pressure from the clever programmers out there, has ditched ActiveX controls. While this was an overally good decision, it can also cause a lot of headaches! To my astonishment when I run a merely few months old script I wrote in Max 8 in Max 2008 x64 (on Vista Business x64) the script didn’t work, in fact it threw the error message you can see in the picture above. At first I didn’t know what the hell was going on, even the MAXScript reference included the old ActiveX declaration part, so I really had no idea what was going on, further on when I run the same code in Max 8, also on the same computer running Vista Business x64, the script worked! The reason for that, as I learned on the internet, is that since Microsoft doesn’t support ActiveX anymore, they didn’t recompile most of the controls to 64bits, so, when you run a 32bit app., like Max 8, on 64bit Vista, it still calls the old 32bit ActiveX controls, however, when you run a 64bit app., like Max 2008, there’s no equivalent of 64bit ActiveX and since a 64bit program cannot run 32bit plugins/apps. from whithin itself, it simply throws you an error.


Vacation | Ramsau am Dachstein 2008

loocas | photos | Sunday, February 24th, 2008

Ahhhh… back from a one week vacation, full of energy, full of power :D yeah, it was cool, literarly. But I’m glad to be back home sitting at my workstation editing photos and catching up missed work :/

Anyways, I thought I’d share some of the photos I took during the week period which I personally liked as much as to not be ashamed (too much ;) to show them publicly. So here they are:

First and fourth day we went skiing on Dachstain, a well known iceberg in Austria, pretty flat, but with an awesome view over the Alps.

dachstein_01.jpg dachstein_06.jpg dachstein_08.jpg dachstein_02.jpg dachstein_03.jpg dachstein_04.jpg dachstein_07.jpg dachstein_10.jpg dachstein_09.jpg dachstein_11.jpg dachstein_panorama_01.jpg dachstein_12.jpg dachstein_13.jpg dachstein_panorama_02.jpg dachstein_05.jpg

On the 3rd, critical, day, me and my girlfriend went for a hike to see the frozen waterfalls in the mountains. The path there was a bit rough, but it was a beautiful day with no clouds in the sky and the nature and environment was fantastic. See for your self:

waterfalls_01.jpg waterfalls_02.jpg waterfalls_03.jpg waterfalls_04.jpg waterfalls_05.jpg waterfalls_06.jpg waterfalls_07.jpg waterfalls_08.jpg waterfalls_09.jpg waterfalls_11.jpg waterfalls_12.jpg waterfalls_13.jpg waterfalls_14.jpg waterfalls_15.jpg waterfalls_16.jpg waterfalls_17.jpg waterfalls_18.jpg waterfalls_panorama.jpg

And here are some misc pictures taken during the days, by the way, did I say it was cold?

wetterstation.jpg kyoob_ski.jpg dad_anchor.jpg dad_posing.jpg horse_02.jpg horse_01.jpg kyoob_watching.jpg kyoob_cards.jpg

3ds Max 2009 announced! (milking the cow dry continues)

loocas | 3ds Max,opinions | Thursday, February 14th, 2008

autodesk’s message to the 3ds Max usersOut of the blue, Autodesk today announced a big news, the release of 3ds Max 2009 and also a “brand new” package, 3ds Max Design 2009. So, what is so special about Max it deserves a new full version number and a specialised, different, version? Well, let’s take a look at the facts.

According to the press release and the additional, more detailed and concrete PDF documents, the new 3ds Max 2009 introduces a new technology called “Reveal Rendering” used for complex iterative rendering workflow, which, in my opinion, sounds great and quite useful (if only I didn’t have to write all those scripts and tools for such tasks in the past…), but we’ll see what it really is and how this technology really proves itself in the harsh and unforgiving real studio environments. The next one is enhanced UVW editing that introduces a Spline mapping tool and enhances the current Relax and Pelt tools. Good, helpful, but is it really worth the update? I personally think not. Then biped, finally, you can actually create a quadruped with the enhanced system. I can’t resist to not mention that I personally don’t even load biped up on my Max installation, so, there you go. Then the documents go about a better support for inter-application workflows. This is great news as we’ve actually been more successful at bringing Softimage XSI’s rigs into MotionBuilder than from both Max and Maya, considering that MotionBuilder, Max and Maya have been developed by a single company, one cannod stop wondering, WTF?! Well, to be fair, yes, I’ve managed to bring rigs from Max to MotionBuilder to Maya and vice versa, but XSI has actually been a bit more comfortable and easier to do so than the aforementioned packages. The other question is a direct transfer between Max < => Maya, I hope this got addressed in this service pack full blown brand new release.


What are groups in Max, how they work and why you should avoid using them.

loocas | 3ds Max,opinions,technical | Monday, February 11th, 2008

groups_screenshot.jpgPeople who’ve worked with me already know my attitude towards groups and why I always tell people who collaborate with me NOT to use them. But they never bother investigating why I tell them so. I agree that it is easy to condemn something right away, however, believe me, I have very good reasons for doing so.

The thing with groups in Max is that they are a special form of a hierarchy which isn’t transparent enough for a general user. They’re fast to create, but mainly, groups are a very convenient way for creating selection sets that are persistent (i.e. they get saved with the file) and you can return to them anytime you want and select a bunch of objects immediately just by clicking on any of the members in the group. These are all great advantages of gropus. The huge disadvantage is their transparency (by that I mean the way they work is hidden from the general user). A user can quickly and easily get carried away and make complex nested group assemblies which can become a REAL pain in the ass in the production pipeline if not taken care of properly. I personally don’t use groups at all (as you can easily substitute them for a different, pipeline friendly, workflow) and very strongly recommend anyone who shares files with me or any other member in our production environment, NOT using them as well.


Parents are important!

loocas | 3ds Max,maxscript,technical | Friday, February 8th, 2008

No matter how the title sounds, this article is about 3D CGI and 3ds Max primarily. :)

From the TD (Technical Direction) point of view, the parent world is what you’ll be dealing with most of the times when it comes to objects’ (nodes, entities, fragments tec…) manipulation and mainly exchange between different software packages. Why? Let me explain. When you draw an object into your scene, let’s say a single box called “MyBox”, the object automatically becomes a part of a hierarchy. What is hierarchy you ask? Think of it as a relationship between objects (or whatever for that matter). There are strict rules that apply every time all the times for all objects. So, the box, MyBox, becomes automatically a child of the “World” – an invisible MAXObject.

parents are important - select from scene dialog of MyBox

Sunday at a shooting-range

loocas | photos | Sunday, February 3rd, 2008

Some friends of my dad’s invited him and me to a shooting-range to fire some arms. It was great! Further more, I got to shoot from a sniper rifle (don’t know the type, unfortunately) which was super awesome. One of the guys promised to take more fire arms next time we go for a shot. Hopefully I get to shoot a chaingun or a bazooka next time :D

Ota, entering the shooting-range premises and unpacking his firearms:
ota_approach.jpg ota_entrance.jpg ota_sniper_02.jpg sniper_rifle_01.jpg sniper_rifle_02.jpg

Me, my dad and his friends started on a pistol short shooting-range with a Glock and a Berreta 9mm:
short_shooting_range.jpg pistol_targets.jpg dad_pistol_shots_01.jpg loocas_pistol_01.jpg lubos_pistol.jpg lubos_jr_and_his_dad.jpg dad_pistol_01.jpg dad_pistol_02.jpg dad_holding_rounds.jpg empty_rounds.jpg

However, the long (200m) shooting-range is where the fun really started:
long_shooting_range_01.jpg long_shooting_range_02.jpg small_caliber_rifle.jpg dad_sniper_03.jpg dad_sniper_02.jpg dad_sniper_01.jpg dad_sniper_shots_01.jpg dad_sniper_shots_04.jpg dad_sniper_shots_03.jpg dad_sniper_shots_02.jpg knava_small_caliber.jpg knava_targets.jpg lot.jpg lubos_jr_and_his_dad.jpg lubos_jr_small_caliber.jpg lubos_sniper_01.jpg ota_sniper_01.jpg

I got to shoot at 150m and 200m targets with much worse results then the rest of the lot, but still hitting the black spot, which felt great! :) The kick-back of the Remington 700 cal. 308 was overwhelming, really, I didn’t expect that at first actually (hence only the last 3 shots out of 4 hit the target, at first :D ). The smaller rifle was a CZ 452 ZKM cal. 22.
loocas_sniper_intro.jpg loocas_sniper_01.jpg loocas_sniper_02.jpg

As I said before, it was a great experience and I’m really looking forward to the next time we go shooting. I highly recommend it to anyone who admires weapons and all kinds of armory as it is mandatory that you understand the power and responsibility you hold at your fingertip.

ViewportRL script released

loocas | 3ds Max,maxscript | Saturday, February 2nd, 2008

Have you ever missed a “constant” (flat) viewport display mode? Well, thankfully it has been in Max for ages, however, the implementation isn’t as smooth and easy to use as it should be. Since I like this method for reviewing forms, especially during modeling, I wrote a simple function for toggling to and from the constant display mode and linked it to a macro so you can map it to your favourite keyboard shortcut (I use F5). There’s also an enhanced wireframe toggle function that you can re-assign (recommended) to F3 or whatever else you used to using for wireframe display.

The installation is as simple as dragging and dropping the .mzp file into your running 3ds Max application. Done, it’ll install and get ready for usage automatically. You can then assign any keyboard shortcut to the functions in the Customize > Customize UI window under “duber’s tools” category.

Download the duberRL installer and install as described above. ENJOY!

Here’s a preview video of how it works (I only pressed F3, F4 and F5):

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