Getting Started with Gmax (Flightsim Exporter)

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Getting Started with Gmax (Flightsim Exporter)

Postby Jan Huewel » Wed Dec 16, 2009 10:41 pm

Objects for Pandoras Box Media Server and Media Players are stored as .x file format. This format is a DirectX fileformat that can be exported with most 3d applictations such as 3dMax, Maya, Cinema4d among many others. A separate export plugin might be required for your specific application in order to be ablen to export to .x directly.

Please Note:
From version 4.5 on a 4:3 fullscreen object corresponds to the size of 16 units wide and 12 units high.


The 3D web resource page for 3d model http://www.turbosquid.com offers a light version of 3dMax for personal use that is called gmax. Gmax unlike 3dMax will allow you to learn the most basic modelling and texturing concepts of 3d object and to export to .x file with a 3rd party exporter.

Once you have installed gmax, it is important to download also the exporter files and copy them into the plugin folder of Gmax installation folder.

If you start gmax for the first time, it will ask you for your registration key that you can obtain by registering at http://www.turbosquid.com .

Once the key is entered. The application will ask which 3d graphics hardware acceleration to choose for gmax.

Choose "HEIDI" and "Software Z Buffer"

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Once gmax is installed and the plugin files are added to gmax you may start the application.

Open Gmax

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All most important features to start with are outlined in red.

The following tutorial will show you the basic steps thru a simple object creation and mapping process as well as showing you the pattern to export to an xfile from gmax.

Creating a Box object:
1. Click on Box in the create tab.
2. Draw the Box with the mouse in the front view (upper right viewport),
by left clicking and holding the mouse to define the front face size, once
the mouse left click is released you can continue moving the mouse up
and down to determine the depth of the box.

Make sure that your box is not much larger than 16x16x16 units otherwise it will be too big for the unit and scale of Pandoras Box and you will need to use the z postioning and scaling inside of Pandoras Box to scale it down in order to make it fit to the output.

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Once the box is created you will need to assign the texture coordinates to the object in order to define how the texture should be displayed on the surfaces on the box.

Therefore go to the modify tab while the object is still selected (object is outlined white while selected) and apply a "UVW MAP" modifier from the pull down list to the object.

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Once the "UVW MAP" modifier is applied to the object you will see an orange outline that shows you how the texture is projected on the object.

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The last setp before exporting the file as .x you will have to apply a matrial with a diffuse channel to the object so that Pandoras Box can use this texture channel to map images on it.

To create a new material click on the material icon or use the keyboard shortcut "m" to open the Material editor.

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1. Create a new Material
2. Toggle checked box to show texture in shaded viewport
3. Click on square box of the Diffuse channel

Double click on bitmap to assign a bitmap to the diffuse texture channel.

Next choose a bitmap from the opening file browser.

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Now apply the Material to the selected object by clicking "Apply" and you should be able to preview your mapping in the perspective viewport of gmax right away. If you do not the the texture in the viewport the object was either not selected, the checked box not toggled or none of your views is in shaded preview (F3).

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Before exporting the object for Pandoras Box you will have to make sure it is placed correctly, since the 0,0,0 is relevant for the pivot point of an object once this is used in Pandoras Box.

To place the object right in the center use the move tool from the main toolbar in gmax.

To export the object, make sure its selected by clicking on it and then choose from the file menu export selected

Export selected as "Flightsim Aircraft Object (*.MDL)"

Since the Flightsimulator uses different units a messagebox will pop up, simply click "OK" to continue.

In the next dialog that opens go to option and check "xfile" and "no compile" and click on "GO"

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You might save the options so that you don´t have to check this at every export by clicking "Save as Default".

The object is now properly exported as .x file and can be loaded into Pandoras Box.

Once this is all setup and running feel free to explore other standard 3D geometry and mapping options in gmax to export objects as Xfiles.
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Jan Huewel
 
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