Creating professional-quality graphics and animations requires a combination of artistic and technical talent; but even before you can put these skills to work, you need a solid understanding of the digital 3D world. With the hands-on instruction provided here you learn how to master the 3D world, and apply this understanding to the art of animation. Written for designers and students just beginning in animation, 3D Animation: From Models to Movies provides concise coverage of the fundamentals of 3D to ensure that learning animation is a smooth and enjoyable journey. If you are already working in 3D, taking a course, or just want to hone your skills, this is the right resource for you. Through a variety of practical tutorials, you will learn everything from understanding 3D to modeling, rendering, texturing, lighting, and animation. The tutorials use a variety of projects and programs to illustrate the techniques. Maxon Cinema4D XL v6, Strata StudioPro 3D, and NewTek LightWave v6 are the primary programs used, but the techniques covered can be easily applied to other professional-quality programs including Animation:Master, 3D Studio Max, Maya, or SoftImage. So even if you are not using one of the three primary programs covered, you will be able to apply the skills you learn to your program of choice.
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The main problem with embarking on a career in 3-D graphics is one of choice--the tools are many, and the avenues for work are all over the map. It's difficult to choose a specific type of work, and often you don't even know the kind of question to ask to get started.
Consider 3-D Animation: From Models to Movies a compass, a road map, and even a means of transportation. This clearly written book puts the world of 3-D computer graphics into perspective for the novice who doesn't know a pixel from a polygon. Over the course of 15 chapters, the author discusses the very basics of computer graphics and how 3-D applications work, and then puts them in perspective against other applications of the genre.
3-D Animation introduces us to the digital workflow and how the 3-D world works--orientation, navigation, basic tools, expressions, and features common to most 3-D applications. By the third chapter, the book is deep into practical matters by starting off with modeling basics. Subsequent chapters cover texturing, lighting, rendering, and animation.
The best chapter is less about the craft of 3-D graphics and more about the business. Chapter 15, "Getting the Job," consists of a helpful five pages on how to get an interview, what job descriptions mean, generic dos and don'ts, and, more importantly, demo reel dos and don'ts. (No flying logos or spaceships, please!) Learning a skill is one thing; finding a job is another. This chapter offers solid advice for any first-timer.
There are few entry-level 3-D graphics books that come with a fully functioning 3-D application. The companion CD-ROM is a full working copy of the venerable Strata 3D application. Strata's been around for a while, and while Strata 3D doesn't have all the features that Strata Studio Pro does, it's still a very good application with full rendering and file-saving abilities.
If you don't own a 3-D application yet, this book and the software on the CD-ROM are a great way to get your virtual feet wet. --Mike CaputoAbout the Author:
Adam Watkins (San Antonio, TX) is the director of Computer Arts at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. He has a BFA in theater set and lighting design, and an MFA in graphic design. His previous books include The Maya 4.5 Handbook, Final Cut Pro 3 and DVD Studio Pro Handbook, and 3D Animation: From Models to Movies.
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