You are on page 1of 58

t a i l o r i n g

a u t o c a d
s e r i e s
s u i t a b l e
for 2007 & 2008

w o r l d w i d e.
r e s e r v e d
C o p y r i g h t

2 0 0 7

b y

u p F r o n t . e Z i n e

P u b l i s h i n g ,

L t d .

A l l

r i g h t s

animations
with autocad

Ralph

Grabowski

upFront.eZine

Publishing

Copyright & Payment Information


This book is covered by copyright. As the owner of the copyright, upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd. does not give you
permission to make electronic or print copies. You may not claim authorship or ownership of the text or figures
herein. Do not make copies. To support the work of the writer, make a payment of:
By email in PkZIP/Acrobat PDF format: US$8.70. Allow for a multi-megabyte download.
On CD in Acrobat PDF format: US$13.70 (incl. shipping). Allow 2-3 weeks to arrive.
The CD is delivered by mail, with shipping cost included. Delivery by FedEx: add US$25.
Check or Money Order
US funds drawn on a bank with its address in the USA.
Equivalent Euro funds drawn on a bank located in the European Common Market.
Equivalent Canadian funds drawn on a bank with a Canadian address (includes GST).
Equivalent British funds drawn on a bank located in Great Britain.
Please mail your payment to:
"Animations With AutoCAD"
upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd.
34486 Donlyn Avenue
Abbotsford BC
V2S 4W7
Canada
PayPal
Make payment to the account of editor@upfrontezine.com at www.paypal.com.
PayPal accepts funds in US, Euro, Yen, Canadian, and 100+ other currencies.
Copyright 2007 by upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd. All rights reserved worldwide.
http://www.upfrontezine.com/awa

2 www.upfrontezine.com/ebooks

ralph grabowski

table
of contents
a n i m a t i o n s

w i t h

a u t o c a d

chapter 1 introduction to animations .............................. 7


Sidebar: Before AniPath, There Was AutoFlix
Invoking Animations

Animation Commands
Dashboard

View Menu

Walk and Fly Toolbar

10

Other Useful Commands


System Variables

10

10

chapter 2 recording animations ..................................... 11


AniPath Animations Recorded
Camera, Target, and Path
Camera
Target
Path

12

12
13
13

Motion Path Animation Dialog Box


Camera
Target

15

15
15

Animation Settings

table of contents

12

15

animations with autocad

Animation Preview Window


Save As Dialog Box

17

18

Animation Settings Dialog Box

18

Sidebar: Camera/Target Combinations


Tutorial: Creating Animations
Editing the Camera
Grips Editing

19

20

23

23

Not Moving the Camera and Target


Changing the Field of View

23

23

Sidebar: Field of View (aka Lens Length)


Shortcut Menu

25

26

Camera Properties

27

chapter 3 walking and flying ......................................... 29


3dWalk - Walking Through Models
Tutorial: Walking in 3D

30

Sidebar: Position Locator Palette


WalkFlySettings

30

32

34

Related System Variables

35

3dFly - Flying Through Models

36

chapter 4 the dashboard ............................................. 37


A Brief Dashboard Tour

38

3D Navigation Control Panel


3dWalk and 3dFly

39

39

Perspective Viewing Mode

39

Lens Length / Field of View


Toggle Camera Glyphs

40

40

Record / Playback Animations


Animation Settings

41

41

Step Size and Steps Per Second

41

Camera and Target Coordinates

41

Recording Interactive Walkthroughs


Tutorial: Recording Walkthroughs
Animation Settings

42

42

45

Sidebar: Processing High Quality Animation Movies

4 www.upfrontezine.com/ebooks

46

ralph grabowski

appendices
appendix a editing with moviemaker ............................ 47
About MovieMaker

48

History of MovieMaker

48

Tutorial: Editing AutoCAD Videos with MovieMaker


Adding Video and Transiton Effects

Adding Titles, Text Overlays, and Credits


Adding Music and Narration
Saving the Movie

48

49
50

51

52

appendix b testing with gsb .......................................... 55


Summary of GSB Commands
GSB Commands with Input
Tutorial: Using GSB Commands

Technical Writer

Ralph Grabowski

Copy Editor

Herbert Grabowski

table of contents

56

56
57

animations with autocad

Notes

6 www.upfrontezine.com/ebooks

ralph grabowski

one

a n i m a t i o n s

w i t h

a u t o c a d

introduction to
animations
a

nimations allow you to move through AutoCADs 3D models.

Animations can be in 3D wireframe, hidden-line mode, any visual styles, and any rendering
preset. You can use materials and lights to enhance the animation. For more information on
creating custom visual styles, consider our Tailoring Visual Styles ebook, available from
www.upfrontezine.com/tvs.
There are two kinds of animation possible in AutoCAD, recorded and interactive.
To record animations, you define a path for the camera and/or target, and then save the animation to file. You use the AniPath command to create the animation. It takes a snapshot
from the cameras current location, and then moves the camera a short distance, and takes
another picture of the 3D model. This is repeated many times, creating sufficient frames for a
movie. See Chapter 2 for more on recorded animations.
When animations are interactive, you travel through the 3D drawing as if you were walking
or flying through it. In fact, these verbs form the basis of AutoCADs two commands for interactive animations:
The 3dFly command flies through models. You press keyboard buttons to move forward, left, up, and so on.
The 3dWalk command is almost is the same, but keeps the z coordinate (elevation) fixed.
Both commands are extensions of the 3dOrbit command.
See Chapter 3 for more on interactive animations. The Dashboard allows you to record your
flights and walks through 3D models, saving the recording to a movie file on disk. See chapter
4 on how to record interactive animations.
AutoCADs movie files can be imported into movie editing software to edit it. See Appendix A.
You can only create path animations; parts of models cannot be animated. Perspective mode
must be turned on for animations; if it is off, AutoCAD offers to turn it on for you.

chapter 1 introduction to animations

animations wtih autocad

Before AniPath, There Was AutoFlix


It was in 1987 that Autodesk originally introduced animation to AutoCAD in Release 10. The feature was called AutoFlix, and it was
included free with AutoCAD. The feature was removed from Release 11, perhaps because the quality was too crude, as illustrated below:

Why so crude? Autodesks John Walker wanted to prove that his company could make animation work on personal computers typical of
the late 1980s. That meant working with slow computers that sported low-resolution graphics boards and displayed few colors. That
meant supporting the standard set by IBMs EGA (enhanced graphics array) graphics board, which was limited to displaying 16 colors,
first at 320x200 resolution and later at 640x350.
To simulate more than 16 colors, AutoFlix used dithering, a process which mixes colors with 4x4 patterns of black pixels. The larger the
number of black pixels, the darker the color. You can see the effect in the drafting compass illustrated above; notice how parts of the
compass appear to have darker shades of gray.
The drawback to dithering is that it reduces the effective resolution by 4x.
Creating animations with AutoCAD R10 took two stages:
1. AutoLISP routines allowed users to perform two types of animation: kinetic and sequence. Kinetic meant that parts in the drawing
moved, such as a door opening and closing; the camera stayed still. Sequence meant that the camera moved through the 3D drawing;
the model stayed still. It was possible to combine both, allowing the camera to move through a door that opened. Like todays AniPath
command, the AutoLISP routines moved the camera along a path in increments, taking a picture at each stop.
2. Once the AutoLISP routines finished their work taking pictures along the path, you used a separate DOS utility called AfEgaP (short
for AutoFlix EGA Program) to display the resulting MOV movie files. The AfEgaP.exe program had some options for controlling the
playback of the movies.
AutoFLIXs MOV format is in no way related to Apples QuickTime MOV format.
Thanks to Brian Carl Bahr for recording some of the history and movies of AutoFlix at www.seclorum.us/autoshade/AutoFLIX.html.

8 www.upfrontezine.com/ebooks

ralph grabowski

Invoking Animations
Autodesk provides a number of methods by which to generate animations:
At the Command: prompt, you can enter several commands and system variables related
to animation.
The Dashboard includes control panels for 3D Navigation.
The View menu provides access to most animation commands.
The Walk and Fly toolbar provides access to a few animation commands.

Animation Commands
There are just a smattering of commands for creating animations in AutoCAD. These are as
follows:
AniPath records animations along a path defined by an object. See Chapter 2.
3dWalk and 3dFly interactively move through 3D models. See Chapter 3.

Dashboard
The dashboard contains an interesting assortment of commands. Some are straight forward,
such as the one for toggling the display of camera glyphs. Others work only under specified
conditions.
For instance, the VCR controls record and playback animations, but only during the 3dWalk
and 3dFly commands. There is a slider for changing the cameras field of view, but it operates
only when AutoCAD is in perspective mode.
You can read about these and other animation-related controls in Chapter 4, The Dashboard.
(There are no Tool palettes for animation.)

View Menu
The View menu provides access to animation commands through its Walk and Fly submenu
and its Motion Path Animations item.

The View menu holds commands for animations.


chapter 1 introduction to animations

animations wtih autocad

Walk executes the 3dWalk command for walking through 3D models at constant z-height.
Fly executes the 3dFly command for flying through 3D models.
Walk and Fly Settings executes the WalkFlySettings command, which displays the Walk
Fly Settings dialog box for controlling walk and fly movements.
Motion Path Animations executes the AniPath command, which saves animations to
movies files.
Walk and Fly Toolbar

The Walk and Fly toolbar contains the following buttons:

The Walk and (Fly) toolbar.

Walk executes the 3dWalk command for walking through 3D models at constant z-height.
Fly executes the 3dFly command for flying through 3D models.
Walk and Fly Settings executes the WalkFlySettings command for controlling walk and
fly movements.

Other Useful Commands


In addition to the commands that are specific to animations, the following commands can be
useful:
Camera edits cameras in drawings.
VisualStyle creates and edits visual styles, which can be used in animations.
VsCurrent specifies the current visual style.
RenderPresets creates and modifies render presets.
System Variables

Several system variables are used with animations.


CameraDisplay toggles the display of camera glyphs.
LensLength specifies the cameras focal length.
Perspective must be turned on for animations (set to 1).
ShadowPlaneLocation specifies the height of the plane on which visual-style shadows
fall.
The following system variables affect only the 3dFly and 3dWalk commands:
StepSize specifies the distance between steps, in drawing units.
StepsPerSec specifies the number of steps per second, in the range from 1 to 30.

10 www.upfrontezine.com/ebooks

ralph grabowski

two

a n i m a t i o n s

w i t h

a u t o c a d

recording
animations
t

here are two ways to perform animations of 3D drawings in AutoCAD: recorded and interactively.
Recorded through the the AniPath command, you specify the camera and target paths,
and then save the animation as a video file; discussed in this chapter.

Interactive through the 3dFly or 3dWalk commands, you press keys or move the
mouse to roam about the 3D model; see Chapter 3. These interactive animations can be
recorded through the Dashboard; see Chapter 4.
In this chapter, we look at how to record animations with the AniPath command. We also
examine how objects affect paths, modify the camera, and learn about fields of view.

chapter 2 recording animations

animations with autocad

11

AniPath Animations Recorded


The AniPath command records animations to movie files.
Animations consist of AutoCAD taking many still pictures in
sequence. Take enough pictures often enough, and the result is
like watching a movie.

AniP
ath
AniPath
Animates 3D drawings, and saves
them to movie files.

Camera, Target, and Path

Command line: anipath


ath
Menu: View | Motion PPath
Animation

AutoCAD uses a camera to take the many still pictures. The


camera looks at a target. Either or both the camera and target
optionally move along a path.

In the figure below, the camera moves along the path defined by a circle; the camera looks at
the target, which is fixed at the center of the circle.

Path (circle)

Camera glyph

Target

Camera

The camera represents the viewpoint of a movie camera making the animation. What the camera sees is what ends up in the movie. In AutoCAD, cameras are represented by glyphs, 3D
icons. (The display of camera glyphs is toggled with the CameraDisplay system variable.)
The camera used by AniPath is identical to that created by the Camera command. There are
some differences, however:
AniPath automatically creates the camera; you cannot chose from existing cameras in the
drawing or the Tools palette. (This is a benefit, because it can be difficult to place cameras
in 3D space.) You can edit the cameras properties after AniPath creates it, such as
changing its focal length.
AniPath uses only one camera per animation. However, drawings can contain multiple
camera-target-path sets.
In animations, the camera is fixed in place, or follows a path. When fixed, then the target must
move along a path; after all, there isnt going to be any movie when both the camera and target
are fixed in one spot!
Alternatively, both the camera and target follow paths. Or, the camera can move, and the target
stays fixed.
For more information about static cameras and targets, consider our Tailoring AutoCAD Rendering ebook, available from www.upfrontezine.com/tar.
12

If you make extra copies of this PDF book, please pay me for them. Thanks! ralph grabowski

Target

The target represents a point at which the camera looks. It can be fixed or move along a path.
The camera swivels automatically to keep the target always in view. When the paths of the
camera and target are the same, the camera appears to be chasing itself along the path.
Unlike cameras, targets are usually invisible. To see the target point, select the camera. AutoCAD
displays the target point as a blue square (the red lines indicate the cameras field of view).

Camera's field of view

Target

The target point and the field of view can be edited using the blue handles, as described later in
this chapter.
Path

The path is defined by AutoCAD objects. You draw the object first, and then enter the AniPath
command, which prompts you to select the objects that become the paths. You can use the
following objects to define paths:
Line, single segment only; created by the Line command.
Arc; created by the Arc command.
Circle; created by the Circle command.
Ellipse; created by the Ellipse command.
Elliptical arc; created by the Ellipse command.
Polyline, closed or open; includes polylines created by the PLine, Polygon, Rectang,
and Donut commands.
3D polyline, closed or open; created by the 3dPoly command.
Spline, closed or open; created by the Spline command.
When you select an object disliked by AniPath, AutoCAD complains, Unsupported object:
please select a line, arc, elliptical arc, ellipse, circle, polyline, 3D polyline, or spline. And then
it prompts you to try again.
Unapproved objects can be used for paths, but they need to be exploded. For example, you use
the Helix command to define lovely spiraling paths, because thats much easier than using the
3dPoly command. Then, before running AniPath, apply the Explode command to convert
it to the permissible spline object.
TIP
You can use one object for the cameras path, and a second object for the targets
path.

chapter 2 recording animations

animations with autocad

13

When the path is an open object, such as a line or an arc, the camera runs from one end of the
path to the other and then stops. The direction in which you draw the open object determines
the direction that the camera moves. If its the wrong direction for you, no worries: the
AniPaths dialog box has an option to reverse directions.
For closed objects, such as circles and ellipses, the camera begins at one of several points and
then travels either clockwise or counterclockwise, depending on the object type.
Circles and ellipses cameras start at the 0-degree point. They travel counter-clockwise.

Closed polylines cameras start at the vertex nearest to the pick point that first defined the polyline. On polygons, the cameras travel counter-clockwise; on rectangles,
clockwise.

On donuts, cameras start at the 180-degree point, and then travel counter-clockwise.
Closed splines cameras start at a point on the spline nearest to the first pick point
that defined the spline. The cameras travel clockwise.

14

If you make extra copies of this PDF book, please pay me for them. Thanks! ralph grabowski

You can remove the path from the drawing by erasing its object. Curiously, this leaves the
associated camera in the drawing.

Motion Path Animation Dialog Box


When you start the AniPath command, AutoCAD displays the Motion Path dialog box, as
follows:
Command: anipath

Camera

~ Point places a static camera in the drawing; this option is unavailable when the target
is also a point.
{ Path places a camera on an object suitable for use as a path.
clears the dialog box so that you can pick the camera point or selects the path object.
The droplist lists previously selected camera points or paths, which can be reused but not
edited.
Target

{ Point points a target at a point in the drawing.


~ Path places a target on an object for use as the path.
picks the target point or selects the path object.
The droplist lists previously selected target points or paths, which can be reused but not
edited.
Animation Settings

Frame Rate (FPS) specifies the speed of the animation. This ranges from 1 to 60; default
is 30 frames per second; for faster processing and smaller files, 15fps is suitable.
Number of Frames specifies the total number of frames to be recorded for the movie. The
default is 30 frames.

chapter 2 recording animations

animations with autocad

15

Duration (seconds) specifies the duration of the animation in seconds. This is linked to
Number of Frames, so if you change the duration, AutoCAD automatically changes the number
of frames, keeping the frame-rate constant. (You dont see a change until you press Tab.) The
default is 1 second; the maximum is 10,000,000, 000,000, 000,000.00 seconds about 317
million millenniums.
Visual Style selects the preset visual style or rendering quality for the animation.

The default as As Displayed, meaning the animation will look the same as the objects in the
viewport. You can change this to one of the following:
Miscellaneous

Comments

As Displayed
Rendered

Current visual style.


Current rendering preset.

Visual Styles

Comments

3D Hidden
3D Wireframe
Conceptual
Realistic

Slowest.
Fastest.
Can display shadows.
Can display materials and shadows.

Render Quality

Comments

Draft
Low
Medium
High
Presentation

Fast but crudely rendered.


Less crudely rendered.
Best compromise between speed and quality.
Better quality and somewhat slower speed.
Best quality but slowest speed.

If user-defined styles are in the drawings, they are also listed. You create custom visual styles
with the VisualStyles command, and custom rendering styles with the RenderPresets command. If you are not sure which format to chose, choose Realistic as a compromise between
quality and speed.
Format specifies the animation file format: AVI, MOV, MPG, or WMV. If you are not sure
which format to chose, pick AVI.
Format

Comments

AVI
MOV
MPG
WMV

Audio-video Interleave.
Movie (Apple QuickTime).
Motion picture group (MPEG).
Windows Media Video.

To save in MOV format, your computer has to have Apples QuickTime player be installed first;
similarly, saving in WMV format requires Microsofts Media Player 9.

16

If you make extra copies of this PDF book, please pay me for them. Thanks! ralph grabowski

Resolution provides a list of resolutions, ranging from a tiny 160x120 to 1024x768. For
draft work, use the default of 320x240; for final production, 800x600 is often good enough.
; Corner Deceleration reduces the cameras speed around sharp curves.
Reverse reverses the direction along the path.
; When Previewing Show Camera Preview when on, displays the Animation
Preview dialog box; when off, the camera moves along the path with no preview image.
Preview previews the animation in the Animation Preview window; see below.
OK opens the Save As dialog box and then creates the animation; see below.
Cancel returns to the drawing, without creating the animation.
Animation Preview Window

The Animation Preview window shows you a preview of the animation, before it is committed
to a movie file. The window shows you the cameras viewpoint as it looks toward the target.
(This window is displayed after you click the Preview button, and only if the When Previewing Show Camera Preview option is turned on.)
When the window first appears, the animation automatically runs, and then stops; the animation does not loop (play repeatedly). To stop it early, click the Pause button.
Close window and return to
Motion Path Animation
dialog box.

Preview of current frame.

Drag edge to resize window.

Change visual style.


Play and Pause buttons.
Slider selects frame.

To play the animation again, click the Play button. (The Record and Stop buttons have
no effect; they are used in conjunction with the Dashboard; see Chapter 4.) Rather than click
these control buttons, I find it easier to drag the slider back and forth. Notice that a yellow
tooltip reports the current frame number and the total number of frames.

You can change the visual style of the animation for this animation preview window. Only
visual styles can be selected; no render presets. Choosing a different visual style here has no
effect on the visual style of the saved movie.
You can resize this window by dragging any of its edges. Notice that it maintains its aspect
ratio (the width remains proportional to its height).
Click the x button in the upper right corner to return to the Motion Path Animation dialog box.
chapter 2 recording animations

animations with autocad

17

Save As Dialog Box

To save the animation as a movie file, click OK. Notice the Save As dialog box:

Animations are saved to your computers My Documents folder; naturally, you can change the
location through the Save in droplist.
Name the movie file with the File name text box.
It is disappointing that the dialog box sports a Preview area, yet does not preview the first
frame of movie files, as other software programs do. The Views | Thumbnails option has the
identical limitation.
The Animation Settings button displays a command-less dialog box. (Thats right: this dialog box is displayed here and from the Dashboard, yet I cannot find the command that opens
it.) Its purpose is to let you make last minute changes to the animation before it is stored as a
movie file, as described later in this chapter.
When done, click Save. Notice that AutoCAD regenerates the animation frame by frame.
TIP
You can view movies from this dialog box: right-click the movie file name, and
then select Play with Media Player from the shortcut menu. This launches Windows
Media Player, and then plays back the movie.

Animation Settings Dialog Box

The Animation Settings dialog box is displayed by the Animation Settings button in the
button on the Dashboard. (Try not to be confused: the same
Save As dialog box, and by the
icon is also used by the Walk and Fly toolbar for a different dialog box. Sigh.)

The dialog boxs settings should be familiar to you.


18

If you make extra copies of this PDF book, please pay me for them. Thanks! ralph grabowski

Camera/Target Combinations
In creating animations, cameras and targets can be static or can move along paths. (Paths are made from objects.) Note that the camera
always faces the target. There are three combinations available:
Camera stays at a point
point, target moves is along a path
path.
Camera point

Target path

Camera moves along a path


path, and the target is fixed at a point
point.
Target point

Camera path

Camera moves along a path


path, as does the target. Both can follow the same path (as illustrated below), or two different paths.

Target point
Camera path

The fourth combination, camera and target at a point, isnt available, because neither moves and hence no animation would be created.

chapter 2 recording animations

animations with autocad

19

Tutorial: Creating Animations


In this tutorial, you open a 3D drawing, place a path, and then create an animation that is
saved as a movie file.
1. Start AutoCAD 2007 (or later), and then open the 31 Kitchen.dwg file, a 3D drawing of a
small kitchen. You can find it in AutoCADs \help\buildyourworld folder.
2. Use the Helix command to draw a 3D spiral about the kitchen:
Command: helix
Specify center point of base: (Pick the center of the kitchen floor.)
Specify base radius or [Diameter] <0'-1">: 30'
Specify top radius or [Diameter] <15'-0">: 5'
Specify helix height or [Axis endpoint/Turns/turn Height/tWist] <0'-1">: 40'

Left: Top view of kitchen and helix.


Right: Side view.

3. Helixes cannot be animation paths (why not?), so use the Explode command on it. This
changes the helix to a 3D spline, although it wont look any different to you.
Command: explode
Select objects: (Pick the helix.)
Select objects: (Press Enter to end the command.)

4. With the 3D model and path in place, you can now start on the animation with the
AniPath command.
Command: anipath

5. In the Motion Path Animation dialog box, set the following options. For the Camera:

20

Link camera to

Path

Select Path

Chose the spline.

If you make extra copies of this PDF book, please pay me for them. Thanks! ralph grabowski

When the Path Name dialog box appears, accept the default of Path1, and then click OK.

For the target:


Link target to

Point

Pick Point

Use the .xy point filter to specify a height of 5 feet, as follows:


Pick point: .xy
of (Pick center of the kitchen floor).
need z: 5'

When the Point Name dialog box appears, accept the default of Point1, and then click OK.

6. For this tutorial, the Animation Settings should be changed, as follows:


Frame rate

30

Duration

10

Visual Style

Realistic

Format

Select any one from the list.

Resolution

640x480

The dialog box should now look as follows:

chapter 2 recording animations

animations with autocad

21

7. Click Preview to see what the animation will look like.

8. Click x to exit the preview window. If the animation looks good, chose OK to save; if not,
make changes and preview again.
9. Click OK to display the Save As dialog box customized for saving movies. Give the movie a
name, such as Kitchen, and then click Save. Notice the Creating Video dialog box:

It shows the progress in making the 300 frames of rendered images, along with an estimate on how much longer the process will take. On my 2.5GHz computer, it took nearly 2
minutes to create the WMV file.
10. When AutoCAD is done, the finished movie does not play automatically. You have to go
into the My Documents folder, and then double-click the kitchen.wmv file to view it.

22

If you make extra copies of this PDF book, please pay me for them. Thanks! ralph grabowski

Editing the Camera


To edit a camera, click it. Notice the red outlines of a pyramid that emit from it, as well as
several blue grips. In addition, the Camera Preview window may appear.
Camera Location
(move camera)

Camera & Target Location


(move camera and target
together).

Target Location
(move target)
Target Distance
(Change target
distance)

Lens Length/FOV
(change field of view)

TIP
If you do not see the camera glyph(s) in the drawing, they may be turned off. Turn
them on with the CameraDisplay system variable:
Command: cameradisplay
Enter new value for CAMERADISPLAY <0>: 1

Grips Editing
The blue grips perform are meant for moving the camera/target and changing the field of view.
Not Moving the Camera and Target

The move grips are useful only when cameras are used for static images, but its a different
matter when they are used for animations for you do not want the camera to move from its
assigned spot. Indeed, when you move the camera from its position assigned by AniPath,
then AutoCAD returns the camera to its rightful place the next time you use this command.
The same goes for you moving the target: AutoCAD moves it back again.
Changing the Field of View

The red lines that radiate from the camera glyph indicate its field of view. This is useful to
modify when the camera does not capture enough of the 3D model during the animation.
The problem can also be solved by moving the camera further away from the model, but that is
inconvenient, because it involves drawing a new path object and re-executing the AniPath
command and it sill might be too close.

chapter 2 recording animations

animations with autocad

23

Instead, the easier method is to change the field of view. Grab one of the triangular grips, and
then drag it, making the field of view wider. In photographic terms, this is like switching from
a normal 50mm lens to a wide-angle lens.
In the figure below, Ive colorized the smaller field of view to help differentiate it from the
larger one.

Drag any one of these


four triangular grips.

Lens Length/FOV
(changed field of view)

The following table lists lens lengths commonly used by 35mm cameras, along with the equivalent field-of-view angle.
Lens Length

Field of View

Wide angle
15mm
20
24
28
35

100 degrees
84
74
65
54

Normal
50

40

Telephoto
85
135
200

24
15
10

TIP
For new cameras placed in drawings, the default field of view is 50mm, which is
equivalent to the normal view through a 35mm camera. You can use the LensLength
system variable to change the default, such as 28 or 105mm.

24

If you make extra copies of this PDF book, please pay me for them. Thanks! ralph grabowski

Field of View (aka Lens Length)


The cameras field of view determines how much it sees. When your animation isnt capturing the entire model, increase the field of
view; if there is too much background, make the field of view smaller.
AutoCAD measures the field of view in degrees. Normal is 40 degrees; the minimum is 3 degrees; the maximum 179. (The field of view
for human eyes is approximately 140 degrees horizontally and 80 degrees vertically. The actual field of view is difficult to determine,
because we have two of them: a broad one for our peripheral vision, and a narrow one for our focus of interest.)
Field of view is related to lens length, which is the term commonly used with real cameras. When you change the lens length, the field of
view changes with it. Normal is 50mm, which is normal only for cameras using 35mm film or the equivalent sensor size in digital
cameras. AutoCADs minimum is 0.15mm, the maximum 600mm.
Below are examples of normal, narrow, and wide views:
Normal field of view (40 degrees): lens length = 50mm

Narrow field of view (10 degrees): lens length = 200mm (telephoto)

Wide field of view (65 degrees): lens length = 28mm (wide angle)

chapter 2 recording animations

animations with autocad

25

Shortcut Menu
Right-click the camera, and this shortcut menu appears.

Of the many commands listed, just three are of interest to us:


Set Camera View displays the cameras viewpoint in the viewport. Notice the red border
around the viewport, which is reminiscent of the VsMax command. This red border, however,
is the target end of the field-of-view pyramid.

26

If you make extra copies of this PDF book, please pay me for them. Thanks! ralph grabowski

Unlike the VsMax commands VsMin complement, there is no obvious way of how to back out
of camera view. The solution is to use the Zoom Previous command:
Command: z
ZOOM Enter option [All/Extents/Window/Previous] <real time>: p

View Camera Preview toggles the display of the camera preview window, shown here.

Properties displays the properties of the camera, as described below.


Camera Properties

The Properties palette displays many camera properties, most of which you should not change.
Indeed, Autodesk should gray-out the X, Y, Z properties, because they do not have any effect
on AniPath-generated cameras.

chapter 2 recording animations

animations with autocad

27

You can change the following properties:


Name changes the AutoCAD-assigned name of the camera.
Lens length (mm) changes the cameras field of view; measured in millimeters.
Field of view changes the cameras lens length (linked to Lens length); degrees.
Roll angle rotates the cameras viewpoint; measured in degrees.
Plot determines whether the camera glyph is plotted.
It makes no sense to change the following properties, because AutoCAD changes them back to
their original settings the next time you use the AniPath command.
Camera X, Y, Z specify the x, y, z coordinates of the camera.
Target X, Y, Z specify the x, y, z coordinates of the target.
Clipping has no effect on animations.

28

If you make extra copies of this PDF book, please pay me for them. Thanks! ralph grabowski

three

tailoring

autocad

rendering

walking and
flying
i

n this chapter, you learn how to interactively move through 3D models by walking and
flying. In the chapter following, you learn how to record those trips with the Dashboard.
In summary, the commands discussed in this chapter perform the following tasks:
3dWalk enables you to walk through 3D models, where the elevation is fixed.
3dFly enables you to fly through 3D models, where the elevation is not fixed.
WalkFlySettings displays the Walk Fly Settings dialog box, which presets parameters
for walking and flying.
The commands are assisted by the following system variables:
StepSize specifies the distance between steps.
StepsPerSec specifies the speed in steps per second.

chapter 4 the dashboard

animations with autocad

29

3dWalk - Walking Through Models


The 3dWalk command allows you to navigate through 3D models. You use a combination of cursor keys and mouse movements
to help you walk. (Walk means that you are constrained to a
constant z coordinate or elevation.) Lets see how it works.

3dW
alk
3dWalk
Navigates through 3D drawings at a
constant elevation.

Tutorial: Walking in 3D

Dashboard: 3D Naviagate panel


Command line: 3dwalk
Aliases: 3dw
3dw, 3dnavigate
alk and Fly| W
alk
Menu: View | W
Walk
Walk

In this tutorial, you open a 3D drawing in AutoCAD, and then


navigate through it.

Toolbar: Walk and Fly

1. Start AutoCAD 2007 or later, and then open the 55 trees.dwg drawing found in
AutoCADs \help\buildyourworld folder. Notice that the 3D drawing is of six trees.

2. Enter the 3dWalk command.


Command: 3dwalk

3. Before you can go for a walk in the park, notice that AutoCAD first flashes a series of
informational dialog boxes.
The first notes that perspective viewing mode must be turned on. (Why? I have no idea
why parallel viewing mode is problematic.)

When you chose...


Yes AutoCAD turns on perspective mode for you by setting system variable Perspective to 1.
No AutoCAD cancels the 3dWalk command, and returns you to the Command:
prompt.
It is useful to turn on the Dont show me this again option, because there is little point
in seeing this dialog box ever again.

30 www.upfrontezine.com/ebooks

ralph grabowski

4. The second dialog box reminds you of the keyboard and mouse navigation shortcuts:

The same keystrokes and mouse movements are used for both 3dWalk and 3dFly.
I tend to leave the Dont show me this again option turned off, so that I am reminded
each time I enter either of these two commands.
Click Close to enter 3D walking mode.
5. The third item to pop onto the screen is the Position Locator palette. It is reminiscent of
the DsViewer commands birds eye view,, in that it lets you see where you are in the
drawing.
During 3D navigation, it is easy to lose your way. When youve overshot the model and are
facing an apparently blank screen, this palette shows you where you are.

chapter 4 the dashboard

animations with autocad

31

Position Locator Palette


alk and 3dFly commands display the Position Locator palette, which helps you to orient yourself through a helicopter-style view
The 3dW
3dWalk
of the drawing.
Overview toolbar

Interactive overview

Overview properties

Resize palette

Palette controls

Overview TToolbar
oolbar
The overview toolbar zooms and pans the preview image:
Zoom out
Zoom in

Pan the overview.


Access help.

Interactive Overview
The interactive overview window lets you see where you are in navigating the 3D model. In addition, you can drag the red camera,
light green target, and dark green field-of-view indicators to change the view. See the fuller description on the next page.
Overview PProperties
roperties
The General section lets you change the look of elements in this palette:
Position Indicator Color selects the color of the dot that represents the camera (your current position in the 3D model).
Position Indicator Size changes the size of the indicator between Small (default), Medium, and Large.
Position Indicator Blink toggles blinking of the position indicator, useful in crowded drawings.
Target Indicator toggles the display of the target arrowhead and field-of-view triangle.
Target Indicator Color specifies the color of the target arrowhead; the field-of-view triangle is the same color, but darker.
Preview TTransparency
ransparency sets the translucency of the palette; range is 0 (opaque) to 95 (nearly transparent). Curiously, this feature
does not work when AutoCAD runs the graphics board in hardware acceleration mode. More curious, this same option is available
through the palette controls.
Preview Visual Style specifies the visual style of the preview image; default is Realistic.

32 www.upfrontezine.com/ebooks

ralph grabowski

The palette contains a number of options listed under General, most of which I find
unhelpful. See the sidebar for more information.
6. At step six, you finally get to start moving around the drawing. Hold down the up-arrow
key (or the W key) to move forward.
TIP

If movement seems slow, you can speed it up, as follows:


1.
2.
3.
4.

Right-click the screen.


From the shortcut menu, select Walk and Fly Settings.
Change the value of Walk/fly step size to 60.
Click OK.

7. Press the left and right arrow keys to pan the view side to side.
8. A second way to move through 3D scenes is to drag the mouse (hold down the mouses
left button, and then move the mouse):
Side to side rotates the view sideways. This is the movement you make when you want
to turn corners, or around in the model and head back.
Forward and back rotates the view up and down. This lets you look up and down. In
3dWalk mode, you can only look up and down; you cannot travel up or down.
9. A third method is to manipulate the image through the Position Indicator palette. It
contains three elements that you can drag to change the view:
The red dot is the camera, the point from which you are viewing the model. Drag the red
dot to move the cameras position; the position rotates about the target point.
The light green arrow is the target, the direction in which you are looking. Drag the
arrow to move the targets position; the position rotates about the camear point.
The green lines are the field of view. Drag the triangle to move camera and target together.

Move the target, and rotate


about the camera point

Move the camera, and rotate


about the target point.
Move camera and target together.

You can drag any of the three elements to manipulate the view. Note these limitations to
view changes:
Not made in real-time; the view changes after you let go of the mouse button.
Are made in plan view (2D) only; you cannot change the view up or down with this
palette.

chapter 4 the dashboard

animations with autocad

33

TIP
The 3dWalk command is based on 3dOrbit. You can switch to other viewing
modes by right-clicking the screen, and then selecting options from the shortcut menu:
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9

Constrained orbit (3dOrbit command).


Free orbiting (3dFOrbit).
Continuous orbiting (3dCOrbit).
Adjust distance (3dDistance).
Swivel (3dSwivel).
Walk (3dWalk).
Fly (3dFly).
Zoom (3dZoom).
Pan (3dPan)..

10. To exit the 3dWalk command, press the Esc or Enter key.
In summary, the 3D-walk movements are:
Movement

Left Side

Right Side of Keyboard

Move forward
Move back
Pan left
Pan right

W
S
A
D

Up arrow
Down arrow
Left arrow
Right arrow

Rotation

Drag Mouse

Rotate
Rotate
Rotate
Rotate

Left
Right
Forward
Backward

left
right
up
down

TIP
To change the elevation of your 3D walkthrough, use the VPoint command. For
example, to lower the elevation in the 33 trees.dwg, change the viewpoint height to 0.1,
as follows:
Command: vpoint
Specify a view point or [Rotate] <display compass and tripod>: -1,-1,0.1

WalkFlySettings
The 3dWalk command is not truly interactive, because you cannot speed up and slow down as you wish.
The travel speed is constant, but can be changed by the
WalkFlySettings command, as follows:
Command: walkflysettings

34 www.upfrontezine.com/ebooks

WalkFlySetting
Sets properties for the 3DWalk and
3dFly commands.
Command line: walkflysettings
alk and Fly| W
alk
Menu: View | W
Walk
Walk
and Fly settings
Toolbar: Walk and Fly

ralph grabowski

Notice the Walk Fly Settings dialog box.

The Display instruction window item has the following options:


~ When Entering Walk and Fly Modes displays the keyboard mapping dialog box
each time you enter the 3dWalk or 3dFly command.
{ Once Per Session displays the dialog box the first time the commands are entered in
an AutoCAD session.
{ Never never displays the dialog box.
; Display Position Locator Window toggles the display of the Position Locator
palette. When off, the palette is not displayed; you probably want this kept on.
Walk/Fly Step Size specifies the distance you move each time you press an arrow
key. Default = 6; measured in drawing units.
Steps Per Second specifies the number of steps per second when the arrow keys are
held down. Default = 2.
Increase either of these values when movement is too slow. You can also change the steps per
second through the Dashboard, as described in the next chapter.
TIP
You can access this dialog box from within the 3dWalk and 3dFly commands, as
follows:
1. Right-click the screen.
2. From the shortcut menu, select Walk and Fly Settings.

Related System Variables

The following system variables store the settings saved by this dialog box:
StepSize specifies the distance per step. Range is 0.00 000 1 to 1,000,000; default = 6.
StepsPerSec specifies the number of steps per second. Range is 1 to 30; default = 2.

chapter 4 the dashboard

animations with autocad

35

3dFly - Flying Through Models


The 3dFly command is identical to 3dWalk, except that it also
allows movement in the z-direction. Here is the difference:
In 3dWalk use the mouse to rotate the view downward.
Now press the up-arrow key. Notice that you move forwards
(z is fixed).
In 3dFly again, use the mouse to move the view downward. When you press the up-arrow key, notice that you to
move forward and downward.

3dFly
Navigates through 3D drawings.
Dashboard: 3D Naviagate panel
Command line: 3dfly
alk and Fly| Fly
Menu: View | W
Walk
Toolbar: Walk and Fly

In summary, the 3D-fly movements are:


Movement

Left Side

Right Side of Keyboard

Move forward
Move back
Pan left
Pan right

W
S
A
D

Up arrow
Down arrow
Left arrow
Right arrow

Rotation

Drag Mouse

Rotate
Rotate
Rotate
Rotate

Left
Right
Forward
Backward

left
right
up
down

36 www.upfrontezine.com/ebooks

ralph grabowski

four

a n i m a t i o n s

w i t h

a u t o c a d

the dashboard

he purpose of the Dashboard is to provide easier access to AutoCAD commands related to


3D modeling. It separates commands into control panels, each directed at a specific task.
A number of animation-related tasks are found in the 3D Navigation control panel, including
the following:
Invoke the 3dWalk and 3dFly commands.
Record and playback animations created by 3dWalk and 3dFly.
Determine animation settings.
Adjust the step rate and speed.
Toggle display of camera glyphs.
Toggle view between perspective and parallel.
In particular, record/playback animations and animation settings are discussed in detail in
this chapter.

chapter 4 the dashboard

animations with autocad

37

A Brief Dashboard Tour


Use the Dashboard command to open the Dashboard palette:
Command: dashboard

When first open, the Dashboards control panels are condensed. Click a panels chevron
button to expand it to its full size. When expanded, an orange band is displayed up the left side.

Left: 3D Navigation control panel condensed.


Right: Control panel expanded.

Only one panel can be fully open at a time; expand another control panel, and the first contracts itself automatically.
Right-click anywhere on the Dashboard to see this shortcut menu:

Show fewer controls collapses the control panel, like clicking the chevron button.
Tool palette group is supposed to display the selected tool palette group, but does
not work.
Hide hides the selected control.
Help displays online help related to the Dashboard.
Control panels toggles the display of control panels.
TIPS Double-click a control panel icon to quickly open a related Tool palette group:
3D Navigation Cameras
3D Make
Modeling
Visual Style
Visual Styles
Light
Materials group
Materials
Materials Library group
Render
Modeling group
When a Dashboard option is turned on, its button turns orange.

38 www.upfrontezine.com/ebooks

ralph grabowski

3D Navigation Control Panel


More than half of the 3D Navigation control panel applies to animation. Lets take a look at it.
3dWalk and 3dFly
Perspective viewing mode

Lens length / Field of view


Lens length (mm)

Field of view (degrees)


Toggle camera glyphs

Record / playback animations

Animation settings

Step size
Steps per second
Camera location (x,y,z)
Target location (x,y,z)

Many of these items should be familiar to you from the previous chapters. Two of them, Record/
Playback Animations and Animation Settings are new, and are discussed in detail in this chapter.
3dWalk and 3dFly

Click the 3dWalk button to reveal a flyout toolbar with three buttons:

These buttons activate the 3dWalk, 3dFly, and WalkFlySettings commands, as described
in the previous chapter.
Perspective Viewing Mode

Two buttons toggle the viewing mode between parallel (left, in the figure below) and perspective (right).

Clicking these buttons is like changing the value of the Perspective system variable between
0 (parallel) and 1 (perspective). When a button is surrounded by orange, it is on or activated.
TIP
All system variables are transparent commands, meaning you can access them
during other commands, with some exceptions. Exceptions include during the 3dWalk,
3dFly, and AniPath commands. The workaround is to use the buttons on the Dashboard
to change settings.

chapter 4 the dashboard

animations with autocad

39

Lens Length / Field of View

The Lens Length slider lets you change the field of view (and inversely, the lens length) of the
selected camera. The slider jumps between lens lengths commonly used by 35mm cameras,
along with the equivalent field- of-view angle.
Lens Length

Field of View

Wide angle
15mm
20
24
28
35

100 degrees
84
74
65
54

Normal
50

40

Telephoto
85
135
200

24
15
10

Slider
Lens length (mm)

Field of view (degrees)

The two text entry boxes allow you to enter any value for lens length (left) and field of view
(right), limited to these ranges of values:

Field of view
Lens length

Minimum

Maximum

3 degrees
0.15mm

179 degrees
600mm

TIP
The lens length/field of view controls are available only in perspective viewing
mode.

Toggle Camera Glyphs

This button toggles the display of camera glyphs in drawings. If you dont see any glyphs, then
it is likely that this button is turned off. (The other possibility is that no cameras have been
added to the drawing, yet.)

Clicking this button is like changing the value of the CameraDisplay system variable between 0 (off) and 1 (on). When the button is surrounded by orange, it is on.

40 www.upfrontezine.com/ebooks

ralph grabowski

Record / Playback Animations

This strip of VCR buttons records and plays back animations created during the 3dWalk and
3dFly commands.

These buttons are available only while one of those two commands are running. Details later in
this chapter.
Animation Settings

This button displays the Animation Settings dialog box, a subset of the dialog box displayed by
the AniPath command. (Even though this button looks identical to the one for the
WalkFlySettings command, it produces a different result.)

More about this dialog box later in this chapter.


Step Size and Steps Per Second

The sliders and text boxes allow you to change the speed of travel during the 3dWalk and
3dFly commands.
Step size
Steps per second

Camera and Target Coordinates

The camera and target coordinates update as you use the 3dWalk and 3dFly commands.

The x, y, z fields can also be used to re-position selected cameras, but that makes no sense for
animations, where camera positions are generated by AutoCAD.

chapter 4 the dashboard

animations with autocad

41

Recording Interactive Walkthroughs


As you saw in Chapter 2, the AniPath command creates animated movie files, based on a path
you lay through the 3D model. In contrast, the 3dWalk and 3dFly commands let you go
anywhere in the model, without being restricted to a path. The Dashboard has VCR-like controls for recording those wanderings:

These buttons are available only while either of those two commands are running. When gray,
the buttons are unavailable, as illustrated above. During 3dWalk and 3dFly, they come alive:
1. Start / resume recording
3. Play back recording

2. Pause recording
4. Save recording to file

The recording process works like this:


1.

Record you start the 3dWalk (or 3dFly) command, and then click the
Dashboards Record button. As you walk/fly through the 3D model, AutoCAD memorizes
the path.

2.

Pause if you need to pause recording, click the Pause button; click the Record
button to resume recording.

3.

Playback when you are finished the walkthrough, click the Playback button to
check the quality of the walkthrough. (The animation is played back in the familiar Animation Preview window.)

4.

Save when you are satisfied with the animation, click the Save button. AutoCAD
runs through the the memorized path, using the parameters defined by the Animation
Settings dialog box. The images are taken, and then saved as a movie file.

Tutorial: Recording Walkthroughs


In this tutorial, you walk through a 3D model with the 3dWalk command, and record the actions
to a movie file with the Dashboard. (This tutorial operates identically for the 3dFly command.)
1. Start AutoCAD 2007 (or later), and then open the 61 hall.dwg file from AutoCADs
\help\buildyourworld folder.

Left: Hall drawing, as opened.


Right: After changing the viewpoint to ground level.
42 www.upfrontezine.com/ebooks

ralph grabowski

2. Before starting, set a couple of parameters.


You want to walk around at ground level, so change the viewpoint to 1,-1,0, as follows:
Command: vpoint
Current view direction: VIEWDIR=317.0780,-296.9760,359.5791
Specify a view point or [Rotate] <display compass and tripod>: 1,-1,0

The default step size (6) is too short for this size of drawing. Change it to a larger value, as
follows:
Command: stepsize
Enter new value for STEPSIZE <6.0000>: 60

It would be nice to also preset the lens length, but the LensLength system variable has
no impact on 3dWalks field-of-view. The workaround is to set the lens length in the
Dashboard: drag the Lens Length slider to a smaller value, such as 24mm.
3. Start walking. Enter the 3dWalk command.
Command: 3dwalk

Notice that the Dashboards Record button changes from gray to red. This means
AutoCAD is ready to record your walkabout.

Left: Dashboards VCR controls before starting the 3dWalk command.


Right: The Record button activated.

TIP
It can be tricky navigating a 3D model with the 3dWalk command. You may want
to take a few practice runs before hitting the Record button.

4. Click the Record

button, and then start moving about the 3D model.

Recall that you can move in three ways:


Use the cursor keys to move left, right, forward, and backward.
Drag the mouse to rotate the view up, down, left, or right.
Drag the overview image in the Position Indicator palette.
5. If you need to pause the recording, click the Pause
when switching from keyboard to mouse control.

chapter 4 the dashboard

button. You may want to do this

animations with autocad

43

6. When you are done recording, click the Play


button. Notice that the Animation Preview window appears, and begins to playback the animation you recorded.

Surprise! The windows VCR buttons now work. (Back in Chapter 2, we noted that some
of these buttons were inoperable during the AniPath command.)
These button operate almost identically to those found on the Dashboard. The difference
is that when you click the Record button, AutoCAD overwrites the current animation
with a new one, as the following dialog box warns:

Yes exits the Animation Preview window, and then overwrites the current recording
with a new animation.
No returns to the Animation Preview window.
TIP

If you want to resume recording the existing animation, follow these steps:
1. Click No to remove the Warning dialog box.
2. Press Enter to remove the Animation Preview window.
3. Click the Record button in the Dashboard.
Recording resumes.

7. When youre finished with your walkthrough, the final step is to save the animation to a
movie file. Follow these steps:
a. Click the Save
window.

button, either on the Dashboard or in the Animation Preview

b. Notice the Save As dialog box. To change up the movies parameters, click the Animation Settings button to access the Animation Settings dialog box. This is possible, because the movie has not yet been created. More about this dialog box later.

44 www.upfrontezine.com/ebooks

ralph grabowski

c. Specify a file name, and if necessary, a different folder in which to save the movie
file.
d. Click Save.
Notice the Creating Video dialog box. It reports the number of frames processed, as well as
how much longer you can expect to wait for the movie to be finished. Wait until it is done,
or click Cancel to interrupt the process.

8. To view the video, go to the folder in which it was stored, and then double-click the file
name.

Animation Settings
After you walk or fly through the 3D model, and before the movie file is created, AutoCAD
recreates the animation. You can affect the quality of the movie through the Animation Settings dialog box.
You access this dialog box only through buttons; there is no command! On the Dashboard,
button; in the Save As dialog box, click the Animation Settings button, as declick the
scribed above.

Visual Style selects the preset visual style or rendering quality for the animation. If you are
not sure which format to chose, pick Realistic.
Frame Rate (FPS) specifies the speed of the animation. This can range from 1 to 60;
default is 30 frames per second; for faster processing and smaller files, 15fps is suitable.
Resolution provides a list of resolutions, ranging from 160x120 to 1024x768. For draft
work, use the default of 320x240; for final production, 800x600 is good enough.
Format specifies the animation file format: AVI, MOV, MPG, or WMV. If you are not sure
which format to chose, pick AVI.

chapter 4 the dashboard

animations with autocad

45

Processing High Quality Animation Movies


When creating animated movies with AutoCAD, you can improve the quality of presentation in a number of ways. The problem is that
higher quality = longer processing time. Consider a one-minute movie: it contains 1,800 rendered images. At 1024x768-resolution and
with presentation-quality rendering (materials, Sun light, and shadows), it takes AutoCAD 48 hours to render one minute worth of
movie on my 2.4GHz computer.
The higher the quality, the longer the rendering time. This means your movie result depends on a balance between quality and time.
How much quality can you afford for the amount of time available?
One workaround is to set up and test the movie at lower resolution, quality, and frame speed. Once you are satisfied with the result,
change the settings to higher resolution, quality, and 30fps frame speed, and then perform the final rendering overnight or over the
weekend, if necessary. (Dont feel bad over how long this takes; back in the late 1980s, it took AutoCAD that long just to complete
hidden-line removal of a single albeit complex 3D drawing.)
Another workaround is to split the processing between several computers. Have each work on a portion of the animation, and then splice
the resulting files into a single movie using MovieMaker or other movie editing software.
Enhancing the Animation
To make the animated movie look more realistic, apply these enhancements:
Attach materials to objects in the drawing with the Materials tabs of the Tools palette.
Insert lights. At the very least, turn on the Sun light.
Turn on shadows. Your graphics board may limit the quality of shadow available.
Use the View commands Background option to place a raster image in the background of the drawing.
Process the animation using High or Presentation quality rendering.
(For more details on how to apply these effects, see my Tailoring AutoCAD Render ebook, available from www.upfrontezine.com/tar.)

46 www.upfrontezine.com/ebooks

ralph grabowski

appendix a

animations with autocad

editing with
moviemaker
a

utoCAD produces the basic movie; its up to other software to enhance it. Some of the
tasks you can perform with movie editing software includes:
Splice multiple movies generated by AutoCAD into a single movie.
Trim segments, and remove unsuitable sections.
Include still images and movies from other sources.
Add transitions between segments.
Add titles to the start, credits to the end, and overlay descriptive text onto segments.
Apply effects, such as speeding up and slowing down segments.
Add soundtracks, such as voiceovers, music, and/or sound effects.
Save the result in formats suitable for DVDs, Web sites, emailing, and so on.
The problem with editing movies is the final step: rendering the collection of segments, effects, and transitions into the final movie file. (Rendering is the technical term used in movie
editing for outputting the movie; it has nothing to do with AutoCAD rendering.) As with
AutoCAD AniPath command, movie rendering is a time-consuming, CPU-intensive process
whether you use MovieMaker or any other movie editing software.
Short clips, of a minute or so, can be rendered in a few minutes. Longer movies can take hours.
Thus, this warning: keep in mind the long time it takes to process the final rendering of your
movies. Remember to budget for the final rendering time.
Worse yet, the final rendering is never final, as last-minute tweaks are required or requested.
And so there is always another rendering to wait through.

appendix a editing with moviemaker

animations wtih autocad

47

About MovieMaker
Microsoft includes free movie editing software with Windows ME, XP, and Vista.
MovieMaker is basic movie editing software good enough for assembling multiple movie clips
and photographs, adding transition effects and sound tracks, and then saving the movie in
formats suitable for playback on computer, Web site, or DVD.

History of MovieMaker
MovieMaker was first included with Windows ME (millennium edition). If you dont have it,
tough: it cannot be downloaded from Microsofts Web site.
MovieMaker was not included with Windows 2000, because it came out before ME. There is
no version for Window 2000.
MovieMakers newer versions 1.x and v2.x work only with Windows XP, and can be downloaded from www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/downloads/updates/moviemaker2.mspx as part
of XP Service Pack 2.
Version 6.x works only with Vista. It was renumbered to v6 (instead of v3) to match the version
number of Vista its Windows v6.
This appendix describes MovieMaker v2.x running on Windows XP.

Tutorial: Editing AutoCAD Videos with MovieMaker


1. To start MovieMaker, click on its icon on the desktop. (If there is no icon, look for the
moviemk.exe program in the \program files\movie maker folder.)

48 www.upfrontezine.com/ebooks

ralph grabowski

2. In the Movie Tasks panel, click Import Video.


In the Import File dialog box, select the movie files created by AutoCAD, and then click
Import.
(If you want to use other videos or photographs in this movie, add them now.)
3. Drag the AutoCAD movie clips from the Collection area onto the video timeline (bottom
half of the screen).
You can rearrange the video clips by dragging them around the timeline.

If you want to shorten a video clip, drag it by its ends, as illustrated below by the red
double-headed arrow. (You cannot lengthen movie clips.) This trims the clip to make it
shorter.
Adding Video and Transiton Effects

To apply a video effect to a segment:


1. Click View Video Effects in the Movie Tasks pane.
2. Select an effect icon, and then drag it onto the segment.
3. To preview the effect, click the Play button on the Preview window.

Note that effects are cumulative, as illustrated above: applying a second effect modifies the
previous effect; it does not replace the previous effect. To undo an effect, use the Edit | Undo
command.

appendix a editing with moviemaker

animations wtih autocad

49

To apply a transition between two video segments:


1. Click View Transition Effects in the Movie Tasks pane.
2. Select a transition icon, and then drag it onto the Transition timeline between two segments. The most common transition is Fade, which fades the previous clip into the next
movie clip.

3. Click Play to preview the transition.


TIPS The default duration of transitions is set by the Tools | Options | Advanced
dialog box. You can change the value of Transition Duration; a good value is 2 seconds.
To change the duration of a transition, drag its black arrowhead, as illustrated above.

Adding Titles, Text Overlays, and Credits

To add a title at the beginning of the movie, or credits at the end of the movie:
1. Choose Make titles or credits in the Movie Tasks pane.
2. When MovieMaker asks, Where do you want to add a title? click title at the beginning.
3. When prompted, Enter Text for Title, enter one or more lines of text:
Larger text suitable for titles is entered above the line.
Smaller text suitable for credits is entered below the line.
Watch the preview screen to see how the title is turning out, as illustrated below.

4. If you dont like the fonts and effects, click the appropriate items, such as Change the title
animation.
5. When you are satisfied with the title, click Done, add title to movie.

50 www.upfrontezine.com/ebooks

ralph grabowski

To add a text on top of a video segment:


1. Choose Make titles or credits in the Movie Tasks pane.
2. Select clip to which you wish to add text.
3. Click title on the selected clip.
4. Under More Options, click Change the title animation.
5. In the Choose the Title Animation pane, select Subtitle (found under Titles, One Line),
and then click Edit the title text.
6. Click Done, add to the movie.
Adding Music and Narration

To add music to the movie:


1. Choose Import Audio or Music in the Movie Tasks pane.
2. In the Import File dialog box, choose a music file, such as .wav (CD) or .mp3, and then
click Import. Notice that the music is added to the collection.
3. Drag the music icon onto the Audio/Music strip of the timeline.

4. As with video clips, you can drag the music clips position and length to determine when
the music starts and how long it lasts.
To add commentary to the movie:
1. Ensure you have a microphone plugged into your computer, and that it is working.
2. From the Tools menu, select Narrate Timeline.
3. Drag the playback indicator (thick blue vertical line) to an empty portion of the Audio/
Music timeline. (You cannot have music and narration at the same time with this version
of MovieMaker.)
4. In the Narrate Timeline pane, click Show more options to see the timer and other
useful information.

appendix a editing with moviemaker

animations wtih autocad

51

Its useful to turn on these two options:


Limit narration ensures you dont talk longer than the movies duration.
Mute speakers prevents feedback whine between the mic and the speakers.
5. Click the Start Narration button, and then begin speaking.
6. When done, click Stop Narration, and then click Done.
Saving the Movie

Saving the movie involves rendering it, where all the video segments, effects, titles, and audio
are melded together into a single file.
Before saving the movie, think about its destination, because this affects its size and quality:
Destination

Comments

Computer

Movie will be played back on a computer.


This means the movie can be rendered at its highest quality.
Ensure your computer has sufficient disk space on its hard drive.
Select: Save to my computer.

DVD

Movie will be recorded to a DVD (or CD) for playback.


This means the movie must be translated into DVD format, which MovieMaker
does for you. If recorded to CD, a different format is used, which MovieMaker also
takes care of.
Ensure you have a DVD (or CD) burner in the computer with a blank DVD/R (or
CD/R) disc inserted.
Select: Save to CD.

Web

Movie will be played back from a Web site.


This means the movie should be rendered at a low resolution, so that it can
be successfully downloaded and viewed by others.
Ensure that your Web site is capable of playing back movies.
Select: Save to the Web.

To save the movie, follow these steps:


1. In the Movie Tasks pane, choose an item from the Finish Movie list, such as Save to CD
or Save to the Web. For this tutorial, save the movie to the computers hard disk. Click
Save to my computer.
2. Enter a file name, and then pick the folder in which to save the movie. Click Next.

52 www.upfrontezine.com/ebooks

ralph grabowski

3. By default, MovieMaker chooses the best video format for your computer. Check the specs
at the bottom of the dialog box.

To change the settings, click Show more choices, and then choose Other settings.
4. Click Next, and then MovieMaker begins rendering the movie project. In this particular
case, a 24-second movie rendered in about four minutes about an 1:8 ratio.
When done, MovieMaker opens Media Player, and then begins playing back the movie for
you.

appendix a editing with moviemaker

animations wtih autocad

53

Notes

54 www.upfrontezine.com/ebooks

ralph grabowski

tailoring autocad rendering

appendix b

testing with gsb


a

utoCAD includes an undocumented set of commands that test your graphics board for
speed. These commands all begin with GSB, which I am guessing is short for graphics speed
benchmark. Their true purpose is unknown,for Autodesk has never spoken about them.
The commands display the current drawing with a variety of view changes, such as panning,
zooming, and view rotation. Often, the tests are repeated in different rendering modes, such as
wireframe and Gouraud-shaded. Each command typically performs two types of timings: how
long each test takes, and the number of frames displayed per second. Shorter timings and
higher fps rates indicate a faster graphics board.
Before you can use any of these commands, use the AppLoad command to load the gstest.arx
file.
For instance, the Gsb1 command rotates, pans, and zooms the current drawing in wireframe
and Gouraud shading modes, and then displays the result at the command line like this:
Command: gsb1
-------------------------------Wireframe

: 14.764258 seconds, 48.834152 fps

Gouraud Shaded : 19.605373 seconds, 36.775633 fps

appendix b testing with gsb

tailoring autocad render 55

Summary of GSB Commands


The GSB commands are:
Command

Comments

GsbXyWireframe
GsbXyHidden
GsbXyFlat
GsbXyGouraud
GsbXyG3

Benchmarks
Benchmarks
Benchmarks
Benchmarks
Benchmarks

Gsb1, Gsb2, Gsb3, Gsb4


Gsb5

Benchmarks in wireframe and Gouraud-shaded at different speeds.


Benchmarks in wireframe, hidden-line, flat-shaded, and Gouraudshaded modes.
Benchmarks the 3D model with a variety of movements and shade modes.
Rotates and zooms model in 3D space with a variety of shade modes.

GsTestBenchmark
GsTestRegress

in wireframe mode.
in hidden-line removal mode.
in flat-shaded mode.
in Gouraud-shaded mode.
in a faster Gouraud-shaded mode.

GsbXy
GsAutoOrbit
GsAutoZoomPan
GsbXy, GsbXyWireframe,
GsbXyHidden, GsbXyFlat,
GsbXyGouraud, GsbXyG3
GsbXyAutomated

Rotates 3D model in all four rendering modes, as listed above.


Rotates 3D models about the x and y axes.
Zooms 3D models in and out.

Rotates 3D models in several display modes about the x and y axes.


Crashes my copy of AutoCAD.

GsDolly
GsPan
GsOrbit
GsZoom

Moves the viewpoint a given distance along a specified axis.


Pans the model a given distance along a specified axis.
Rotates model by a given angle about a specified axis.
Zooms the model by a given factor.

GsClipBack, GsFrontClip
Specifies the back and front clipping planes,
GlClipBackOn, GsClipFrontOn Toggles the clipping planes.

GSB Commands with Input


Most GSB commands begin working immediately, but some prompt for user input. For instance, GsDolly moves the viewpoint along an axis, after prompting you for the distance and
axis:
Command: gsdolly
Enter Camera Dolly Distance: (Enter distance.)
Enter Active Axis: (Specify x, y, or z axis.)

GsClipBack and GsFrontClip ask you to specify back and front clipping planes:
Command: gsfrontclip
Enter Front Clipping Plane Position: (Enter distance.)

GlClipBackOn and GsClipFrontOn ask if you want the the clipping planes on or off:
Command: gsclipfronton
Front Clip On: (Enter on or off.)

56 www.upfrontezine.com/ebooks

ralph grabowski

GsOrbit rotates the model at an angle and about a axis that you specify:
Command: gsorbit
Enter Orbit Angle (degrees): (Enter angle.)
Enter Active Axis: (Specify x, y, or z axis.)

GsPan pans model a distance and along an axis that you specify:
Command: gspan
Enter Camera Pan Distance: (Enter pan distance.)
Enter Active Axis: (Specify x, y, or z axis.)

GsZoom prompts you for a zoom factor:


Command: gszoom
Enter Camera Zoom Factor: (Enter a value.)

Tutorial: Using GSB Commands


1. Before you can use any of the GSB commands, you need to load the related ARx application, as follows:
a.

At the Command: prompt, enter the AppLoad command.


Command: appload

Notice the Load/Unload Applications dialog box.

b.

Scroll through the long list of .arx applications, and then select gstest.arx.
Notice that it appears in the File name text box.

c.

Click Load. AutoCAD loads gstest.arx into itself.

d.

Click Close to close the dialog box.

appendix b testing with gsb

tailoring autocad render 57

2. Open a 3D drawing.
3. Enter a GSB command, such as GsTestBenchmark:
Command: gstestbenchmark
-------------------------------

Notice that the model is zoomed and rotated several times, first in wireframe modes and
then in shaded modes. When done, the results are reported on the command line:
Wireframe

: 5776.877229 ms

Wireframe

: 31.504910 fps

Hidden Line

: 11109.603036 ms

Hidden Line

: 16.382224 fps

Flat Shaded

: 3357.221099 ms

Flat Shaded

: 54.211502 fps

Gouraud Shaded : 5740.894443 ms


Gouraud Shaded : 31.702377 fps
-------------------------------

TIPS You cannot press Esc or interrupt the benchmarking; you must wait until it is
finished.
You cannot make screengrabs of AutoCAD while the GSB commands are running.

For dozens of other ebooks about AutoCAD, visit www.upfrontezine.com/ebooks.

Tailoring AutoCAD from Release 12 through to 2008.

Tailoring CUI customizing the user interface.

Tailoring Visual Styles creating new and interesting visual styles.

Tailoring AutoCAD Render understanding materials, lights, and renderings.

Tailoring Dynamic Blocks editing blocks to make them interactive.

Tailoring QuickCalc performing calculations and executing formulae.

Whats Inside? AutoCAD Finding out whats new in the latest AutoCAD releases.

58 www.upfrontezine.com/ebooks

ralph grabowski