Reaching Out with 3ds Max
Figure 1: Egyptian Hieroglyphics
Humans strived to communicate values, purpose, and interests through art long before they communicated through writing. Explicit or not, the need to communicate our thoughts, concepts, and ideas in visual form is perhaps one of the greatest factors driving us to move forward. Through art, we work to engage or entice each other, shift or seed ideas, solve problems, develop ideology or theology, and change the nature of people or entire cultures. Through it all, humanity considers these ideas to shape our futures and continue to improve as we press forward.
I consider this point for the simple fact that while this pertains to all humanity, we should remember that it can be more difficult to reach certain people than others. The beauty of art, especially 3D art using applications such as 3ds Max®, is that we can reach out and communicate to those who might have been out of reach before.
It’s important to consider that as population grows, the education of those around us should be considered. Education is important to increase understanding of one another, respecting one another’s ideas, and working together. As digital artists, consider that while we can share our knowledge and experience by teaching, there are often language barriers and technical challenges that make reaching out beyond our own regions difficult.
I make this point because I’d like to present an example of an alternative way I found to have a global impact without leaving my home. By joining an online volunteer program, I receive notifications from organizations who require assistance with the particular skills I have listed in my profile. In this particular case the organization was Cercle Social. Cercle Social is working to provide education to disadvantaged youth in Benin. Their goal was to convert standard transport (train) carts into solar-powered class rooms utilizing Raspberry Pi workstations for learning. An extremely cost-effective and efficient idea, but they had no particular way to communicate the idea. Using 3ds Max we rendered the concept to effectively present the idea, which would help raise capital that could lead to bettering the lives of struggling children in the region. By reaching out through available avenues online, we can make large impacts to the global community using the skills we’ve worked hard to refine and master without ever leaving the comfort of our workplace or studios.
Figure 2: Classroom Concept from Converted Train Cart
Many of us don’t consider that 3ds Max can be used beyond the movie, visualization, or game industry, but it can. With a unique ability to generate custom content in so many formats, we can communicate ideas to those who might have difficulty understanding them otherwise. I’ll try to present an example.
When I was a teenager I had the chance to visit various parts of the world as part of a student program. I had the opportunity to visit the Louvre in France, the Palace of Versailles, the British Museum, the Great Barrier Reef, and so much more. Seeing those particular monuments was extraordinary and had an enormous impact on my life. However, I remember that nearly every place I went—every museum, parliament, and cultural building—had one particular rule: don’t touch anything.
Now imagine someone who is blind. The ability to touch something is the only way a visually impaired person can gather a sense of what that object might look like. Asking a blind person to not touch something is like telling a person with normal vision to close his or her eyes and watch a movie.
PERCRO (Perceptual Robotics Laboratory), an Institute in Pisa, Italy, is one organization that understands this challenge. Their project, Pure-From, was an effort to create a 3D art museum featured with stereo vision, tactile stimuli, and 3D printed art (some that can be generated using 3ds Max) to provide those with visual challenges the unique opportunity to touch and visualize their displays in a way no other museum would allow.
By using 3ds Max we can look for opportunities to reach others in ways that are unique and unexpected, but can have an enormous impact to those who might appreciate it the most. This can include those with physical challenges, unique learning needs, advanced education, and much more.
With the release of virtual gear in the last year or so, virtual reality offers a unique opportunity to present nearly any idea in any way imaginable. 3ds Max and its ability to generate 360-degree videos is one of the most efficient and powerful applications in the industry to create content for virtual reality systems. To create a simple 360-degree video, I’ll present the steps below using a 3ds Max Free camera and V-Ray Adv renderer.
Step One. With Vray Adv set as renderer, select the V-Ray tab. For the Image Sampler choose “progressive.” See Figure 3 for example.
Figure 3: Step One
Step Two. Expand the Camera category and select the Spherical type. Override the FOV (Field of View) for the entire 360 degrees. See Figure 4 for example.
Figure 4: Step Two
That’s it. Simply render your project and you’re done (see Figure 5). From here you can add the necessary metadata to the image or video using various free tools available online, or work with various video editing software applications to upload the videos to YouTube or wherever you like.
Figure 5: Final result
While it’s essential to continue our own education it’s also important to remember how we can participate in the education of others. With the power of 3ds Max and hard work, we can help society to move forward, change ideas, and take part in shaping the future.