Working with ... Max

3D Studio Max 6.0 ®/ Life Forms File Translator

1. Introduction

The file translator is designed to provide an easy way for 3D Studio Max users to harness the animation power of Life Forms. It allows the animator to export bones or geometry hierarchies from the current model to Life Forms where it can be animated and the resulting animation saved as a Life Forms file. This file can then be imported into Max, and the contained animation mapped to the original model.

2. Installation

The Max Translator files are contained in the Max File Translator folder on the Life Forms CD. The Max File Translator folder is also installed by default in your Life Forms 4 program directory.

Copy or move LifeformsMaxExporter.dle and LifeformsMaxImporter.dli to the Max plug-ins directory. In a standard Max installation this will be C:\3dsmax6\plugins.

Copy Life.dll to the Max Installation directory (e.g. C:\3dsmax6).

3. Usage

1. Exporting the Skeleton Create a scene containing one or more segmented or boned models. (Note the model mesh does not need to be present for the procedure to work.) Save this scene as your base scene.

Select the root joint of each hierarchy in your scene that you wish to export. Note that each hierarchy root must have a unique name. DO NOT select any other object in the scene, as this may confuse Life Forms.

Choose Export … from the File menu.

In the export file dialog, select Save as Type .lfa from the drop-down menu.

Type in the file name and click the Save button.

4. Animating the Skeleton Open the file created in 3.1.4 with Life Forms.

Animate the hierarchies(s) using any one of the many techniques available in Life Forms.

Save the resulting animation as a new Life Forms file.

5. Importing the Animation Load the unanimated base scene saved in 3.1.1 containing your model.

Choose Import … from the File menu.

In the import file dialog, select Files of Type .lfa from the drop-down menu.

Navigate to the directory where you have saved the Life Forms animation created in 3.2.2.

Double click on the file that contains the desired animation.

At this point your model(s) should have assumed the animation data as it was defined in Life Forms. You can test this by pressing the Play button in the lower right corner of the Max application.

6. Known bugs and Limitations

Joints Bones Created with Mirror

If you created some of the joints in Max using the Mirror function, those joints may not import properly into Life Forms. As a work-around, you can fix this by selecting each joint in turn and resetting the transform in the hierarchy pane.

7. Tutorial and Sample Files

Refer to tutorials and sample files at

Back to Support - Tutorials page.

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