Panorama Exporter

Hello. I will try my best to guide you through this, my first tutorial, which is about Panorama Exporter for 3DSMax. First let's explain exactly what this is about. When one is working, making 3D models of houses, offices or any type of space occupied by humans, the client usually wants to be able to really "see" or have a realistic "feel" of the space, before it is built. One can show plans or blueprints to the client, but he(or she) seldom has a real understanding of space and dimensions. And sometimes still images just aren't enough. This is where the Panorama Exporter comes in. This is a very simple tool for making interactive "rooms" where the client can "look" around it and have a better feel of what it will be like once it's built. This tutorial is done in meters. So the first thing to do is go to the "Customize" menu, then select "Units setup", then select "Metric". You can work in any units you want, the meters are used for this exercise only.

We will start by importing the blueprint from Autocad. Just click 'File>Import' and choose your .cad file. In this case we'll use a small house I'm currently working on.

Note: There are yellow numbers shown in the pictures that correspond to the numbers shown in the text in parenthesis. Once you select your file, you will see the window shown at left. Click on the "Layers" tab to show the layers for the autocad file.

For this example we only need the wall layer.

You should see your object like in the picture. Then select it, go to the modify panel and right-click where it says "editable spline".

After that, select "editable mesh" to convert the spline to a mesh object.

Let's switch to "perspective" view or "user" view to see the drawing in 3 dimensions. Select your object and under the "modify" tab select 'Editable Mesh>Polygon'. Then select all the polygons that form the house.

Next select "Extrude" from the "Edit Geometry" submenu and write 1.0m. Then, with the same selected faces, pick "Extrude" by 1.0m. Finally extrude again by 0.35m.

You should now have something similar to image.

Now we will make the door and window openings. Select the faces as shown.

And extrude them until they reach the other side of the wall.

Now go to 'Vertex' mode in the 'Editable Mesh' submenu and pick the vertices shown.

Then click on "Weld" in the 'edit geometry' submenu. Make sure that you have 0.1m on the field next to the "Selected" button. If you have a higher value, the vertices will not weld correctly. If the value is smaller the vertices might not weld at all. This value corresponds to the minimum distance needed between two or more vertices, in order to be welded. Example: If you select 2 vertices that have 1 meter between them, you should also have "1m" in the field next to the "Selected"button, in order for them to be welded.

Continue welding each door and window opening until you reach something like the picture.

Tip: To avoid selecting or welding unwanted vertices or faces, check the "Ignore backfacing" box that's right below the "Selection" submenu.

Now let's make the floor by selecting "Box" from the "Create" menu. Select the top view and make your box object.

Now I'll get some windows and doors from some other files I previously worked on. You can download objects like these from any 3D website or make them on your own.

Here is what we have so far.

To make the ceiling, we will simply clone the floor. Go to the front, right or left view of your model and select the floor object. Then press "shift" and drag the object up to where the ceiling should be, right above the top of the walls. Make sure you select "Copy" from the "Clone" window.

If you select "Instance" then any change you make to the ceiling will automatically be made to the floor too.

We now have the house made. Next we will add a camera. It can be a "Free" or a "Target" camera. It's pretty much the same in this example. We'll pick a "Target" camera so that we can have better precision in aiming it. Go to the "Top" view, then to the "Create" tab. Pick "Cameras" then Object Type> Target. Click and drag in the viewport to locate the camera as shown.

Now adjust the camera and target to view something like the picture.

You can add objects like furniture, lamps, picture frames on the walls, etc. Whatever needed to give the house some "life". I will just add simple objects to simulate furniture and so on. I'll add a simple tile texture to the floor as well. This is what we have now.

You can add lights and do test renders (press F10 for the render window) until you have the "look" that you desire.

Once you are happy with how it looks, select your camera view and then go to the "Utilities Panel". Select "Panorama Exporter".

In case that it doesn't show in the 'Utilities' submenu, select "More" and look for it there. It comes standard with max R.6.0. You don't need to download it or anything. I'm not sure if earlier versions of 3Dsmax has it as well.

When you click on "Panorama Exporter" a new window appears below. It says "Render" and "Viewer". Let's pick render.
See the imagse below to get the basic render settings.

I recommend that you use at least 1024X512 resolution so that the resulting image will be less blurry. The bigger the resolution, the better the picture quality but it will consume more memory and it will take longer to render. In this case I used 1536X768. Check the box marked "Compute Advanced Lighting when Required". This will speed up the render a bit.

In the "Antialiasing" part, select "Catmull-Rom" filter. In "Global SuperSampling" select "Max 2.5 Star". You can play around with each parameter to get the result you want.

Then make sure that you have selected the "Camera" viewport and hit "Render".

Here's a Still of the result I got.

The ceiling looks black because I have no lighting except the default lights.

Once the render is done you should get a picture similar to the one above. You can now use your mouse to "look" around the house and get a more "life like" feeling of the space you are in.

You can then click on File>Export>Export QuickTimeVR and you can save your file as a self-contained quicktime movie. This way you can send it to your clients and they can look at it in their computer (Quicktime 6 required).

I hope this was of some help. If you have questions or comments, don't hesitate to e-mail me I have attached the file that I made from this tutorial that can be downlaod here. (

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