3DS Conversions

3DS Conversions

May 29, 2015
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For whatever reason, as powerful and useful as MODO is, it still doesn’t import 3DS files. So a workaround is needed. We’ve tried a handful of converters but they all carry tradeoffs. No matter what, you get serious triangulations.

Why do we care? Because as much fun as 3D modelling is, sometimes you just need an ATM, or an oven, or a refrigerator. Producing the symbols in 2D is a cakewalk compared to producing truly useful, believable items in 3D. One day perhaps we’ll be proficient enough to whip them off. In the meantime, we source these files from sites that offer pre-built 3D models. There’s a bunch.

The most common format for pre-built 3D models is 3D Studio Max, or 3DS. So if we find models from others outside of the Luxology Community, conversion is a necessary thing.

By the way, it ain’t over when you convert. Inspect the result and expect some cleanup to ensure consistent behavior and visual results.  Depending on how extensive this part is, it may not be worth your time. Unfortunately, there is very little information on the source sites to know how extensive conversions will be. As we learn more, we’ll update this reference.

CONVERTERS

I am having trouble finding converters that take thins all the way to an LXO file. What I can do is get in between, to an OBJ or FBX file.

W I N N E R – AutoDESK’s FBX Converter

Yeah. I said that. Okay. MODO happily opens an FBX file.

Tricks
1. EMBED MEDIA in the Destination File Options.
2. FBX SAVE MODE = ASCII in Destination File Options.

BLENDER & DAZ 3D

Blender is most often cited as a conversion tool. My problem with it, like DAZ, is that you have to fire up an entire 3D modelling and rendering package to make it all happen. That said, both programs are pretty hot in their own right.

STEFISKO – $60

Yeah. We spent that money. Does a fine job getting AutoCAD DXF models translated into OBJ format. Have not tried it with 3DS files.

SYCODE – $200

No. We didn’t spend that money.

W A R N I N G – ANYEXCHANGE 3D5

Comes nicely packaged with a virus. Windows Restore handled it with grace, for once. Too bad because the execution and interface is trouble free.

3D MODEL SOURCES

This is a VERY SHORT list.  Always open to hear more.

CGAxis – PAY – Residential   Office   Retail   Landscape

High quality models and collections.  A serviceable set for homes and retail.

CGTrader – PAY/FREE – Everything

Archive site.  Wide range of quality and formats.  Good models, good signs of life selection.

3DXO – FREE – Residential

Small collection. Awesome glasses and Christmas decorations.

TurboSquid – PAY/FREE – Everything

Huge archive site.  Wide range of quality.  You can find most things we run across day to day.  Many of the other sites listed here have representation there.

DigitalxModels – PAY – Everything

High quality models and collections.

Resources.blogscopia.com – FREE – Residential   Office

Nice assortment of work.

Sweet Home 3D – FREE – Residential

A serviceable collection of low resolution work.  Probably good for basic modelling without textures.

Quality Assurance

Given this list, the question often is, how much time is this going to take?  And if it’s a lot (insert threshold of pain here), then was it worth the money spent? Sometimes the cleanup

  1. META
    1. UNPACK.  Sounds stupid.  I know.  That’s what checklists like this are for.  Why?  Because reference files and structures don’t always come through in ZIP, RAR or other compressed file.
    2. FILE NAMES AND STRUCTURE should agree with in-house conventions.  This will need to be reiterated as QA  proceeds. BE CAREFUL WITH TEXTURES.  In the renaming and re-filing, you can lose the image referencing in the textures. TEXTURE files don’t always reveal themselves initially. So before renaming and relocating images, check TEXTURES first.
    3. ITEM NAMES – Ditto.
    4. TEXTURE NAMES – Ditto.
  2. MESHES – High poly count files can have meshes numbering in the millions for what MODO would draw in the hundreds.  MODO has a mesh cleanup function. In some cases you may need to run it a few times.
  3.  TRANSFORMS
    1. SCALE – Turn on the dimension tool (View > Dimension Tool) and check the sizing. Scale appropriately. I got an oven once.  It was a half a mile long.  Easily explained, easily fixed, but yet another task.
    2. POSITION – Consider how you want the item located when you bring it in. The control is always at the origin of the file. Move the geometry as needed.
    3. ROTATION – Ditto.
    4. CHANNELS – As you make the above adjustments, MODO adds transform channels. And sometimes, there are already transforms present. In the Items panel, find the item and click on column 3. This toggles Local vs World. If there are transform channels active, this shows what they will do when you save the file off to an Item Preset. We’ve been bitten by this more than once. The fix is to Merge Meshes, Zero All and Freeze All.  Double check.  Our confidence in this is weak.
  4. TEXTURES – Beyond META, Texture settings need to be double checked.
    1. SHADERS are often added.  For glass items, we often put them above MODO’s Base Shader and add a separate shader.  If there’s no glass, then delete the shader.
    2. LAYERS can be extensive.  Activate the Material Selection tool and in the Shading panel, walk the layers.
    3. IMAGE FILES for the most part are preserved. But be careful of having been renamed, relocated or still packed in an archive file.

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