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Because I needed to learn the program thoroughly for my dissertation work, this is the fifth 3dsMax book I've bought, and it's the first that's not been overtly disappointing. If someone wants to have every little feature laid out in boring detail, there are the official materials and release notes for that. This book is the literal opposite (others suggesting otherwise have clearly not read the book in much detail).
What is most impressive here is that the book is NOT a systematic, unstructured tour of the program, dutifully covering each minor feature. Rather, it is results-oriented: if you want to accomplish X, here is how you go about it. Although it is graphically-rich and amazingly clear, it is most certainly not a comic book version of a Max book, and is clearly targeted to the sophisticated user. Even though a beginner would find the book quite useful, it should probably be bought in conjunction with a primer or a book "introducing" 3dsMax.
The writing is sprightly and, although there are spots where the editing might have been tightened, it is well above average even in that regard. In fact, if anything, the book has a crisp literary feel to it that will appeal to most readers, but may not be the style of choice for really hard-core users. Still, this is preferable to the studied dessication of nearly all the other books I've seen on the topic.
Finally, the graphical illustrations are uniformly excellent, leaving little to the imagination. I'm hoping that this team sees fit to write such a guide for the next, inevitable incarnation of the program. I for one will be advance ordering it.
Mastering 3ds max 4 Overview
Make the Most of Today's Leading Animation Package
With release 4, max further establishes itself as today's dominant modeling, animation, and rendering package. And with its fully revised and updated coverage, Mastering 3ds max 4 further establishes itself as the definitive max resource--just the book you need to master all the techniques supported by this powerful product. Inside, you'll learn all about sculpting and texturing your characters, setting them in motion, lighting the scene, and producing the final animation--for movies, games, television, and the Web. You also get in-depth instruction in MAXScript, including detailed explanations of all that's new to this release. Coverage includes:
* Understanding basic 3D concepts
* Modeling in polygons, patches, and NURBS
* Creating detailed models
* Optimizing models for low-poly environments
* Applying textures for real-time and pre-rendered output
* Animating using parametric animation, forward kinematics, inverse kinematics, and character studio
* Fine-tuning animation by editing keys and transitions
* Creating drama with lighting
* Applying post-process effects
* Cutting and cross-fading between shots
* Compositing in Video Post and combustion
* Exporting to Web 3D with Pulse
* Getting started with MAXScript
* Using scripting for scene manipulation
* Using scripting for animation
* Customizing the user interface
* Defining autostart scripts
* Creating your own plug-ins using MAXScript
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*** Product Information and Prices Stored: Sep 05, 2010 15:10:10