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Bones

The new bones system in max 4 gives the user unique capabilities to work faster and smarter with state-of-the art tools. The bones system in previous versions of max were significantly less than perfect when attempting anything but the simplest tasks, so when Discreet decided to focus version 4 on the issues important to character animation, it started from square one. High on the list of requirements was the need for the new system to be flexible but also intuitive.

Bones are essentially a hierarchy of linked joints. For example, consider a typical human arm, which is comprised of three joints: the shoulder, elbow, and wrist joints. These are connected by a representation of two physical bones: the upper-arm and forearm bones. In max 4—and most other 3D packages, for that matter—a bone object is a joint that represents a pivot point for the bone object. The visual representation of the actual bone length is drawn from this base joint to the next child joint in the hierarchy. The important thing to remember when working with bones is that the position and orientation of the joints is much more important than how the bone between them is represented. A big change from the old bones system in max is that, in the new system, bones represent the parent joint, not the child joint. For example, in Max 3, if you rotated the length of bone between the shoulder and the elbow, you were really rotating the elbow. In max 4, if you do the same thing, you rotate the arm from the shoulder, which is much more intuitive (see Figure 3.1).


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