Dragon Films

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Ask the Dragon is an interactive connection between Dragon Films and anybody in the 3DMM community that is having trouble. Can't quite figure out how to get something done in 3DMM? HTML code confusing you? The Dragon has answered many questions already... do you have a question to Ask the Dragon?

Question: How do I get 3DMM working under Windows XP? It hangs and complains about lack of memory, even on different computers!
Dragon: The easiest way to address the problem is to simply run 3DMM in a window. For some reason, when you run it in fullscreen mode, there are usually issues with hangs and crashes likely caused by changing display modes with 3DMM's proprietary 3D rendering system. You can change to windowed mode by entering 3DMM, pressing CTRL+SHIFT+I, and selecting "Run in Window". Alternatively, you can download 3DMM Config to make this (and other) changes automatically. The other option is to use Windows XP's compatability mode to change the program's load options. The correct combination of compatability settings that work well seems to vary by system, but I do know that on my particular setting, 3DMM will run fullscreen when I set it for "Windows 2000" compatability and check all of the boxes under "Display Settings". You can get to the compatability options by right-clicking on "3DMOVIE.EXE" (usually in C:\Program Files\Microsoft Kids\3D Movie Maker), selecting "Properties", and then clicking on the "Compatability" tab.

Question: How can you repeat a .wav file? I really want to continue my music in several scenes!
Dragon: To repeat a digital sound, you create a sound effect "chain" (represented in 3DMM by a note with a chain in the background... how original!). To create a sound chain, simply hold down CTRL while you attach the sound effect to the actor, prop, 3D word, or background of your choice. Now, the sound effect will repeat for as many times as you click the mouse. For example, if you want a sound effect to repeat three times, hold down CTRL and click on the object thrice.

Question: How do I make a good, thick plot?
Dragon: Thick serious plots are tough to come by in 3DMM. What you really need is a story or idea that has been bubbling in your head for quite some time (I'm talking months, not days or minutes). When you seriously think of an idea for a plot, it kind of forms itself, and the more you think about it the richer it becomes. For example, I've been thinking about my Final Fantasy… the Ultimate Epic story since 1999, and I think it's the most creative, complex, and coolest thing I've ever thought of to date. I do a lot of "listening to my dreams" as well. As corny as it sounds, I use dreams segments in parts of my stories. In fact, the Dragon Films quote, "Dreams have become reality. Live the experience." is such because lots of ideas I have for my stories have come from my dreams. You could try that as well. But what you ultimately need is time. Don't think about it too hard, either… it has to sort of hit you when you least expect it, like when you're riding on a plane or eating dinner or something. When you get a sudden idea, then you need to put it on the back burner and think about it for a loooong time. The longer you let it sit and think about it, the better it will get. Sort of like wine (not that I'd know).

Question: How can I take a screenshot of my movie in 3DMM?
Dragon: The simplest way to take a screenshot in 3DMM is to utilize the PRINT SCREEN button (it's to the right of F12 on standard keyboards). When you move to the frame you want to take a screenshot of, hit PRINT SCREEN and the image will be stored in the clipboard. This means that you can open up any paint program and click PASTE to put your screenshot onto the workspace; then you can mangle it any way your heart desires. If, though, you get a black screen when you try this, then you'll have to take another step. Before you take your screenshot, hit "CTRL + SHIFT + I" while in 3DMM all at the same time and you will get a dialog box. Click RUN IN WINDOW and then OK, and 3DMM will be put into a window. Then hit ALT + PRINT SCRN (to take a screenshot of just the 3DMM window) and do the pasting again like you would above.

Question: My e-mail provider will not let me send large attachments. How can I send my 3D Movie to Dragon Films?
Dragon: This is a big problem, especially for people who use web-based e-mail like Hotmail. There are four main ways to circumvent this. First (and most obvious), you should remove any extra sounds in your movie (by selecting "Get rid of them before closing the movie" if prompted when you close your movie). Also, you should definitely get a program that can compress your movies, such as WinRAR. Second, you can split your movie up in 3DMM, breaking it into multiple parts that are each a megabyte or two, so when you compress them they each will just be small enough to send through e-mail. This can be done using the Scene Manager in 3DMM. Then you can send each file in a separate e-mail. The only problem with this is that the people who watch the movie (such as me) will have to reconnect the movie fragments into one file, which is annoying and makes the .3mm file size larger than normal. Third, you can split up the archive file into multiple parts with your archiving utility. With multi-volume archives, each piece can be the smallest size you need to e-mail them; then simply e-mail them separately. Finally, if all else fails, get a new e-mail provider. Do some searching on the Net and you'll find some high-quality e-mail services.

Question: When I post my movie on the net, will I have to include fonts that are used in the movie that most people don't have?
Dragon: It is very useful to do this, yet many people forget to do it. If another computer doesn't have the font used, it will see the text as a plain, boring default font that can really take away from a movie, especially if the font is being used as scenery or as part of an animation (this font is called "Fixedsys"). Basically, the more fonts you include with your movie when you send it the better the chance that it will be viewed correctly when people download it. Fonts can be found in C:\Windows\Fonts (or whatever your OS's Fonts directory is).

Question: What are some neat methods for making slow-motion scenes? What can you put in to those slow-motion scenes to make them look even neater, like pan-arounds or zoom-ins? What are several different things that you can convert to slow-motion? Explosions? Someone tripping?
Dragon: Everyone who has seen The Matrix knows about all the special effects in it that make it so awesome: the slow-motion explosions, running, fighting, and the "Bullet Time" camera technique. All of these things can't be put into 3DMM with that high type of quality, but you can use some techniques that resemble them in 3DMM. First, slow motion scenes. There are two ways this can be done. The first technique tends to make the movie a lot choppier than the second, but it's a lot easier for the beginner. To do it, you have to first know exactly what is going to happen in the current scene. Next, when making the scene, you put all the actors in the starting pose, then skip ahead two or more frames and build the next pose. It's just like making a movie normally, except now you are skipping frames in between. A useful hint here is to use the CTRL+Continue Last Action combination to make the character pose in the next action position without recording any frames. This makes movies that are very choppy (the longer the interval the longer the movie jump rate is), but there could be some places where you want this effect. The second technique takes much more time but makes more professional-quality results. This requires you to move every character or prop just a tiny bit every single frame so that it looks like the character is moving realistically, just a lot slower. Check out Travis Wells's 3DMM Animation Pro program to make this process less painful. As for zoom-ins and pans, you need to have a man-made scene (that's a must). Then, relative to the speed of the character you're following or the speed at which you want the camera to move, you have to move every single object in the scene relative to the camera. For example, to get a shot like in The Matrix where Neo is dodging bullets on the top of the roof, first you'd need a manmade scene that has Neo, the building, the Agent, a gun or two, and some background. Then when the bullets start flying, you'd need to use second slow-motion technique (described above) to make it slow down, then move and rotate every object every frame so that it looks like the camera is moving. As for what can be turned into slow-motion… well, anything really, but the coolest things could be explosions, gunfights, acrobatic scenes, or really key points in your film. Just practice, and you'll get it eventually!

Question: How can I make word boxes disappear on a certain frame?
Dragon: For some reason this seems to be a commonly-asked question, but it's really not hard to do. All you have to do is select the Cut tool when in the Words menu, then click on the frame of the text you want to delete on the frame you want it to disappear (cutting actual text will permanently remove it). Do not use the Remove Word Box tool. If you do, the box will disappear for the entire scene. Just use the scissors. That's all… no special voodoo, pixie dust, or other magic needed.

Question: How can I use a scene from my movie in the same movie without rebuilding it again?
Dragon: There are two ways to copy a scene from your movie into another part of that movie. The first method is to save your movie and then go into the Scenes Manager screen (that's the one with the hand in between two scene pictures in the Scenes menu). From there, import the same movie so that the whole movie gets pasted onto the end of itself. Then, cut out all the scenes before and after the scene you want to re-use (from the scenes you just imported, of course) with the Bomb tool. When done, you'll have a duplicated scene with all the things that were in it, ready to go. If you want a single frame of the scene, simply use the Remove Everything Before and After tools. The second way is more convenient if you want to use the same scene many times in your movie. Instead of importing the movie on top of itself time after time and wasting precious movie-making moments, you can simply make a separate .3mm file of that scene. Bomb out everything in your movie except the scene you want to re-use, then save it as a separate .3mm file. That way, you can use the Import tool to import that single scene into the movie at any time. Pretty handy, huh? Be sure to back up the original movie before doing this type of scene surgery, though, because sometimes 3DMM burps and will screw everything up when you do this (such as destroy your audio). Just save often and it will work fine.

Question: If I have the Doraemon Expansion Pack but do not use any of the actors, props, sounds, scenes, or music files in my movie, will others who do not have the expansion be able to watch my movie?
Dragon: Yes. As long as your movie contains only the original 3DMM actors, props, etc., anyone with 3DMM will be able to watch it. However, you might as well download the Doraemon Expansion Pack from the Utilities page anyway so you will have all the new objects handy should you ever need them.

Question: Is there a way to rip sounds from 3DMM, or to export sound clips in .wav format?
Dragon: Here is how you can rip sound files from 3DMM (and, technically, midi files, but in .wav format) without any special software. First, open up Volume Control (usually in Start> Programs> Accessories> Multimedia, also usually in the taskbar as a speaker icon). Click Properties> Advanced, click the "Recording" radio button, and make sure an option in the box below is checked that says "WAVE OUT" or something close to that. Then click OK. You'll get a screen with several volume sliders. Click the "WAVE OUT" (or equivalent) checkbox in (you may need to experiment to find the right one). Now, open up any sound recording program, such as Sound Recorder, SoundForge, or CoolEdit, and begin recording. Then go back into 3DMM and click on the sound you want to rip to play it. When done, go back to your sound file. If you selected the correct recording check box, the sound effect should be there. A little simple editing is all you'll need to edit it how you want, and then you'll have ripped a sound from 3DMM! To rip midis in this way, have "MIDI OUT" or the equivalent checked and do the same thing. Just be warned that a midi getting turned into a .wav will probably use up a lot of disk space. If you'd rather just grab the sounds and go, you can download Sound Extractor by Travis Wells from the Utilities page, which simplifies the ripping process.

Dragon Films ©1998-2006 Greg Strnad. All rights reversed. 
Dragon Films