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Making Turntable Animations

Maya Techniques with Alex Alvarez

Sample Clip

This tutorial demonstrates a simple, yet effective, solution for creating dynamic turntables. Utilizing Maya's two-node camera, motion path animation provides a flexible way to move the camera around the model. Precise and cycling rotations are combined with a moving camera, to allow for various views of the model in a single turntable. We begin the tutorial by creating a three-point lightrig using raytraced shadows and Mental Ray. This tutorial demonstrates how to render a Maya animation from the Command Line. While it is possible to render from within Maya using Batch Render, there are several advantages to avoiding this approach. More memory is available to the renderer when Maya is closed which is often a necessity. But furthermore, command line rendering simplifies the process of managing rendered frames, network rendering and the batch rendering of multiple scenes. This tutorial also demonstrates how to render the wireframe/topology of the model on top of the shaded turntable animation. When presenting work, especially on a reel, viewers will expect to see not just the finished result, but also how it was achieved. Clean, efficient and animation friendly topology is critical, therefore presenting that aspect of your work is expected. We look at a variety of wireframe styles and composite them in After Effects.

  • 3-point Lighting
  • Raytraced Shadows
  • two-node camera
  • Rendering from the Command Line
  • Wireframe Rendering
  • Compositing in After Effects
  1. 3-point Lighting and 2-node Camera Motion
  2. Rendering from the Command Line
  3. Wireframe Rendering Techniques

  • Product Code: AAL18
  • Duration: 114 minutes
  • Formats: Download Only

Digital Download Requirements:

Minimum Operating System:

  • Microsoft® Windows® Vista®
  • Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional
  • Apple® Mac® OS X 10.2


  • QuickTime Movie Player (Version 7.0 or higher)
  • Acrobat Reader (Version 5.0 or higher)

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  • Software Used:

  • Autodesk

Alex Alvarez

Founder, Director The Gnomon Workshop
Gnomon School of Visual Effects

Alex Alvarez is the founder and president of the Gnomon School of Visual Effects in Hollywood, the Gnomon Workshop, Gnomon Gallery, SketchTheatre and Gnomon Studios. Having dedicated the past fifteen years to educating students and professionals around the world, Alex has helped change the face of computer graphics and design education. He has been published in industry magazines, websites and books, plus he has taught workshops at several major trade conferences. He continues to work on personal and professional projects, recently as a creature development artist on Avatar, Star Trek, Green Lantern and Prometheus. Prior to Gnomon, Alex worked for Alias|Wavefront as a consultant and trainer for studios in the Los Angeles area. Alex is an alumnus of the Art Center College of Design and the University of Pennsylvania.

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"Whenever I need to breathe life into my characters, Alex Alvarez is where I go. Whether it be to collaborate on concepts with him directly or to watch his DVDs, I am always confident in accessibility to great information. Not only has his technical prowess pulled me out of many holes, but his character sense has given rise to some wonderful moments on some major motion pictures (Avatar and Star Trek). These new DVD's encapsulate what I gush about. Crazy and creative character design coupled with empowering technical know how."

- Neville Page
Character/Concept Designer

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