Automatic Writing by Tony Carretti (http://www.primagraphics.com)
Here's a simple tutorial for Newtek's Inspire 3D program that will show you how to model a pencil and then animate it to create an effect of "automatic" writing.
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Click on image for view (image13)
Click on image for view (image14)
Click on image for view (image15)
Click on image for view (image16)

(image13) Now we're ready to go into Layout mode to begin animating our objects. Just click on the Layout button in the upper right hand corner of Modelers window. Use the Add button to bring in the paper.lwo object you just created. It should be positioned at Ox, Oy, Oz co-ordinates since we centered it in modeler. Now add the pencil.lwo object. It should be positioned in a vertical position at the center of the "paper" object with the point at the same level as the paper.

Since we set up the pivot point before saving the object, this saved us the trouble of having to do it in layout. You can always adjust the pivot point in Layout, but it's a good idea to create your objects to scale with the proper pivot point while still in modeler.(image14) The default view in Layout is Perspective view so you can see not only where your objects are located, but your camera and light sources as well. Switch to the camera view to see what your objects will look like if they were rendered right now. Your objects will probably look a bit far away so make sure you choose the Camera button under the Edit menu and move the camera closer to your objects until they are reasonably large in your viewport. Now would be a good time to create a key frame for the camera. Next let's make sure that our animation will be long enough to enjoy.

Go to the Last Frame input box in the lower right hand corner and change the 60 which is the default frame number to 300. At 30 frames per second this will translate into a ten second animation. Next, we need to move our pencil to it's starting point for the animation. Click on Objects under the Edit menu and make sure that the Selected Item is the pencil.lwo Use the move tool to position it towards the left hand side of the viewport closer to you.

Make sure that you create a keyframe for the pencil at this location. If you forget to create a keyframe, the pencil will snap back to it's original location which can be very frustrating.(image15) OK, our pencil is in a good location to begin the animation but it looks just a little to "upright". With the pencil object still selected, click on the Rotate tool and give your pencil a little "attitude by slanting it back towards you a little. Make sure that you create another keyframe to record the change you just made.(image16) Now move the frame slider control to frame 20. Before moving the pencil, make sure the the Y axis button is inactive so that the "point of the pencil will not break contact with the surface of the paper.

Using the Move tool, drag the pencil so that it is farther away from you but still on the left side of the viewport. Create a keyframe so that Layout will record the new position and create the "in between" frames for a smooth movement. Move the slider to frame 30 and reposition your pencil using the Move tool. Remember to create a keyframe every time you reposition the pencil at a new frame. You can make small changes in the rotation and angle of the pencil as well to give it more realism. Continue to make the pencil move across the paper using small up and down as well as side to side movements until you get over towards the right side of the viewport. Leave yourself about 100 frames at the end of the animation so that we can create the portion of the animation where the pencil lays itself down for a rest.






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