Billboard
What is it?
The Billboard node allows you to modify the coordinate system of selected objects so that they constantly rotate around the local z-axis to face the viewer. This is good when you want the user to always face a particular piece of geometry. For more details about this node, check out the VRML 2.0 Spec.


Create the scene and add Cameras

1) First create a scene with all the objects, materials and NavigationInfo that are needed. To the right, we have created a simple world for you to use as an example.

2) Next it is a good idea to add at least one 'Camera' which will be a 'Viewpoint' in the VRML file, but the file will still work without Viewpoints. NOTE: The more Viewpoints the better in VRML files. The different browsers have various navigation abilities and restraints, therefore the Viewpoints are the one consistent way the user can view the file.

3) To add a Camera, go to the Creation panel/press the 'Camera' button and Choose 'Target' as the Object Type.

4) With your mouse, drag the Camera in the 'Top' viewport and stretch it out.

5) To view what the Camera is seeing, go to the Perspective viewport and press 'c' on the keyboard. And there you are from the Cameras point of view.

6) The Camera is easy to adjust with the Move and Rotate buttons, so test them out.

7) Also it is good to name your Cameras. The Camera name is what the user sees in the VRML browser as the name of the Viewpoint. Otherwise it will default to Camera01, Camera02 etc. Which is pretty boring, if you have a great viewpoint to show off.

8) Viewpoints help tell a story in the VRML file, because you can lead the viewer to ideal viewing points of the model which they might not otherwise explore.


How to implement the Billboard into a MAX file:

9) For the Billboard node go to the 'Creation' panel and choose 'Helpers'. Under 'Helpers' use the pull down the menu and choose VRML 2.0. Then choose the Object Type 'Billboard'.

10) Then go to your scene and drag the mouse anywhere. You will see an icon that signals to you that you have placed the Billboard node.

11) The Screen Alignment option in the parameter rollout, keeps the Billboard-linked geometry aligned when the viewer changes navigation position.

12) NOTE: this linking step is different than all others!--Go to Select and link in the toolbar, then select the object you want linked to the Billboard node. You can do this with either with mouse or press the keyboard letter 'H' and the 'Selection' menu pops up. From the 'Selection' menu select the objects. There is no 'Pick Objects' bar as in all the other node panels.

13) The object rotates around the center of the Billboard icon. This way the geometry is camera-aligned in the browser.

14) In the Icon Size box, you can designate a larger or smaller icon size for the billboard node.

15) It is necessary to rotate the icon to the position wanted in the file. The default setting is facing upside down, and so the geometry linked to it will be perpendicular to how it looks in MAX. Therefore it is necessary to change the rotation of the icon.

15) Now you have entered all possible information for the 'Billboard' node. If you need to go back, after leaving the Creation panel, and alter any of the parameters, then go to the 'Modify' panel and adjust.

16) Now you have successfully implemented a Billboard into your file.

17) To check, go to the 'Selection' menu! NOTE: You can name your Billboard node in MAX in the 'Name' field.
How to Export MAX files to VRML:

18) Now slide on over to 'File' and choose 'Export'. The Exporter knows that you are referring to the file that is open and requests that you name your file.

19) So first choose '.wrl' filetype Then name your file, i.e. 'SuchAndSuch.wrl'

20) Suggestion: Because you might need to go back to the MAX file and adjust part of your world, it is a good idea to keep the filename between to two files the same.
21) Check out a more elaborate sample file that demonstrates the Billboard node.


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