Filmmaking Basics/3D Storyboard/Introduction to FrameForge

Messages for students

Important things to know about FrameForge 3D Studio

This school is:
Narrative film production - Wikiversity Film School
This course is:
The basics of narrative filmmaking
This lesson is:
Lesson: 3D Storyboarding
Pages of this Lesson:
Storyboarding using 3D software
Introduction to FrameForge 3D Studio free demo version
Getting started with FrameForge 3D Studio
Page 1 - Getting started storyboarding "Seduced by the Dark Side!"
Page 2 - A simple example
Page 3 - Building a movie set inside FrameForge
Page 4 - Creating depth of field inside FrameForge free demo version
Before and After: corrections by instructor
The corrections for Sir Mok
All the completed storyboards by students
The amazing storyboard from Gare Cline


Getting started with FrameForge 3D Studio

3D Storyboarding with FrameForge 3D Studio free demo version

FrameForge 3D Studio demo version is free for both the Macintosh and Windows. And, it is fun to use. Best of all, the program is extremely educational for people who want to become film directors or cinematographers. Absolutely required!
Extremely logical / Hard to find
This program is design by an engineer. Therefore, it is a very logical program to use... but only after you learn how the program works and know where to find all the features of the program.
Learning this program is not easy but the reward is worth the effort. This is an extremely valuable program for filmmakers.
Introductory movies
Fortunately, there is a set of introductory movies for FrameForge 3D Studio free demo version. Click here to begin.

Getting Started

Create a practice scene
I recommend that you start by creating a practice scene with just two figures. Horses are fun actors! Try to create an over-the-shoulder shot with a wide angle lens and a telephoto lens using two horses.
That is your first assignment. See the next page.
Free demo version

Downloading FrameForge 3D Studio

You can download the freedemo version of FrameForge 3D Studio at:

Downloading Problems

Note: There has been some problem downloading this program. If you have any problems, please let me know.

And if you are successful, also let me know how you did it. (Did you use a download program or plug-in?)

Download tip: Windows
Niri0n (our Swedish computer expert) says:

"I think the problems stems from the fact that most of the downloading comes after the setup program is started. The program is some 65 MB big but the initial setup file is only less than 1 MB.

So this is the trick:

  1. Get connected to the internet.
  2. Download the setup program. It's only 1 MB so you can use the built-in download function of the browser and save the file somewhere on the computer.
  3. Run the setup program until it is finished. This took 20 minutes on my computer.
  4. Disconnect from the internet.

I hope this helps."

Download tip: Macintosh
Your instructor says:
Using a dial up connection, Firefox is not reliable enough for downloading all the sections of this program.
If you used just Firefox, don't do anything while the downloads are in progress. Download only one section at a time.
If possible, use a free download plug-in program such as dTaOneClick! You can download it at DownLoadThemAll's website.

Don't give up!!!

This program is important

Don't give up. This is an extremely important program and you will learn a tremendous amount.

Read the manuals
Once you have downloaded the FrameForge 3D Studio FREE demo version, locate the two manual which come free with FrameForge 3D Studio. (See above.) A good place to start learning all the features of FrameForge 3D Studio.
If you wish, you can download one of the manuals now just to take a look. It is at Quick Start.pdf
And do not forget to look at the FrameForge introduction movies for an introduction to FrameForge 3D Studio.

Page 1 - The main page of FrameForge 3D Studio

The main page of FrameForge 3D Studio

Many features crammed into the main page
Here is what the main page looks like. It has many features which work independently from each other.
  1. Top left is a tiny picture of the current floor plan. Double click on this tiny picture of the floor plan to make it active.
    Do not double click on the floor plan when it is active because that will create another camera view. (For now, use only one camera.)
  2. The other pictures at the top are the views from the different cameras. (For now, use only one camera.) Double click on the tiny picture of the camera view at the top of the page to make it active.

Store a shot

Storing a shot stores EVERYTHING!
The most important thing to understand about FrameForge 3D Studio is every time you store a shot, you store all the settings as well. This can be restored later so you can continue working on the same picture.

Storing shot vs. rendering shot

Storing shot is not rendering a shot
When you store a shot, the picture will appear on the second page (which is the Shot Manager window.) This does NOT render the shot.
To render the shot (convert the shot to a picture that you can use in an animatic), you need to EXPORT the shot which is under the FILE menu.

Send me your .PREVIS files

Submitting your assignments
When you are finished creating the shots for your movie, you will send me the entire PROJECT file, not the rendered images. This way, I can see what you did and I can make suggestions. Also, I can render the pictures for you and post them to the Wikiversity Film School web pages.
Page 2 - The Shot Manager of FrameForge 3D Studio

The second page of FrameForge 3D Studio

In addition to the main page (above), FrameForge 3D Studio has the page of completed (but not yet rendered) pictures which is called the "Shot Manager".
You can access this page only by selecting "Shot Manager" in the TOOLS menu.
The pictures on this page are much more than simple images. Each picture represents EVERYTHING that was on the movie set at the time the picture was taken. This is like the "Way Back" machine!
Therefore, when you want to, you will be taken back in time to when this shot was taken. EVERYTHING is restored for you, ready for you to continue working.

Changing a shot

When you want to redo a shot, select the frame on this page and click on Edit On Set.
When you do this, the entire camera setup changes to when you captured this image. This is extremely useful BUT ALSO VERY DANGEROUS. This immediately throws away (almost completely) everything you have done since the last time you stored a shot. (There is a way to recover this but it is rather confusing.)

Deleting a shot

Since each shot represents much more than a simple picture, deleting a shot must be done carefully. When you delete a shot, you only hide the shot. You can see the deleted shots simply by selecting the "Show Deleted" button. Only when you select "Purge deleted shots" will you actually remove the unwanted shots.
The free demo version can only store 20 shots. Therefore, if you delete shots (but not also purge the shots), you will quickly reach your limit of 20 shots. Therefore, frequently go to the Shot Manager window and select to look at the deleted shots and them purge them. (Note: old versions and demo version of this program did not do this easily. You have to be on the main page to delete the shots on the Shot Manager page. This has been fixed in the current version.)

Getting started with FrameForge 3D Studio

The basics

Learning FrameForge 3D Studio

The easiest way to learn this program is to drag two figures to the movie set and use a camera to look at the figures.
The program is surprisingly intuitive... as long as you don't build a movie set. And once you get past a few quirks in the design of the interface.
Looking down on the floor plan for a scene can be confusing but this is the easiest way to move the camera and the actors since you can grab them and move them rather than used the controls which are more accurate but slower.
Working on the movie set

A typical movie set

Here is the floor plan for our scene as seen in FrameForge 3D Studio.

Really strange things in FrameForge 3D Studio


Things to watch out for

Here are some things to look out for in FrameForge 3D Studio.

Why does everyone want to make love?


Human collision detection

Turn this OFF!!!!
If you do not turn this feature off, the actors will keep jumping into each other's arms. Interesting effect... but not useful for our current movie.
Turn off collision detection

Turn off the Collision Detection feature

Immediately, turn off this feature. Until you become experienced with FrameForge 3D Studio, you do NOT want this feature turned on.
When the young person and the old person are very close together, they can do strange things when they get near to each other.

Sending your project file to your instructor.


Saving the project

There are three different ways to save the project. Be sure to save it as a cross platform document when you are finished. This loads very fast but takes a lot of disk space. (If you have a Windows PC, this is the only way I can see your stored shots.)
Look for the words "Cross Platform" when you SAVE the file.
Special format for saving

When you save your project files

Send me your project files as cross platform files so be sure to select this when you save the files.

How to insert new shot?

The stack of storyboard frames

Tape deck controls / Slide show controls

This control look like the controls of a tape deck. This control is in the lower right corner of the main page of FrameForge 3D Studio.
Rather than tape, think of this as a stack of playing cards or slides for a picture show. Each card or slide is a storyboard frame.
When you first use FrameForge 3D Studio, you are only inserting shot at the end (bottom) of the stack of storyboard frames. Therefore, you can completely ignore these controls as long as you are creating shots in the order they will appear.
Only when you need add storyboard frames out of order or if you need to go back and change shots will you have to worry about the controls.
So when you are just starting out and you see this, you can ignore it since all your pictures are automatically going to the correct place.

This is the correct setup for putting the storyboard pictures at the end of the stack.
Controls for the storyboard stack example

Insert at the end

When you start out or when you click on the End control button, you will see the red highlight around the word "Append Frame" which means "add on" to (in this case, place at the end of) the stack of storyboard frames. Notice that there is no picture in the lower right corner of the controls so there is no storyboard frame after this current picture.

Controls for the storyboard stack example

Erase the last picture

When you see a picture highlighted in red, that means this storyboard frame will be replaced when you decide to Store Shot.
In this case, the last picture in the stack will be replaced. You know that because there is no picture in the lower right corner. The next frame is empty.

Controls for the storyboard stack example

Erase the current picture

When you see a picture highlighted, that means this picture will be replaced when you decide to Store Shot.
In this case, the current picture in the stack will be replaced. And you know that this is not the last picture in the stack of storyboard frames because you see a picture in the lower right hand corner which comes after the current frame.

Controls for the storyboard stack example

Insert in the middle

Most of the time, when you make adjustments to a picture, you want to save it separately without destroying the original picture.
To do that, the controls must look like this. Just remember if you are using the free demo version, you have a limit of 20 shots. As you get to 20, you will need to purge some shots which is a extra step after deleting shots.

What to do when your pictures disappear.


Missing pictures

If you cannot see the pictures on the Shot Manager, click on the buttons which looks like a tiny bunch of very faint blue dots.

Even magnified, the dots are hard to see!

These tiny dots are a control button.

Turn off collision detection

"Dots the button!"

Click on the blue dot buttons on the Shot Manager page to see what happens.

Actual size
Can you even see the tiny dots?
You need to practice with FrameForge 3D Studio

The next page

Before I explain a way to create the movie set in FrameForge 3D Studio, you need to practice creating a few shots.
Go to the Getting started understanding FrameForge 3D Studio.

Contact your instructor

Your instructor for this filmmaking class is Robert Elliott. You can email me by clicking here.