Pretty much all the stuff related to animation in 3DS Max is here at the bottom of the screen. Here you can see the timeline (which you can scrub back and forth through with the playhead), and all the buttons related to Keyframes (Auto Key etc).
By default, your timeline is set to 100 frames, and the default framerate is 25fps (the standard for PAL). To change the length of the timeline, you can use these shortcuts -
- Ctrl + Alt + Click & Drag RIGHT Mouse Button --- change the end frame of the timeline
- Ctrl + Alt + Click & Drag LEFT Mouse Button --- change the start frame of the timeline
If you click on an object, you can see its keyframes as little coloured dots on the timeline. Keyframes are exactly the same as in After Effects or even motion tweens in Flash - they are literally "Key" frames in your animation that 3DS Max will automatically animate in between. 3DS defaults to smooth animation between keyframes, but you can edit all that later on.
If there aren't any keyframes then the object probably isn't animated at all, but REMEMBER - some keyframes might be outside the current frame range, e.g. your timeline might go from 0 - 100 and your object has a keyframe on the 150th frame, which is outside the timeline so you won't see it.
If your object is moving and you can't see any keyframes, try expanding the timeline in both directions and look for any stray keys that might be stuck out there.
for reference, the coloured keyframes stand for -
- RED - POSITION
- GREEN - ROTATION
- BLUE - SCALE
- GREY - OTHER VALUES
TO MAKE NEW KEYFRAMES
Remember on the timeline you can select, move around and copy keyframes just like you would objects on the stage. To copy them, you just select them and then hold SHIFT & drag them with the mouse. If you right click on the timeline and go to Configure > Show Selection Range then you can also select groups of keyframes and condense or expand them by using the little bar that appears (see above).
THAT CURVE EDITOR
Animating the way explained above, you'll see that 3DS Max automatically smooths out the inbetweens between keyframes, so that all movement looks floaty. If you want a different style of movement, you can either:
- add a bunch more keyframes to try and define what you want, OR
- keep the number of keyframes down and use the CURVE EDITOR
So, the steepness of a line shows how fast something is animating between two keyframes. The steeper the line, the faster the transition.
Keeping the number of keyframes down is a general rule of thumb. Animation is a LOT easier to make changes to when there are just a few essential keyframes rather than a million of 'em.
Here, another Red/Green/Blue system is used - this time
- RED - X VALUES
- GREEN - Y VALUES
- BLUE - Z VALUES
- CYAN - OTHER VALUES
You can click on and move around individual keyframes in this mode, too. If you hold CTRL whilst dragging a keyframe it will lock its value, so you can move it perfectly horizontally. Just like with objects you can also hold SHIFT and drag a keyframe/selection of keyframes to copy them.
These buttons at the top of the curve editor change what's called the "interpolation" of the keyframes. They don't change the keyframe itself, but change how fast animation goes into a keyframe and out of a keyframe. Click on a keyframe and click on each of these to see how it visibly changes, both in the curve editor and in animation. Generally the ones you want to use are 1 and 2 as you can customize your curve completely with the bezier curve tool handles (see below).
Each of these curves will make the object animate in quite a different way.
If you hold SHIFT while moving one of the handles you can grab them individually (without this they are locked and move together):
Eventually you'll remember the way certain movements look in the graph editor, like that bouncing ball excercise:
I was going to do some proper modelling with you next monday but I feel like I didn't take you through animation as well as I could have last week, so I'm gonna combine some modelling elements from week one with some animation from week two. See you there!