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Chapter 4- Key-frame Animation in 3D Studio MAX ( 3ds max ) (Basics of Keyframe animation in 3D MAX)
Author - Saju Asokan
Last Updated: Aug 02 2008
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Animation controls in 3D Studio MAX ( 3DS MAX ) - Tutorial / Lesson

Before getting our hands into some real animation, let's know what all controls 3D Studio MAX ( 3DS MAX ) have in store for us.

Ever wondered, what kind of animation we are going to use to make the ball bounce? It is the key frame animation. You guessed it right. We call it by that name because, it is the keyframes that we define in this kind of animation. We mark the position of our objects in these keyframes and lets 3D Studio MAX ( 3DS MAX ) interpolate the rest for us.

in 3D Studio MAX ( 3DS MAX ), the animation controls are located near the bottom of the main window. The snapshot of the animation controls is given in the figure below. Have a look

3d max animation controls

Let's see each item briefly:

1. Time: The long horizontal region pointed to by the arrow is the Time representation in 3D Studio MAX ( 3DS MAX ). Usually the time is represented in frames. We can change it to seconds or what ever we need in the Time Configuration, that we'll see soon

2. Time Slider: The Time Slider in 3D Studio MAX ( 3ds max ) is a long button having the current frame as well as the total no: of frames written on top of it. 0/100 means you are now at the 0th frame and the Time represents a total of 100 frames currently. We can drag the Time slider to any frame position. Just give it a try.

3. Set Key: This button toggles the Key setting on/off in 3D Studio MAX ( 3ds max ). In fact we have to turn this on to set keys manually. ie we need this to be on, if we need to animate

4. Auto Key: An alternative to Set Key. When Set Key is on, we use the button having the key symbol on top of it to manually set keys. On the other hand, if Auto key is on, we need not do any manual key setting. When ever the current objects, position, direction etc changes, a key will be set automatically. Switch it on, only if you are sure that you want to set keys automatically in 3D Studio MAX ( 3ds max ).

 

5. Set Keys manually: This button has the icon of a key on top of it. When Set Key button is in active mode (Toggle SetKey), we use this large button to set keys. Don't worry if all these buttons confuse you. The idea gets clearer when you apply them. ok?

6. Playback controls: This section in 3D Studio MAX ( 3ds max ) would need no explanation. All controls are similar to your media player controls. We use it to view the animation in the scene.

7. Time Configuration: This button in 3D Studio MAX ( 3ds max ) brings up the Time Configuration dialog. We will see more about it shortly

8. Position/ Orientation: Three fields X, Y, Z represent the position of the currently selected object in scene. It has no direct relation with the animation controls. But I'm mentioning it here, because it takes the place among the animation controls. You can modify the position of the currently selected object in 3D Studio MAX ( 3ds max ) by entering the X, Y, Z values manually. If you are in Move Tool mode, X, Y, Z represents position. When you make Rotation Tool active, the X, Y, Z values represent the rotation axis in degrees. Understood?

Before we start with the animation, we need to make the Time set to 50 frames total duration. This is because we are planning to make the ball fall down, and bounce back within 50 frames. Reducing the Time slider's total frame length from 100 to 50 will help us manage the animation more efficiently. We can modify the Time representation in the Time Configuration dialog box. Click on the Time Configuration 3ds max button to bring it up in 3D Studio MAX ( 3ds max ). Set the fields in the Time Configuration dialog box exactly as shown below
3d max time configuration
The Frame Rate field in 3D Studio MAX ( 3ds max ) can be used to choose different standard frame rates. Or you can specify your own frame rate in the FPS field. The Time Display section in 3D Studio MAX ( 3ds max ) tells you how the time will be represented in the Time Slider. Enabling Real Time in Playback lets you play the animation in exactly the same frame rate as you specified. If you uncheck it, every frame will be played in the viewports. If the scene is complicated, the animation may get slow, but all the frames will be displayed before you. The Speed choice lets you choose how fast you want the animation to be played in 3D Studio MAX ( 3ds max ). If you choose 2x the animation will be played at double speed. The Start Time and End Time lets you specify the length of the animation. The other fields adjusts itself accordingly. Enter 50 as the End Time. Now click OK to close the dialog box. The Time slider will reflect the changes.
Tip: You can open the Time Configuration dialog box in 3D Studio MAX ( 3ds max ), by right-clicking on the Playback controls
 
  Lets do the real keyframing in the next page>> of this tutorial.
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