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Animating a hierarchy


3ds Max 2011 Essential Training

with Aaron F. Ross

Video: Animating a hierarchy

Now that we have linked all the parts together, we are ready to start creating our animation. Before we do, I want to talk a little bit about how 3ds Max calculates things under the hood, so that you don't get confused by strange results or apparently strange results. So when you select an object and rotate it, let's say I select this Turntable and rotate it in Local coordinates, observe what's happening down here in the Transform Type-In area. I will rotate that around. You will see it's rotating in the local Z axis by approximately 45 degrees and when I release the mouse button, huh, the Z axis goes back to 0.
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  1. 3m 19s
    1. Welcome
    2. Prerequisites
      1m 18s
    3. Using the exercise files
      1m 4s
  2. 7m 33s
    1. Using the Custom UI and Defaults Switcher
      1m 35s
    2. Setting local file paths to relative
      1m 27s
    3. Using project folders
      4m 31s
  3. 36m 35s
    1. Getting familiar with the interface
      4m 5s
    2. Touring the command panels
      1m 44s
    3. Creating primitives
      3m 5s
    4. Navigating the viewports
      3m 57s
    5. Using hotkeys
      3m 18s
    6. Choosing shading modes
      3m 6s
    7. Configuring the viewports
      3m 29s
    8. Transforming objects
      4m 32s
    9. Using the toolbars
      3m 33s
    10. Using the Modify panel
      5m 46s
  4. 36m 11s
    1. Surveying different modeling methods
      5m 18s
    2. Setting units
      5m 8s
    3. Setting home grid dimensions
      3m 37s
    4. Understanding the Level of Detail utility
      3m 34s
    5. Working with the Modifier Stack
      3m 51s
    6. Understanding dependencies
      5m 9s
    7. Collapsing the Modifier Stack
      4m 53s
    8. Working with sub-objects
      4m 41s
  5. 18m 32s
    1. Creating shapes
      5m 17s
    2. Creating lines
      2m 56s
    3. Converting a shape to an editable spline
      2m 20s
    4. Transforming editable spline sub-objects
      4m 20s
    5. Using different types of vertices
      3m 39s
  6. 35m 30s
    1. Lofting a vase
      3m 59s
    2. Setting loft parameters
      3m 49s
    3. Editing the path and shapes
      5m 18s
    4. Manipulating loft sub-objects
      3m 55s
    5. Adding a scale deformation
      5m 47s
    6. Adding a shell modifier
      3m 50s
    7. Smoothing polygon edges
      8m 52s
  7. 26m 20s
    1. Setting up the project and scene layout
      2m 34s
    2. Creating a backdrop profile line
      1m 19s
    3. Using Editable Spline Fillet
      1m 24s
    4. Extruding shapes
      2m 36s
    5. Creating text
      1m 21s
    6. Applying a bevel modifier
      3m 57s
    7. Choosing bevel parameters
      2m 33s
    8. Using Display All Triangle Edges
      1m 56s
    9. Adjusting spline interpolation
      2m 22s
    10. Deforming beveled objects
      1m 17s
    11. Exporting paths from Adobe Illustrator
      2m 39s
    12. Importing Illustrator paths to 3ds Max
      2m 22s
  8. 55m 55s
    1. Setting up the scene
      2m 8s
    2. Creating chamfer boxes
      4m 44s
    3. Smoothing edges
      1m 16s
    4. Using the Array tool
      5m 31s
    5. Grouping objects
      10m 18s
    6. Modeling lines
      11m 17s
    7. Using the Sweep Modifier
      3m 0s
    8. Soft-selecting sub-objects with Volume Select
      5m 40s
    9. Removing polygons with Delete Mesh
      2m 37s
    10. Clearing a sub-object selection with Mesh Select
      3m 37s
    11. Adding randomness with the Noise Modifier
      5m 47s
  9. 33m 2s
    1. Understanding subdivision surfaces
      2m 46s
    2. Creating a box and converting to editable poly format
      3m 54s
    3. Using the Symmetry Modifier
      1m 44s
    4. Working with TurboSmooth
      3m 3s
    5. Extruding polygons
      1m 54s
    6. Editing edge loops
      8m 15s
    7. Shaping the model
      4m 57s
    8. Baking subdivisions
      3m 45s
    9. Optimizing polygon Level of Detail
      2m 44s
  10. 38m 45s
    1. Understanding the graphite tools within Editable Poly
      2m 40s
    2. Using the Graphite Ribbon interface
      3m 26s
    3. Using traditional editable poly tools within Graphite
      11m 30s
    4. Adjusting detail with Remove and Cut
      4m 44s
    5. Using SwitfLoop
      2m 46s
    6. Constraining sub-object transforms
      2m 23s
    7. Attaching polygon meshes to a single object
      5m 33s
    8. Bridging parts of a mesh
      5m 43s
  11. 25m 24s
    1. Understanding NURBS
      2m 35s
    2. Creating NURBS curves
      7m 27s
    3. Creating a U-loft surface
      5m 52s
    4. Editing curves and surfaces
      3m 9s
    5. Setting surface approximation
      6m 21s
  12. 1h 0m
    1. Using the Material Editor
      7m 8s
    2. Choosing a material type
      3m 3s
    3. Choosing a shader type
      2m 12s
    4. Adjusting specular parameters
      3m 6s
    5. Setting opacity
      3m 5s
    6. Understanding procedural Maps and bitmaps
      4m 11s
    7. Using bitmaps
      5m 21s
    8. Navigating shader trees
      2m 27s
    9. Tracking scene assets
      4m 40s
    10. Creating simple UVW mapping
      7m 52s
    11. Adding reflections with a Raytrace map
      4m 32s
    12. Creating an environment
      5m 27s
    13. Mapping a bump channel
      7m 13s
  13. 27m 4s
    1. Creating cameras
      4m 1s
    2. Understanding target and free cameras
      4m 39s
    3. Using Camera Pan, Truck, and Dolly
      4m 8s
    4. Adjusting the field of view
      4m 59s
    5. Understanding aspect ratio
      2m 6s
    6. Showing safe frames
      3m 12s
    7. Choosing render output size
      3m 59s
  14. 43m 36s
    1. Understanding CG lighting
      5m 56s
    2. Understanding standard and photometric lights
      1m 48s
    3. Creating a target spotlight
      2m 3s
    4. Enabling viewport hardware shading
      2m 10s
    5. Previewing renderings with ActiveShade
      3m 6s
    6. Adjusting intensity and color
      2m 27s
    7. Controlling contrast and highlights
      2m 52s
    8. Setting spotlight hotspot and falloff radius
      4m 59s
    9. Choosing a shadow type
      3m 56s
    10. Optimizing shadow maps
      5m 46s
    11. Using area shadows
      3m 57s
    12. Creating omni lights
      4m 36s
  15. 43m 33s
    1. Understanding keyframes
      1m 41s
    2. Setting time configuration
      3m 48s
    3. Choosing set key filters
      1m 27s
    4. Using Set Key mode
      2m 39s
    5. Editing keyframes in the Timeline
      2m 43s
    6. Using Auto Key mode
      5m 44s
    7. Creating animation in passes
      2m 40s
    8. Animating modifier parameters
      3m 53s
    9. Working in the dope sheet
      7m 47s
    10. Editing function curves
      5m 28s
    11. Looping animation
      5m 43s
  16. 43m 54s
    1. Understanding hierarchies
      3m 16s
    2. Understanding reference coordinate systems
      5m 51s
    3. Editing pivot points
      4m 40s
    4. Linking objects
      3m 20s
    5. Using the Schematic view
      1m 59s
    6. Preventing problems with scale
      7m 50s
    7. Animating a hierarchy
      10m 11s
    8. Fine-tuning the animation
      6m 47s
  17. 20m 53s
    1. Understanding controllers
      3m 55s
    2. Applying path constraints
      4m 55s
    3. Assigning a link constraint
      2m 27s
    4. Using the Motion panel
      2m 48s
    5. Animating constrained objects
      6m 48s
  18. 28m 29s
    1. Understanding particle systems
      2m 24s
    2. Emitting particles from an object with PArray
      2m 18s
    3. Adjusting particle parameters
      5m 33s
    4. Binding particles to a gravitational force
      2m 51s
    5. Colliding particles with a POmniFlector
      6m 4s
    6. Creating a particle material
      3m 23s
    7. Mapping opacity with a gradient
      2m 1s
    8. Assigning a material ID G-Buffer channel
    9. Creating a lens effect glow
      3m 9s
  19. 18m 50s
    1. Understanding image sequences
      5m 40s
    2. Setting render options
      7m 53s
    3. Compressing an image sequence to a movie
      5m 17s
  20. 27s
    1. Goodbye

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Watch the Online Video Course 3ds Max 2011 Essential Training
10h 4m Beginner May 26, 2010

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In 3ds Max 2011 Essential Training, author Aaron F. Ross demonstrates how to use this top-tier application for digital content creation, widely used in diverse industries such as architecture, industrial design, motion pictures, games and virtual worlds. This course covers modeling with polygons, curves, and subdivision surfaces, defining surface properties with materials and maps, setting up cameras and lights, animating objects, and final output rendering. Exercise files accompany the course.

Topics include:
  • Getting familiar with the 3ds Max interface
  • Creating shapes and splines
  • Modeling Loft objects
  • Creating motion graphics
  • Modeling with polygons and subdivisions
  • Modeling with NURBS
  • Shading objects with materials and maps
  • Setting up camera and scene layout
  • Lighting basic scenes
  • Animating objects with keyframes
  • Editing keyframes in the Curve Editor
  • Constructing and animating hierarchies
  • Using animation Constraints
  • Animating particle systems
  • Rendering animations to disk
3D + Animation
3ds Max
Aaron F. Ross

Animating a hierarchy

Now that we have linked all the parts together, we are ready to start creating our animation. Before we do, I want to talk a little bit about how 3ds Max calculates things under the hood, so that you don't get confused by strange results or apparently strange results. So when you select an object and rotate it, let's say I select this Turntable and rotate it in Local coordinates, observe what's happening down here in the Transform Type-In area. I will rotate that around. You will see it's rotating in the local Z axis by approximately 45 degrees and when I release the mouse button, huh, the Z axis goes back to 0.

Now, that's kind of strange. But what this is doing is it's actually showing us an offset value. So when I rotate in Z, it's showing me how much I am changing it. So this is actually an offset and not an absolute value. If you want to know the absolute rotation value of an object, then you will need to look at it in Parent coordinate system. So in 3ds Max, the Transforms of Position, Rotation, Scale are calculated relative to the object's parent.

So if I go up here to Reference Coordinate System and choose Parent, now we can see, aha! This object is rotated about 45 degrees relative to its parent, which is the base. If I want it to restore it back to 0, I could type in a 0 there. So parent space is how 3ds Max is actually calculating things under the hood, and that's what you will see when you look in the Graph Editor too. So parent space is pretty important. The next thing we want to look at is locking the Transforms, so that we don't accidentally rotate things in directions that we don't want or we don't actually accidentally keyframe rotations that are not relevant.

So like, for example, I am going to rotate this in Local Z, but I am not going to be rotating it in Local X or Y. So I can lock those Transforms. So to do that, I am going to go to the Hierarchy panel and I have got the Link Info panel visible here. Remember, you have got the Pivot panel. We have also got the Link Info panel. And here is where we can lock certain Transforms. So to do this most clearly, I actually want to be in Local coordinates while I am doing this. So I will switch to Local.

And then you will notice if I click Rotate X here, my Rotate gizmo changes and now the X axis is no longer there. So I can click on Y as well. So you can see, only Z is available to me. So I can only rotate in Z. And even if I change to a different coordinate system, like if I go back to Parent, I still can't rotate in that direction, even if I click on one of these other axis. It's locked. So to see what I am doing though, I do want to be in the Local coordinate system. So I would just go down the line and do that with each one of these.

So this one's going to rotate in X. And I can tell that because this red circle here indicates the X axis. X is red, Y is green, and Z is blue. So I want to rotate in X, but not Y and not Z. There you go. Go up the line, same thing here. This one I don't want to rotate in Y or Z, but only in X. Going up to the wrist here.

Looks like that one needs to rotate in Z, but not X and Y and this one looks like it needs to rotate in Y, so lock the others. And this last one here is a little bit different. You will notice that this left claw, let's see, I want to show you here. It rotates in Y only. You can see that here by this little axis line as well. So it's Y rotation for this one. Go over to this one and it actually looks like it's the Z axis.

And the reason for this is that the pivot point of this object is oriented differently. I will undo that. So I could tackle this in a couple of different ways. I could lock X and Y and leave Z open, and now I have got the result that I want. Another way I could do this would be to reorient the pivot points so they would match the other object. So that may be a more elegant way of doing it. I can go back to my pivot point, and I can see Affect Pivot Only, and this is going to show me the orientation of the pivot.

So this is telling me that Y is pointing up and Z is pointing this way. If I select this other object, you will notice that it has a different orientation. And this object, actually the pivot point is oriented with the world. So you can see the World pivot here or the World axis here. So if I want these two to be the same, it's easy enough. I can just select this and go over here and click Align to World and that will rotate the pivot point so that it's lined up with the World coordinates. So now this is a little bit more predictable.

If I go back to my Link Info. Now, you see this one is only rotating in Y, and I can do the same over here. I can lock X and Z. Cool! So I have now set up my scene to start animating. It's pretty bulletproof at this point. So to create animation, I can set up my Timeline. How much time do I want here? Maybe 10 seconds or so. I will go into my Time Configuration, and let's see. I will choose SMPTE, so I can see Minutes, Seconds, and Frames, and I will set my End Time to 10 Seconds and 0 Frames, and click OK.

I will start by moving these around or rotating them around. Select this and rotate this. I can basically create a start pose, and I can keyframe these now in a couple of different ways. Probably the most predictable way is to use Set Key mode. So going to the Key Filters, I just want to only animate Rotation. So I will turn off Position and Scale and everything else, so I am only animating the Rotation channels.

And I can create keyframes from multiple objects at a time. So I have rotated this Turntable, and I have rotated the Shoulder and Elbow, and in fact, actually if I activate Parent space, I can actually see those Rotation values. So I can select all three of those objects, activate Set Key mode, and click the big Set Key's skeleton key button to create keyframes for all three of those objects on Frame 0. Cool! So let's say I want it to turn around, but maintain a sort of static position so only the Turntable is going to turn.

So I will go let's say down to 2 seconds, grab that Turntable, and then spin that around a little bit and click the big Set Key button, and now I have got a keyframe on that one too. So I will rewind this and play this back and see what I get. So far so good. Now what I would like to happen is this is going to tilt down. So if I didn't know any better, I would just go forward to whenever I want that to happen, like let's say a couple of seconds later, and maybe tilt this downward and set another keyframe and again, the result that I want to achieve is it's going to spin around and then tilt downward. So let's try that.

I will tilt this down and click Set Keys and then play that back and see what I get. Well, actually it's not really giving me the result that I want. It has actually begun spinning on Frame 1. I don't know if that's completely obvious. Maybe if I look at in the Ortho view it will be clearer. Alt+W and look at this from the Front view. It has actually started tilting on Frame 0, but I want it to start tilting on the same frame or a little bit after the Swivel action happens.

So what's happened here is I have forgotten that my first keyframe is Frame 0, and I don't have a Keyframe here at 3 seconds in or whenever this is going to start tilting. So what can I do about this? Well, this is actually an easy fix, because all I really need to do is move this keyframe down so that the motion of the tilting happens later. So where do I want that to happen or when? Let's see. I will grab my Turntable. It looks like 2 seconds down.

So I will select that Shoulder object and grab this keyframe and move it down to about 2 seconds or maybe a couple of drames after, and we will rewind this. So it's swiveling around and then it's going to start tilting. Cool! And if I want that to happen faster, I can just move this keyframe earlier. Rewind again.

I can add a little bit more interest to this by also animating this second part of the articulation here, which is I am calling that the Elbow. So again, I have got a keyframe here on Frame 1. So if I go down here and I want it to move between 3 seconds and 5 seconds or whatever, I will want to move that keyframe down, so it will start animating at that point in time. If I just go down here, let's say to 5 seconds or so and then tilt this up or what have you and click Set Key, again, it's going to start animating at Frame 1, and it's moving in a period of time that I don't want it to.

So I will move this down, scrub through and see what I am getting here. So I am getting a pretty good result here and I can fine-tune this. So if I select multiple objects, I will see all of their keyframes at once. But I don't really know which one is which. So that's when I would want to go into the dope sheet, so I could see the Transforms of each object separately.

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