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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.
A constraint is a type of controller in which one object controls another object, or one entity controls another entity. So constraints are very useful. One of the most common ones is a Path constraint where you can attach an object to a Spline Curve and have it animate down that path. So I am going to use this example here to make a simple turntable animation. It's a very common thing that modelers need to do so they can show off their work. So I have got a model here and what I want to do is create a circle that's going to be the path and then a camera to attach to that path.
So I'll go to my Create panel. I want to go to Shapes, and I want to make a circle. I'll snap to the grid, and I'll position my cursor right at the origin so that my circle is right there centered on the model, and if I am not sure whether it is or not, I can always go into the Move tool and right-click on that and make sure, okay, the circle is at an absolute position of 0, 0, 0. And I'll also need a camera and this one will be a camera with an aim point or a target camera. So go ahead and click on Cameras > Target, and I'll build that in my Perspective view, click and drag, and I just want to place that target at the origin once again and right-click to finish creating my camera.
And so now, I'll look through the camera lens up here. An easy way to do that is just to press the C key on your keyboard and that will load the camera into that viewport, and I can hit F3 as well so I can see shading. Very cool, okay. So I haven't attached it to the path yet. I'm going to attach the camera to the path using the Path constraint. Constraints work by selecting the object that you wish to constrain first. Let's turn off Snaps. In other words, I want to select the camera and constrain it to this path.
So I've got the camera selected, and I'll go to the Animation menu set and there is a category here for Constraints, and I've got Path Constraint. So once I click on that, now 3ds Max is expecting me to click on a spline curve in my view. So when I get close to a spline curve, you'll see that my cursor changes to a different icon. So I'll click on that and now you'll see the camera is attached to the path, and if I rewind and play that back, you'll see the camera is orbiting around the object.
And if I look in the Camera viewport, play that back, you'll see we're getting a turntable. So all I need to do now is move that path and possibly move the target as well. So I have got my circular path and I'll just move that upward. The camera is constrained to the path. And I also want to move the camera target up to, so I can go over here to my Ortho View, grab that target and move that up. And I'll also probably want to change my field-of-view here, so I can go into my Camera View, right-click on that and use my Field-Of-View control to zoom out a little bit, and play back, and I've got a turntable animation.
Now how cool is that? Super-easy! Path constraints are great for this sort of thing. So my camera is just spinning around and around and around. Because this is a procedural circle, I can actually go to the Modify panel and select my Select Object tool, grab the circle, and I can change the radius too. So I can maybe move the camera further out and then use my Field-Of-View tool. Once again going back to the camera.
Zooming in a little bit, remembering that I always want to have Safeframes enabled. Shift+F to visualize my Safeframes and frame that up and play it back. Maybe zoom back out again, and I've got a Path constraint, and it's working great. If I want to change the speed of the motion, all I have to do is select the constrained object, so in this case it's the camera. So I'll select that camera, and you'll see there's a keyframe here and here, and this is distance along the path in percentages.
So this is 0% along the path at Frame 0 and 100% along the path at Frame 100. So if I wanted this to go more slowly, I go to my Time Configuration, increase the number of frames, let's say 300 frames, which is 10 seconds, say OK, and just move this second keyframe down to the end. So it will be 100% along the path at Frame 300. Going back and playing that back, and now I've got a nice slow turntable. So that's just one simple example of the utility of using constraints.
There are many, many examples and if you get into rigging characters, you will do a lot of constraints, but this is a simple Path constraint.
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