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A constraint is a special type of controller in which one object drives another. A common application of constraints is a constraint to a path. We can attach an object to a spline curve, and it will travel down the path, moving and rotating according to the shape of the path. One thing that we could do with that is to create a turntable animation in which a camera is spinning around an object so we can show off our model. For a constraint I'll need a constraint object and an object to which it will be constrained.
So the constraint object in this case would be a Target camera. I'll go to the Create panel, Cameras > Target. Click to define the camera position, hold the mouse and drag out and release to define the target position, right -click to complete that camera. Next, I need an object to constrain it to, and that will simply be a circle. Go back to the Create panel and Shapes > Circle. I'll drag that out at the origin, and now I've got a circle.
I'll right-click to complete that and I'll move it up a little bit. Go to the Perspective view and move that up, and now I'm ready to constrain the camera to the circle. Let's make this bigger with Alt+W. I'll need to select the camera first, and then go up to the Animation menu and choose Constraints > Path Constraint. Now 3ds Max is expecting me to click on a Spline Curve. I'll click on that circle, and now the camera is attached to the circle, and if I play the animation, you'll see the camera is spinning around.
Let's see what that looks like in the Camera viewport, Alt+W to go back to my 4 Viewport Layout, and I'll choose one of these viewports that I'm not using, like the Front view and choose Cameras > Camera001. I'll press F3 to see the Shaded mode, and I'll use the Shift+F hotkey to turn on Safe Frames, and now when I press Play, I can see the turntable animation. Wow, that's pretty cool! If I want to get closer to this, I can change the size of the circle.
I'll just select that circle, go to the Modify panel and reduce its Radius. If I want it to be up a little bit higher, I'll just move it up. The camera's target is not constrained to anything. I can go to one of these other views and select that target. It might be a little tricky to do so. You might need to get in really close. I'll click on that target and I'll move it up to frame my model better, and I'll give focus to that Camera viewport and press Play, and I've got a basic turntable animation.
If I want to change the speed of this, then I'll select the camera, which is the constrained object, and you'll see I've got keyframes here. I've got a keyframe at 0 and a keyframe at 10 seconds. If I want this to go faster, I can just select this keyframe and move it to an earlier point in time. These keyframes represent the distance along the path, and by default 3ds Max sets the first keyframe to a position of 0 on the path, and the second keyframe to a position of 100% along the path, and it will stretch those keyframes across the currently visible timeline, and now it's moving faster.
I'll give focus to the Camera view once again. That's just a very basic introduction to how you can use a Path constraint to create a turntable animation.
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