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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.
The Dope Sheet is really useful when you got lots of keys and you need to manipulate them by sliding them forward or back in time, or copying and pasting them, and so on. But the Dope Sheet doesn't give you any control over the transition from one key to the next. So exactly how is 3ds Max transitioning those values and creating those in-betweens? This is called keyframe interpolation. If you need to adjust the keyframe interpolation, for example, to create a smooth in or smooth out, then you'll need to use another window, which is called the Curve Editor.
So I am going to select my logo and go up to the menus, Graph Editors > Track View-Curve Editor. This is 3ds Max's function curve editor. So this is a generic term that you'll see in any 3D program. They all have function curves. Let me scroll down here a little bit, and we can see that currently we've got X Position and X Rotation activated. In a function curve editor, what we see is the value of an animation track, or animation channel, displayed vertically.
So the vertical dimension here is value. The horizontal dimension is time, and you can see our time code listed down here. So if I select one of these channels or tracks here, I can see this is the X Position curve, and if I select this other one, this is the X Rotation curve. Currently, what we are seeing here is a default slow out and slow in, or ease out and ease in.
I can tell that because the slope of the function curve indicates the rate of change for that value. In other words, if it's a steep curve, then that means the object is moving fast, and if it's a shallow curve, that means the object is moving more slowly. If it's a perfectly flat line, then that means there is no change in that value over time, and that equates to no movement. So this is what we get by default in 3ds Max as we get this sort of default slow out, slow in.
If we look at our animation here, let me make this big, Alt+W, and play that back. You can see that it kind of slowly glides into that position there at the end. Then when it stops rotating, it kind of slows down as it stops. So that's all controlled through the function curve interpolation. So up here at the top of the Curve Editor, I've got all these different choices for Tangent types, and these are all the different methods of interpolation.
So if I click on a key with the Move Keys tool active, you can see I'm getting a little tangent handle there. This is a Bezier curve, just like Spline curves in 3ds Max. So when you model a curve, you can use Bezier handles to adjust it, and the same thing applies here. So I can click on these and move these around. What I have got here now is the Custom curve. So if I wanted a more extreme slow in or ease in, I could drag this handle out here, and so that rotation is going to slow down, and it's going to be more extreme.
So play that through. So it's taking a lot longer to get to its resting position. I could also give it a linear shape, so that it just kind of suddenly stops. Clunk, so it just like suddenly and instantaneously stops rotation. So you see that the default value or the default interpolation was actually better. So anyway, so I have got all these different Tangent types up here.
So I could, for example, select these two keyframes here and try different Tangent type, for example, Linear. With a linear tangent, I don't have any handles, or what else do I have? I have got a Smooth and with only two keyframes, it's not having any effect here. So I'll just go back to Auto, and again, this is what you get by default, this Auto Tangents. Okay, so what I really want here is if this were going to be a motion graphic that it was going to maybe fade in from some other screen element or some other shot, I might not want it to actually slow out or in other words speed up as it goes in.
I might want it to be linear here. So I'll just drag that so it's moving at full speed on Frame 1, but then it's going to slow down when it reaches three seconds. So I'll go to the Position as well and maybe do the same thing there, so that I don't have any slow out. It's just going to be at full speed at the beginning of the animation. Rewind, play that back, going back into my Track View-Curve Editor, maybe make a more extreme slow in on both the Position and the Rotation.
So I like that better. I think that's a softer landing, if you will. That's a basic introduction to editing function curves.
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