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There's one more essential dialogue box that you need to know about to animate in 3DS Max, or indeed in almost any 3D program. And it's called the dope sheet. This is a term from traditional animation, also known as an exposure sheet. And it's a spreadsheet, it's a grid of data in which every single frame is accounted for. And information about what's happening on that frame is recorded. For example, you know if there's a cut on a certain point in time, or if there's some sort of action like a character lands on the ground in a certain frame, or if you have lip sync.
If you're synchronizing to dialog, then all the words and letters are going to be written out frame by frame on the Dope Sheet or Exposure Sheet. In a 3D program, the Dope Sheet is simply just a spreadsheet of all of the animated tracks, against every single frame. However, we don't see the actual curves like we do in the Curve Editor. The dope sheet is a way for you to basically move key frames around in blocks and maybe change their global timing and so on without getting into the nitty gritty details of the exact shape of those curves and how the animation is interpolating.
Let's look at the dope sheet. Its going to be found under graph editors > track view > dope sheet. Now by default, it's only going to show you the key frames, for the selected objects. And I don't have anything selected now. So if I for example select the sword hilt to my view port, now I can see, a whole bunch of key frame data here. The way I prefer to work in the dope sheet, is to have all of the animated channels or animated tracks visible, regardless of what I have selected. I'm going to deselect that hilt so nothing is selected.
And I'm just going to change the option. That's going to be the filters and it's going to be found under view, filters. And I'm going to say up here show only animated tracks and don't show only selected objects. Under these conditions all of the animated tracks will be displayed regardless of what's selected in the viewport. And click OK. And now we can see all the key frames in our entire world at a glance. This is a good option in this case because I have so few keyframes.
If you had, you know, hundreds of thousands of keyframes or something, then this would be, you know, pretty overwhelming. And you would want the default behavior where only the selected objects keys are displayed. Okay, so you can see here, sword hilt has got a hierarchy position and rotation keys, also logo. If we open that up, and open up transform, position, you'll see there key frames, or position there on the logo as well. Now I want to just point out that you will see some key frame boxes or tics here.
In these rows that are not actually real tracks. This is kind of a little bit misleading. You'll notice that some of these rows are in a lighter color gray, and some are in a darker color gray. The ones that are in light gray are actually animated tracks or channels. The rows that are displayed in dark grey are not actually tracks at all. What they are, are categories of tracks. So if we follow this one back, this is position for the logo.
If I click on this little box, then I'm selecting all of the position keys for the logo object. If I go down here to the sort you'll see position and rotation because their rotation key is on the sort yield. So if I click on a box here, I will select all of the rotation keys or the sort yield. Or if I click over here again, I'm selecting all of the rotation keys and none of the position keys. However this is additionally kind of misleading because it doesn't just highlight all of the things in that category, you'll also see highlighting up here.
So this is again, really misleading. It gives me the impression that all of the transform keys at that particular key frame or position are actually selected but they're not. The position keys are not selected. Only the rotation keys are selected. These markers here are actually unironically known in the documentation as fake keys. And I didn't make that up. They're actually called fake keys. Because they're not actually keyframes. They're just methods for you to select keyframes and to see what is selected.
But, as I said, it's a bit kind of non-intuitive. If I select just one rotation key down here, then all of the fake keys that enclose that key frame are going to be highlighted. So it's a rotation key. So rotation lights up. And it's a transform key, so Transform lights up. And it's a key on the sword hilt, so Sword Hilt lights up as well. So you can't really always trust this to know what's really selected. All you really know is that some key frame within Sword Hilt is selected, and some key frame within Transform is selected.
Okay. But in any event, these can be handy because you can just drag stuff around really quickly. So for example if I want the logo to land at about the same time as the sorthilt, I can click up here and that will select all of the logo keys. Currently the move keys tool is active and I can just drag those over and position those on frame 90. I can also type it in down here. I've got a field where I can type in the frame number. All right, so let's see what that looks like. So, if I minimize this, play it back, There we go.
So now everything is landing at the same time, pretty gracefully. There's one last helpful thing I want to mention about the dope sheet. Which is there is a way that you can visualize, and select, all of the keys in your entire world at once. And that's done by going up to the tool bar here, and clicking this button that's labeled Modify Child Keys. And if that's enabled and you're able to see the world track up here, then you can click on all of the keyframes at a certain point in time.
So I could click here and select all of those keys at frame 90 and maybe move 'em down a few frames. Additionally, there's a ranges mode. So, so far I've just been working in edit keys mode, but there's also edit ranges mode. So if I click on that, now we will see bars indicating the animated ranges or the areas of the timeline that are animated. And using this edit ranges mode and the world. Track, and with modify child keys on, I can stretch time for my entire scene at once.
So if I needed to speed everything up or slow everything down, what I would do is I would click here, and drag to the right to slow it down, drag to the left to speed it up. And let's see what that looks like. So now I just basically doubled the speed of my animation. That is a really helpful thing to know about. Additionally, by the way, snapping is turned on by default. So when you do this, all of the key frames within these ranges, will automatically snap to whole numbers. If that were off, then some of those keys would land on fractions between frames and you don't want that.
Alright well in fact I'm going to move that back where it was, to about frame 90 or so because I think that looked pretty good. Alright, so that's the dope sheet a very useful window that you'll want to explore. And that finishes up our chapter on the basics of key frame animation.
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