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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.
To complete our introduction to keyframe animation, let's look at looping, so we can have an infinitely- repeating loop of animation. So, for example, here, instead of having this logo slow down and stop rotating maybe I want it to keep tumbling endlessly throughout the entire duration of the animation. So to do that I am going to go back into the Curve Editor. I'll select the object. And I can go to the Curve Editor through the menu, but there's also a handy shortcut on the main toolbar to open the Curve Editor, and here it is.
So scrolling down in this pane here, you'll see I've got Rotation and Position. So I am only concerned with the Rotation right now. Go ahead and select that. So you see what we have got here. It's easing into this final position, and notice this dash line here. That indicates what's happening after the last keyframe, and it's just holding that value as a constant value. So I want to do a loop. So what I'll do is select the curve and go into this menu called Controller.
A Controller in 3ds Max is a little program module that manages animation data. I could assign a different controller, but what I'm interested in here is this menu item that says Out-of-Range Types. By that is meant any range of time in which there is no keyframe data. So before the first keyframe and after the last keyframe, it's considered to be an out-of-range region of time. So go ahead and click on that menu item, and you'll see the default Out-of-Range type is constant, and that means before the first keyframe and after the last keyframe just hold a constant value.
So I can use a cycle here, go ahead and activate that and click OK, and now what you're seeing is this kind of sawtooth wave. Okay, now because I did an exact 360 degree rotation when I first created these keyframes, it's going to, more or less, do a correct cycle. I can investigate the rotation values by selecting keyframes and looking at the statistics down here, and this is telling me that the selected key is at a time of zero and has a value of 90 degrees.
This other key here has got a time of three seconds zero frames with a value of -270 degrees. So the difference between these two is exactly 360 degrees. So we'll continue to tumble forever. However, notice the shape of this is still curved. We are still getting an ease in here. So we are not quite ready to sign off on this. Let me rewind this and play this back, and you see we are getting a cycle, but it's a cycle that speeds up and slows down.
So what I actually want here is a purely linear interpolation. So instead of having this nice ease in, I just want it to be a straight line. So I'll select those two keys and I choose linear interpolation, and now I've got an endlessly repeating cycle, and it should be perfectly clean. Now, in fact, what's really happening here is the object is rotating 360 degrees, and it looks like it's continuous, but it's actually not continuous as you can see from this saw tooth wave.
So if this wasn't exactly 360 degrees different from this, then we wouldn't see such a smooth cycle. So, for example, if this had some other value, instead of -270, let's say, I put in a value of, let's say, -200, then it's not going to tumble all the way around one revolution before it begins the next cycle. So we are going to see a jump here.
Going back into the Track View-Curve Editor, there is another way that I can do this, so that I can have a little bit more control, and I don't need to worry about having it rotate exactly 360 degrees. And that is if I go back into my Out-of- Range Types, there is a really handy one here, which is called Relative Repeat. What that's going to do is it's going to just add to the cycle with each repeat, so each time the cycle repeats, it's going to add to that value. So this is pretty helpful. So now I have got a little bit more control over this, and I can change the speed without worrying too much about whether it's actually going exactly 360 degrees.
So with this Relative Repeat mode, I can use my Move Keys tool and I can say, oh, I want it to spin faster or slower. So I can select that key and move it, and actually, if I hold the Shift key down while I move it, I can make a duplicate, so I can make it to tumble backwards and forwards. Cool! I can delete that key once again, and I can also move it up and down, change it to a different value, or I can even just type in a value here.
So if I want to change the speed of rotation, one way I can do that is by simply changing the value here. So I can say, okay, well, let's say, make it exactly -180 degrees. And there you go. That's how I can control looping animations in 3ds Max.
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