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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.
In this chapter, we'll be looking at controllers and constraints. A controller is a program module that manages animation, and a constraint is a type of controller in which one object is controlling another. So let's just look at a very simple example with a bouncing sphere, bouncing ball. So I have created a sphere and currently there's no animation on here because the default controller for an object transform such as position is something called a Bezier Float controller, and that's what gives us the ability to animate tangent handles and adjust the shape of a curve and adjust the keyframe interpolation, so that's a default type of controller is Bezier Float.
But there are lots of types of controllers in 3ds Max, and you can do a lot of fun things including procedural animation. One way to assign a controller is through the Curve Editor. So if I got my ball selected, I go to my Graph Editors > Track View - Curve Editor, scrolling down in the list here you'll see I've got the ZPosition highlighted currently. So if I want to assign a controller, I can go up to the Controller menu and choose Assign, and I have got a list of the valid controllers for that particular animation channel or track, and you will see Bezier Float is active.
So I could choose a different one if I want. Let's do Waveform Float. I'll say OK, and now you'll see actually I have got a curve in my Graph Editor already, in my Curve Editor, so that's pretty cool. Let me minimize that and play this back and see what I've got. Wow! I've got an oscillating motion. So I have actually got procedural animation. This is moving up and down according to a sign wave. Going back into my Track Editor, you will see I have got the Properties page for this Waveform controller, and I could try out different types of waveforms like I've got a Half Sign here, which is basically creating a parabolic bouncing shape, and I've got things like the Period.
That's the duration of one cycle, so I can make that longer so I'd have fewer bounces. Let's see what that looks like. Pretty cool! If I wanted this to actually just bounce on the floor and land at exactly a Z value of zero, let me maximize this window with Alt+W, getting a little bit closer on that. So I will park on frame 0 here where the waveform is at its lowest. Going back to the Track view, and I've got the ability to manually adjust an offset here.
So let's organize the view a little bit better here. So I am at frame 0 and I can set this manual amount, just scrolling that up until it's just touching the floor, and you can also see that my waveform is moving too, so when I adjust this, the waveform is moving in the Graph Editor too, in the Curve Editor. So there you go! Play that back. Simple infinitely bouncing ball motion.
If I am going to go back into the controller properties, I'll right-click on the name of the track and then choose Properties, and it will take me back in here, and I can do things like change the Period. So there are lots of different types of controllers. The default is the so-called Bezier Float, but there are so many to choose from, and you can have a lot of fun playing around with them. You can even do things like have the motion of objects be driven by the volume of an audio file. So controllers are very cool. If I want to go back to a standard way of animating, I can just go back to Controller > Assign and switch this ZPosition back to Bezier Float, and now I'm back at creating standard keyframes in the old-fashioned way.
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