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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.
3ds Max has an alternate method for creating keyframes, and it's called Auto Key. If Auto Key is on, then if you change anything in the program, you will create keyframes. So in some regards, Auto Key is kind of dangerous, because if it's on and you are not aware of it, you may end up animating things without your knowledge. Specifically, sometimes people might have Auto Key turned on and then they go into the Material Editor and start changing parameters, and they will actually be animating the Material parameters unbeknownst to them.
So Auto Key, like I said, is kind of dangerous. As long as you kind of know what you are doing and you are paying attention, you will probably be fine, but I actually prefer to use Set Key mode in most cases. But let's take a look at how Auto Key works. Essentially, when you turn Auto Key on, you are entering a mode where when you change anything in 3ds Max, you are generating keyframes. And it's a little bit tricky, because if you, for example, position your Timeline at 2 seconds, let's say, and then you move something, like let's say I move my Camera, it's actually going to do two things.
It's going to create a keyframe for the position of my object when I release the mouse, and it will also create a keyframe back here at Frame 1. So Auto Key is kind of weird. But let's see what happens here. Let's say I go and move my Camera over here and then release. You notice now I get two keyframes for the price of one. So again, Auto Key takes a little bit of getting used to. I will Rewind.
Let's turn off Auto Key, and then I will Play back here. So you can see the camera is moving as well. So Auto Key is kind of strange. It has to create a keyframe on Frame 0 in order to have some interpolation here. Well, alright, so what can I do? I can also use Auto Key to adjust existing keys. So if I park my Timeline on a keyframe, you will notice that my selected object has selection brackets around it in a Wireframe View, and that's actually an indicator that there is a keyframe on that object at the current moment in time.
So that's kind of weird also. It's not a selection bracket in the sense of, okay, like we saw in the shaded views, selection bracket means it's selected. In a Wireframe View, a selection bracket means this object has a keyframe at this point in time. So if I click off of it, you will see -- okay, I am still getting a selection bracket on this point in time. But if I go to a different point in time, it goes away. So there is a difference size selection bracket, and it behaves a little bit differently, but in any event, I do want to have this object selected.
And I can use Auto Key to make changes to the existing keyframes. So again, if I am parked on here and I turn on Auto Key, if I move the object, I will right-click in the Top View, so I don't lose my selection, so if I move the object and then release the mouse, I have just updated that keyframe without clicking Set Key or anything like that. So again, when you are in Auto Key mode, when you do anything at all, you are going to create a keyframe, and if you are already parked on an existing keyframe, then you are going to overwrite whatever data is there and basically update the keyframe.
So I could go down here, let's say to Frame 0, and with Auto Key enabled, move my Camera to something like this. And I have just changed my animation completely. So I will go back and Rewind and Play this back. And if you want to see the results in multiple views, you might go into Time Configuration and turn off the switch that says Active Viewport Only. I do like to work this way so that I can see my animation in multiple views.
And then I will Rewind and Play back, and you can see that the Camera is moving, and the logo is moving. My performance isn't quite as good when I have that option turned off, so I might turn it back on again, Active Viewport Only, and just activate the Top View and Rewind. So you can see the camera is moving, and the logo is moving. So again, Auto Key is pretty drastic, and it does take some getting used to, especially when you make that very first keyframe, it's kind of confusing because it creates two keyframes in one.
If I wanted that Camera to move again, I could maybe park on a different point in time, turn on Auto Key, and then move the Camera, and when I release the mouse, another keyframe has been made. So let's see what that looks like. I will Rewind and Play back again. So the Camera moves to one side, and then it moves back, because I have created that third keyframe. Well, I don't actually want that keyframe. I was just creating it so you would see how Auto Key works. So again, Auto Key does take some getting used to, and it can be dangerous, but there it is.
I personally prefer to use Set Key, because it's a lot more controllable, but Auto Key is kind of a neat feature if you want to update keyframes. And that's an intro to Auto Key.
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