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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.
As we saw earlier, you can edit keyframes in a basic fashion by moving them around in the Timeline, but you will find that that's got some limitations. For example, if you have got multiple keyframes stacked at the same point in time, you can't deal with them separately in the Timeline, so it's all or nothing. So if I wanted to, for example, edit my Position Key without editing my Rotation Key, I would need to open up another panel to do that. And one of the panels that you can do that in is called the Dope Sheet.
So I will go up here into my menus. I am looking for Graph Editors, and Track View - Dope Sheet. Go ahead and launch that. I have got my logo selected, so that the Dope Sheet will show the keyframes for the selected object, which is currently called Text001. So I will scroll down here a little bit. I can zoom in, too. I have got a Zoom tool so we just zoom in on the relevant area. So in the Dope Sheet, we are seeing all the keyframes, but we are able to view them separately.
The word Dope Sheet, by the way, comes from traditional animation. It's sometimes known as an exposure sheet or an X-sheet, and it's basically just a spreadsheet that lists every single frame in the animation and what's happening on that frame. It's used for doing things like lip synchronization. So you write out every letter of your sentence on each frame. So the word Dope Sheet comes from that tradition. In computer animation, the Dope Sheet is usually a way of organizing keyframes hierarchically.
So to see this better, I can expand the Text001 object. And what do I see here? I see Transform and I see Modified Object, and if I continue to open this up, under Transform, I am now seeing Position and Rotation. And if I open up this Modified Object, you will see Stretch has got some boxes on it. I will continue opening this up, and under Stretch, you will see the Stretch Parameter has got keys. So what all is going on in here? Well, most of these little boxes you will see here are little open rectangles, and that's an indicator of something that 3ds Max actually calls a fake key, because this is not actually a keyframe at all. What it really is a way for you to select other keyframes.
So over here in the Dope Sheet I have got a Move Keys tool, and I can click on that. If I select one of the Position Keys here and drag it, you will see I am able to move that without moving the Rotation Keys. Notice also that these so-called fake keys up here are moving along as well. I can continue to open up this hierarchy, or this tree here, to see that I have got keys actually in Position for X, Y, and Z. And if I open up Rotation, you will see I have also got keyframes for X, Y, and Z.
Well, 3ds Max has the Key Filters which allow me to determine whether I am going to keyframe a particular Transform or not, but it actually doesn't give me the ability to say, oh, I only want to Key the X Position right now and not the Y or Z Position. So I end up with actually more information than I really need. So I can use the Dope Sheet to kind of clean things up. So if I look at my scene here, I have got, X is the Translation Transform, so Position is moving in X and not in Y or Z. So I can kind of clean this up a little bit by just kind of erasing the unnecessary keyframes.
So X is the only one I care about. So I can drag a selection rectangle around Y and Z and press the Delete key on my keyboard, and there. I have deleted that excess information, and I didn't erase my animation, because in fact, Y and Z were never animated to begin with. Rotation, I want to investigate this as well. It looks like it's X rotation as well. So I can click this button to zoom out, and I don't need these Y and Z Rotation Keys either, so I can select those and press Delete.
And I have just kind of cleaned things up a little bit. Cool! So let me zoom back in to just that area, and scrolling down, and you will see I have got all these Stretch Keys as well. So I can shift those around too if I wish. So I can grab my Move Keys tool, and let's say I want that Stretch to happen earlier or later. I can just select and drag and move those around. So let's see what I have got now.
Rewind and play back. So now the Squash and Stretch effect is happening earlier. Go back to my Dope Sheet, grab those Stretch Keys and maybe move them down later. Rewind, play that back, and see what I have got. Cool! So the Dope Sheet is very useful. In fact, in my final version, I am not really going to use that Squash and Stretch effect, so in fact, I am actually going to delete all those keyframes.
That was just for demonstration purposes. So I want to be careful here. I want to select these Stretch Keys only and Delete them. So be cautious here, because it's kind of confusing what's going on in here, because these are all lighting up, and this kind of leads you to the false conclusion that you have actually selected some of the keys in these other tracks, or these other channels here. So this is just the way that the interface is constructed, that when you select a keyframe here, it's also lighting up in these other sort of categories.
You will notice that some of these tracks here are in a darker background here, and that's basically a hierarchical category of keyframe selection. These tracks that are in a lighter gray, these are actually truly animated tracks. So when I select a keyframe here at Stretch, it's also lighting up here to indicate, okay. I have selected the keyframe that's in the Stretch Modifier. It's also in this Modified Object. It's also at the very top level of the object proper.
So again, this just kind of takes a little bit of getting used to. You will get accustomed to it after a little bit of working with it. I press the Delete key now. I have deleted those Stretch keys. Now, here's another one here. So now all I am left with actually are a grand total of four keyframes now. I have got two Position Keys and two Rotation Keys, and then all of these up here are merely fake keys that indicate that I have got something somewhere lower in this track hierarchy.
Additionally, by the way, if I click on one of these, if it's higher up in the food chain, as it were, then all of the keyframes are going to be selected down there. But if I click here down, kind of low in the hierarchy, then you will notice that they are all lighting up, except for this Position Key. So this is an indicator that I have got some key selected in Text001. I have got some key selected in Transform. I have got some key selected in Rotation, and it turns out that it's X rotation.
So that's the Dope Sheet. There's a lot more to it. You can also work in different modes, but this is the basic, which is called Edit Keys mode.
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