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In this course, author Dan Ablan walks through the process of understanding the MODO workflow while learning to create 3D models and animations. The course teaches fundamental tasks, such as modeling polygons and applying materials with the Shader Tree, while exploring scene building in depth through advanced lighting, camera, and animation techniques. The course also covers MODO's schematic tools and shows how to render animations for various playback media.
modo is known for a great modeling program, but over the years they have added in animation. A lot of people I know don't actually animate in modo. They just render out stills. But you can animate, and I am going to show you how. I've clicked over to the Animate tab, which is a preset in the 501 default layout, and at the bottom you can see a very nice timeline. You will see some play buttons, and you will see some keyframe buttons. Let me show you what all these mean. We're going to work simply just with this camera. So I am going to move mouse over, making sure I am in the Items tab here, and we're going to click on this to activate the camera, and we're going to animate this.
We're just going to move it around in our scene, just so you could see how keyframing is done. It's a little trickier in modo than it is in most programs, but it can still work very well for you. One thing that's nice is that anywhere you see these little dots, that means that value can be animated. So we can animate the Scale, the Rotation, the Position--anything we want. You will even see in the Shader Tree, when you go to any type of material, that these values can be animated as well, the Color, the Specular, the amount of diffuse for a surface, and so on.
All of those values can be animated, so kind of keep that in mind. To set up animation, it works like this. For the Camera, we're going to be doing motion, so I am going to press the Y command, which is my big Transform tool right there, and you'll see that we've got this timeline I can click and drag through. Down here at the bottom you've got two sets of numbers. At the end, you've got another two sets of numbers. And notice that this 120 frames matches this 120. We're working in 30 frames a second, so we're set through 4 seconds at 120.
If I change this to 300, what happens is that I still see 120, but my preview now is shorter. What this means is our preview frames and our full animation frames. Why is it like that? Well, let's say you have a really long animation that's perhaps even 3 minutes long. Well, that's quite a few keyframes; in fact, 1 minute is 1,800 frames. That would be a really long timeline, like this, and it's kind of hard to actually work through all those equally and visually.
So what you can do is set a smaller number for the preview, because you're going to only work on one section at a time, and then I can drag this Preview bar at the bottom and just work on that section. If I want to see my whole timeline again, I can just double-click on this and it will expand all the way out. So that's what these numbers are: your preview and your final frames. You can also set a pre-roll, and what a pre-roll is good for is if you have something that's already in motion when your animation starts. So you can actually have a negative number, like -30 perhaps.
Your scene would start 30 frames, or 1 second, before the actual render at frame 0. So let's say a character is running. Well, you wouldn't just want to start at frame 0 and all of a sudden he starts running. When that frame comes in to render, you want him already in full motion. So you'd have a pre-roll; he would just start before that. And we can just zero this out. Let's talk about how to create keyframes and what a keyframe is. All a keyframe is is telling the timeline for that particular item, and in this case our camera, you are here locked in at this time. And we're going to set a Key for it, and you just click the button, and when you do, you'll see that little dot right there.
That means you've created a keyframe. What did I create a keyframe for? Well, come up here to the Camera Properties, and notice that the Position and Rotation now have red dots on them. If I move my mouse over these, you can actually see the Channel State, and red means a key at the current timeframe. Green means it's animated. If it's just blank, there's no channel animated at all. You can have mixed, and you can have driven channels as well from other items. But for the most part you're going to work with on and off. You're going to see red, green, and just nothing.
So we have a keyframe set right here, and we have a red dot signifying that there is a keyframe for Position and Rotation. Now, I don't want 1,800 frames, so we're going to come back to 120. That's all we need for this animation. Let's say that at frame 30, just 1 second, we want the camera to be over here, so I am just going to move it. And look what happened. We get a green line and another keyframe automatically, and because we only move the Position, new keyframes are made, but the Rotation stays green. That means that Channel is animated, but there's only keyframes at Position, and why did that happen? That's because of Auto Key, down here at the very bottom.
Auto Key says Animated, and what that means is once I set a keyframe, everything else will start automatically creating keyframes for me. You can turn this off, or you can create it for every single thing in the scene. In this case, Animated works the best. So how did this apply here? If it were set to All, when I had moved this camera at frame 30, I would have seen keyframes for my Rotation as well as Position. But since it was set just to Animated, and the only thing I animated was the position of the camera, that is what got keyframes.
So most of the time you don't even have to adjust this; just leave that by itself. You will also see down here a few more buttons, and these are key position channels on selected items, key rotation channels, and scale channels, and then you have a drop keyframe if you want to remove on. But I have to tell you, I rarely use those. I manually do it right here. I just kind of open this up like this, you just click and drag that up, and you'll get a Channel bar here. And what I can do with this is click right on these channels and adjust them. Or I can right-click on it, cut it, copy it, move it, and so on, and this works the same on PC or Mac.
Let's jump up to frame 60, and what I am going to do then is rotate the camera, and since I only rotated it on the Y axis, look what happens: just the Y is keyframed. Now, if I go to 90, I'll move this over. So all I am doing is moving my timeline and telling my item, you're here at this particular time. Down here, we've got the Rewind button, so I can click that back to the first frame. Here's a play button, play forward, camera turns and goes that way. Isn't that fantastic? What a fantastic motion.
It's not really fantastic motion, but it does the job. And that's how easy it is to keyframe in modo. There is a lot more you can do when it comes to keyframing, in terms of keyframing your color, keyframing your reflections, keyframing scale, zoom, depth of field, as well as adjusting those keyframes in the graph editor, and we're going to cover that in this chapter in some upcoming videos. But just to start simply, rather than setting up a whole scene and objects and animating the camera through, get a feel for animating just by moving the camera around, perhaps moving the light around, and see how that feels to you, adjust those keyframes by clicking on them and sliding, and remember, we've got this extra timeline bar here just by clicking and dragging up. That's all I have to do just to adjust these. Try this out.
Keyframing is a very easy way to put motion into your scene. It does not have to be large motions. It could be very simple, smooth camera moves, just to demonstrate a product shot, perhaps to look at an animated logo. Anything you can think of can be animated inside modo.
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