CAP 203 - Computer Animation III

Chapter 29 - Understanding Animation and Keyframe Basics


This lesson reviews new information about animation in 3DS Max. Objectives important to this lesson:

  1. Controlling time
  2. Creating keys
  3. The track bar
  4. Viewing and editing key values
  5. Using the motion panel and trajectories
  6. Enabling ghosting
  7. Animating materials

The chapter begins with animation information you learned two terms ago.

  • You can drag the Timeline slider to manually scan the frames in the timeline, or to move to a particular time slot
  • The Time control buttons are listed on page 690.
  • Note the Key Mode toggle that was not described in the Essentials book. This feature changes the Next and Previous frame button functions. When engaged, these buttons become Next and Previous Key buttons.
  • Remember that you will only see the keys for the currently selected object(s) on the timeline.
  • Mr. Murdock points out the button to access the Time Configuration Dialog. (This was less clear in the Essentials book.) The main reason to use this dialog is to change the number of frames contained in an animation.
  • You should be aware of the frame rate choices described on page 690. You will want to select appropriate frame rates for videos that will be used in different markets or different media.
  • Key were created two ways in the Essentials text: Auto Key mode or Set Key mode. Page 693 describes a third way, right-clicking the time slider button to specify values for a Position, Rotation, or Scale key. Page 697 introduces a fourth way, using the Motion Panel.

Assignment: Rotating a windmill's blades

  1. It has been a few weeks since we had an animation assignment. Perform the tutorial on page 693.
  2. Try something different with the tutorial. Suggestions: animate the vanes in some interesting way, have the propeller speed up and take off somewhere, or think of something else to make it unique.

The material on the track bar and editing key values should be reviewed, as well. Look it over briefly before going on to the lesson on trajectories.

Assignment: Making an airplane follow a looping path

  1. We saw the use of trajectory paths briefly in the Essentials text.
  2. Run through the tutorial on pages 699 and 700, including the use of the Follow/Bank utility.
  3. Add the Show Ghosting material on page 701 to the tutorial. Ghosting allows you to see an object in multiple positions in a scene at the same time.

The Essentials book did not provide details on animating cameras. You will find some on page 703 of this text. You will not find the technique used in the tutorial that follows.


  1. Propose a tutorial from the internet that addresses some feature or features from this chapter.
  2. In your typed proposal, include a URL to the material, and a short list of reasons you recommend the tutorial.