Animation > 
Working with Controllers

Everything you animate in 3ds Max is handled by a controller. A controller is a plug-in that handles the storage and interpolation of all animated values.

The default controllers are:

TipFor fast access to key info or controller parameters, double-click a controller track name on the Motion panel or Track View hierarchy window . This productivity enhancement can help speed your work when fine-tuning animation.

Although 3ds Max has many different types of controllers, much of the animation is handled by the Bezier controller. Bezier controllers interpolate between keyframes in a smooth curve. You can adjust the key interpolation of these interpolations through the keys on the track bar or in Track View. This is how you can control acceleration, hesitation and other types of motion.

The default controller for Rotation is Euler XYZ, which breaks the rotation down into three individual Bezier Float tracks. The default controller for Position is Position X,Y,Z. The Scale controller default is Bezier.

NoteIf you load files made in earlier versions of 3ds Max, their existing controllers will be maintained.
Warning Be aware that Euler rotations behave differently than TCB rotations. If you are used to using TCB controllers, you can reassign TCB Rotation as the controller and you will get the same behavior you are used to.

3ds Max has a specialized type of controller, called a constraint, that is commonly used to help automate the animation process. A constraint can be used to control an object’s position, rotation, or scale through a binding relationship with another object.

You apply constraints and controllers using commands on the Animation menu. When you assign a controller from this menu, a weighted list controller is automatically applied, with the controller you've selected appearing first in the list. The weighted list controller gives you the ability to blend controllers, similar to a nonlinear animation system. If you assign a controller through the Motion panel or Track View, it replaces the existing controller, rather than creating a list controller. You can do that manually if you are working in the Motion panel or Track View.

This section explains techniques for working with controllers. For details about the parameters and use of each individual controller type, see Animation Controllers.

  • Understanding Controllers

    Controllers are plug-ins that handle the animation tasks in 3ds Max.

  • Changing Controller Properties

    Certain controllers, including procedural ones like Noise, do not use keyframes. For this type of controller, you can analyze and change your animation by editing controller parameters by means of a Properties dialog. The controller type determines whether or not the controller displays a properties dialog and the type of information displayed.

  • Assigning Controllers

    Every parameter has a default controller type that gets assigned the moment the parameter is animated. You can choose from multiple controller types for any parameter and change controllers after the parameter is animated.

  • Specifying Default Controllers

    You can specify the permanent defaults for controller types and controller settings to match the way you prefer to work.

  • General-Purpose Controllers

    The controllers described in this topic are general purpose in that you can apply them to parameters of different data types, yet they behave in essentially the same way for those different parameters.

  • Special-Purpose Controllers

    The controllers described in this topic are applied to parameters of different data types, like general-purpose controllers, but they are used for special purposes.

  • Explicit Axis Keys

    The XYZ controllers assign an individual track to the X, Y, and Z components of the position, rotation, or scale of an object. However, the controllers always assign three keys (one for each axis), by default.

  • Float Controllers

    The controllers described in this topic are available only for parameters that use the Float data type.

  • Controlling Transforms

    Transform controllers are compound controllers. They set the type and behavior of the controllers used for Position, Rotation, and Scale.

  • Controlling Position

    The Position controller is a component of the Transform controller. Position is a data type that can use most of the standard controllers such as Bezier, TCB, and Noise.

  • Controlling Rotation

    The Rotation controller is a component of the Transform controller. Rotation is a data type that can use most of the standard controllers such as TCB, Linear, and Noise.

  • Controlling Colors

    You can animate colors in 3ds Max just as you can animate most other parameters.

  • Morph Controllers

    You can choose from two morph controllers: Cubic and Barycentric; they manage how morph targets blend from one target to another. Morphing can also be achieved by applying a Morpher modifier to an object.

  • Motion Panel Commands

    Controls for assigning and adjusting controllers appear on the Motion panel.