Using Auto Key Mode  

To start creating animation, first turn on the Auto Key button, use the time slider to go to a particular frame, and then change something in your scene. You can animate the position, rotation, and scale of an object, and almost all other settings and parameters.

When you make a change, 3ds Max creates a key storing the new value for the changed parameter at the current time. If that key was the first animation key created for the parameter, a second animation key is also created at the Auto Key default frame to hold the parameter’s original value.

Keys are not created at the default frame until you create at least one key at a subsequent frame. After that, you can move, delete, and re-create keys at the default frame.

Turning on Auto Key has the following effects:

To begin animating an object:

  1. Click (Auto Key) to turn it on.
  2. Drag the time slider to a different time.
  3. Do one of the following:
    • Transform an object.
    • Change an animatable parameter.

For example, if you have a cylinder that has not been animated yet, it has no keys. If you turn on Auto Key, and at frame 20 you rotate the cylinder 90 degrees about its Y axis, rotation keys are created at frames 0 and 20. The key at frame 0 stores the original orientation of the cylinder, while the key at frame 20 stores the animated orientation of 90 degrees. When you play the animation, the cylinder rotates 90 degrees about its Y axis over 21 frames.

NoteIn 3ds Max Design, the default time range is from 1 to 100 rather than 0 to 100, and keys for an object's original position, rotation, and scale are stored at frame 1.
TipTo change the default start frame, or to disable automatic start-frame recording, use the Animation Preferences Auto Key Default Frame controls.

Modeling Without Animating

Just as you can animate at any time by turning Auto Key on, you can also model at any time in your animation without creating animation keys.

The results of changing an object or any other parameters with Auto Key off varies according to whether or not the object or parameters have been animated yet.

Identifying What Can Be Animated

Because most parameters in 3ds Max can be animated, the easiest way to find out if something can be animated is just to try it. Usually, if you want to animate a parameter, it can be animated.

Sometimes you need to know in advance if you can animate a parameter. If so, you can use Track View. The Track View Hierarchy list displays every parameter that can be animated. You might also need to add a controller to a track before it can be animated.