So you decided to take a step further into the realm of 3d.
Animations are not an easy step to take so let's cover
some basics before you begin any animation you would
like to do:

First off you should have a vision how the animation should look like.
Ok ok... I know of course you know what you want to do.
But it is important to know the timing of things that will happen.

Timing is very important, and with that I mean things like to sync the camera with what actually is happening. In the beginning I always added a camera at the end of an animation, just to realize that my timing was out of sync and I've done too much actions simultaneously, so the eyes can't catch all the things what are happening on the screen. Of course there is also timing in a movement but that is not basic stuff.

Second keep it simple... it would be beautiful if all of us had some big
server in our room so max could handle everything we want to do.
But I for an instance use a laptop which is not that strong, and if
I overdo some effects and particles in the early phase of an
animation I end up working with a slideshow.
Just leave most of the effects for the end and use your imagination
instead, but some basic effects are necessary or you will screw up the timing of everything.

Third look at reference, animating a movement is very hard to get
right. At least in the beginning, to learn some basic movements is
maybe boring but it is necessary. A big help is some reference of course, if you are animating a walk cycle it would be great if you look at a movie or something just to see how a real human walks and then try to copy the movement.

Fourth tips and tricks...? Yes you should get a basic knowledge of
everything that max has to offer.
For example learn something about reactor, than learn IK (inverse kinematics), than learn how to bind objects... and so on.
In an animation a variety of skills is used to make things look great,
for instance using a ragdoll and reactor instead of animating a fall
by hand, it is not just to save time it will also look more realistic.

And the last thing you should do is to make a lot of previews throughout your progress, so you will spot any failures early in the animation and not at the end. I do a lot of previews just because max doesn't work so well if I have modeled characters in an animation and of course it is important to see how the movements will look like when rendered.

I think I covered some good points with this,
and as a special i will show you an animation
on which I'm working right now.
I spend almost 16 hours animating for only around 600 frames
(20 seconds) and there is still so much to do and to repair,
the animation isn't that good but I think it will show you how
much time and effort goes into it...

Sometimes all goes well without any problems but sometimes
I mess up and spend a lot of time on repairing...

(it's just a preview ,not rendered)

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