The Track View - Dope Sheet editor displays keyframes over time on a horizontal graph. This graphical display simplifies the process of adjusting animation timing because you can see all keys at once in a spreadsheet-like format.
Classical animation technique included the use of an exposure sheet, called an “X” sheet or a Dope Sheet. The Dope Sheet was a vertical chart that served as instructions to the camera operator. Dialogue and camera actions were indicated over a numbered list that represented each shot, which became a single photographed frame of the animated movie. The classical exposure sheet also included instructions for compositing the cel drawings of animated characters over backgrounds. This device serves as inspiration for the Dope Sheet tool in 3ds Max.
The 3ds Max Dope Sheet editor is similar to the classic X sheet. It displays keyframes over time, only using a horizontal graph (rather than vertical). This provides tools for adjusting the timing of your animation. Here, you can see all the keys in a spreadsheet-type interface. You can select any or all of the keys in a scene, scale them, move them, copy and paste them, or otherwise work directly here, rather than in the viewport. You can choose to select the keys for children, or subtree, or both, so you can make simple changes that affect many objects and their keys at once.
A common use of Dope Sheet is to stagger the movement of a character's limbs so they don't all move simultaneously. If you have a crowd of characters, you could use Dope Sheet to shift movements so they don't all move in unison.
In the Dope Sheet, you can select any or all of the keys in a scene, scale them, move them, copy and paste them, or otherwise work directly, rather than working with objects in viewports. You can choose to select the keys for children, or subtree or both, so you can make simple changes that affect many objects and their keys at once.
Dope Sheet menu bar
When Edit Keys is active, the keyframes are displayed as boxes within rectangles on a grid. The keys are color-coded to show what has been keyframed (position is red, scale is yellow, rotation is green, and so on.)
Dope Sheet keys are now displayed as rectangles within boxes so you can easily spot sub-frame keys, keys that fall in-between frames. Keys that fill the boxes are on the frame, keys that are small rectangles are sub-frame.
Dope Sheet, just like the Curve Editor, allows you to use soft selection on keys. This is extremely useful when you are dealing with massive quantities of keys, such as in motion-capture data files. Combine this with scaling keys for a means to manipulate motion data.
Soft selection of Dope Sheet keys
When Edit Ranges is active, the animation tracks are displayed as range bars; no individual keys are visible. Use this modewhen you want to change only how long an action takes, or when it starts and ends, rather than particular keys within an animation range.
Edit Ranges mode
When working in Dope Sheet mode, you can toggle and . These let you automatically move the tracks for the subtree and the keys for the children, respectively. If you experience a slowdown while working with Dope Sheet, try turning these off and moving the keys manually instead. Modify Subtree is on by default in Dope Sheet, but Modify Child Keys is off.
Dope Sheet offers you a variety of tools for working directly with time. You can select a period of time, which includes all the keys within that period, and then perform different operations on that time segment. You can copy and paste time to loop animations, or reverse time so the animation plays backward. You can insert time to add a space to an animation, or delete time to shorten a motion.
The default auto-navigation settings for the Dope Sheet editor auto-expand only to the node track for the currently selected object. This reduces the number of tracks whose keys need to be displayed and also helps enforce the top-down workflow for which the Dope Sheet editor is designed.