Sliders

Animation tools, character animation, non linear animation

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Javawocky
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Sliders

Postby Javawocky » Tue Aug 12, 2003 11:40 pm

I remember looking through the Maya demo CD and saw an example of them supplying a window in the program with sliders that controlled the animation in a user friendly way.

Is there a way to implement something similar in Blender? Basically what I was think was having the ablilty to control the rotation of an empty based on a sliders value, so in stead of having to select the empty and rotate it, just ajust the slider and save the keys as needed.

Perhaps this should be in the Python section, but someone here must have had a need to do this at some point. Anyone got any ideas?

soletread
Posts: 83
Joined: Fri Jan 10, 2003 7:11 pm

Postby soletread » Fri Aug 15, 2003 7:27 pm

Yes, I am in full agreement.

Just like the new RVK sliders, but that can also be attached to bones so that if you create a clenched fist for instance, the slider controls the degree of clench. :)

This can however be achieved with the NLA, just not as user friendly.

It would be worthwhile IMO

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Hos
Posts: 215
Joined: Wed Oct 16, 2002 12:06 am

Postby Hos » Sat Aug 16, 2003 6:36 am

Usual comment: where do you see these sliders fitting
in with blender's ui? A new window type? In the
action window somehow like was done with the RVK
sliders? How about a mockup? What is 'under the hood'
of these sliders ... do they just control an action, or do we need
a new 'Pose' concept/structure?

Chris

soletread
Posts: 83
Joined: Fri Jan 10, 2003 7:11 pm

Postby soletread » Sat Aug 16, 2003 12:16 pm

Damn, I've really got to get some host space so I can post pics.

Yes, I see these sliders operating in much the same way as the RVK sliders do and In the action window also. This makes sense as these sliders will control IPO's, not individually on ROTX ROTY etc, but somehow in a grouped fashion. So basically a slider per bone really.

And then when you need a FULL POSE slider, use an action constraint on a bone to a target pose (action).

Advantage:
    1)very flexible and customisable.
    can use this on any individual bone in an armature and in so doing having the additional advantage of posing idividual fingers on a hand for instance and getting pseudo rotational contraints(just by setting start and end pose positions - not quite the real thing though as its not really IK related) and negating the need for IK targets here.
    2)Can work in the NLA
    3)A lot of the infrastructure is in place already
Disadvantage:
    1)Need to place floating bones for each action constrained pose. (is this really a disadvantage?)
    2)The feature may not be obvious to newbies (But hey we all learn :wink: )


I am all for the simple solutions, when it comes to considering a new pose concept / structure, I tend to disregard the idea as this functionality is something we need now and the coders are overworked already :shock: .

So maybe someone with longer term vision can comment on a new concept :roll:

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ilac
Posts: 180
Joined: Mon Oct 14, 2002 8:24 am

Postby ilac » Sat Aug 16, 2003 1:41 pm

soletread wrote:So basically a slider per bone really.


That doesn't seem to be very practical.

What I would suggest is to have NLA action strips be attached to an influence ipo (similar to edit ipo in the action constraint)

ie.

1) You create an action normally eg Clench fist
2) You convert action keys to an NLA action strip and here set the global region you want them to act (ie. in and out point) and fade and multtiply settings.
3) Click 'edit ipo'... .....go to ipo window.
4) you now get an influence ipo which curently would be 0 at in-frame, 1 at Max-fade-in frame, horizontal, 1 at start-fade-out frame, and 0 at out-point.

Now you can manipulate the ipo. ie.
change the fade in-fade out eg no longer linear,
set points at 0.5, ie. 50% fist clenched
etc etc.
You can use normal ipo settings like set the fist to open close etc repeatedly. I know you can do this in the NLA but here you are not limited to linear fade's in and outs and you can have any combination of percentage influence. The NLA only offers 100% influence and if you want more you have to double the strip and set it to add. With the ipo editer you can just put the value to 2 at the relevant frames so no need for unecessary clutter in the NLA.




What happens in the NLA?
Simple (so to speak, don't know about coding :P )

Once edit Ipo is clicked for the selected strip in the NLA the fade in and out points disappear and the strip changes colour to show that it is being influenced by an ipo. Therefore the in and out points change according to the '0' levels in the ipo. ie. If I shift the fisrt pont in the IPO by 10 frames back, the the NLA strip also starts 10 frames back. If half way though my ipo I set 5 frames at a value of '0', then in the NLA no action strip is visible for those 5 frames - something which is not possible in the current NLA. In the current NLA if I want 'Clench fist at frames 10-20 and 35-60, I need 2 seperate 'Clench fist'strips for each rather than 2 strip blocks in the 'Clench fist strip! If I'm clenching my fist a lot I'm gonna end up with lots of clench fist strips! Not practical or neat.

Also, on the action Strips with 'Edit ipo' on we could see the ipo (just see - not edit) similar to a waveform in audio strips in audio programs.




What about sliders?
Sliders should become standard in the ipo window. There should be a slider next to each possible key on the left eg LocX, Loc Y. moving the slider at a certain frame automatically inserts a key at that frame.

If all Ipos now have a slider attached, it means that the influence ipo for the action strip also has an ipo! So now you have a slider to activate your clench fist action - or any other action for that matter!

One other possible addition could be that the slider which affects the action influence ipo is also present in the NLA on the toolbar and works for whichever Action strip is currently selected. This would allow us to edit the Action ipo influence through the NLA and not need to go to ipo window except for tweaks etc.


:D


Whatcha think :?:

soletread
Posts: 83
Joined: Fri Jan 10, 2003 7:11 pm

Postby soletread » Sat Aug 16, 2003 3:16 pm

Yes, I like your idea a lot, it overcomes the disadvantage I spoke of with my idea, namely having to place separate bones for each action...

One thing though, are you sure about putting the sliders in the IPO windows.

The reason is its not as quick to operate. What I have noticed in other systems is the sliders are all accessable at once, that is one for hand.L and another for hand.R etc all in the same window at the same time.

That is why it would be nice to see the sliders in the action window instead. Is it necessary to have a slider for each IPO (ROTX ROTY etc.)? Just one influence IPO like you mentioned would be all we need. But we cant put it in the Action window if its in the NLA can we, would that create some sort of a "feedback" loop.?

I think the NLA is a great place to start thinking like you have done, but for me the NLA is a place where I go once all has been done correctly. In other words the sliders would be used to create an actual pose rather than a whole action. Something I do before I get to the NLA.

Hmm this is tricky.

I think maybe something more complex perhaps, something that will allow the placement of all sliders for a particular heirarchial group (eg armature and all children) into one screen. This includes the RVK sliders as well.

And then the ability to group these sliders with a new influence slider, so that one could create "Frown" "surprise" sliders etc. But that could be a long way off. But if that is the goal, it will at least create a blue-print to start creating something that is useable along the way.

cheers

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ilac
Posts: 180
Joined: Mon Oct 14, 2002 8:24 am

Postby ilac » Sat Aug 16, 2003 5:09 pm

soletread wrote:One thing though, are you sure about putting the sliders in the IPO windows.

The reason is its not as quick to operate. What I have noticed in other systems is the sliders are all accessable at once, that is one for hand.L and another for hand.R etc all in the same window at the same time.


I don't see this as a problem. According to my proposal you just need to click on which action you want to alter and its relevant slider (in the NLA) or IPO window with slider (in the NLA) will be pop up. You can see the settings of all the other strips via the 'ipo waveform on the strip'.
hand.L, hand.R refers to body location which doesn't mean anything because in Blender an action can cover one bone or all. Actions (which are what you have in the NLA window) would be point index.R, point index.L, clench fist.R etc etc. I do not see any advantage in having the sliders for ALL the possible actions constantly present. The way I work with character animation in Blender is to first build a big library of the majority of actions I'd like my character to do and then use the NLA to set them out on the timeline. I'd end up with too many sliders visible that I do not need most of the time!

Plus Blender already offers a great solution! IPO window data can be pinned down. SO if I want to be able to access say Clench.R and Clench.L all I need to do would be to split my ipo window in 2 (or 3 etc) and pin the different ipo data to the various windows. That's how I work when I want to co-ordinate the ipo's of different objects.


soletread wrote:That is why it would be nice to see the sliders in the action window instead. Is it necessary to have a slider for each IPO (ROTX ROTY etc.)?


Its just added control to facilite keyframing, as was done for the RVK's. Its not just for animating armatures but to speed up animating other objects too.


soletread wrote: Just one influence IPO like you mentioned would be all we need. But we cant put it in the Action window if its in the NLA can we, would that create some sort of a "feedback" loop.?


I wouldn't put them in the action window. For NLA STrip IPO influence I would add another button at the bottom of the IPO window which would bring up NLA relevant data only, not object ipo's too.

Hmmm.. this could actually make your idea feasable too.....

With armature 'Tom's bones' selected, clicking on the NLA ipo window would list ALL actions already attached to Tom's bones in the NLA which have Edit Ipo set on! Like this you would have All the sliders in one window. Then each ipo would be colour coded similar to all the object ipos so you know which ipo refers to which actions! No need for data pinning/window splitting, and if only the NLA strips with Edit ipo switched on have the slider and ipo displayed then you probably shouldn't have excessive amounts of sliders on display! :D

This looks nice in my head! Ooof! hope I find to the time to learn to code soon. I wish I could just experiment too ! :(


soletread wrote:I think the NLA is a great place to start thinking like you have done, but for me the NLA is a place where I go once all has been done correctly. In other words the sliders would be used to create an actual pose rather than a whole action. Something I do before I get to the NLA.


I don't know. I'd rather create only one action block called clench fist.R and then make use of the NLA to determine when and how much instead of having to create other actions for half closed fist.R etc. After all the NLa already lets you control speed, add, fade in and out etc , so my idea is really just an extension of what is already there! plus it would make the NLA so much more organised! After all, if I want my 50%closed fist out of a 100% closed fist I can edit the Nla strip and tell it to end the action at earlier. but this means adding at least 2 strips - and what if I want to open and close the fist a few more times..... (and not at regular intervals obviously)

IPO inluence for NLA strips! Where's that drool emoticon! :wink:

soletread
Posts: 83
Joined: Fri Jan 10, 2003 7:11 pm

Postby soletread » Sat Aug 16, 2003 6:42 pm

Ok, I think I am beginning to see the light at the end of your tunnel :lol:

Yes, a slider in the NLA window.

Do you think your idea is do-able now-ish? What I mean is, would it need an excessive overhaul of the code. From your comments I guess you arent really a coder. Neither am I. I can just see the eyes of the coders rolling as they read this post. :D

I think i have got to grips with your idea, just one thing: I dont think sliders are necessary in the IPO window if the rest of your proposal gets attention. After all, there is a lot of control there already with beziers etc. what we are after is a single control all slider per IPO group anyway. If they sit in the NLA then we wouldn't really need them in the IPO window. (and possibly get a quicker implimentation)

Currently if I want to do a half clench fist I use a full clench action in the NLA and then modify the action range settings ? What would the difference be between your concept and one that just remaps those settings to an always visible slider? Sorry I know you have probably said this already, but just in relation to the last statement. Just one more time so the light bulb can go on. :P

cheers

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ilac
Posts: 180
Joined: Mon Oct 14, 2002 8:24 am

Postby ilac » Sat Aug 16, 2003 7:23 pm

soletread wrote:Ok, I think I am beginning to see the light at the end of your tunnel :lol:

Yes, a slider in the NLA window.

Do you think your idea is do-able now-ish? What I mean is, would it need an excessive overhaul of the code. From your comments I guess you arent really a coder.


I haven't got the slightest clue.... :? I can twiddle a wee little python - but otherwise..... :oops: hope that changes in the near future. I'd love to be able to implement my own ideas! Hopefully in the meantime some else finds them inspiring!

I think i have got to grips with your idea, just one thing: I dont think sliders are necessary in the IPO window if the rest of your proposal gets attention. After all, there is a lot of control there already with beziers etc. what we are after is a single control all slider per IPO group anyway. If they sit in the NLA then we wouldn't really need them in the IPO window. (and possibly get a quicker implimentation)


True. Personally I don't feel the need for them most of time. the reason why I think they would make a good addition is that they might facilitate keyframing for some people that don't know how to handle curves and beziers. I'm a graphic designer so I feel right at home with bezier handles, but we also probably get a lot of people coming to blender having only used a word processor etc, or from taditional mediums. For these poeple sliders might make more sense. After all you can do the same with the RVK's and don't need the sliders - but they make it so much easier being there! And also looking at the new RVK sliders, sliders in the ipo window can dissappear just as easly with the little arrow thingie! So you don't need to see them if you don't want!

So they're not necessary but could be a useful asset none the less!


Currently if I want to do a half clench fist I use a full clench action in the NLA and then modify the action range settings ? What would the difference be between your concept and one that just remaps those settings to an always visible slider?


As things are atm:
eg. A character has an open fist by default.
So you model an action - fist clenched -1 frame

By making use of the fade option in the NLA you can get a hand going from open to closed smoothly.

If you need you charcter to have a 50% closed fist you would have to
a) either model a 50% closed fist

or B) Change the closed fist action to be open at frame 1, closed at frame 10.

In the NLA you can edit the action strip and tell it which range of frames you want to use for the strip. So frame 10 for 100% closed fist, frame 5 for 50% etc. Each of these would take up another strip in the NLA!!


In my proposal:
action pose a clenched fist -1 frame

By means of the influence ipo you can set your fist as 100%, 0% and every iteraction in between, in any order and for as many times as you want - without having to alter the 'action pose itself, without having to add strips every time you want a clenched fist or create new action blocks or strips when you want 50% etc of an existing action!

the slider, just like in the RVK's makes it easy to insert keyframes for the desired percentage over the timeline!



Not quite sure I answered your question though. If not please rephrase it! :wink:


Any lightbulbs lit?
:idea:

:D

soletread
Posts: 83
Joined: Fri Jan 10, 2003 7:11 pm

Postby soletread » Sat Aug 16, 2003 8:02 pm

I've got it now thanks. :)

Its a good idea. I am just worried its not Really an NLA thing in terms of what the NLA base purpose is. What you have are 2 different concepts using the same system. Am I wrong? Would it then become difficult to mix these t 2 types of strips into the final output (in code) I wonder.

I have noticed no one else has made a comment yet. Are we alone in our quest?

:?

Cheers

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ilac
Posts: 180
Joined: Mon Oct 14, 2002 8:24 am

Postby ilac » Sat Aug 16, 2003 9:34 pm

soletread wrote:I am just worried its not Really an NLA thing in terms of what the NLA base purpose is. What you have are 2 different concepts using the same system.


Personally I think its a natural extension of the NLA and what the NLA already does. I really don't see it fitting anywhere else!

I don't know, am I using the NLA different than other people, or the way it was intended? :?

Why do you see them as seperate concepts?

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With such longs posts I'm probably having a thorax effect on people! :P
:wink:

soletread
Posts: 83
Joined: Fri Jan 10, 2003 7:11 pm

Postby soletread » Sat Aug 16, 2003 10:16 pm

ilac wrote:

Why do you see them as seperate concepts?


Your concept is a good one and is also essentially a linear one sitting inside the NLA. Maybe you are using it as a global timeline with NLA functionality, which is probably not bad either. :P

Maybe that is the way it was intended.

Now would be a good time for a coder to grace us with their presence :D

matt_e
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Location: Sydney, Australia
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Postby matt_e » Sun Aug 17, 2003 3:51 am

soletread wrote:I think i have got to grips with your idea, just one thing: I dont think sliders are necessary in the IPO window if the rest of your proposal gets attention. After all, there is a lot of control there already with beziers etc.


Sliders would be no good, since sliders are meant to represent a percentage or a position within a finite range. A LocX could be 1 or 1000000000 blender units - what do you set the upper limit of the slider to? Now on the other hand, numerical entry controls for the Ipo window would rock. suberduber has a little mockup of something similar to what I would like here: http://www.blender.org/modules.php?op=m ... pic&t=1689 - with numerical input fields with a little 'set key' button next to it. From my experience, this approach works really really well in other apps like After Effects and Final Cut Pro - attached an example pic but it's so tiny (thanks to the Apple website... :/ )
Image

About visualisation of this NLA sliders idea, rather than changing the NLA strip to another colour, it would be cool to show the influence curve on the strip itself. You can find this idea in non-linear editors, using curves on strips to control fading, volume envelopes for audio, etc.

Hos
Posts: 215
Joined: Wed Oct 16, 2002 12:06 am

Postby Hos » Sun Aug 17, 2003 6:47 am

broken wrote:Sliders would be no good, since sliders are meant to represent a percentage or a position within a finite range. A LocX could be 1 or 1000000000 blender units - what do you set the upper limit of the slider to?


I wouldn't say no good completely... for example, RVK sliders use the N key
while the mouse is over the key name to set the upper and lower limits
of the sliders on the fly. Using sliders with more than one Loc axis
however requires the same kind of skills needed to operate an
etch-a-sketch properly. =D

Chris

slikdigit
Posts: 213
Joined: Wed Oct 16, 2002 3:52 am
Location: Northampton, MA (US)

Postby slikdigit » Sun Aug 17, 2003 11:23 am

what if a slider is a new object type, key-able in the nla?
the slider object would have a range, -1 to +1, and give the ability to add actions to the range, each in a way similar to the interface of the action constraint in the armature. that way you could create a slider that controled both armature movement and rvk ipos,via creating actions. the slider could be displayed in a new window, or it could be a hud in the 3d window, with the ability to turn off and on (or just by using layers). this could resemble the sliders in project:mesiah, for instance.
excuse my rambling. Its late and I don't know if I'm expressing myself very well. :oops:


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