My 10 step program for better character animation
(1)I propose adding that "floor" constraint mentioned earlier. you would apply this to a bone to stop either end from going through a predefined point and maybe even more advanced stopping it from going through a specific mesh(stairs, uneven ground, you get the idea). You could have a setting where the bone would rotate in order to keep from going through the ground or mesh maybe definable on a specific axis(perfect for toes and sometimes feet/ankles) You may even be able to add a feature where you could control the amount of slip that is aloud when a bone is in contact with the floor(maybe key able with an ipo or action strip). This would make joint pinning for walking sequences easier and ice skating a thing of the past(unless that is what you were going for).
(2)Use the copy location and rotation constraint to make things such as a hand grab a wall or take a hat off of a head... EXAMPLE
(in windows media format)
(3)It would be great if there was a limit distance constraint which you could use on object that is your ik target. In this way you could keep the target for an ik constraint from going out of the reach if the object that you are controlling. Currently you can get nasty jerking movements if your ik target object goes out of reach and comes back.
-Expanding on that you could make a great feature for toon type animation that would stretch the armatures if the target went out of reach.
-Another great feature would be that if the target went out of reach it would drag parent armatures with it. I know that this would create a loop in parents but I have seen it done in other packages and been very useful.
(4) On an armature set you should be able to define which bone is the center. All actions would revolve around the center of the object. This would fix your problems of having actions be non location specific.
(5) Make those improvements on the nla mentioned earlier (a great mockup was done by monkEyboi half way down THIS
-blendin/out is then controlled by an ipo that resides ON THE STRIP.
-being able to animate constraint ipos in an action strip would be really useful.
(6) Make the nla more dynamic
-be able to save and add specific instances of the nla(like an ipo). This way you could:
- create multiple animations sequenced in one file using the same set and characters
- BE ABLE TO RE-USE / NEST an instance of the nla as an action strip in another instance of the nla. You could then merge actions and pins for one object into a single strip
-be able to drag and drop the order of the strips
-have a system where you could create collapsible folders, so you could group relevant objects together. You could then focus on one or two characters or objects at one time. Maybe you could also add a folder as an action strip in another instance of the nla.
(7) Add a "pin" strip that could be used as an action strip on any object. It wouldn't just lock it at certain point(xyz) but lock it at it's current position in time/space. this would make actions relying on pins re-usable no matter where the character was
(8) On any one action strip you should be able to select which "channels" it affects. You could have this pop up in a transparent window and you could check / uncheck bones that are affected. This way you could use a specific action for the upper body but have it not affect the feet.
(9) Be able to import a character, rig, associated objects, textures, constraints, actions, and nla instances using a simple import character dialogue not only that but being able to scale the character upon import with a slider that would recalculate everything for a seamless problem free import.
(10) Being able to set specific rotation limits for bones and being able to visually see the limits.
There it is. now I want to hear your 2 cents.
Rather good ideas of which some, I think, have been mentioned earlier. The thing I miss, not being able to do it myself, is some more visual feedback when animating. There are some really basic tools that are very handy indeed, as an example the way to show bone rotation/movement using paths (and doing some editing on them as well, modifying the path, moving bone locations at keyframes and such). It's really helpful for creating fluid motion (which is of course, a very basic rule in animation). Somekind of visual handles for rotating the bones would be nice as well - I find myself trying to work in a perspective view mode quite often and it's difficult.
I'll have a good look at the sources during the summer, hopefully I'll come up with something. The thing bothering me is that looking won't be enough =) And my c++ skills are, well, limited.