Monday, January 11, 2010

2.50 Animation Part 1

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Download the blend file

Watch mfoxdogg's Blender 2.50 Tour 9 Part 2 (Animation) video

This tutorial is based on the Blender 2.5 Tour 9 (Animation) video, published by Michael Fox, aka mfoxdogg. Michael works closely with the Blender developers and has detailed knowledge of all the new features in 2.5. At my blog, at, is a link to his animation tutorial, as well as to his blog at He has been doing Blender 2.5 tours for a while now, as evidenced by the fact that this is Tour 9. What's nice is that Michael also frequently contributes comments to my videos as well. If you have 2.5 questions, just email him or post a response to his comment.

I won't go into nearly as much detail as Michael does. My goal for this video is to give you a basic understanding of how animation in 2.5 works, and how it differs from 2.4x animation. For one thing, animation is much easier in 2.5. For another, you can animate just about anything in 2.5. In 2.4x there were many features that you could not animate. The developers completely rewrote, and significantly improved, the animation code in 2.5.

So start up Blender 2.5. I'm using the Alpha 0 version, which you can download from We'll start with the default cube. Just as in 2.4x, with the cursor in the 3D window, you can press the I key to insert a keyframe. You can insert combinations of location, rotation, and scale keyframes. At Frame 1, insert a LocRotScale to insert location, rotation, and scale keyframes. The timeline window is right below the 3D window.

Move the timeline slider to Frame 50. Move the cube 3 or 4 blender units to the right (Right click to select, G to grab, then drag, then press ENTER). Scale the cube up 3 times (S - 3 - Enter). Rotate the cube 45 degrees (R - 45 - Enter). Insert a LocRotScale keyframe (press the I key, then select LocRotScale). Set the animation end frame to 50 by entering 50 in the End area. Press Alt-A to animate. Note how the cube grows, moves, and rotates from Frame 1 to Frame 50. Press ESC to stop the animation.

Alt-Shift-A behaves a bit differently from Blender 2.4x. If you press Alt-Shift-A, the animation goes backwards, from Frame 50 back to Frame 1. You can see the backwards animation in the timeline, as the slider goes backwards. In 2.4x Alt-Shift-A pleys the animation forward in all windows. In the VCR controls in the timeline, you see two arrows, a left pointing arrow and a right pointing arrow. The left pointing arrow plays the animation backwards, and the right pointing arrow plays the animation forwards.

Just as in 2.4x, you can animate material properties, such as diffuse color. In 2.4x, you had to go to the material context and press I to insert a keyframe. In 2.50, the material properties are grouped together in the materials panel. Let's change the diffuse color from red at frame 1 to green at frame 25 and blue at frame 40. First, go to the materials panel by clickinig on the grey ball icon. Then go to Frame 1 by setting the current frame number. A basic goal of Blender 2.5 is that anything that you see can be keyframed. The way to do that is to right click on a property and then select Insert Keyframe. Click on the Diffuse Color rectangle. Change it to a reddish color by selecting it in the color wheel. Right click on the rectangle and choose Insert Keyframes. Keyframes are inserted for the Red, Green, Blue, and Alpha channels.

Now go to Frame 25 by setting the Current Frame slider. Click on the Diffuse Color rectangle. Change the color to a greenish color. Right click on the diffuse color rectangle. Select Insert Keyframes.

Go to Frame 40 by setting the Current Frame slider. Click on te Diffuse Color rectangle. Change the color to something blue like. Right click on the diffuse color rectangle. Select Insert Keyframes. Now press Alt-A. Now the cube grows, moves, rotates, and changes color, based on the keyframes you have set.

You can add bunch of properties at a time, including properties you could not set in 2.4x. You do this by defining a keying set. Here's how it's done. We're going to change a group of properties related to specularity, the little spot that's reflected from the lamp. To do this, go to Frame 1, in the usual way. Right click on the Specular color rectangle. Click on Add Single To Keying Set. Then right click on the Specular Shader. Click Add Single to Keying Set. Right click on Hardness. Click Add Single to Keyiing Set. We've now defined properties related to specularity that we can keyframe all at once. At Frame 1, change Specular color to magenta, Shader to Phong, and Hardness to 255.
Click the little Key icon next to the word ButtonKeyingSet. This keyframes all those specular properties. Go to Frame 33. Change Specular color to yellow, Shader to Blinn, and Hardness to 3. Click the Key Icon next to the word ButtonKeyingSet. Keyframes are added at that point. If you press Alt-A, you might not see all the changes, but if you created an actual video, you would see it.

At this point, if you have worked in 2.4x with animation, you might be wondering where all these curves are kept and whether you can edit them in the IPO window. Well, I have news for you. The IPO Curve Editor is gone. Now you're probably even more confused. The IPO Curve Editor has been replaced by the Graph Editor. These curves are, after all, graphs. The graphs are grouped in a way that you really can edit them easily. The curves are grouped into action oriented curves (the location, rotation, and scale curves), and the Materials oriented curves. The Button Keying Set, when expanded, shows the curves related to specularity, that we defined in the keying set. If you collapse the Button Keying Set, you see the diffuse color curves.

How can you edit just one curve? By clicking on the eye icon, you can hide (or show) a particular curve. You can hide or show all the curves in a keying set by clicking on its eye icon. If you click enough eyes, you can get down to the particular curve you want to edit. By the way, these curves are now called F-curves. These curves are Bezier curves, just as in 2.4x. I'll discuss the Graph Editor, as well as the other visual editors related to animation, in Part 2 of the 2.5 Animation Tutorial.

I hope this gives you a leg up on how animation has changed in Blender 2.5. If you want to play with the Blend file I created, go to my blog related to this tutorial, at Also, don't forget to press the Subscribe button on Youtube so you can find out how this 2.5 animation story ends. Happy Blendering!