Wednesday, January 13, 2010

2.50 Animation Part 2

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In my first animation video, I showed how to keyframe location, rotation, scale, and material color, as well as how to group keyframed properties into keying sets. I left you probably wondering how, considering that the IPO window has disappeared, you can change the curves by editing them as you could do in Version 2.4x. In this video, I will show you how this is done, and how, overall, the animation process is easier than before. We will also look at some properties that now can be keyframed, such as modifiers, as well as the new F-Curve system.


1) Start with the default scene, with the default cube. Change to the Animation view. In the Animation view, there are a number of new windows, in addition to the 3D window. The three that specifically relate to animation are on the left part of the screen. At the top is the Dopsheet, which is the new name for the Action Editor. As before, pressing Ctrl-down arrow makes the window full screen. We'll be doing this a lot in this video, to see what's going on in a particular window. Pressing Control-down arrow again returns the window to its original size.

In the middle left part is the Graph Editor, which is the new version of the 2.4x IPO Editor. You can edit animation curves in the Graph Editor. The organization of the curves has been redone, with major enhancements which I'll point out as we go.

At the bottom right corner is the timeline, the window which has changed the least. As before, you can scrub the animation by dragging the vertical green arrow, and the VCR llke keys do roughly what they did before. As I mentioned in the 2.50 Animation Part 1 tutorial, you can now run the animation backwards.

Before we start, set the end frame of the animation to 50 frames by entering 50 in the End area of the Timeline.

We're going to insert a LocRotScale keyframe at Frame 1, to start the animation process. It works the same way. Position the cursor over the 3D window. Press the I key. Select LocRotScale. Let's see what happened. It looks like there were some curves added in the Graph Editor. Press Ctrl-Down Arrow to see what was added. We can't see what curves were added until we click on the left arrow, to expand the display.

Nine curves indeed were added, location, rotation, and scale, in the X, Y, and Z direction, as in 2.4x. The rotation curve has a new term - Euler - that wasn't there before. That's because rotation can be done in what's called Quaternions, as well as Eulers. For the time being, ignore this. Eulers are what we know as XYZ. We'll go into more detail about these curves after we actually animate the cube.

Press Control-Down Arrow to return the Graph Editor back to its original size.

Go to Frame 25. Press the G key and drag to move the cube over 4 or 5 Blender Units. Press Enter when done. Scale the cube up 2 times (S - 2 - Enter). Rotate the cube 45 degrees (R - 45 - Enter). Press the I key and insert an LoRotScale keyframe. Let's see what happened in the various graphs.

Start with the Graph Editor. Indeed, there are now 9 curves that we can see. They're all visible because all the check boxes at the left are checked. There's also an individual color assigned to each curve, such as red for the cube's X location. Let's in fact edit the curve for the cube's X location. To do that, uncheck all the boxes except for the X location curve. As before, each curve (they're now called F-curves) is a Bezier curve. You're in edit mode, with all the points, each representing a keyframe, selected. Press A to deselect all. Then right click on the ending keyframe. Move it up 2 Blender units or so by pressing the G key and moving it up. If you uncheck the Cube group and then check it again, all the curves display.

The lock icon controls whether or not a particular curve can be edited. If you click on it, the lock icon goes into the locked position and it can't be edited. If you click on it again, the curve is unlocked and can be edited.

Press Ctrl-Down Arrow to return the Graph Editor to its original location.

Press Alt-A to run the animation. The cube goes in the X direction, according to how you edited it.

The eye icon controls whether or not that particular curve contributes to the animation. It's a toggle. When the curve contributes to the animation, you see an eye. When it doesn't, the icon is greyed out. To show you how it works, click on all the eyes except the one associated with the X location curve. Press Control-Down Arrow to return the Graph Editor back to its original location. Press Alt-A or use the VCR keys to animate. Now the cube just moves in the X direction.

While we were animating, note that the Dopesheet, the graph at the top right part of the screen, was populated. Position the cursor over the Dopesheet and press Control-Down Arrow. These are actions that can be combined in the NLA editor. We won't discuss these in this video. I just wanted to point this out. There still seem to be some problems with screen refreshing of this window.

Let's see what happens when we animate another object. Let's add Suzanne to the scene (Shift-A, Add, Mesh, Monkey). Let's insert a LocRotScale keyframe for her. Press the I key, then select LocRotScale. Some more curves were added. Amazingly, we can edit the curves of both objects. What happened? First, Suzanne is now called "Mesh". There's an object called Mesh, as well as a mesh called "Mesh". As with the cube, the curves for what we used to know as Suzanne are in the Mesh's mesh. If you expand the Mesh Mesh, you'll see them. You can also view the Cube's curves.

Press Alt-Down Arrow to return the Graph Editor back to its original position.

The last thing I'll show in this video is that modifiers can be keyframed. This can make for amazing effects. Let's add an Array Modifier to the monkey. Set the current frame to 1. Then, click on the Modifier icon in the Mesh's Properties. Select Array. Change the count to 4. With the cursor on Count, in the Array Modifier area, right click. Select Insert Keyframe. Then go to Frame 25. Change the count to 2. With the cursor on Count, select Insert Keyframe. Press Alt-A to run the animation. Note how the number of monkeys changed.

Look at the Graph Editor. A new curve, called Count(Array) was created. There also is a Count(Array) curve created in the Dopesheet.

The goal is that any property you can see can be animated. Think of all the modifiers and all their properties that you can now animate easily.

Believe it or not, this only scratches the surface. I hope this tutorial gets you to think about how to use Blender 2.5's animation in your scenes. Don't forget to subscribe to my videos on Youtube so you won't miss any. Happy Blendering!