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View Full Version : Layering animation on a walk cycle


JDex
10-22-2006, 06:19 AM
Forgive the newbness... I've finished a walkcycle for an odd character (non-typical rig, he's a tri-ped) and have used clips in the mixer to block out the pace of his movement across a scene. He is walking along a path uneven pavement that follows a mis-shapen curve... I need to now layer animation on top of this track to make him follow the path, interact with the environment and bring him to life.

The walkcycle clip drives four objects (three leg controls, and his hips)... when I try to key the clip-driven paramenters in the viewport, they snap back to the driven location. The only way I seem to be able to layer it, is to mark all the parameters I plan to key, and create a new clip, then animate in the animation editor without the benefit of moving the objects directly in the viewport.

Is there a way to layer animation over a clip relative to the clip, where viewport interaction is possible? Me and my cohort seem to be at a loss.

I've been all through the XSI guide on NLA, the manual, SI tutorials on the subject and the Production Series DVDs, but seem to be missing this key methodology.

I know, I know... you can't believe I've been using XSI all this time, and am just getting to the CA tools. :D

JDex
10-22-2006, 10:01 AM
Okay... no progress yet, but exploring the wild for workarounds has led to more questions. So why can I not plot these curves from the to the geometry with the same curve count and bezier settings? I've never really taken issue with the plot command's output, as it is generally fine for most purposes... but now with trying to keep keys to a minimum so that I can continue this animation I find that it is frustrating that the app cannot just take a key's properties in a clip and directly apply it to the object it originated from without significantly altering it... If a key is located at frame 34.1243, why can't it just be copied to frame 34.1243 on the object it originated from instead of needing to be fit with a tolerance and generate extra keys to compensate.

Is there a way to directly transpose these keys in a clip, to object level f-curves?

McNistor
10-22-2006, 12:32 PM
if you can upload somewhere the scn file i might be able to help you...

toonafish
10-22-2006, 12:54 PM
hey great, maybe I can help you out this time :-)

You probably already now this, but you can apply the Fcurves of a clip to the model by selecting the source clip in the explorer and hit apply > action.

but if you want to keep the clips, as a real xsi newb I'd parent the control objects to a Null, rename the control object and Null so the clip gets applied to the Null and animate the control object on to of the clip.

JDex
10-22-2006, 05:06 PM
Thanks for the responses guys.

McNistor, I'd love to, but it's not something that I could share as it's NDA'd and all that stuff.

Toonafish. The Apply>Action would be great if I could do it at the track level, using the source it doesn't record the pacing as he walks through the scene.

We have several shots using the same character model. There is a proxy model for animation imported as a reference model and there is also the model with renderable geometry that can be loaded through the reference model.

We want to be able to import that linear cycle into each scene, adjust the pacing in a track by repeating/offsetting/shortening/lengthening the clip in a track, then be able to key tweaks that are scene specific to different tracks.... such as:
- making the direction non-linear to follow the path
- adjust his vertical motion and foot-contact with uneven pavement
- have him react to the environment.

The environmental stuff is fine, as it can be animated outside of his walkcycle, and then mixed in with a clip as it appears this tool was intended, but adjusting the path of motion and then adjusting his motion for uneven pavement seems to be a real chore... I'm now to the point of manually keying each scene's walk using the walk-cycle curves and the track pacing as reference, but that seems to be opposed to the notion of NLA imho.

I've gone down the path of adding extra layers of controllers to the rig, and I'm finding it very convoluted... I'm very surprised that this is this difficult.

toonafish
10-22-2006, 05:36 PM
Toonafish. The Apply>Action would be great if I could do it at the track level, using the source it doesn't record the pacing as he walks through the scene.

ah, I knew it wouldn't be that easy ;-)

I'm just making this up right now, but couldn't you add an expression to the control items neutral pose channels where you add the local motion of a Null ? You could then parent that Null to another one and pose constraint that one to the controller so it's easy to animate in the viewport.

edit: I just tried it here with a very simple rig with a few Nulls, and I can animate on top of a clip this way. But then, it's a very simple setup....

JDex
10-22-2006, 07:39 PM
Thanks man, but I can't seem to get it there. I'm getting desperate and am now attempting something near the last resort before per scene manual animation (where we started)... plot each controllers track animation, deform/tweak... then constrain back to path. What a nightmare.

SheepFactory
10-22-2006, 08:10 PM
I dont have xsi in front of me and might have misunderstood what you are trying to do as I have never really had any use for NLA but if you are trying to keep certain parts of the clip and manually key over it to the controllers of your choice all you need to do is to open up the clip properties (i think , i'll know for sure when I get home) and you will find a list of controller it effects which you can deactivate the ones you want to key manually and key as usual while the rest of the controllers are still effected by the clip. I find this easier than blending clips all over the place which never gave the results I wanted.

hope this helps.

JDex
10-22-2006, 08:52 PM
Thanks Ali... I'll look over it again. I think I just have a major disconnect of thought with how NLA works... I recall seeing features in Motionbuilder that allowed you to store an animation, then relatively layer other animation on top of it... and was given the impression that XSI's animation tools had the same (or even better) functionality of the type. Looks like I was wrong, conceptually mistaken, or ahead of my time. :p

SheepFactory
10-22-2006, 09:45 PM
Yes you can do that the way I explained above. Its not super intuitive like a real layer system like in CAT but it works fine.

JDex
10-22-2006, 09:50 PM
Okay... I have a solution but need to automate, hopefully someone has already written a script that can help, or has another approach.

I took my track and plotted it RAW to the driven objects... I then took those objects and plotted a curve for each. I used a lattice to deform the curves into place and now I need to replot the animation to the points on the deformed curves... I'm sure a script could be written, and will see if I can get my code warrior on it, but if someone has something that can walk through the points on the curve and position the objects to the points every frame, I'd greatly love to hear about it. Haven't run across something like it yet in Netview or the base's resources.

onikaze
10-23-2006, 12:24 AM
to do it in xsi you need to make the walk cycle a clip.


from there you can do a few things.

such as make a standalone action that has the changes to the animtion then layer the two in the mixer.
Or just add the changes to the action in the mixer with a clip effect (pretty sure thats what it's called)

Or you could recreate the rig in MotionBuilder. Then animate with layers instead of the story mode tracks. This should give you just the keys you set instead of a key at every frame. then import to xsi.

hmm didn't know the FS project was nda'd

if you want me to explain in more detail on either of my suggestions I'm pretty sure you know where to find me.

JDex
10-23-2006, 02:02 AM
to do it in xsi you need to make the walk cycle a clip.


from there you can do a few things.

such as make a standalone action that has the changes to the animtion then layer the two in the mixer.
Or just add the changes to the action in the mixer with a clip effect (pretty sure thats what it's called)


Tom, you da man... that led me to go back and re-review the offset effects and found exactly what we needed. Thanks a ton!

dwigfor
10-23-2006, 04:26 AM
Also, maybe check out the tutorial, with Beck lifting his head.

You should be able to animate the upper body seperately and use that as another clip.

For the legs, not sure cause there's 3. If it was 2 I was gonna suggest looking in the manual about Set Driven Keys and Defining them (I think that's what it's called. Maybe you could create dummy legs, so 6 legs total..

JDex
10-23-2006, 05:28 AM
The reason we bypassed this feature when scanning tuts and documentation was that the direct editing in the clip properties seemed a bit convoluted (especially the GUI text fields - no tab-index) and we missed the interactive keying ability because the tuts either seemed to gloss over it or not illustrate fully... but when I went back again and read it twice, and then found the Production DVD topic, it all clicked.

Workflow for anyone else.

- Setup your track with the pacing you want.
- Select all your clips and create a compound.
- In the Mixer go to Effect>Create Offset Effect. This adds a blue band across the top of the clip.
- Make any SRT manipulations you want, and instead of keying them RMB click the blue band and select Set Offset Key - Changed parameters

All changes can be viewed and tweaked with full fcurve control in the Animation Editor and you can watch the effect on the underlying keys, much like a proportional tool's falloff.

JDex is a satisfied XSI user again. :p

onikaze
10-23-2006, 08:21 AM
The walkcycle clip drives four objects (three leg controls, and his hips)... when I try to key the clip-driven paramenters in the viewport, they snap back to the driven location. The only way I seem to be able to layer it, is to mark all the parameters I plan to key, and create a new clip, then animate in the animation editor without the benefit of moving the objects directly in the viewport.


This happened because you were trying to edit clip data outside of the mixer. whats in the mixer stays in the mixer , just like las vegas. I feel it is a byproduct of having the mixer "added on" instead of fully integrated into the animation properties. I had started to explain to Colin on where there could be improvements with the system at the GDC and at the time he seemed really intrigued. Hoever when I tried to get the dialog going again through email I never heard back.

anyway, modify the clip animation outside the mixer you can plot to the scene and then edit in the regular timeline, then plot back out to a clip.

Hopefully the CAT tool inegration will make most of the 'red tape' go away.

JDex
10-23-2006, 08:39 AM
Aye... the deeper I dig, the more improvements I find necessary, but it's working... and for today, that's where I find happiness. :applause:

Thanks again... Ali was sending me that way, but didn't have the terminology on hand. Thanks to everyone. :thumbsup:

JDex
10-23-2006, 09:16 PM
Aight, part deux.

I exported my clip and then re-imported it to the mixer and made it external. I now need to add a few extra parameters to the cycle itself as well as a new object... I apply the action, add everything I need and store a new action, then save it to a v002 of the same saved action... I open the clip properties of the clip in my track and set the new external action's path. When I offload, then reload it one of two things happen:

- It loads, but only the old parameters... the new object and added parameters are not listed in the clip.
- It gives me an unspecified error.

I can't find any rhyme nor reason for the different reactions.

Can clips not do this, or am I missing a step?


It wouldn't be a big deal to rebuild the track, except that damn clip properties PPG/Clip Item Information input fields are a giant pain for adding your offsets when you have 30+ instanced clips and 4-8 initial offsets in each.

onikaze
10-24-2006, 02:13 AM
I would have to see the file to see exactly what you are saying.

sorry

kimaldis
10-24-2006, 09:04 AM
Hey Jason,


you've figured this out by now but one of the great drawbacks of the mixer is that clips won't blend with with fcurve animation. It's a killer that we're struggling with here right now and it drives me nuts because it means that you find yourself having to work either entirely in the mixer or entirely in the fcurve editor.

JDex
10-24-2006, 12:05 PM
Wow... thanks for confirming.

janimatic
10-26-2006, 08:35 PM
one of the great drawbacks of the mixer is that clips won't blend with with fcurve animation.
if i remember it has been officially annouced by softimage that you will be able to layer keyframe animations in the next xsi release.

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