View Full Version : Tips and Tricks

03 March 2003, 02:49 AM
This is where users of Animation Master may post suggestions and tips on how to get the most out of their software. Please ONLY post tips here. You do not need to reply to these posts. You are more than free to create new threads to help in the refinement of the suggestions that are made here, but lets try and keep this thread specific to tips and suggestions about how to get the most out of Animation Master.

03 March 2003, 04:44 AM
Mac users: If you change the following line in your preferences file
System Folder > Preferences > Master Preferences V8.5 (up to v10)

from: allow multi-pass render=FALSE
to: allow multi-pass render=TRUE

Then you get multipass rendering enabled!

Works on PC if you add the line in the registry too but
i'll let some one else outline the steps there if they like.

03 March 2003, 05:12 PM
This is really a tip for any Windows application but it really helps out with Animation Master. It also works on the mac but I'm pretty sure its not something that would work with all applications.

If you would like to quickly switch back and forth between the different windows you have open within your application, you can do so with "Ctrl-Tab".

Popping back and forth between your bone placement and your action window makes adjusting those bones a lot easier.

03 March 2003, 09:48 PM
Render as lines

I think this can be something that many newbies miss when using A:M.

03 March 2003, 06:04 PM
Wings 3D is a free and powerful Polygon based modeling program, that can export Animation Master mdl files.
Wings 3D ( can be used for making simple architectural shapes and other things. That would otherwise be time consuming to do in Animation Master.
(Note! U can import any model from Wings3D. But if itīs a model with alot of smoothness. There willbe a great lot of tweaking in A:M on it.)

Been testing Wings for the first time today and itīs such a great modeling app. I am hooked!
(Tip on viewport navigation in Wings 3D. Which I had some problem with in the start of using Wings. Viewport navigation can be changed in the Edit/Camera mode/. Under camera mode menu one can choose between number of Navigational setups. I have mine set to Maya, which I find to be the best.)

Maya Viewport navigation.
Rotate View = Alt+Left Mouse B
Zoom = Alt+Left Mouse B+Middel Mouse B
Pan = Alt+Middel Mouse B

Kevin Sanderson
03 March 2003, 04:28 AM
Wings 3D can import an .obj file and export as a .mdl file (geometry only). It may come in scaled tiny (even though the model may be very large in data size), but you can still export it and rescale it in A:M.

This works much more quickly and with fewer artifacts (depending on the model, etc.) than the .obj importer for A:M (though the A:M .obj importer will bring in surface colors, etc., which may be an advantage you want or need). It's also much, much faster and saves steps & time instead of using the modified Xroads app to first convert to a .dxf file and then importing into A:M v8.5 (which can take up to 8 times as long!). The model may still have imperfections as after the old method using Xroads, but if it's easier to import and tweak than build from scratch in A:M, it might be the way to go. Arthur Walasek's neat .obj importer will work well for many models, especially smaller ones.
Use what works for you, your mileage may vary, etc.

If you just have a 2 button mouse, use the Nendo or Blender views in Wings.

Kevin Sanderson
AM Tips!

03 March 2003, 09:05 PM
The major limitation of Wings3D as a replacement to the .obj importer is the fact that Wings can only work with "closed" geometry. Something most people don't do when they are creating models. The "jam lots of crap in till it looks good" seems to be the norm for most modelers.

So my TIP is. . . to use both wings and the .obj importer if you want to work in the land of polygons.

03 March 2003, 09:10 PM
I'm sure this is probably documented somewhere, but I don't know where, and after stumbling upon it totally by accident the other day, I'm hooked! I felt so spoiled using Maya at work, having the convenience of simple kbd/mouse combos to easily adjust the view, and longed for something similar in A:M, and I'm so glad I found it. No more (or at least a lot less) searching for the M, T, or Z keys when I want to tweak the view!

With a wheel mouse (where the wheel also acts as a button)...

Shift + MMB: Turn
MMB click and drag: Move
Scroll the wheel: Zoom

(The first two should also work with a standard 3-button mouse. Not sure if there's another kbd/mouse combo for Zoom.)

The Move and Zoom combos also work in non-3D areas like the graph editor and PWS. Just middle-mouse click in a window/area to make it active before trying to adjust anything.

04 April 2003, 11:15 PM
Something else I ran across that is probably documented but I don't know where... :)

Instead of right-clicking on a container in the PWS to create a new thingamabob or load a file, just double-click. For example, double-clicking on the Objects folder creates a new model and opens the
window for it. Double-clicking on Choreographies makes a new chor and opens its window. For things like Sounds and Images, a file dialog opens.

Just a little time saver...

04 April 2003, 06:29 PM
From David Rogers's "Animation:Master 2002 - A Complete Guide":

If a project wonīt load or crashes A:M on startup, try opening the file in a text editor and deleting everything between [WINDOWPLACEMENTS] AND [ENDWINDOWPLACEMENTS].

John Keates
04 April 2003, 09:41 PM
Keyboard shortcuts are part and parcell of AM. Look at all of the shortcuts in the customise options box and see what might be usefull. For example, I have assigned "d" to make 5 point patches and "f12" to play range. You can also learn about features that you never knew existed if you take the time to look here.

My Fault
05 May 2003, 12:53 AM
So am I the only person that hadn't noticed the "Manipulator Options" for bones and nulls?

For example I have a heel raise null that only rotates and it does so in only the X axis. By setting the manipulator option to "Rotate Only" and then setting the "Limit Manipulations" to ON and having it only show the X Axis rotation, whenever I select that null it automatically goes to rotate and the manipulator only shows the X axis rotation. I don't even have to bother with setting a Euler constraint if I don't want to (though I still will to speed up IK solving) How in the heck did I miss this??!!?? It's not huge, but anything that cleans things up and makes thing more efficient while animating is huge to me.

06 June 2003, 07:46 AM
Wings can only work with "closed" geometry

This is only partly true.
Inside Wings the geometry has to be 'closed' but an imported model does not have to be 'closed'.

This mean that you can import a model that is not closed. If you for example have a box with one side removed that you try to import into wings then the removed side will be closed on import and the added suface will be assigned the '_hole' materiel witch by default is a semitransparent blue material.

Now that the model is a 'closed' model you can work on it in wings.

Let's say that you also would like the bottom of the box to get removed.

Well I suppose you allready guessed it, just assigne the '_hole' material to the bottom face. Now when you done with you model and export it you will get a box open at both the top and bottom because the faces assigned the '_hole' material won't export.

So Wings can handle none 'closed' models by temporary 'closing' them inside Wings.

What it can't handle is , and here I Quote the Wings developer Bjorn:

Wings uses the winged-edge data structure (WE) internally. The WE can only represent a well-ordered polygon mesh where each edge has one face on each side of it

This should probably be read as an edge only can have two faces connected to it. Nothing less and nothing more.

On import Wings tries to fix this by temporary welding and adding of faces and by using the '_hole' material and it works well on most models.

06 June 2003, 01:35 AM
Ran into this while rigging something...loving the fact that the constraints and visibilites can be imbedded in poses now....

Whereas bone rotation and translation values in Action are relative to the constraints already applied on them, Version 10's "Object properties" in the drivers shows absolute rotation and translation even after constraints are applied.

So, when applying constraints to a fanbone which may or may not be aligned perfectly, zeroing these values automatically corrects the rotation offsets of the constraints so that the bone is correctly aligned.

Edit--This is so cool! I just tried importing a rigged model into another model, and the relationships imported--unfortunately, it won't work for the same part twice in the same model without changing the names of the fanbones and pose before importing, but still...!

07 July 2003, 06:05 AM
I know, the stupidity of bumping a pinned topic....

Using Wordpad or any text editor that can perform find/replace to edit a model file, you can potentially change the markers in name of every bone in a model before importing it into another. The most obvious use of this is boning one half of a skeleton, then changing "L" or "Left" in each bone name to "R" or "Right"....

10 October 2003, 09:37 PM
Originally posted by John Keates
Keyboard shortcuts are part and parcell of AM. Look at all of the shortcuts in the customise options box and see what might be usefull. For example, I have assigned "d" to make 5 point patches and "f12" to play range. You can also learn about features that you never knew existed if you take the time to look here.

If anyone would like to see a complete list of the keyboard shortcuts (as of 10.5), feel free to take a look at the list on my site here (

John Keates
11 November 2003, 08:11 PM
Muscle pose creation for the perpose of deforming things as they press on other objects or making sure that things don't intersect is a breaze.

You can de-form the object that you are working on in a chor then copy that info into a pose window. Now you have re-usable, animatable muscle motion. Just delete the pose motion then you can use the slider to animate that motion.

11 November 2003, 03:49 AM

One of my favorite of the newer features added to AM is how it now allows multiple selection of bones. Click on one bone. Hold down the shift key and click on another bone. Hit "R" to evoke the Rotate Manipulator. When you rotate bone2, bone1 shall also rotate by the same degree! :applause:

This makes fiddling with fingers a whole lot faster.


Carl Raillard

John Keates
11 November 2003, 02:31 PM
Hmmm... I just tried this but to no avail. Rotation goes realy wacky and translatoin only effects the root of the bone. Anyone else getting this? (v 10.5n)

11 November 2003, 06:55 PM

Well, shoot. The procedure works like a charm for me. My specs:

A:Mv10.5N -- network version
Asus P4P800 Deluxe motherboard -- Intel Pentium 4/2400
1024MB RAM
120GB HD
Windows 2000 SP3
Asus V9560/TD (Nvidia GeForce FX 5600)

About a month ago I had some difficulty rendering avi files with A:Mv10.5L. I wrote to Steve Sappington complaining about it, and he replied that they had no problem generating avi files. So I asked my brother Hans (who is a lot more tech-savvy than I) to do a technical uninstall of Animation Master. You know, scrubbing out the registry, the whole nine yards. Then we reinstalled A:Mv10.5L, and the problem was fixed.

Maybe you want to try uninstalling and reinstalling A:M, and see if that helps? :shrug:


Carl Raillard

12 December 2003, 04:35 AM
Hello, all.

Here's a tip about naming Control Bones (the bones you actually animate with). Add a number in front of the bone's name. Bones in the same general region of the body should share the same number. This helps organize the list in the timeline, and makes offsetting, etc. easier.


Carl Raillard

02 February 2004, 11:27 PM
Don't know if this is obvious to you but...
When you go to Tools>Customize you can totally rebuild the interface if you want. You can make a new tool bar. But what I found useful was that you can drag and drop all the buttons on the screen anywhere you want (to any toolbar you want). So I just drug the mode buttons I use, the timeframe controls, and a couple of modeling buttons onto my menu bar (which you can't get rid of) and thats the only toolbar I need now. I turned off the other toolbars, and am using my Project Workspace as my timeline across the bottom, my adjusted menu bar right above it, and the rest is all screen baby.

02 February 2004, 01:23 AM
I just made a tutorial on how to take World machine displacement maps and bring them into A:M. This is just a simple tutoral for those that don't how to use A:M very well yet.

Heres the link:

Anyways have you noticed that the displacement maps have been rendering much faster than the old ones in v9.5 and with better quality?

06 June 2004, 04:23 AM
This is a re-post of another thread - I put it in the wrong place....


If you've ever used a package that doesn't have Quaternion rotation interpolation (like Lightwave or older Messiah), you've gotten used to having to deal with "gimble lock" and all that that implies. You usually have to set things up very carefully, or risk having your joints "lock up" at some inconvenient time.

Recently, I was trying to get a particular setup to work on a character - the *test* rigs I was building were working flawlessly - but when I put the same rig on a character, they didn't work at all - then it hit me: AM is hiding certain things about how their bones work, and by adapting a little trick I learned in Lightwave, my setup became rock solid on my character.

Basically, the jist is this: Child bones get their "knowledge" about their relationship to the world from their *parent* bone. So, the *parent* determines which direction is X,Y, or Z rotation. With Quaternions, you add that demonic "W" element into things, and if you're too close to a particular rotational relationship in the world, you get flipping and wiggy behavior so that the bone can maintain it's IK committment.

What I did was add a small bone at the root of my chain that is created with the same orientation as the model bone - so that the chain has the same local orientation as if it were just sitting there by itself (which leads to more stable behavior). Here's an image that I hope will explain it better: (


If you've ever built a model with the intent on adding hair guide splines later, or added hair splines THEN tried to drag the material down that looooooooooong list of splines (only to slip your mouse cursor outside the window and have AM puke) - well, there's a little trick that will save you some time and pain. Go ahead and create your model and your guide splines. Now, pick your guide splines and Copy them to the clipboard and paste them back in. This will put the splines at the TOP of the spline list and save you from having to look all over for them (delete your original splines).


08 August 2004, 09:10 AM
It's all done in the model's 'user properties'. Go to the model name in the PWS, toggle the disclosure triangle to reveal user properties.

To make a new folder, right click user properties, new property and choose folder. Name it what you will by selecting it and pressing F2.
You can then drag other poses into that folder there.
To delete a pose, I delete it in the relationship folder, but also here in the user properties.

I'm re-posting this from another thread elsewhere, but thanks to Pequod for getting me started in understanding the Relationship Beast..

I played with Folders at the weekend using your tip as a start and here's my findings -
1- PLAN WELL AHEAD!! Finish the modelling before you ever start creating relationships in 10.5 or 11.
2- DONT create relationships in the Relationship folder or by right clicking on the model icon IF you want to organise your folders. Drag and Drop doesn't work for me - at least not on my Mac.

My results were -
follow Pequods advice and expand on the little user properties triangle or right click and in the pop-up choose "new property"

To Organise -
plan on paper what you wish to have for a filing system first then try the following -

1- Create a New Folder, pressing F2 will allow you to re-name it. For example "Face Poses."
2- Now for sub folders, right click on that folder and create more as required ("Lip Sync" for example..)
3- If you are now at the level that you wish to create a slider type pose, right click on your latest folder and select Percentage. (DO NOT SELECT RELATIONSHIP YET) You can press F2 and rename this percentage as the pose you require i.e "F V MouthShape Pose"
4- Now you are ready to create the relationship that the slider affects. Right-click on your newest addition and now ask for "New Relationship" A relationship window will pop up and you can work away here. I couldn't however set varying keyframes as the software only seemed to work at frame 0 but at least my folders could now be organised.

5- If you have further Relationships (mouth-shapes for example) to create in the same sub category, just go back to step 3 and 4 as required.

Doing it this way, you get nicely organised folders so that similar poses / relationships can be stored or organised. No more scrolling through hundreds of pose sliders to find that one little pose you need! You can still create Relationships normally but I found it difficult to organise the relationships after they where created.

08 August 2004, 06:48 PM
Hello, all.

For the sake of posterity, I'm going to post a link to a particular thread, which contains some cool tips about getting a Lightwave Model into AM:

Thanks to Joe Williamson & Co. for this info.


Carl Raillard

02 February 2005, 11:42 PM

Animation Master has a neat ability that allows the user to animate several bones simultaneously. Just hold down the shift key and keep selecting bones. Whatever you do to the last bone bone you select (rotations, translations, etc.) will be done to all of them. Note, however, that this feature works most reliably if the bones are oriented the same way, in the Bones mode of the modeller. For that reason, you may want to consider positioning the major target bones & nulls of your model so that they face the same way. I've attached a picture, to show you what I mean.

That's all for now.


Carl Raillard

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