2012 motion trail

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Old 01 January 2012   #1
2012 motion trail

Hi ,
Does anybody know of any script / technique etc that will allow you to see every frame on an Editable Motion Trail (2012) not just set keyframes. I know there are other things that will do this but they are all very slow to update. EMT's are really quick but maybe this is because they dont have to adjust spacing on all frames ? Anyway , heres hoping.

Old 01 January 2012   #2
Yeah, they missed a trick really, not including the spacing makes the motion trails less useful than they could be. In C4D the keys on the motion trails have bigger dots, the in-between frames have smaller ones, so it's really easy to see the spacing. Right now I use a script from creative crash to see it but yeah, it does slow the scene down a lot, and sometimes causes refresh issues with certain rigs.

Hopefully motion trails will get more development in future versions of Maya..

Old 01 January 2012   #3
Performance was a big reason for them not being part of the design as drawing all of the extra frame #'s and ticks can add up with long animations. There is a tiny hidden trick though: if you RMB on the trail and hit Modify Keys and press Shift + MMB and hold it (don't drag) you can visualize all the key ticks between your frames for the spacing.

I've got some ideas on enhancements to motion trails so we'll see what happens.
My opinions do not represent those of my employer.
Old 01 January 2012   #4
Ahha !! Would you look at that, that works a treat and probably keeps the overheads down in scene.
Thank you very much i look forward to seeing what developes with MTs in Future.
Old 01 January 2012   #5
Ah, that's a great tip about the modify keys, thanks.
It's a little tricky to use though IMO, if you let go of the mmb before Shift then the keys can get nudged very easily, when that happens and I try to undo the change I get an error '// Error: line 1: Undo is temporarily unavailable. Try exiting the current tool.'
I can't find a way to get back to the original animation apart from reloading the scene, which makes this method feel a bit dangerous!

So it works but you have to be very careful to release the Shift key before the MMB.

One other issue is that it's really slow, with a character rig in the scene here it takes 2-3 seconds to update each time I modify the position of a controller (with Autokey on). The script I have been using (cMotion Trail) is actually quite a bit faster on my machine.


Last edited by Horganovski : 01 January 2012 at 08:04 PM.
Old 01 January 2012   #6
That error is probably because Modify Keys is still active so you may need to swipe it off... though it shouldn't be entering a tool context like that. I'll have a look.

If your character has a lot of dependencies it can get a bit slow just due to the overhead and with Auto Key on it'll add even more process time because Maya's keying as the moves happen. I guess one thing that could be done is defer the keyframe evaluation from happening until the object is placed and then assign the values. Currently we're modifying the keyframe node under the hood so every incremental change fires an update and if the DG is heavy it's a pain in the ass to optimize.

Good feedback - gives me some stuff to chew on and see about improving. Cheers fellas!

My opinions do not represent those of my employer.
Old 01 January 2012   #7
I guess it makes sense that the 'cMotion curve' script would be faster, as it only works in one direction, ie it updates when the animation changes, but you can't modify it and have it affect the animation, so it's just a visual guide.

Perhaps something that would work for this would be some kind of 'guide-only' mode for motion trails? By that I mean they would have a switch where they just give a visual representation of the path of the animated object but would not be adjustable themselves. I guess that would cut down on the calculations a bit.

To give some background, the main thing I use motion trails for is when I'm animating IK controllers on character rigs, in this case I find them very useful to check the arcs say the hands are moving through, and I find for my workflow I very rarely manipulate the motion path itself, I just add more keys to the IK controller to improve the arcs/spacing of the animation. So for my workflow a 'guide only' mode would be ideal. I'd imagine my workflow isn't that unusual, at least for people doing character animation in Maya.

Old 01 January 2012   #8
I thought the sense in this is to show real keyframes. Why would you want to see the rest?!
You could bake your animation, so you get a key in every frame.
If you want to alter some things in between just insert another keyframe.
Old 01 January 2012   #9
Originally Posted by kuschel33: I thought the sense in this is to show real keyframes. Why would you want to see the rest?!

To take a quote from master animator Grim Natick '"animation...it's all in the timing and the spacing'.

Seeing the in-between frames gives much better feedback as to how the spacing is working, baking every frame is definitely useful in some situations, but for the case I mentioned above, ie tweaking the spacing/arcs of an IK controllers path during a move it only makes the scene harder to work with as then you have to modify more keys to get the result you want.

Old 01 January 2012   #10
I like that trick BoostAbuse but it has a problem for me.
It modifies the animation and creates keys (I have auto key on). All I want is just to see the spacing, nothing else.
I'm on a wacom tablet so holding the pen completely still to avoid adjusting the animation etc is sometimes not so easy. Can you guys just add the spacing view without the ability to mess up the animation itself?
Of I want to change the in-betweens then I will simply key that particular frame and move the key I want.

This little trick is neat but please remove the ability to actually modify it and let us just view it, please.

Old 01 January 2012   #11
^ Yes, I use a tablet too when animating (my joints thank me at the end of the day) and I run into the same issue, I also use Autokey and find it's pretty tricky to avoid breaking the animation currently.

Old 01 January 2012   #12
I'll see what we can do about the spacing - there was an original design I did for it that could be resurrected but I'll have to check. No promises

If you're not manipulating the path itself then the old motion paths may give you the quicker refresh you're after. They were a little busted in 2012 but I believe they were fixed up in one of the later service pack/hotfixes.
My opinions do not represent those of my employer.
Old 01 January 2012   #13
That sounds promising, I'll keep my fingers crossed

Sorry though, I'm not familiar with the 'old' motion paths apart from the ones that allow you to have an object move along a curve. Are there others that just respond to the animation? How do we access them in 2012? (2011 was the 1st version of Maya I've used).

[Edit - I looked at 2011 and see the old motion trails there, which ironically are pretty much exactly what I need in some situations. When I try the same command in 2012 (CreateMotionTrail; ) though I get the new editable one. Is there a way to access the old one in 2012? (using 2012 SAP here).


Last edited by Horganovski : 01 January 2012 at 07:55 PM.
Old 01 January 2012   #14
This looks like it would come in handy:


Unfortunately, it's only in beta right now.
Old 01 January 2012   #15
Looks cool. I bet it's really slow with a full rig though with blend shapes etc.
It's funny though, C4D has almost exactly that same feature built in for several versions now but I hardly ever use it, mainly as it slows things down too much but also because it's not as easy to follow (for me anyway!) as a trail hooked up to a particular limb for tracking arcs.

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