Animation channel management

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Lost Marble
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Animation channel management

Post by Lost Marble » Thu Dec 04, 2008 7:27 pm

I've got a question about people's preferences for the management of animation channels. Specifically, the concept of enabling/disabling channels. Here's what I'm talking about:

In Anime Studio, all animation channels are enabled all the time. This means, for example, that if you're in the middle of the timeline (say frame 100) and you decide to turn on a drop shadow for a layer, you're actually adding a keyframe at that frame. So from frame 0 until frame 100, there is no drop shadow, then from frame 100 on, there is a drop shadow.

In some ways, this is logical behavior, but it can also be confusing in many cases. There is an alternative:

In other programs (one example is After Effects), you need to "turn on" an animation channel in order to add keyframes. In the previous example, if the layer shadow channel is not turned on, then changing the settings at frame 100 really changes the settings for all time. If you specifically want an animated shadow, you'd need to turn that channel on first.

This can reduce some unwanted behaviors, but it also requires an understanding of channels being on or off.

Any opinions on having this kind of behavior in Anime Studio? If I did this, I would of course have certain channels turned on by default (bone channels, probably layer motion, etc.). But the less-commonly animated properties like layer shadow, layer blurring, motion blur, etc. would be in a state where you don't accidentally add keyframes.

Another benefit might be a way to reduce clutter in the timeline window (and confusion for new users) by hiding disabled channels.

What do you think?

-Mike
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Víctor Paredes
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Post by Víctor Paredes » Thu Dec 04, 2008 7:42 pm

I haven't problems with this, but I think it would be easier for begginers and people who come from AfterEffects.
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heyvern
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Post by heyvern » Thu Dec 04, 2008 8:40 pm

This would be very helpful.

Sorry to complicate matters butt would be even better if a bones channels had the same feature.

I often spend a lot of time selecting and deleting ksys for bones that I don't want to be animated, like bones controlled by scripts or constraints. It would be fantastic to have that same animated channel "toggle" for bones.

Another example is the "Manipulate Bones" tool. It will key all bones that are part of the chain. If you could "lock" bones higher up in a chain you could for instance use that tool to only manipulate the forearm, hand and fingers, without creating keys for the whole chain of bones. just an example.

-vern
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rylleman
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Re: Animation channel management

Post by rylleman » Thu Dec 04, 2008 9:08 pm

Lost Marble wrote:...In other programs (one example is After Effects), you need to "turn on" an animation channel in order to add keyframes. In the previous example, if the layer shadow channel is not turned on, then changing the settings at frame 100 really changes the settings for all time. If you specifically want an animated shadow, you'd need to turn that channel on first....
At first I thought no thanks since this behaviour is one of the most annoying things with After Effects. But perhaps having this behavior in lesser used channels would be a good idea, just as long as bone-channels and translation channels is left as now.

Another thing with animation channels that would be useful is to be able to mute channels, have their keyframes still there but not affecting anything. This is great for say a walkcycle where you do a cycle on the spot, then have one bone with which you move the character forward. Muting this bone would make the character cycle on the spot again for editing and when you're done just unmute the bone and it's moving again.
Also great for muting camera movements for editing of characters.
(Channels gets muted in the position they have at the frame the got muted at.)
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synthsin75
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Post by synthsin75 » Thu Dec 04, 2008 11:38 pm

That's a good idea Rylleman.
It would be very nice to 'mute' a channels animation, but then wouldn't it need its own channel to animate the muting? Aside from having twice the animation channels for that, it'd have to just be global for the whole timeline. Neither of those sound useful, but maybe there's another way to implement it.

Perhaps a click on the timeline to add mute keyframe much like the layer visibilty channel?


Mike,
Personally I like the current, logical behavior. I think it would be more confusing, especially for newbies without any AE experience, to have some keyframes that act globally for the whole timeline. It would be a 'special case' sort of thing. It'd probably even confuse me for quite awhile.

Here's what I think might work well.

Add the layer visibility animation channel's 'click on timeline to add a keyframe' behavior to all channels. Then if the channel has no keyframes, clicking on that channel will add a global keyframe for the current state. (In other words, keyframe both frame zero and the current, clicked frame with the current state of the channel clicked)

Right-clicking to add a keyframe would always behave as it does now.

This could be coupled with Rylleman's idea about channel muting. If the channel has no keyframes (other than perhaps the default ones at frame zero like we have now) then clicking directly on a channel would add a global keyframe, as above. If the channel has a keyframe (has been initialized, other than defaults) then clicking directly on the channel creates a 'mute' keyframe.

Just like the layer visibility channel, these 'mute' keyframes would be the opposite of the last 'mute' keyframe with perhaps a visibility-like shading of the timeline in another color.


Whew, hopefully you find something useful in all that. :oops: :wink:
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Post by Genete » Fri Dec 05, 2008 12:12 am

I have some questions:

if a channel is disabled, what would happen if the user want to modify the object/property? Would it complain or simple ignore the intended modification and get stick to the current value given by the channel?

Would it be applied for all the layers? For example, disable shadow would it apply to all the Vector layers? or it is a layer dependent feature?

If the time line is at frame 0 and the channel is disabled, can the user modify the object/property?

It could be good if the channel visibility and ability were in the same checkbox dialog and not need to scroll down to the channel itself to disable/enable the channel.
Anyway, I think this feature wouldn't be any problem for current behavior if it is available for all the channels. So welcome is.
-G
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slowtiger
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Post by slowtiger » Fri Dec 05, 2008 12:15 am

Hm ... I don't like the idea of having to "switch on" a timeline first in order to be able to set keys. In my workflow I like to be as fast as possible.

But I can think of other ways to reduce "optical clutter". Ideas:
- a toggle button in the top bar of the timeline window, "show/hide timelines without keys" (better name required). This would leave only the few timelines I really work with, with instant ability to get the ones I haven't used yet.
- maybe a dialogue while setting a key with options like "copy from #0 / #1 / other number".

I'm not sure if I talk nonsense here, I just finished some hours of work and can barely read ...
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heyvern
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Post by heyvern » Fri Dec 05, 2008 1:21 am

Animation Master has a similar feature. Not exactly the same but close. A button that when checked or clicked on will not store key frames. this is VERY handy. You can translated all keys of a bone that already has many translation keys a set amount. How many times have you wanted to do that? Yes it could be done by translating the layer but if you don't want to translate the layer.

I still think having this feature for "one thing" is good but would better still having it OPTIONALLY for other channels. If you don't like it then never use it.

-vern
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DK
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Post by DK » Fri Dec 05, 2008 1:43 am

Would it be possible to tie channel activation to the tools menu?
Have a basic timeline of essentials which is void of other unused channels and have extra channels apear when tools are needed. This wold make it very easy to use even for newbies.

Cheers
D.K
Rudiger
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Re: Animation channel management

Post by Rudiger » Fri Dec 05, 2008 2:01 am

Lost Marble wrote: In other programs (one example is After Effects), you need to "turn on" an animation channel in order to add keyframes. In the previous example, if the layer shadow channel is not turned on, then changing the settings at frame 100 really changes the settings for all time. If you specifically want an animated shadow, you'd need to turn that channel on first.
I personally think this is a superb idea. I always get caught out forgetting to return to frame 0 before adding a layer or a shape, and so have to manually remove the unwanted keyframes (as an aside, undo doesn't seem to operate as expected in this case either). Hopefully, this new feature would also make it possible to add geometry while in the middle of editing an action.

It would be good if you could have a dialog similar to the channel display dialog where you can choose which channels are enabled or not. That choice could then persist between AnimeStudio sessions, so if people always want all channels enabled then they can set it once and forget about it.

I also like rylleman's idea of muting channels during playback as well.
Last edited by Rudiger on Fri Dec 05, 2008 2:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
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DK
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Post by DK » Fri Dec 05, 2008 2:08 am

Hi Rudiger.

I replaced some of AS drawing tools with these new ones. Vern and sythnsin75 helped me with the scripts.
hey ghost out the main drawing tools when you are not on frame 0. Man....it has saved me soooo much extra work. I counted 3 times the other day where these scripts saved me from adding points all over the timeline

http://www.wienertoonz.com/drawframe0.zip

Install Iinstructions in the zip.

Cheers
D.K
Rudiger
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Post by Rudiger » Fri Dec 05, 2008 2:17 am

Hi DK,

Thanks for the tip. Maybe this is a good way to go as well, especially if there was a shortcut to toggle between the current frame and frame 0.
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heyvern
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Post by heyvern » Fri Dec 05, 2008 5:17 am

Holy cow!

Of course! Just add a check box on any of the bone tools so it doesn't place a key frame for that bone's channel. This could be done just with the tools in the current version.

If I got really inspired this would ADD any translation or rotation to all the keys that already exist for that bone.

Ha ha! I love this program.

-vern
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Víctor Paredes
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Post by Víctor Paredes » Fri Dec 05, 2008 5:26 am

heyvern wrote:If I got really inspired this would ADD any translation or rotation to all the keys that already exist for that bone.
that sons fantastic!. I know I'm going too far, but could a script work just in selected keyframes? maybe it is impossible to do with current scripting possibilities, but what can I lose asking? :roll:
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heyvern
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Post by heyvern » Fri Dec 05, 2008 5:39 am

How do you tell the script which key frames are selected? What happens if you move those key frames? The tricky part about scripts like this is communicating this information back and forth and keeping track of a constantly changing document.

Right now I see this tool add on as a simple toggle to turn key framing on and off globally for a tool. Check the box, no key frames but it adds to existing keys. Unchecked, key frames normally.

Now my brain is spinning... I could add a list box of bone names to the tool. Select a list of bones to NOT key frame. For instance the manipulate bone tool would be a great test for that. A selection list of all the bones. Click on either the bones you want keyed or not keyed.

This is the main reason I don't use the manipulate bones tool, because it keys ALL the bones. I don't have control.

-vern
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