Break the Timeline Monotony

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Manu
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Break the Timeline Monotony

Post by Manu » Thu Mar 02, 2006 12:37 am

Okay, this is a screen-shot of what the Moho timeline looks like for a finished animation. I didn't fake this by the way, it's actually the first 2.5 seconds of my Cat Test that's currently in the gallery.

Image
Care to try and find anything back in that visual soup?

Some of the frames contain the actual keyframes or initial poses, all the rest are really just small adjustments to the resulting inbetweens. I will always try to "freeze" the initial poses by adding a keyframe to the Bones-channel.
So I was thinking that it might be a good idea for Moho to display the keyframes that have information on ALL the bones in a layer (=initial poses) differently. In the example below I turned them into little purple squares.
Another idea might be to allow for parts of the timeline to be colour-coded.

Image
Aaah, so that's where the keyframes are...

(Oh, and I couldn't help myself from adding a grid, something I'm a big fan of :D )
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Hiddicop
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Post by Hiddicop » Thu Mar 02, 2006 9:17 am

Simply being able to change the color of keyframes would be great. There could be a drop-down menu between "Settings" and -/+. Five or six colors to choose between would make things alot easier, wouldn't bother those who prefer just having one color, and shouldn't be so hard to accomplish (I suppose).
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Manu
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Post by Manu » Thu Mar 02, 2006 9:55 am

If I remember correctly, Cinema 4D uses a system where you can colour-code keyframes. The reality is that you end up not bothering using it when you're in the heat of it. Remember, Moho has got quite a few channels to animate, each with their own set of keyframes. My feeling is just that colouring individual keyframes becomes too fiddly.

That's why I thought it would be a good idea for Moho to pick out the "significant" keyframes automatically.

The same goes for colouring parts of the timeline. It should prove to be a very simple system to quickly block in main timings. Yellow: character walks in, Green : anticipation, Red: jump.

When you open the animation up 4 months later, that's the sort of straight-forward information that will help you a lot.

I'll be the first one to admit that those purple keyframes look pretty ugly in my mock-up, but I was just trying to get the idea across.
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Ramón López
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Post by Ramón López » Thu Mar 02, 2006 1:31 pm

Manu wrote:I'll be the first one to admit that those purple keyframes look pretty ugly in my mock-up, but I was just trying to get the idea across.
I like the idea, but I dislike too that scuared keys... What about the same principle but not change the form but only the color? I think darker feyframes to indicate "all keyed" it'd be more simple and equally effective, plus the key would show the interpolation method icon in the same way... Well, definitely that will be a little improvement and I have great expectations about future TimeLine improvements :)
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Squeakydave
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Post by Squeakydave » Thu Mar 09, 2006 12:19 pm

Gets my vote!
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Post by elbramtsol » Thu Mar 09, 2006 1:48 pm

Great Idea!
my vote too! :D
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Manu
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Post by Manu » Fri Mar 10, 2006 12:45 am

Ramón López wrote:I like the idea, but I dislike too that scuared keys... What about the same principle but not change the form but only the color?
How about:

- Colour indicates "Full keyframe" or "Partial Keyframe"

- Colouring parts of the timeline quickly is an incredibly useful organisational tool. I see the animators at work around me doing it all the time.

- And the grid would make a really big difference. A lot of traditional animators keep asking for a dopesheet. For the longest time I didn't understand why, not a single traditional animator enjoyed filling in their dopesheets and yet they keep crying out for it. I now tend to think it's the grid, it allows you to "see" your timing. Without it, the keys are just free-floating, a bit like a music-sheet without bars.
Last edited by Manu on Fri Mar 10, 2006 5:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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slowtiger
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Post by slowtiger » Fri Mar 10, 2006 9:39 am

The grid makes all the difference ... animators are constantly counting frames. I can time most movements in my imagination, thinking in 8 or 6 frame equivalents.

The grid from Manu's example is quite nice: grey lines (not black ones!) which blend into the background. Notice the shift in paradigm: instead of placing keys on two lines (one is the timeline, the other indicates the frame) he places them like beads on a string (the timekine) but between the grid lines. I wonder if he uses Director, it's the one program outside animation world which groked the animation x-sheet principle completely, and therefore made it a favourite of mine for years.
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Manu
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Post by Manu » Fri Mar 10, 2006 10:37 am

slowtiger wrote:The grid makes all the difference ... animators are constantly counting frames. I can time most movements in my imagination, thinking in 8 or 6 frame equivalents.
Exactly, a grid-less timeline may be fine if you're going to be doing motion-graphics, but character-animation wants to be frame accurate. There's a big difference between a 6 frame headturn and a 8 frame headturn.

Never used Director by the way, but a lot of Flash. :D
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Post by peter.h » Mon Mar 13, 2006 8:57 am

As a Director developer, and sound editor, the idea of "Markers" in a timeline is incredibly useful. User-named markers can be used as references in scripts, so that if you write a embedded lua script that jumps to a markerName in a timeline, if the animator adjusts the length of a sequence, the jump-to-frame moves too, and the frame number is not "hard-coded" in the script.

Markers also support "quick-jumping" to parts of a timeline, where clicking in a separate window of named markers jumps the timeline display to that marker.

Personally, I use markers rather than colours to indicate parts of my timeline.

Pete.
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Manu
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Post by Manu » Mon Mar 13, 2006 11:03 am

So how does that work when you're between two markers and they're both off screen? Is there still any indication left as to where you are?
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jahnocli
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Post by jahnocli » Mon Mar 13, 2006 12:04 pm

So how does that work when you're between two markers and they're both off screen?
That's a very valid point. What about a zoomable timeine with Markers? I'd vote for that...
You can't have everything. Where would you put it?
peter.h
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Post by peter.h » Mon Mar 13, 2006 11:06 pm

Markers: You could have a non-modal "Markers" window (or even just a drop-down list), where all markers are listed and the current marker (one closest on the left of the current position) is highlighted. The user could jump the timeline to any other marker simply by selecting it from the list.
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BA
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Post by BA » Mon Mar 13, 2006 11:31 pm

agree with the markers idea, and think they could be even more useful if you could link specific keyframes across multiple layers to markers that exist in their own layer, then use the marker-frames to manually scale portions of animation without having to poke around through dozens of layers...

see my master-control-key rant in this thread: http://www.lostmarble.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2729
Create cartoon characters and comics in minutes: www.bitstrips.com
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