Basics of animation creation

Handling the Animation Editor basic features

1. Timeline, curves and labels

The part on the left shows a new section called Timeline.

Interface - Timeline/Dopesheet
Interface - Timeline/Dopesheet

This is where you will further put some keyframes to make the robot move.

Before that, click on the third button on the top left group of icons of the timeline, and choose "Split and add Curves".

Interface - Split menu
Interface - Split menu

Interface - Add curves button
Interface - Add curves button

A new part appears, as empty and clean, like the first one.

Interface - Timeline and Curves
Interface - Timeline and Curves

When you put some new keyframes (keys), the software automatically interpolate the movement between the keys using Bézier curves by default.

The newly opened curve window allows you to visualize the Bézier curves and see how the robot will move depending on the inflexion of the curves.

Thanks to this, you can change the velocity of a movement, changing the starting acceleration or the end of the movement by modifying the tangents of the curve inflexion points. To learn more about how a Bézier curve works, please look at this link : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bézier_curve

To add the "Labels" part - used to synchronize external events like sound or speech -, you must click on the same button as before, on the Curves part, and click on "Split and add Labels".

Interface - Split menu
Interface - Split menu

Interface - Add labels button
Interface - Add labels button

Interface - Full interface
Interface - Full interface

Some more in-depth functionalities will be explained when they are needed.

2. 3D view

As seen before, the right part of the interface is called the "3D View". This is the virtual universe in which the robot can evolve and move.

Like in the real world, you can choose to rotate around the robot and zoom in and out to check some details.

To do so, you can right-click anywhere in the empty space around the robot, and move your mouse as you hold the click down. By doing this, you will rotate the camera around the robot so you can check your animation in any point of view.

Interface - 3D view control - Rotate camera
Interface - 3D view control - Rotate camera

If needed, you can also left-click, in the same empty space, to translate the camera.

Interface - 3D view control - Translate camera
Interface - 3D view control - Translate camera

At last, using the mouse wheel will zoom in/out the view.

Interface - 3D view control - Zoom
Interface - 3D view control - Zoom

In case of panic or disappeared robot, you can click on the little camera icon on the top part of the view to reset the camera in front of the robot.

Interface - 3D view control - Center camera
Interface - 3D view control - Center camera

But this window is not only used to change the view of the robot.

If you click on any part of the robot, two things will happen.

Interface - 3D view - Limb Selected
Interface - 3D view - Limb Selected

First, some coloured donut shapes will appear. These can be used to change the selected body part position.

Second, a new menu showed up on the top part of the 3D View. This is the inspector. This is probably the most important part of this 3D View.

Each slider you can see in the inspector represent the current angle value of the different parts of the selected limb.

Moving any of those sliders will instantly make the linked part move to reach the desired new position.

Interface - 3D view - Inspector and Sliders
Interface - 3D view - Inspector and Sliders

This inspector is the main tool used to animate the robot.

3. Top menu buttons

Last but not least, here is a quick overview of the top menu buttons. Some of them are linked to shortcuts that are very useful. You can edit those shortcuts by hitting H or click on Help/Shortcuts list.

Keep in mind this is not the main point of this lesson. As an overview, this won't go deep into details of every button or icon of the Animation Editor.

If you need/want to have more information about anything, please refer to the documentation available on the animation editor documentation.

a. Basic buttons

Interface - Basic buttons
Interface - Basic buttons

The first seven buttons on the top menu are the usual ones. From left to right, you can see :

the "new file" button, to create a new file, followed by the "open file" one - which opens a file of your choice, then the save icon with the "close file" next to it, obviously to save your work and close the file you're working on.

After that are the "undo" / "redo" buttons that are used to remove your last action or do it again. At last, the gear shaped button sets the framerate of the file, something you'll basically never do since it's easier to scale your animation up or down, plus the physical robot is not really "framerate friendly".

b. Robot key buttons

Interface - Robot buttons
Interface - Robot key buttons

We will now focus on the four robot shaped icons, and include the next two ones.

So, the first four are the main buttons. You will almost never click on them, as there are some very useful shortcuts, but they will help you know what you're doing.

They will allow you to record keyframes (keys) on the timeline. This means that the robot will try to reach to desired position (the one you just recorded) at the time you recorded it.

So the first one is for the whole body (shortcut F8). This means that a key will be recorded on the entirety of the robot.

The three next buttons are pretty laminar : put a key only on the head (shortcut F9), only on both arms (shortcut F10) and finally only on the leg (shortcut F10).

The last two buttons that look like a moon phase calendar are used to mirror or flip the already recorded keys you have on your timeline.

c. Navigation buttons

Interface - Navigation buttons
Interface - Navigation buttons

To finish with the left pack of buttons, you have the two squares with an arrow on the left or on the right.

They are here to make you navigate in the timeline, jumping from key to key. This is used for the first step of the animation pipeline called the breakdown step, and we will talk about it in the Mindset section.

d. Behavior buttons

Interface - Behavior buttons
Interface - Behavior buttons

The group on the right of this top menu is dedicated to the physical robot. This is where you will connect to it and change the mode you're on.

The last two (the play and stop buttons) will allow you to see your animation in real time on the robot seen in the 3D View.