Character Animation

From Realsoft3D Wiki

Frank Dodd's Tips on Animating Skeletons

Credit given, as the submitter is not the author

RS Mailing List-2003-01-13

You CAN move your animation about on the timeline, you can also duplicate and copy the animation, however because the angle of the bone is animated from the position it was last in you need to ensure that your skeleton ends up in exactly the same shape as the start of the cycle. (Some times some small inaccuracies are quite nice though as your character isn't exactly the same in the next cycle and it gives a natural effect)

When you create your character animation cycle you can also integrate the movement of the skeleton into it (to not only bend your characters limbs, but also to move your character forward) and again as the next copied cycle moves the skeleton from the position it was in last, your character will move smoothly across the screen across all of the copied cycles.

You can also load and save your choreographs and if your very careful when you set up your skeletons you can even save the walk cycle of a dwarf and load it back in for a giant or even a very odd dog :) as they are based around angles.

There are some problems however, I find the choreograph window a bit tiresome not being able to group skeletons together or multi-select them, if you have a character built from say 15 skeletons (fingers, arms, legs and spine) to duplicate a cycle you would have to duplicate each skeleton individually you couldn't duplicate the entire skeleton system in one go, fortunately there is a hidden quick key for the duplication (D Key) and also fortunately you can multi-select in the timeline to drag all 15 of them into place in one go. It would be very nice if Realsoft resolved this problem by grouping choreographs into levels sharing a common timeline possibly.

Poses are an oddity, you can only store one pose within the skeleton 'the native' pose which I usually use like a calculator memory store button for making sure the end of your character animation sequence is exactly the same as the start. However each key in the choreograph could be considered to be a pose and can actually be duplicated moved and copied around in the timeline as a single key.

I guess you could even store any pose you like as a separate key and then save it as a pose library then copy and paste groups of keys about to 'assemble' specific animation sequences.

In addition to this you can also set up the keys using my motion tracing method ( http://web.ukonline.co.uk/frank.dodd/contents.html ) even these keys can be duplicated to duplicate motion traced animation cycles.

There is also a completely different method to that described above which is to use skeleton morphing. Here you create duplicates of your skeleton each new skeleton represents a keyframe and you simple tweak them into shape and Realsoft morphs the original skeleton between all of the copies. This is probably my favourite as it is a very accurate and visual way to animate and you can see all of your keys in one go! Essentially each skeleton is a pose so you can have as many as you like (a hundred or a thousand). You can very easily cut copy and paste whole groups of them and move them into position to make the character animate accurately and stick to the ground very realistically with no foot slippage.


Finally (I think) there are also footsteps. This is my least favourite but can be quite impressive when it is set up correctly. Here you define left and right feet and lay down a trail of footprints which Realsoft uses in conjunction with IK to automatically move your character about, you can get good results but you don't have a huge amount of control over the 'look' of the motion and I'm not sure how much control you have over the sub skeletons (arms/fingers) either while Realsoft is moving your character about on its own. You can see a demonstration of this in an AVI tutorial however here ( http://www.frankdodd.screaming.net/Walk.zip ) which also shows setting up a simple character in Realsoft 4.2 (which is much improved in 4.5).

Attaching the skeleton onto the skin of your character is pretty comprehensive, you can attach it on a point wise basis and you can attach any point to multiple skeletons with different weights giving the skeletons a lot of control over the mesh. Also as I have said a few times here you can deform the skin based on the angle of the skeleton so bulging muscles, wobbling bellies and wrinkling skin can be done too.