View Full Version : character animation U.I & workflow

02-06-2005, 10:12 AM
the new auto rigger thread has promted me to post this...
why is there no animation user interfaces for lightwave, xsi, maya, max etc like that to how pixar animate with marionette...with banks of sliders and numeric fields...

pixar are leading the way with the very highest quality character animations bar none...so how come no one has copied/created a similar u.i. method
for animating charaters...it seems most are looking toward mothion builder for their ideas on how to animate a character or pick a leg/arm etc....is this the best way?

just why do pixar use such a "non standard" way of animating? are they in fact stuck in a timewarp of the early 90's or are they waaaay ahead of the game?

02-06-2005, 10:43 AM
Theory... I love threads on theory.

What has been shown of The Maestro Controller does suggest the paradigm has been copied and modified to fit a better workflow for the app in question. Being able to build your UI is a biggie; being able to animate on this UI has, heretofore, always been accomplished with sliders and other dialage. The drag and drop day is upon us.
Animating on this picker UI, eliminating the need for all the visual disonance, is what MotionBuilder is all about. It is a very clean interface that lets you focus on the animation. Plus, it's real time, even with a clear playing stereo wav file going. My problem with it? It's not LW and I don't like the extra hoops I have to go through to use it. I do. I don't like it.

8.2 was supposed to be the "upgrade to 6 or not" moment for me. I think Maestro may just be the deciding factor. A pose manager is all that's missing from MB for this animator to be 'deliriously' happy animating in LW.

Build a favorite rig once; have a controller for it and every other character you ever rig based on the favorite template; being able to turn EVERYTHING OFF except your character and other needed props yet still animate from a configurable non-modal panel that can be called multiple times with different controls on various panels (?); animating multiple characters in a scene, with minimal hoops to jump, with clear audio(!!); these are the things the grail entails. Let's see where the next few months take us.

02-06-2005, 03:23 PM
I think Pixar are ahead of the game in that they have put UI design at the top of their priority list. I am not a character animator, but even i can understand that the more simple the controls are to use, the more fluid the perfomance that can be created.

I think that UI design has been a neglected area to some degree in the past, but will become a big deal in the future. As 3D becomes more mainstream the demand will be for more accessible interfaces and methods will increase.

I think in a few years time the idea that you would build a character rig from scratch, bone by bone, will seem funny- like punching in co-ordinates to make polygons.

02-06-2005, 04:10 PM
While these secondary interfaces can certaqinly be very usefull i always prefer to select and animate directly on the character. A well rigged model can have all the nulls minimized but still selectable.

But autorigging is a logical evolution,no doubt!

02-06-2005, 04:37 PM
Please post a screenshot or a link about what you are talking about. Since Pixar's software isn't available to the public, what are you basing your information on.

02-06-2005, 07:41 PM
if you look at the making of dvd from the 3 disc toy story/toy story 2 bundle you'l see the interface they use to animate and they even demo it several times for various things...i won't post a screenshot as it wold be from the dvd which would be copyrighted...if i find a pic on the net i will post that though no problemo..

02-07-2005, 04:52 PM
I'd never turn down any autorig-type controls Newtek wants to give us but we do have some useful tools right now.

How about the sliders plugin that comes with Lightwave? I find this is a powerful tool and very easy to set up. Just attach the plugin, select the channels you want to control and assign the slider limits. You can control virtually anything in the scene with on-screen sliders.

There are some demo scenes in the LW8 content folder using sliders.

There's also a demo scene in the rigs folder using nulls to simulate a marionette-like controller (Chino Rig). Very cool.

From the content dir:

and Chino rig

02-07-2005, 06:15 PM
How about the sliders plugin that comes with Lightwave? I find this is a powerful tool and very easy to set up. Just attach the plugin, select the channels you want to control and assign the slider limits. You can control virtually anything in the scene with on-screen sliders.

Would anybody be interested in a comparison between Maestro Controller and Sliders?

02-07-2005, 06:41 PM
You don't really have to ask! Just post the video! :)

02-07-2005, 06:49 PM
Sure! More videos! Always! :-)

02-07-2005, 06:53 PM
Yup I currently use sliders and thinking of buying Maestro so would be very intrested in the difference between setup times ;)

02-07-2005, 07:07 PM
You don't really have to ask! Just post the video! :)

hehe ok ok.

Here's the video (http://www.stillwaterpictures.com/Maestro-4-CustomizationII.avi) that private is referring to. (DivX 5.2 available at Divx.com...) (Note: This is the same video from the first thread, however more vids are coming very shortly.)

And here's a brief "Sliders Vs. Maestro" comparison:

1.) Sliders obscure viewports. (Anybody else miss the old SliderBox plugin?) This makes it difficult to use a lot of them. Maestro runs in a seperate, independently sized window. (This is valuable if you want to have a non-obscured viewport.)

2.) Sliders are one-dimensional. You can go left and right with them. That's it. With Maestro, you can go left/right, up/down, and you can right click to affect an entirely different set of channels. So, with one hotspot, you could pan a camera left/right, tilt it up down, then use the right mouse button to move side to side or up and down.

3.) Sliders can only be placed in a viewport and stacked. Maestro's hotspots are placed over an image that you create. This means you can map out your hotspots with visual queues (sorta like Schematic view, only with an image behind there.) , resulting in a more intuitive interface that's easier on the eyes. (Imagine rigging a character, creating an interface for it, and handing it over to somebody else...)

4.) This one is not really a "one is better than the other" point, but it is an interesting difference: Sliders go from Point A to Point B, and that's it. Short of reconfiguring the slider, you're stuck if you want to animate a wheel or a windmill with it. Maestro's hotspots are more like jog controls. When you click and drag, it just keeps going and going and going. For progressive animation, this is quite handy. But, there are some circumstances where having those limits would be nice. (I.e: You wouldn't want a light control going negative.) On a side note: A Command hotspot could be used as a workaround. I have a Cannon I did a year ago that rises up and down on a lift. I have a hotspot that moves it up and down, and 2 more that set it to 'raised' and 'lowered' automatically. A little more setup, but the result is faster.

5.) You can ONLY control one Slider at a time. With Maestro, you can overlap the hotspots and click inside the overlapping area. This will run both hotspots at the same time. (This is illustrated in the video above.)

6.) Maestro has multiple pages (we call them panes) that can be flipped through. It won't take a lot of people long to find the value in this.

7.) Hotspots can run LScript Commander Macros. (With functionality we've added, as well...)

Interesting? :)

02-07-2005, 07:10 PM

02-07-2005, 07:12 PM
Sign me up Doc! That's truly impressive!

I've spent many an hour setting up nulls and channel modifyers to do what you did in seconds. Wow!

02-07-2005, 09:43 PM
Everyone in unison:

Release it! Release it! Release it! Release it! Release it! Release it!

Take mah money!