Learn animation techniques that offer greater control and a complete overview of using the Animation Mixer for intuitive non-linear animation within XSI. Contains over 2.5 hours of project-based training and new ways to edit, combine, and re-purpose various types of animation data from keyframes to expressions and constraints to motion capture files. Popular highlights include the Animation Mixer overview, modifying function curves in animation clips, non-destructive animation workflow, importing and exporting animation clips, clip effect statements, compound clips, integrating motion capture data, MOTOR overview, animation layers, warping animation, working with poses, equalizing clips, cycling clips, clip transitions, freezing clips, utilizing static poses, and understanding non-linear animation. Software required: XSI 6.0 and up.
Delano works avidly as an animation author at Pluralsight. Starting his career at animation studios like Shilo, Delano has developed a strong passion for his talents. His animation and rigging background help him teach and create some of the most-watched training on Pluralsight.
Introduction and Project Overview Hello and welcome to the Introduction to Animation Mixer an exercise training presented by Digital Tutors, an official Softimage training partner. My name's Delano and I'll be your instructor as we go through the process of understanding ways to animate more efficiently in XSI using its proficient animation mixer. Our objective in this training will be to grasp a good foundation of the mixer's primary tools and options that will assist us in animating with time-saving and productive techniques. More often than not, any animation production is going to be accompanied with strict deadlines. Therefore, we must look for ways to reuse animation for multiple characters, especially for more generalized motion, like cycles for example. We must also look for ways to very quickly edit animation if any modifications are required in our work, and these are but a few primary topics that exercise, animation mixer helps us to accomplish masterfully. Throughout this course of training, we'll learn how to non-destructively work with our animations, how to reuse animations for multiple characters, how to take unique animations and mix them together quickly and seamlessly, and we'll even explore exercise powerful, animation layering tool for making modifications to our animations with very minimal effort. We've prepared a ton of exciting information for you that I know will make the process of understanding the animation mixer an enjoyable one. With that, let's say we go ahead and get started by looking into several ways we can make and modify animation clips. This scene is called Zero One, located in your project files directory. Okay, so what we have in the scene, if we were to go ahead and hit Play is just a basic run cycle for our character, and we're going to be using this to create our first animation clip from. So, getting right into the lesson, what I first want to mention is that, you want to get into the habit of working with models for your animation clips, so you can easily transport them to different scenes, which is going to be very ideal for any production. So, right now, we do have a rig, okay, tied to this guy, and I just have it hidden, but if I show the curves and even show the chains that will reveal that this is actually exercise, just built-in biped rig or biped guide. Very helpful for making a proficient rig to get in and start animating your characters with, and I did add a few enhancements to it, just for the results that I wanted to achieve out of the different examples that we're going to be using in this project, but just wanted to mention that, and I'm going to go ahead and hide the chains and curves again, since we don't need to see them for this lesson. So, you want to get into the habit of working with models, okay, because notice you're going to be able to have your mixer folder stored underneath this and work with your data very conveniently as a result. Now, we're going to be basically taking the character keyset that has come along with this biped rig, and using that to store our animation clip with. First off, let's go to our anime tool bar, we'll hit Tool on our keyboard, and from there we'll also access our character keyset. So, we'll go to our saved key command down at the bottom, next to our Set key, and we'll go ahead and turn on the character keyset. So, once that is active, we just want to make sure that our biped character keyset, the top keyset in this scene, is going to be selected, so we can store everything. From there, we want to go to Actions-Store, I'll tear this menu off so we can see the options that we have. All right, so, basically, working with this first section here, this allows us to store poses, and we're going to get into that a little bit later. The second section allows us to store our keyframes and function curves. The next section is very helpful for storing expressions and constraint, and the last section here allows us to store all animation and even parameters that are not animated. Now, what I typically like to use is the character keyset option as well as animated parameters, okay, for storing animation clips. The reason why is because they allow us to really stay organized with what we store, so with animated parameters for example, if we slug the object, it's only going to store what we animated on, so it's going to allow us to work a little bit cleaner, and the character keyset does the same thing, it's only going to store what's in the selected character keyset. So, let's go ahead and select this option now, and now notice a property page appears, and we can do a number of things here. We have a few options for our original animation, as far as copying and cutting our keys and function curves and even rippling our keys. I like to just set this at default, don't really touch this section at all, but what I do want to do is actually rename our clip, and we can do this from here. We'll also look at another way of doing that, but we can call this Run to start out. Now, the number of items, this tells us how many parameters are tied to our animation clip, okay, based off our character keyset. So, right now with this top node, we have a total of 287 parameters stored within this clip we are about to make. Now, the next section is very important. If you're working with cycle animation, you want to pay even more attention to this. Now, this is basically our default in and out time for the animation clip. Right now, we have keys ranging from 0 to 24, okay. That's what this tells us, but if you are working with a cycle, chances are you have a specific range that you like to work with for your clip, and in this case, we have a specific range of frames 1 and 16. So, you'd want to make sure that range is set, and this range is actually the seamless cycle range, okay, so the full cycle usually goes to 1 and 17, but because of us storing this seamless cycle, that goes from 1 to 16. So, you want to, again, be mindful of that. We also have the option of removing our original animation, so we're going to leave this checked on. Okay, we'll leave the default setting here. We'll also leave the default setting for adding the clip to the mixer. We won't do that from here, okay, but we'll look for a way we can do that manually. Now, if you did want to leave this checked on, you have the option of offsetting your clip to whatever frame you'd like, so if you'd like you can even set that to one, once this option is checked on. Okay, but either way, with all of this, we'll go ahead and hit okay and see what happens, and I'll go ahead and close this out. All right, well, what has just happened? Well, if we were to scrub our timeline, notice, where's the animation? Okay, what's going on? Well, actually, it's stored within the clip, okay, and the reason why we can't see the animation is because that clip is not in the mixer. So, we need to go to our Explorer, we need to open up our biped model, and we need to open up our Mixer folder. Now, before we move any further, let's go ahead and understand what we see here. The Sources, this is basically our library that holds our poses, our animation clips, etc. So, that's where were going to find those main things. What's nice about Sources is that, if we were to delete our clips in our mixer, it's not going to delete it from the source, so we can always bring them back if we need to, but if we delete our clips from our sources, and I'll even open this up, so you can see what's going on here. So, if we were to delete our clips from the source, it's removed from our scene, but we do have options of importing and exporting clips into our sources and so on and so forth, and we're going to look at that a little bit later too, but here's our run and notice we can open this up to Items, and that shows us all of those items that we have stored, all of those several items we have stored within the clip, the parameters, and if you need to, you can always go to View All plus Animated Params to see everything. All right, so there is where our animation clip is found. The Compounds, that's basically two or more clips combined into one clip, so you can get into some fun things with that, and we're going to actually explore compounds a little bit later, okay, and depending on if you were working with a mixer or not, you may even see another folder, which is Tracks, and a track basically holds our clip. So, let's go ahead and actually look at this track. So, to open up the mixer, you can use the hotkey Alt-0, or you can go to View Animation, and there is the mixer, and you also see the hotkey from there as well. All right, as we open up the mixer, we see these green bars here. These are our tracks. These hold our clips, and if you'd like, you can make multiple tracks, you can make a shape track and you can make an audio track, so if we were to use the hotkey even, you can use Shift-S to make a shape track, Shift-U to make an audio track. Something very important to keep in mind is that notice, all right, we do have specific tracks, so that means that a shape track, or shape clip, cannot go on an animation clip, and the same works with the audio track as well. Now, what's nice if you can actually insert sources from these tracks as well, okay, and another way you can insert your sources is to just drag and drop. Okay, so, we'll look at that, but first let's go ahead and delete these tracks, and you can do that by right-clicking and going to Delete, or go into the track menu, you also have the option of removing the track from here, or even deleting unused tracks, but we don't want to do that because none of these have been used, therefore, everything's going to get wiped out. So, I'll just go ahead and manually Delete the tracks, and we can leave two in here for now. All right, so, to see our animation, we simply drag and drop the clip right onto the mixer, okay, and I'll close out the Explorer, or minimize it, just leave it minimized, and we can bring this to a value of one, and then, if you'd like to frame it, you can hit A on your keyboard. All right, so we're going to get into understanding different settings within the mixer, but let's go ahead and understand the basics to start out. The numbers that we see starting in at the top, they're basically the frames that the clip lies on, frames 1 and 17. The numbers at the bottom represent the range of this clip, frames 1 and 16, as we specified in our property page. The number at the bottom-middle, this is basically the amount of frames in this clip, and the number at the top, this is the scale of our clip, so one cool thing we could do if we were to use our regular navigation tools of zooming and panning in the mixer to just adjust this view a little bit more, if we were to bring our cursor to the middle-end section of our clip, hold the left mouse button and drag this out, notice we see the scale value change of the clip. Now we've brought it almost to about. 4. So, what that means is that, if we were to play the animation, notice the character's going to go very slow. Okay, he's only moving at about 4% there. So, that's what we can do from here, and we're going to look at some other clip options. If you'd like to bring it back to one, you can simply hold that same section on the clip and bring it back to 100%. Now, something important to note, I'll just frame the clip again, this number of 17, notice how it's different from the number that we have determined, 16. Okay, this is basically telling us that the edge of our clip here goes to frame 17, but watch this. If we were to actually drag in the mixer, and go to frame 17, notice we don't see any more animation. Okay, the last frame is actually on 16, so that clearly tells us that the clip actually goes to, or the 17 represents the edge of the clip, basically. All right, so we have the option of even renaming our clip if you'd like to do that you can go to the Explorer, select it, hit F-2, and we can call this Sprint if we'd like, and there we have it and they automatically updates. Great. All right, so now that these things have been discussed, we've looked into a few basic things, as far as our clips are concerned, another important thing to note is that with this clip, notice how the animation is no longer cycling, because we have stored it into a clip, so we do have the option of cycling animation from our clip, so that's nothing to be concerned about, okay, and also to note that, depending on how you're working with your clips, you may need to refresh your page if it is locked. Okay, so, you may not think your clip is, it has been loaded in, but chances are it's probably, your mixer's probably locked, so you want to get into the habit of refreshing, when working with different clips, but that's basically going to end this lesson here. In the next lesson, we're going to get into more of our clip properties.