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aniMate

First off, thank you for purchasing aniMate. Our goal was to make a tool that made animation more accessible and fun. We hope that you will get as much enjoyment using it as we did creating it. If you ever think of a way to improve it please let us know…we will be excited to hear what you have to say.

This wiki should provide you with all you need to know to get the most out of aniMate. It is laid out in simple sections with lots of screenshots to help make learning aniMate as easy as possible. Overview video tutorials are also available to help you get started quickly. Our forums have active participation from GoFigure employees and other aniMate users. We encourage you to read this wiki and watch the tutorials thoroughly before posting questions on the forums. We also encourage you to help others after you become an aniMate Master!

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Overview

Simple. Fun. Instant Gratification. These are not the words beginners use to describe composing music, editing video or learning to animate. Well, not until products like Apple’s Garage Band, Acid, iMovie and Windows Movie Maker arrived on the scene. For animation, there is a learning curve that is rarely improved upon. Tradition keyframe timelines have been the standard way of creating animation for a very long time. Is there a better way? We think so.

AniMate takes a building block approach. Animations are broken down into editable chunks (that we call aniBlocks) that can be stored and reused just like video clips. Just as video editing software doesn’t care how the video clips were created, aniMate doesn’t care where the animation clips were created either. In aniMate, animation clips are stored in aniBlocks.

Once installed, aniMate tools will show up inside DAZ Studio as tabs. To open these tabs, go to View/Tabs and you should see two new tab options, “aniTimeline” and “aniPad”. AniTimeline was designed to dock at the bottom of your DAZ Studio window, but you can put it wherever you would like. AniPad was designed to be docked on a side.

aniBlocks

What are aniBlocks?

AniBlocks are containers for animations of any length (from a one-frame pose to a lengthy dance) that can come from multiple sources and that are saved in a unique format. An aniBlock in the aniTimeline automatically blends with the aniBlocks that are next to it.

How are aniBlocks edited?

In order to edit an aniBlock it must be in the timeline and it must be selected. You select an aniBlock by clicking on it. When an aniBlock is selected it's outline changes from gray to black and drag handles appear on it's ends (the aniBlock called “forward (1 cycle)” is selected in the illustration below). By shift-clicking, you can select multiple aniBlocks at the same time.

Editing Length

aniblock_length.jpg An aniBlock’s length can be changed in a nondestructive way by grabbing a handle at either end and sliding it along the timeline. As you change its length, the aniBlocks to the right will move to adjust for its new length. When you lengthen an aniBlock past its default length it will loop back (and blend) to its animation’s starting point. In order to help you keep track of how long the default length of an aniBlock’s animation is, each loop is separated by a black vertical line.

Editing Order

AniBlocks can be reordered by grabbing the middle of the block and dragging it along the timeline. Multiple aniBlocks can be moved at once by shift-clicking them and then dragging.

Editing Blend

The default setting for blending between aniBlocks is very good in most cases but users can adjust those settings to there liking. There are two types of blending:

  • external blending - blending between two aniBlocks on the aniTimeline.
  • internal blending - blending between loops of an animation within one aniBlock.

These two blending types are controlled seperately. External blending is controlled by the little black diamond that appears below the aniBlock when it's selected. Internal blending is adjusted inside the “aniBlock Parameters” dialogue box.

aniBlocks Parameters

aniBlocks can be customized even further by using the “aniBlock Parameters” dialog box. Double click on an aniBlock to open the dialog box. You can change the parameters of multiple aniBlocks at the same time. Just select the aniBlocks you want and double click as you add the last aniBlock to your selection.

These parameters are set to default on or off in the way we thought would be most useful for you. There may some situations where changing these parameters would get you the result you are looking for, so hey, play and explore. aniblock_params.jpg

Speed

- This parameter allows you to determine how long or how fast an aniBlock will play. 50% would mean the aniBlock will animate the character at half speed and take twice as long to complete.

Reorient Horizontal Position

- The horizontal position of the hips at the end of the prior aniBlock becomes the new starting point for this aniBlock.

Reorient Facing Direction

- The facing direction(positive z axis) of the hips at the end of the prior aniBlock becomes the new orientation for this aniBlock. You may notice aniMate quantizes this facing direction to multiples of 45 degrees. Those that need finer control can offset this with the Facing Direction Offset.

Reorient Internal Horizontal Position

- This only affects aniBlocks that loop. The horizontal position of the hips at the end of the loop inside an aniBlock becomes the new starting point on the next start of the loop. Rarely would the user not want this.

Facing Direction Offset

- This parameter allows you to manually adjust the facing direction of an aniBlock.

Position X Offset

- This parameter allows you to manually adjust the aniBlock's position left or right from the point of view of the character.

Position Z Offset

- This parameter allows you to manually adjust the aniBlock's position forward or backwards from the point of view of the character.

Internal Blend Time

- This parameter only affects aniBlocks that loop. This is an adjustment of how fast to blend from the end of loop to the moving start of the loop.

Mirror

- This parameter allows you to mirror the aniBlock across its X Axis. Example, a punch with the right hand, would become a punch with the left hand.

How do I get more aniBlocks?

As you know, you have been provided a base set of aniBlocks with aniMate that help you get started with creating some very fun animations. Others will be available for purchase in the DAZ store. As you get comfortable with aniMate you will no doubt have very specific animations you will want to produce. You can create an endless array of aniblocks from keyframe animations, animated poses, or imported poser figure compatible BVH files.

Creating aniBlocks from DAZ Studio Keyframes

After using DAZ Studio tools for creating keyframe animation, and having an animation that you want to convert to an aniBlock loaded into the standard DAZ Studio timeline, follow these steps:

  1. Select “Create aniBlocks from DS Keyframes” option from the aniMate timeline options menu
  2. Name the aniBlock, and choose the location from the save dialog box
  3. Choose refresh from the aniBlock browser by right mouse clicking and choosing “Refresh Folders”. Your saved aniBlock(s) should now be available for use.

aniBlock Library

What is it?

The aniBlock Library is simply a folder structure that can be customized by the user to organize and display any aniBlocks the user has purchased or created themselves. AniBlocks can be dragged from the library to a aniTimeline layer. Double clicking an aniBlock in the library, will place it in the timeline at the position of the playhead. When a user creates a new aniBlock they can save it in any existing folder or they can create a new folder. Users can roll their mouse over the top of a aniBlock to see it previewed in the Viewer.

How do I use it?

library_explorer.jpg aniMate comes with about 40 aniBlocks that should help you start playing. These aniBlocks are placed in categorized folders underneath the default root folder that the aniLibrary browser looks to. When you add new aniBlocks you should put them in a folder that helps you organize them in a way that makes sense to you. aniBlocks can be put anywhere on you computer and then added to the aniLibrary browser by right clicking anywhere in the browser window and then clicking “Add Root Folder”. You can then go find the folder with your aniBlocks and add it. From that time forward your folder will be shown in the aniLibrary browser.

You can also remove a root folder from the browser window by right clicking on the folder and then selecting “Remove Root Folder”. This does not delete your folder or it's contents, it's just removes it from the list of folders the aniLibrary looks to.

When you have DAZ Studio running and have added aniBlocks that you would like to show up in the aniLibrary browser, you will need to right click in the browser window and select “Refresh Folders”. This should rescan your folder structure for new folders and aniBlocks.

Where are my aniBlocks really?

The default root folder that aniMate looks to on Windows is “DAZ/Studio/Content/aniBlocks/aniMate” and on the Mac it's “DAZStudio/Content/aniBlocks/aniMate”.

aniTimeline

Anatomy of the timeline

Animations are assembled by stacking aniBlocks in the aniTimeline. The aniTimeline is measured by seconds not keyframes. The reason for this is because it is not a keyframe editor, it's an animation sequencer. AniBlocks can be dragged around and rearranged inside the timeline and they will always be automatically blended one to another.

anitimeline_dissected.jpg

1. Object Selector

- Use this drop down list to select what character/object you would like to animate. Each object has it's own aniTimeline that aniBlocks can be added to.

2. Active Checkbox

- The Active checkbox allows you to quickly disable aniMate. Generally this is used for post processing of the scene animation or for the creation of new aniBlocks. This also can be helpful to track down irregularities. - The user should understand aniMate works by lazily(meaning when needed) keyframing the DS Scene. Disabling this does not remove the keyframes from the DS scene that are already there, but will keep aniMate from laying down or changing any more keyframes.

3. Playhead Controls

- These 4 buttons work like standard media player type controls.

  • Loop - toggles on and off. Turn it on (outlined box) if you want your animation sequence to start playing again from the beginning each time the playhead reaches the end.
  • First Frame - If you press this, the playhead moves to the beginning of the aniTimeline
  • Play/Stop - this button toggles between play and stop. When it is on (outlined box is present) the playhead advances along the play range at 30 frames per second.
  • Last Frame - If you press this, the playhead moves to the end of the aniTimeline play range.
4. Split, Combine & Crop

- These 3 buttons will help you create new aniBlocks from old ones.

  • Split - Press the split button when the playhead is above a selected aniBlock at the place were you want to split it. Your aniBlock will split into two pieces. Each piece still has the entire animation in it so if you stretched out the aniBlock it would be revealed. If you want to have an aniBlock that contains a cropped animation, you should use the crop tool next.
  • Combine - The Combine tool with make one aniBlock out of two adjacent aniBlocks. To use it, select two aniBlocks that are side by side and then click. The “Save” dialog box will pop open and ask you what you would like to call your new aniBlock and where you would like to save it.
  • Crop - The Crop tool creates a new aniBlock from any one aniBlock in your aniTimeline. Just click the button after you have trimmed or split an aniBlock to the size you want it and then the “Save” dialog box will pop open and ask you what you would like to call your new aniBlock and where you would like to save it.

The Option Menu

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Enable Previewing with Mouse

- This toggle allows a person to enable/disable the previewing of aniBlocks simply by positioning the mouse above an aniBlock. This also allows quick “skimming” of the aniTimeline(Windows version only).

Auto Time Total Time

- This toggle allows a person to enable/disable the trimming of the DS Scene total animation play time to the longest aniTimeline in the scene. Some users may want to added their own keyframing to the end of the DS scene and this should be disabled in that situation.

Mask Fingers

- This toggle allows a person to enable/disable aniMate's manipulation of the fingers. Turn this on, if you want to control the fingers and you want aniMate to leave the them alone.

Foot Rotational Offset

- This is a per characters setting that allows the user to set a rotaitonal offset around the x(bend) axis for the feet. This is very useful if you put high heels on a character.

Create aniBlock from DS Keyframes

- This extracts the DS keyframes from the scene, in the play animation range, and on the selected character and attempts to create an aniBlock. This can then be used in the aniTimeline or aniPad.

Delete DS Keyframes

- This removes all DS keyframes associated with the scene on the the selected character. The menu item found in the DS Parameters Option menu under Clear Animation is the recommended way to do this and more fully featured..

Default: Reorient Horizontal Position

- This toggle allows a person to enable/disable the default flag for new aniBlocks added to the aniTimeline. This will not affect aniBlocks already in the aniTimeline. The horizontal position of the hips at the end of an aniBlock in the aniTimeline becomes the new starting point for the following aniBlock. Sometimes the user may not want this.

Default: Reorient Facing Direction

- This toggle allows a person to enable/disable the default flag for new aniBlocks added to the aniTimeline. This will not affect aniBlocks already in the aniTimeline. The facing direction(positive z axis) of the hips at the end of an aniBlock in the aniTimeline becomes the new orientation for the following aniBlock. Sometimes the user may not want this.

Default: Reorient Internal Horizontal Position

- This toggle allows a person to enable/disable the default flag for new aniBlocks added to the aniTimeline. This will not affect aniBlocks already in the aniTimeline. This will also only affect aniBlocks that loop. The horizontal position of the hips at the end of the loop inside an aniBlock in the aniTimeline becomes the new starting point on the next start of the loop. Rarely would the user not want this.

Close

- Close the aniMate tab. This acts more like a hide tab since this does not disable aniMate.

Saving a sequence

An aniBlock sequence is saved when you save your DAZ Studio scene. When you open up that scene again, your sequence will be there waiting for you.

aniPad

What is it?

Adding aniBlocks

Recording a new aniBlock

Exporting, Importing and Formats

Exporting animations

Exporting is based on what you can do with DS. Rendering a movie is the most common end. Be warned that rendering can take along time and it is very easy to make long sequences with aniMate. Rendering once first using the fastest render settings is usually a best practice.

Those interested in exporting keyframes from aniMate via DS should understand aniMate works by lazily(meaning when needed) key framing the DS Scene. Simply dragging an aniBlock onto the aniTimeline does not create DS key frames. Those key frames are put down upon playback.

Importing motions files

Importing centers around creating your own aniBlocks from DS. If you can get key frames into the DS, you can create an aniBlock from it. DS can import bvh files and poser animation files. Keeping the target character simple usually yields the best results. All aniBlocks from GoFigure are currently based on the Victoria 4 character. Be warned, animation is complex and some animation files simply cannot be adapted to your target character.

Other Stuff

Things you might want to know

IMPORTANT TIP: When creating an aniblock, be sure to use an unclothed figure. If you create an aniblock on a figure with clothing, the aniblock will not work on other figures. When wearing clothing the aniblock will get confused extracting what is relevant for the aniblock. - tip from pokeydots

IMPORTANT TIP: Got camera troubles? Does it move and you did not want it to? When working with aniMate, use the Perspective View. This will keep unexpected key frames from being placed on the Default Camera as you maneuver the camera for a better look at your work.

The Default Camera will be needed when you want to render a movie. Unless you want the Default Camera to move, whenever adjusting the Default Camera, always hit the back button first, so that you will be at the first frame of the animation. - tip from Ammon