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Timeline Tab

The Timeline is a basic animation tool found within DAZ Studio, which brings movement and motion to your scenes. Before we begin, a brief description of what animation is and how it works is in order.

Animation Basics

Animating a character involves a bit more than simply posing a character into a single static pose.

You should plan out ahead what movements your characters within a scene will make - the more detailed, the better. For example, a basic animation could depict a close-up of a character that tilts its head and smiles at the viewer. If the character also blinks, flares its nostrils, or narrows its eyelids while smiling, the animation becomes more believable and life-like.

Breaking It Down

An animation, while appearing fluid in its final form, is actually broken up into individual frames, much like individual frames on old-fashioned movie film. When DAZ Studio processes an animation into a movie, it will render each frame, one at a time, to produce the final movie clip. This does not mean that you yourself are forced to set up each frame, however.

Using what is known as Linear Interpolation, DAZ Studio itself works out what the intermediate positions of each part in a scene will be between what are known as Keyframes. A Keyframe is a user-set position or rotation setting of an arm, eyeball, falling object, or what-have-you at a given point in time (for instance, the image above would represent a collage of individual keyframes in a diving animation).

Keyframes tell DAZ Studio where and how you want everything to be at an exact moment in time. You can remove keyframes if you later decide to change something, or want to change the whole animation at any point in time.

h1>Anatomy of the Timeline Tab

The Timeline tab that comes with DAZ Studio is a simple default tool that allows you to create and adjust basic animations. This tab is divided into several portions that are standard on almost any animation manipulation package.

By default, the Basic Timeline is shown. To switch to the Advanced Timeline, choose Advanced View from the Timeline Options menu.

These controls are shown below and serve the following functions:

Basic Timeline

basictimeline.jpg

Advanced Timeline

advancedtimeline.jpg

  • Scale Timeline (1): Move left or right to scale the timeline and show more or less of the tick marks.

    scaletimeline.jpg
  • Scrubber (2): Move the scrubber left to move backward through the animation, or right to move forward in the animation.
  • Total Frames (3): This will tell you how many frames are in the entire animation clip for this scene. Notice, in the tab above, that a 30-frame scene will have 31 frames. This 31st frame is a reference frame, and cannot be accessed or manipulated by the user. It is only used for internal purposes only, and will not affect the animation. In the window next to the Total: label, you can change this to reflect as many frames as you desire in an animation. Just remember to add one to the total number you want. For example, if you want a 900-frame animation (which by default is 30 seconds of video @ 30fps), you would enter 901 into the Total field.
  • Current Range (4): This field lists the current range of frames displayed in the timeline. You can manually enter the beginning and end frame that you want displayed, or it will update itself to show the current range if you move the range slider carets to reflect which part of the graph you want to concentrate on.
  • Current Frame (5): This field shows you the frame currently displayed in the active 3D viewport, and shows you at what time-point of the video clip you are currently working (in hours : minutes : seconds : frames format).
  • FPS (Frames Per Second) Setting (6): This field shows you how many frames of animation will constitute one second of video playback time. By default this is set at 30 frames per second.

Tip graphic TIP! Most people have eyes that automatically convert separate frames of animation into fluid motion at a minimum of 24 frames per second. The higher the FPS setting, the smoother the motion appears (and the smoother the linear interpolation calculations). However, this will also increase the number of frames required for the entire video clip, and will increase render times in proportion to the increase in setting.

  • Loop On/Off (7): This button will allow you to preview the animation within the currently selected range as either a single-run video (where it will run only once until you play it again), or as a loop (where it will run over and over continuously until you manually stop the playback). The button icon will change accordingly from a pair of linked arrows (loop), to a pair of unconnected arrows, depending on which setting you choose.
  • Add/Remove Keyframe (8): This button allows you to set a keyframe. A keyframe is defined as a point in the animation where you the user definitely want all portions within the frame to be positioned, and will be used as part of calculating interpolation. To add a keyframe, go to a frame where you want to set an important element of the scene to an intermediate position (such as an arm in mid-swing, an eyelid closed fully, a ball striking the ground in mid-bounce, etc). Click the Add Keyframe button to set the keyframe for the current frame.
  • Go to First Frame (9): This button will take you and your current 3D viewport back to the first frame in your currently selected range.
  • Previous Keyframe (10): This button will take you to the previous closest keyframe (within the currently selected range) before the frame you are currently in.
  • Back One Frame (11): Fairly self-explanatory - this button will take you back one frame from the currently selected one.
  • Play/Stop (12): This button will play the whole animation, starting at the current frame. If you have looping enabled (see previous page), the preview will play continuously over and over again through the currently selected range until you stop it. While playing, the icon on the button will change to the Stop button, which you can then press to stop the animation preview at any time.
  • Ahead One Frame (13): This button will advance you ahead one frame from the currently selected one.
  • Next Keyframe (14): This button will take you to the next keyframe you have set in your currently selected range.
  • Move to End Frame (15): This button will take you to the last frame within your currently selected range.
  • Remove Keyframe (16): To remove a keyframe, go to an active keyframe (you can use the previous/next keyframe buttons to do this), and select the Remove Keyframe button.

Clearing an Animation

An animation can be cleared by selecting Clear Animation from the Parameters Option menu as shown in the image below.

Clear animation tab

  • Clear Figure: Removes the figure from the animation
  • Clear Figure Pose: Removes figure pose from the animation
  • Clear Figure Morphs: Removes figure morphs from the animation
  • Clear Selected Items: Removes any selected items from the animation
  • Clear Transforms: Removes any transformation changes from the animation