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Basic Animation in Poser 5

Author: Gary_P

Tools Needed

  • Poser 5

Support Files

Introduction

Basic Animating in Poser 5

I bet you've seen all those great animations on the net and thought 'if only I could do that'. You can.

Today I am going to get you started in animating in Poser.

Animating in Poser is not as hard as it looks. You just need to know a few tricks.

We will be using Poser 5's Don for this tutorial.

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Step 1 - Setting up our character

So that we are all on the same page, we are going to be using the Poser 5 guy, Don. You may use DAZ Victoria, Michael, or any of the characters, but I am using Don.

Open Poser and on the right hand side, there is a bar we will call a fly out.

Click on it and it will open a panel allowing you to choose what character you will be working with.

Choose figures, Poser 5, and then scroll up and choose Don. He is labeled Don Casual.

It does not matter if you choose the Don with hair or not.

Double click on Don to bring him into the scene.

On the Keep Customized Geometry screen, uncheck everything and click the OK button.

Do the same for the KeepScales screen.

I have also selected smooth shaded for the document display style, so you can better see what parts I am selecting with my mouse. But you can select the style you like best.

Now we are ready to begin.

Step 2 - Setting up for animation

First a little background. In Poser 5 you can animate anything in your scene.

This includes any objects, lights, and cameras. You can also animate materials, but that's another tutorial.

Every item in your scene has different settings or parameters that can be changed to produce an animation. You may also animate any object's scale, rotation, translation, and shape. You may also animate any of your light's color, position, and intensity.

You can also animate your camera's position in your scene.

Creating an animation only means making changes to an object over time.

An Animation is created by assembling a lot of individual images known as frames. When a series of frames that vary slightly from one frame to the next are displayed one after another, very quickly, your eyes see them as movement.

At the bottom of your screen there should be another fly out button. Click on it and the animation window should appear.

Set up your screen so that you can see all of your controls plus the animation screen.

Step 3 - Animation controls

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There are a few buttons to know before we get started with our animation.

On the left side are our preview controls.

They are (from left to right):

First Frame – this sets the timeline to the first frame.

End Frame – this sets the timeline to the last frame.

Stop – this stops the animation.

Play – this starts the animation.

Step back – this steps back one frame

Step Forward – this steps forward one frame

There is also a loop button. If you turn this on, your animation will continuously play until you press the stop button.

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The middle section is where you set the current frame and the total number of frames.

Frames are points in time where you set the pose. Let's say we want our character to lift his arm. We set the current frame position to 1, pose him with his arm down by his side, and set what is called a key frame. Then we set the current frame to a higher number like 30 and pose him with his arm over his head, and set another key frame.

This is known as key framing.

When the scene is rendered, Poser will create 30 individual frames (or pictures) numbered from 1 to 30 with our character's arm in positions from his side to over his head. And Poser also takes care of any shadows too.

This process is also called tweening, because Poser is creating the frames in-between the key frames.

Rendering is a fancy word for a program's ability to create your scene, calculating all of the textures, shadows and lights, and producing a finished image.

Below these two boxes is a slider control we'll call the scrubber. The scrubber is used to quickly find specific points within your animation.

You simply click and drag the Scrubber to navigate your animation.

It is also important to know that animations typically run anywhere from 15 to 30 frames per second. This means that it takes 30 frames of pictures to create one second of animation. It's no wonder that animation companies have super computers to do all that processing. They typically render their animations overnight.

On the right side bottom of your screen you will see the key frame controls.

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They are (from left to right):

Previous Key Frame – Move back one key frame.

Next Key Frame – Move ahead one key frame.

Edit Key Frames – Display the graph pallet.

Add Key Frames – Add a key frame at the current frame number.

Delete Key Frames – Remove the key frame at the current frame number.

Step 4 - Animation steps

Now that you've had your lesson in animation, and we have opened our animation window, and we have set up our character, then it is time to start animating our figure.

I think Don needs a bit of exercise, don't you? Let's make Don do some jumping jacks.

We'll start with the basic arm movements and go from there.

One of the nicer things about Poser is that it let's you build your animation one step at a time. Meaning you don't have to get it right the first time.

I do all of my animations this way.

Don's jumping jacks will consist of 3 different movements:

1. His arms need to move from his sides to over his head.

2. His legs need to move from under him to an open position side to side.

3. He needs to jump up into the air.

This sounds like a lot, but it's really easy if you take it one step at a time and use all of Poser's tools for help.

Step 5 - Turning off IK

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Let's pose Don in his starting position, but before we do, we'll need to turn off Inverse Kinematics. With Inverse Kinematics, or IK enabled, you can translate the hands and feet and achieve appropriate arm and leg positions automatically.

But this is not what we want. We want to move Don's legs from his thigh.

If you left this on, then his legs would not move unless you selected his feet.

I'll cover IK in a later tutorial, but for now, we will turn it off.

Make sure Don is selected and click on the Figure Menu, then choose Use Inverse Kinematics, then uncheck both feet, and uncheck both hands if they are selected.

For the sake of this animation, let's say it will take Don one half second to go from the normal standing position to where his legs are open and his arms are up.

Then one half second to return to the starting position. He's a quick jumper.

And we will be doing our animation at 30 frames per second.

If you have not done so, please make sure your animation slider, or scrubber is in the left most position, and your frame count is 30. And please make sure you are on frame 1.

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Step 6 - Posing Don for his animation

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Click on Don's right shoulder and set the Bend dial to 70 degrees.

You can set the number by clicking the number and typing in the box that pops up.

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We only need to do his right side because Poser's tools will help us with the other side.

Don's legs are a bit far apart so let's move them too.

Click on Don's right buttock, and set the Side-Side dial to 6. Be careful here not to set the Bend.

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Now Don is all ready to start. Wait! What about his left side?

Pose can take care of that for us with a thing called Symmetry.

Symmetry is a fancy word for 'make one side just like the other'.

Make sure Don is selected and click on the Figure menu and choose Symmetry.

Then choose Right to Left. Answer No to the Do you wan to copy the joint zone's setup window.

This will copy Don's right side to his left side.

There are other options in the Symmetry menu too, but I'll let you explore them another time.

Don is all ready to start his exorcise for the day.

Save your scene as animation1

Always remember to save! I increment my saved files so I can go back to any point in time. Then when I am finished, and all looks right, I delete the old saves.

Step 7 - Half way there

Set your current frame to 15 by clicking the box labeled frames in the animation window and typing in 15.

Why 15 you might ask? This is because when you do an animation of jumping jacks or any animation that contains looping cycles (such as a walk) your character will need to return to their starting position without any jerky motions between the end of one loop and the start of the next.

Poser has a tool for this too. I'll show you later on in this tutorial.

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Step 8 - Animating the Don's parts

Now we will move Don's right arm above his head.

Click on Don's right shoulder and set the Bend dial to -40 degrees.

We set this to a minus number because 0 is straight out.

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Remember. We only need to do his right side because Poser's tools will help us with the other side.

Click on Don's right buttock, and set the Side-Side dial to -15. Be careful here not to set the Bend.

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Again, make sure Don is selected and click on the Figure menu and choose Symmetry.

Then choose Right to Left. Answer No to the Do you wan to copy the joint zone's setup window.

This will copy your figure's right side to his left side.

Now we will let Poser figure out how to return our character to his starting position with a tool called Loop Interpolation.

Make sure Don is selected and click on the Animation menu and choose Loop Interpolation. This will fill in the blanks.

Press the play button in the lower left corner of the animation window and make sure Loop is turned on.

Don looks cool, but he looks funny. Like he is being held up on wires.

Press the Stop button.

Save your scene as animation2

Step 9 - Making Don jump

Remember when I said you can go back and fix stuff? This is the time.

Make sure Don is selected, the scrubber is at the left most position, and the frame counter is at 1.

Press the number 2 on the keyboard. This will select you character's body.

Set the YTran dial to 0.

Click the Add key frames button.

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You may not have to do this, but sometimes Poser gets cranky and wants it.

Now we need to show Don in the air at the height of his jump.

Set the current frame to 7. Why? Because 7 is one half of 15. Sort of..

Set the Don's YTran dial to 0.5 to raise him up into the air.

Click the Add key frames button.

Set the current frame to 15.

Set the Don's YTran dial to 0 to bring him back to earth.

Click the Add key frames button.

We again need to show Don in the air at the height of his jump.

Set the current frame to 22. Why? Because 15 + 7 is one three quarters of 30. Sort of..

Did you see what the number the YTran dial was set to? -0.292236

What's up with this, you might ask.

Well that is Poser's way of tweening for the next frame. Poser 'thinks' you are going to continue on when in fact, we want Don to stop jumping.

Set the Don's YTran dial to 0.5 to raise him up into the air.

Click the Add key frames button.

Set the current frame to 30.

Did you see what the number the YTran dial was set to? -0.292236

Poser is doing it again!

Set the Don's YTran dial to 0 to bring him back to earth.

Click the Add key frames button.

Press the play button in the lower left corner of the animation window and make sure Loop is turned on.

How cool is that? No more wires look.

Press the Stop button.

Save your scene as animation3

Step 10 - Creating our movie

At this point you could keep going back and changing things like Don's hands or facial expressions, but let's create our movie.

Make sure the scrubber is at the left most position, and the frame counter is at 1.

Don being selected does not matter as the whole scene will be animated.

Click on the Animation menu and choose Movie Output Settings.

Choose either the Poser 4 or Firefly rendering engine. I will choose the Poser 4 rendering engine because I want to see my animation quickly.

Click the OK button, not the Render button.

Remember, we want a movie, not a still picture.

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Click on the Animation menu and choose Make Movie.

Let's title our movie Basic Animation.

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From the Sequence type we can choose our format.

AVI for movie files. Flash, to create a flash file.

Or we could have chosen Image files. This would create 30 individual TIF files.

A side note on TIF image files is that each TIF file retains the alpha channel. Meaning that if you bring them into a photo editing software like Photoshop, the gray background can be selected and removed, or replaced by a real background.

For this tutorial, choose avi.

For quality, choose Current Rendering Settings. You could choose Current Screen to get a really fast render.

Note in the time span that Poser has set the frame rate to 30 and the start and ending frames to 0 and 30.

Press the OK button and Poser asks you where you want to save your movie. Please choose a file location and press Save.

Next is the Compression window. This is where you select what the compression rate is.

This is beyond the scope of this tutorial, so choose Microsoft Video 1, and press OK.

Poser will now calculate and output your movie and show it using Windows Media Player. Hey go for it Don! Jump till you drop!

If you have any questions you may PM me here at DAZ.

Happy Animating!