Frist Animation Attempt Dev Logs

Walk Cycle

First, I choose my preferred rig and the walk cycle reference. Then, I analysed this walk cycle reference.

When I was animating, sometimes I found that rig controller will move off mesh, like this. After searching on the internet, someone have the same problem even with the same rig. So, the problem is located at rig itself. Then, I checked the timeline and found that the arm of the character will change from IK to FK.

Thus, the reason for this problem is: Sometimes when I rotated the hand controller, the controller setting was also selected by mistake. Due to the rotation action, the variable of ‘IK / FK’ will change too. When it stayed at a number between 0 and 1, the rig controller will move off the mesh.

The solution: Select all the controller setting for arms and legs, then move them to an invisible layer.

A few days later, during during Salinas’ support session, she mentioned that the arm and leg can be animated in both IK and FK. I used this function in the Attack Combo. It helps me fix serveal problems.

My first version walking cycle is like this:

Main Problems need to be fixed:

  1. The continuity of the Axis Z (Character’s left leg is not moving)
  2. The head of the character need to keep stable.

During fixing the legs movement, I found that I missed a key frame in the analysis process. In the frame 32 and 41, character’s right foot is almost in the same position. I only animated these 2 frames. When I played the animation, the right foot didn’t move. So I animated a new key at frame 38, where the right foot step forward at max range.

I fixed some problems on foot movement:

Attack Combo

For this Attack Combo, I choose sword swing reference from Motion Actor Inc.

https://youtu.be/bpQ95dypRPw

At the beginning, I constrained the sword with hand like this. However, after I have animated a few frames, I found that the rotation of the sword is wired. Not matter how I adjusted the hands, the sword still cannot look nice like the reference. So I guess the problem might happened on how the character should hold the sword. I searched on the Internet about how to hold a Katana or sword in the real world. Then I fixed my sword position.  

To get a full view of the action, I putted 3 image panels for reference. Thanks to Motion Action Inc that provided multiple perspectives of one action.

My first version animation is like this:

In the first attacking action where the character thrust the sword forward, I found it difficult to animate the movement of the sword when the arm was set to FK mode. This was because the hands moved almost linearly in this action. To address this, I changed the arm setting to IK from frame 0 to 31. I began by changing the right arm to IK and animating it, and then I changed the left arm to IK. By doing this, I could use the previous hand and arm positions as a reference and avoid having to animate again, as changing from FK to IK mode removes all previous animation.

Problem of swing a sword with two hands over head

When a character lifts a sword overhead, the two arms may not move in the proper direction. For example, between keyframes 47 and 58, at frame 51, the green line represents the correct path that the arms should follow, but they may actually move in the red path.

Initially, I tried adding more keyframes to fix the issue, but it proved ineffective. Adding a keyframe at 52 and animating the arm in the correct position did not solve the problem for frames 47-51 and 53-58. Animating every frame individually would have been too time-consuming and detrimental to the continuity of the animation.

Upon observing the movement of my own arms during this action, I noticed that in the real world, both the green and red routes are possible. The key difference lies in the movement directions of the chest, big arms, and forearms. I concluded that the problem was with how I animated keyframe 58; I had neglected the precise rotation of each part and only focused on the correct position.

To address the issue, I attempted to animate keyframe 58 by observing real arm movements and rotating each controller separately. For example, I observed that the chest moves in a particular direction in the real world, and I rotated the controller accordingly. I did the same for the arms and hands and it works.

Optimize holding a weapon with two hand

Initially, I achieved the desired effect by making the right hand the parent of the weapon and then manually animating the position of the left hand. However, during a support session with Salinas, she advised me to try making the weapon the parent of the left hand instead. This suggestion proved incredibly helpful, and the animation now looks more realistic.

Salinas also recommended a helpful YouTube video that explained the reasons for using FK and IK in different situations. It reminded me that I could use FK for the right hand and IK for the left hand. I tried this method to solve the previous sword-swinging problem, and it improved the animation.

However, it still looked somewhat unnatural, so I attempted to use IK for both hands. Unfortunately, this made the animation even worse, and no matter how I adjusted the curves, it continued to perform worse than using FK for the right hand. I eventually learned why the video had stated that FK is better for rotational action, while IK is better for linear action.

Setting of constraint

After binding the hands and weapon, I noticed an additional setting in the channel box of the weapon and left hand called ‘Blend Parent 1’. This setting controls whether to activate the parent relationship. The first time I encountered this, I mistakenly set the value to 0 and found that the constraint was not working. This reminded me that I can choose to unbind the weapon and the hand during animation to make the process easier.

Adjust the timing and ease in & out

When I using the tween machine to add some ease in keys, I also need to adjust some position of the animated key. So, during this process, I was wandering what is the difference between moving a animated key or add ease in keys. After some practices, I found the answer and it really helps to make the final animation looks well.

Running Cycle in Game

Mistake when copy and mirror a key frame

Sometimes when I animate a keyframe, I adjust the posture based on the previous frame. However, if a controller is not moving in that particular frame, there will be no keyframe for it. As a result, when I try to copy this keyframe to the next cycle, only the changing controller will be selected. This can cause a problem when I mirror the posture because some controllers’ information will be lost. Therefore, before using the copy and mirror function, I need to select all the controllers in the keyframe and press ‘S’. This ensures that the information for the unchanged controllers is also recorded.

 Frame 0 & 17 have the same numbers controller info, however, frame 4, 7, 12 only have a few controller info

Problem when using mirror function in Animbot

When mirroring a keyframe with Animbot, it will delete all the handle rotations for the controller. Therefore, I need to select all the frames and set them to Stepped, and then set them back to Spline.

All the handles are deleted at key frame 24

Dash

This the first version of dash animation.

When animated the feet rotation in some frame, I built a cube at front of the feet. This will make sure the foot rotates naturally.

After showing my animation to my friends, one of them commented that the character didn’t seem like she was jumping and dashing forward. He was right! In the reference video, the actor was being dragged forward by a rope. This reminded me that I need to make my character look like she is jumping by herself because the reference is just for reference purposes. So, I added more keyframes at the beginning to show the force on her feet.

Add force on feet

After fixing the eye blink, ease in & ease out, force, the second version looks like this:

There are still some problems, like the arm should swing after the character land.

Eye Blink

First, I searched on YouTube for a reference. I found that not only the top eye lid will move when blinking, but also the bottom eye lid and cheek will move a little. Additionally, during Salinas’ support session, she mentioned that the eye movement should be fast, so it’s best to use Stepped frames when animating.

However, after my practice, I found that this rule is only suitable for eyeball, not for eye lid. This is my final version of eye blink.

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