animation improvements in Houdini

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Alright, since it has been discussed about making a thread regarding animation, I'm here to declare myself Lord of the… well I think about something later. 8)

I will copy my suggestions I've made in the modeling thread regarding the keys on the timeline.

McNistor
it would be cool instead of this


to have this


By “cool” I mean more intuitive.
Even better than pic. #2 would be to have the green stripe narrower because when multiple keys are next to each other it becomes a green mass.

The same for the Dopesheet.


How many keys are in there:


Surprisingly the number of keys is one that humans can count at one glance - it's five.
You obviously need to zoom in or go into an editor to see how many keys you have there and I don't have a big time scale (only 250 frames) to say that they're too close to each other. I can't see myself being very happy animating a character with this visual feedback in the timeline.


An advantage of having it the way I suggested:
if you have a (narrower) key at frame N and one at frame N+1/2 you could represent the latter like it is now - in between frames and the integer one (N) at Nth frame.

Here's an example:


(added now)
Their width should adjust dynamically in relation to the timeline size, so for frames next to each other on a big timeline their width would be minimal (no smaller than 1 pixel in width obviously).
Edited by - March 22, 2014 13:32:47
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Here's another one that works in synergy with the above suggestions.
instead of the current fat box that clutters any possible keys nearby


better have this:


I'd even argue that the box in the time slider showing the frame # is not needed at all and it would be easier to see and access nearby key.

The “no box” suggestion would look like this (in my humble opinion a definite improvement over the current fat box or even the small box):


So what do you think it's better for this last suggestion:
1- leave it like it is (1st pic)
2- make the box smaller like in the 2nd picture
3- adopt the solution in the last image

p.s. the numbers in the timeline but not only, would look a lot better (more legible not fancier ) with a font without anti-aliasing.
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For non-integer key readibility I like the timeline from Maya (but it miss color coding for non-integer keys that is nice in Houdini) But it's hard to identify integer frame (e.g. at the example image it's hard to say if there is key on frame 25 or it's on 24.9 and at first glance I would say 24.9 and I would be wrong)
(It's on 25 in fact).

It also has semitransparent current key indicator with the text at the bottom (so it doesn't interfere with key numbers in timeline) but only way how to read the current frame is the number, because that semitransparent current frame indicator is almost invisible.

In XSI the red line covers the red frame behind it (if you have more then 250 frames you cannot say if there is frame or not from just looking into timeline), but the placement of the current frame number nicely match the placement of the key number in timeline.

In my opinion the current frame indicator in Houdini is the best.

Thicker keys over whole frame (from start to the end) are the way how DopeSheet in most softwares (XSI/Maya/Houdini..) shows the keys.
So playbar in Houdini is just DopeSheet representation. And as this it works great. Placement of the keys is logical (and same as in other softwares for the DopeSheet), non-integer frames are color coded and selection of keys is breeze.
How offten you edit individual keys directly on timeline in playbar?
I do only seldom.

I wouldn't change the dopesheet. It works with integer frames. It would be hard to make it work with non-integer frames and make it easily readable. You would need snapping, possibility to set snapping increments and switch to old look and integer frame behaviour (that is somehow standard across different softwares).

I would hate to work with software that haven't current framy number indicator in timeline. The solution #3 is hardly readable (terrible choice of color, poor contrast and small font). I prefer current frame number indicator.
I don't like #2 either. Why would be better to have smaller current frame indicator that is harder to read?

Why would you like to have font with aliasing problems??? I can't see any good reason for that.


I think timeline is ok, I would rather see improvements in other areas of Houdini.

Attachments:
keys_xsi_DopeSheet.JPG (18.8 KB)
maya_keys.JPG (11.0 KB)
keys_250.JPG (11.9 KB)

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I kinda expected you to show up.

pezetko
For non-integer key readibility I like the timeline from Maya (but it miss color coding for non-integer keys that is nice in Houdini) But it's hard to identify integer frame (e.g. at the example image it's hard to say if there is key on frame 25 or it's on 24.9 and at first glance I would say 24.9 and I would be wrong)
(It's on 25 in fact).

It also has semitransparent current key indicator with the text at the bottom (so it doesn't interfere with key numbers in timeline) but only way how to read the current frame is the number, because that semitransparent current frame indicator is almost invisible.

In XSI the red line covers the red frame behind it (if you have more then 250 frames you cannot say if there is frame or not from just looking into timeline), but the placement of the current frame number nicely match the placement of the key number in timeline.

I don't care how things are in the other apps, I simply look at them to see if there are things to be inspired by and discard whatever is not working very well.

pezetko
In my opinion the current frame indicator in Houdini is the best.

I'm hoping it's only your opinion.


pezetko
Thicker keys over whole frame (from start to the end) are the way how DopeSheet in most softwares (XSI/Maya/Houdini..) shows the keys.
So playbar in Houdini is just DopeSheet representation. And as this it works great. Placement of the keys is logical (and same as in other softwares for the DopeSheet), non-integer frames are color coded and selection of keys is breeze.

So what thicker keys are how other apps show them in Dopesheet? Yes, in Houdini the “playbar” is a Dopesheet representation and that's exactly the reason why is not good. And it doesn't work great. Placement of the keys is not logical (yes, the same as in other software Dopesheet) and selection keys is not a breeze.


pezetko
How offten you edit individual keys directly on timeline in playbar?
I do only seldom.

I do it very often.

pezetko
I wouldn't change the dopesheet. It works with integer frames. It would be hard to make it work with non-integer frames and make it easily readable. You would need snapping, possibility to set snapping increments and switch to old look and integer frame behaviour (that is somehow standard across different softwares).


Well I would change the Dopesheet. It works with keyframes not integer frames.
It wouldn't be hard at all to make it work. If you can make it work in the timeline, you can have the same in the Dopesheet.
Again, “other softwares” is not a valid argument and again, for Universe sake, I don't care about standards and neither should you.

pezetko
I would hate to work with software that haven't current framy number indicator in timeline. The solution #3 is hardly readable (terrible choice of color, poor contrast and small font). I prefer current frame number indicator.

Solution #3 is a quick concept made in Ps. Sure, the color is not the best as well as the font size, but it was meant as a rough base to start from.

pezetko
I don't like #2 either. Why would be better to have smaller current frame indicator that is harder to read?

I don't want an indicator that is harder to read but a smaller one for the reasons I said above. A smaller one doesn't necessarily mean harder to read.

pezetko
Why would you like to have font with aliasing problems??? I can't see any good reason for that.
I think timeline is ok, I would rather see improvements in other areas of Houdini.

I don't think it's OK and I think it really should be addressed. There are small things like these that add up at the end of the day and if they're not being taken care of, five yrs from now you'll still see the sporadic question “how's Houdini for modeling/animation” on various forums and the prompt first answer “it sucks”.
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McNistor
pezetko
In my opinion the current frame indicator in Houdini is the best.

I'm hoping it's only your opinion.

It's all opinions, including yours McNistor. No one opinion is greater than another.



I actually really like the Houdini Timeline as is. Big frame number indicator is really great. The 3rd choice would be like finding a needle in a haystack after serious animation. You combine skinny Key indicators centered on the frame and #3 and you now can't tell at all there is a key on it if your current frame is also on that key.

As for Keys, as pezetko mentions, it mimics the Dope Sheet. Never thought about it like that (it wasn't any issue for me) and it makes sense. I agree with the rest of his statement.

As far as Font readability, after having to use Houdini 12.5 recently, I found it a bit more readable than 13. It might be due to no aliasing on small pixel fonts.

Houdini Timeline is the most readable and comfortable one I've had to use, my issues right now are with the Channel Editor. With the recent undo-bug (will test the fix when I go into work after this post) it was maddening.

In Maya, weighted to non-weighted goes from a Circle End to a Hollow Square. Broken tangents will also appear to be different colors, fuschia and turqoise, this is great.

I recently downloaded Softimage XSI to try and, tangent handles at initial test(simple box) works straight-forward. See image file names.

The issue here is the Weighted to Non-Weighted visual cue. It's not anything except a single lighter pixel when selected, causing me to mess up a lot, requiring alot of undos. Coupled with 3 places to untie things. Key frame itself, bezier line, and bezier end.

Attachments:
Sofitmage_Unified.jpg (16.8 KB)
Sofitmage_Non-Unified-Slope-Length.jpg (17.4 KB)
Sofitmage_Non-Unified-Slope-Orientation.jpg (23.6 KB)
Houdini_Tied.jpg (17.0 KB)
Houdini_Unitied-Weighted.jpg (17.3 KB)
Houdini_Untied-Non-Weighted_Unselected.jpg (17.9 KB)
Houdini_Untied-Non-Weighted_Selected.jpg (19.0 KB)

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Gyroscope
It's all opinions, including yours McNistor. No one opinion is greater than another.

That's actually not true at all. It's an idea that became popular mostly because of politicians who are always looking to get approval from as many as people as possible.

If I say that in my opinion gravity doesn't exist it doesn't really make any sense to believe that my opinion is just as good as of any other (sane) person that says otherwise.
What value does the “No one opinion is greater than another” statement have in this situation?

Some opinions clearly can be greater than others and the only way to asses which is which, is to analyze the arguments and whether they're backed up by facts or not.

Gyroscope
I actually really like the Houdini Timeline as is. Big frame number indicator is really great. The 3rd choice would be like finding a needle in a haystack after serious animation. You combine skinny Key indicators centered on the frame and #3 and you now can't tell at all there is a key on it if your current frame is also on that key.

Yes, big as Max's is right now, half the timeline. You can't even click on a frame to have it jump there if it's underneath that huge slider, you have to drag the scroll like slider. (I'm talking about 3dsMax here)

The 3rd choice wouldn't be at all like finding a needle in a haystack - it's a clearly visible black line. You have Softimage in front of you, do you find the red slider in the timeline as hard to find as a needle in the haystack?

You could tell if it's a frame underneath if you make the keys slightly thicker than the black slider.
As I said earlier those are quick concepts I've made in Ps as examples. Do you want me to take the time to make them refined?
Edited by - March 22, 2014 16:35:05
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The fact that you pointed out you hope it was his opinion is condescending. As to somehow make his opinion seem less. That was not needed. Gravity is factually apparent. Your preference to a timeline design is purely subjective. This is a poor strawman argument with tired validity of opinion debates.

Can't click on a frame? What are you talking about? I have no trouble what so ever moving keys, selecting a certain frame and general manipulation. I feel more empowered using the Houdini timeline than when I used Maya or other programs at this time.

The fact that it is exactly like a Dope Sheet and functions the same way is great! The large number indicator is… a non-issue for me. And actually preferable when I'm running a Sim or processing a sequence to immediately glance at the screen a few feet away.

Yes, refine them more. It would be best to present your ideas in the most clear ways to avoid scrutiny. Right now I don't see any advantage to your style and it reminds me of Maya which feels like a regression. You've done great work in the Modelling thread.
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Speaking for others often? If pezetko took offense in anything I said he can say so, I don't think he needs you as his defender. It clearly hasn't crossed your mind that the very act of taking someone's defense on internet without said person asking for it could be offensive as that would imply that they can't take care of themselves.

That's all I'm going to address and add that I will no longer consider your future replies in any thread.
Edited by - March 22, 2014 16:40:46
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How do you report a bug?

It has to do with what I've discussed with MartybNz regarding inability to put keys in certain conditions.

The bug I think I found is this: unable to add keys (with ctrl+K) while the mouse cursor hovers the timeline.
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McNistor
Speaking for others often? If pezetko took offense in anything I said he can say so, I don't think he needs you as his defender. It clearly hasn't crossed your mind that the very act of taking someone's defense on internet without said person asking for it could be offensive as that would imply that they can't take care of themselves.

That's all I'm going to address and add that I will no longer consider your future replies in any thread.

I was not defending nor trying to speak for pezetko. I was merely taken aback by how your personality comes across in your posts. Now you're trying to speak for me? I don't mind if you feel the need to ignore my personality, but that in no way should stop the points I present from being considered. It's petty and more clearly speaks about your own character.

/total derailment of the betterment of Houdini. Sorry all. In the end it's all up to SideFX what they really want to do.
Edited by - March 22, 2014 17:01:07
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It's not a bug:
Select some frame range (with shift key), then Ctrl+K over the timeline fill that area with keys.
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pezetko
It's not a bug:
Select some frame range (with shift key), then Ctrl+K over the timeline fill that area with keys.

Oh, thanks. That's another peculiar thing. Why can't one add a single key (ctrl+K) while having the mouse cursor over the timeline? Surely it wouldn't mess with shift clicking to fill an area with keys, would it?
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I was not defending nor trying to speak for pezetko.

I don't know what you were trying to do but you managed to do just that - take offense for him.

I was merely taken aback by how your personality comes across in your posts.

How does my personality come across?

Now you're trying to speak for me?

No.

I don't mind if you feel the need to ignore my personality, but that in no way should stop the points I present from being considered. It's petty and more clearly speaks about your own character.

And how is my character?

If your points have merit, people and devs will take them into consideration for sure.
As for me, ad hominems in this and previous post is the reason I'm going to skip over your posts, I don't have the time or the will for this. It's pragmatism, not pettiness.
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McNistor
I don't know what you were trying to do but you managed to do just that - take offense for him.

No, I took offense to you.

How does my personality come across?

And how is my character?

It doesn't matter, lets get back on topic. We clash, it happens. Sorry to all, for letting feelings get into this.

So let's present points on how we personally would better Houdini and leave it at that. I've proposed my Channel Editor improvements you, your timeline improvements. Let's let SideFX sort them out. Keep up the good fight!

Onto the SplineBezier() I mentioned elsewhere…
Edited by - March 22, 2014 20:02:24
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SplineBezier():

It'd be nice to be able to fire and forget some animation work. The main thing preventing this from happening is the default state of Bezier() Keying.

Right now there is 0 slope associated with the default behavior. So every keys tangents will flatline. Simple test. Rotate a cube on one Axis. Key 1 has a 0 value, Key 2 has 90, key 3 has 180. You'd expect it to go smoothly from 0 to 180. But it doesn't. Nevermind the fact you could just set 2 key frames, 1 of 0 and another of 180.

Below is a simple example sequence. With descriptions for the explanation.
COG-Z Translate is displayed.

The conclusion; I would like to see is the addition of a SplineBezier() to the Function list. SmoothBezier wouldn't be a good name after thinking about it. Bascially, the same functionality as Spline() but with Bezier handles.

Unless I'm off my rocker and I just have not found a straight forward method to do this easy. If so, please enlighten me. Adding the side button bezier handles to spline() doesn't give you the weighted ends. Bug?

Attachments:
01_Initial_Keyframes_Constant.jpg (99.8 KB)
02_Change_To_Bezier.jpg (95.8 KB)
03_What_You_Want.jpg (108.0 KB)
04_Change_To_Ease.jpg (102.4 KB)
05_Change_To_Spline.jpg (96.6 KB)
06_Bezier_Changed_To_Straight.jpg (106.9 KB)

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McNistor
Why can't one add a single key (ctrl+K) while having the mouse cursor over the timeline? Surely it wouldn't mess with shift clicking to fill an area with keys, would it?

Try just ‘K’ over the timeline when you have an animation channel scoped and the preferences/animation/Global Set Key set to ‘Set Keys on All Scoped Channels’

Attachments:
keyframe.png (94.4 KB)

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Gyroscope
Below is a simple example sequence. With descriptions for the explanation.
COG-Z Translate is displayed.


For ‘03_What_You_Want.jpg’ try Edit/Smooth Selected Slopes.

Attachments:
SmoothSelSlopes2.png (41.9 KB)

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Regarding animation this is another area that i feel needs lots of attention and some of it is pretty fundamental.

For example, the curve interpolation is not very useful.. for example, IN REVERSE ORDER

Attachments:
item.3.jpg (148.7 KB)
item.2.jpg (148.8 KB)
item.1.jpg (150.0 KB)

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Awesome thanks MartybNz! Will save a lot time. I would be thankful still, if this was an optional default. The graph editor becomes really slow (slower in 13 compared to 12.5) with a lot of channels visible.

Also, those (B, 0, 9) functions should added to the Functions Buttons list to the right side. Seeing as Tie/Untie is already there. Maybe reduce the button clutter by combining the Tie/Untie buttons to a be smarter(toggle). Untie selection if Tied, else Tie, or something.

Testing it further, it might be a bug, but those buttons don't become active until you move a handle. If you just single click on the bezier line or end on one side, the buttons are still inactive. You can still hit T however.

I'd argue that Tie/Untie in general should immediately apply to all 3 segments at once, the Value, the Handle and the Handle End.

But it might be me who just has to get used to it. I'm just used to quickly marqee selecting the main key, with no regard to the handles and hitting Untie/Break/Non-Weighted/Non-Unify.

One advantage is if you actually want to use the shortcut (T, Button), but have other channels visible with overlapping handles, it becomes slower to untie each portion. Can't think of a use case for a disadvantage.

Edit: Tie needs to be expanded vocabulary wise. I'm used to thinking of it as Weighted and Broken (Maya). Weighted means both ends length are proportional to the other. Broken means that either ends slope is independant of the other.

In Houdini, you Untie the Bezier End to go change the Weight. You Untie the Bezier Line to Break it. Getting to each state seems inconsistent and unpredictable… thus the verbal diarrhea.
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Basically I miss a solid ‘Plateau’ mode that I an trust and not being forced to touch my curve every time I add a keyframe.

Also if I do edits I want to keep them, every time I have to smooth slopes these change and it could be a matter of marking the edited keys so the smooth does not happen in the first operation, only after a second smooth these keys are affected for example.

Memorizing fcurves is another key elements, I want to be able to memorise my curve, do edits and see if the animation works better… but if I end up breaking it all up going back to that curve is very interesting option (in XSI this is the buffer curve)

Furthermore some destructive actions like smoothing a curve, resampling, fitting, etc.. are very important for an animator.

Also extrapolation of curves right now is truly uncomfortable task, it should be looked properly as in XSI is a no brainer.

Also being able to add custom icons and your own curve processing tools to the animation editor to me is very interesting too.
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