2023-07-06 Animation & Rigging module meeting

The meeting will be on 2023-07-06T16:00:00Z. It is open for everybody interested to join on Google Meet (link below).

Present: Brad Clark, Christoph Lendenfeld, Ingo Clemens, Jeremy Bot, Nate Rupsis, Nathan Vegdahl, Nitin Rawat, Paolo Amadini, Sybren Stüvel

People present are referred to by first name for brevity. Others are referred to by full name.


Since the Last Meeting / Announcements

Last week: Animation 2025 workshop at Blender HQ.

  • Broad strokes:
    • New data-block called Animation, which will replace the Action as the main way to store animation data.
    • Animation Layers
    • Move functionality (and data) from the NLA editor into the Animation data-block.
    • Support different animation channel types (for example for Grease Pencil)
    • Ghosting
  • Sybren is writing a blog post about the workshop itself.
  • Nathan is writing a meta blog post, about what we learned of the workshop process itself, and ideas on how to improve future ones.
  • Recoding of the presentation at Blender HQ. Note that this presentation is a snapshot of the design at that point in time, nothing more.
  • Brad: shares the Action Blocks add-on

Short-term goals / Ongoing Work

Using Blender as presentation tool

Jeremy used Blender as presentation tool. An animation system that animates multiple objects with one Animation data-block that allows multi-object editing and re-ordering of animation strips would be super useful for that.

Semi-automatic FCurve handles

Nathan: A feature was asked by an animation studio, for the graph editor: to have the length of keyframe handles set automatically, and the slope still user-defined. Module agrees it could be a nice feature.

Sybren: nice feature to have, but given the amount of work that is already on our plate, not something the Blender developers can work on now. Could be a nice thing for a community developer to implement.

Next Meeting

The next meeting will be on Thursday 2023-07-13T16:00:00Z. Again it will be open for everybody who’s interested. The provisionary meeting agenda will be linked in the #animation-module channel before the meeting.


I’m glad you could polish new animation data to that level of simplicity, I’m curiously follow that development and I’m excited. But everything up to this point, including this new presentation is quite abstract to me, and I like it, but when I start thinking about how practically I would handle the new system I’m quite lost. I have some questions that I will write here, maybe it will be useful for you to think about them, or maybe you already have. I hope this will be helpful for the team.

  1. You mentioned new Animation Editor. Is it replacement for NLA Editor? Because I hope Dope Sheet and Graph Editor aren’t going away, that will be devastating. What will new system look like in Dope Sheet and Graph Editor? Will Layers replace Actions in hierarchy and everything below them stay the same? There’s some details I keep thinking about, for example, how will animation editors know which Animation to display? Now they’re bound to objects, but will in the future selecting Einer select entire Animation it has, including Theo’s channels? What about pinning?

  2. Assuming new data arrives in 4.0, which is probably best time for it, will it even be possible to open pre-4.0 animated .blend files with 4.0? Will conversion happen? will it be possible?

  3. You talked about extrapolation and how layers are by default infinite, but can be made to fit into certain frame range. So made me think about NLA strip modifiers, will we be able to add modifiers like Cycle to Layer? This is what I expect, losing ability to have strip modifiers will be terrible.

  4. In new Animation Layers, let’s say I want to move entire Bounce layer, will there be strip, like in NLA, that I can drag, or will I have to select all keys on channels and move manually?

  5. I still don’t understand how linking Animation to other objects work. Let’s say I have Animation data Bouncy Ball, and I want to give that animation to Suzanne, so that it bounces too, how will I do that? Because if Animation isn’t bound to object and is basically scene-level, I don’t get it quite. Will I need to duplicate the layer Bouncy Ball and select Suzanne as new object? This is so confusing.

  6. About the talk about F-Curve modifiers. I like that there will be able to procedurally animate layer (which is basically NLA Strip modifier now I guess), but are F-curve modifiers going away? Because what if I want Noise only on one Z location channel, will I have to take that in separate layer to add modifier to that? That will destroy whole point of layers if I have to separate channels into different layers for simple things like that, and makes changing entire location animation in that example a pain.

Finally, one feedback I will have is that Animation is a terrible name for data-block. It already caused a confusion in the technical presentation to development team, can you imagine what will it be for users? When I say I want my animator to change animation, am I talking about entire animation? or Animation data block? or animation inside specific Animation? You see it right? people will hate that name. Actions are perfect name for me, I know they mean different thing now, but keeping the name I think will soften the blow for regular users and help them better understand new system.

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I can answer those concerns

  1. The NLA will go away and we will have something better instead. The Graph Editor will definitely stay and the Dope Sheet quite likely depending on the functionality of the new editor. How exactly we deal with channels and filtering is up in the air. We did discuss redoing the filtering though
  2. It will probably not arrive in 4.0, the time is a bit too short for that. But we will keep actions and the new Animation data block around side by side, probably until 5.0. We will default to the new datablock at some point though. There will be a conversion process because the new thing can contain everything that the old one has.
  3. Yes strip modifiers are still part of the design
  4. you can do both, move the strip or the keys within
  5. in the new system you’d need to point the output of the animation to suzanne, other than that it will work the same
  6. FCurve modifiers will stay for the foreseeable future. They will just become less used as the new system can do more.

One more thing I want to throw out there is shape key actions. Currently I’m working much more on shape key actions than regular actions, and they’re quite different. They’re not tied to main actions because they can’t be binded to any object like LocRotScale animations, they’re unique to the individual mesh, curve or lattice. It will be interesting to see how shape key animations are handled in the new system. But I don’t envy whoever has to come up with design choices for that.

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we discussed this as well and with the power to drive multiple id blocks with 1 animation, you should be able to have all that combined