2024-01-26 Animation & Rigging module meeting

The meeting will be on 2024-01-25T17:00:00Z. It is open for everybody interested to join the video call (link below).

Present: Ares Deveaux, Bassam Kurdali, Beorn Leonard, Brad Clark, Carlos Puertolas, Christoph Lendenfeld, David W (Studio Galt Mocap), David, Eric Kim, Guillermo Careaga, Harry Sanchez, Jeremy Schaefer, Kate Vaillant, Nathan Vegdahl, Nicolas Prothais, Sybren Stüvel

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


Since the Last Meeting / Announcements

  • New faces:
    • Guillermo: animator at Dreamworks, 2 years Blender user.
    • Jeremy, animator at Dreamworks. 1 years Blender user.
    • Harry, animator at Dreamworks. New at Blender. Looking at Blender Studio content.
    • Eric, animator at Dreamworks. 1 year Blender user.
    • Carlos, head of animation at Dreamworks. 3-4 years Blender user.
    • Nicolas, animator at Dreamworks.
  • Dalai Felinto is now the “involved admin” in the Animation 2025 project, replacing Sergey Sharybin in that role.


Names are from the Git log.


Technical Documentation

User Manual

Short-term goals / Ongoing Work

  • Christoph:
    • Improvements to Keying, keying sets, and auto-keying.
    • The remaining Animaide pull requests from Arés Devaux were discussed in Blender Chat.
      • Nate Rupsis (in Blender Chat): Scale Left/Right can likely be closed, as they are in Blender as one operator.
      • Jess Mahon (in Blender Chat): The ease-ease is absolutely essential for animating. I think there’s also one where it’s ease-ease, but instead of the dragging choosing which key side to favour, it makes the ease “sharper/faster”, or “softer/slower”, that would be one I’d use a lot too
      • #117287: Anim: Ease to Ease operator
      • To decide: replace the existing Ease operator?
      • Nathan: if the new operator can do the same as the old, we could just replace the old one.
      • Carlos: a smooth transition like the new one gives sounds useful.
      • Guillermo & Beorn: agree.
      • Christoph will ask Raymond Luc for more final feedback.
      • Sybren: if there is no clear way in which the old can be sep from new, remove old.
      • Module agrees it’s a good idea to replace the existing Ease operator wiht this new one. If Raymond Luc has no strong reasons otherwise, this is what’ll happen.
    • Christoph’s weekly report
  • Nathan:
    • Paper (literally!) mockups for layered animation workflows.
    • Nathan has scanned them, will upload them & link to the meeting notes.
    • By now has enough designs to have a separate meeting about this, as discussed on 2024-01-04. Bassam wants to attend too.
    • Nathan’s weekly report
  • Sybren:
    • One more polish effort for bone collections, after Demeter voiced his concerns.
    • Looked into ‘widget-specific hotkeys’, but it’s tricky. Ctrl+F for UIList is implemented very specifically for that type.
    • prototype for a Copy Global Transform approach that uses a simple Cyclic Coordinate Descent to reach the desired transform. This tweaks the loc/rot properties until the target is reached. This should work even when there are offsets applied via constraints (like Copy Location with offset, Child Of, etc.).
    • Layered Animation Model: Open Questions & TODOs
    • UI changes (#116940, #116200, #117402) were discussed with Julian Eisel, and will move forward shortly.
    • Sybren’s weekly report
  • Animator meeting at Blender HQ (Hjalti Hjálmarsson, Nathan, Pablo Fournier, Sybren):
    • Nathan showed paper mockups of layered animation workflow.
    • Animators generally agreed it could be useful.
    • Hjalti voiced a concern about a layer editor that’s only temporarily visible (pop it in, use it, pop it out).
    • Selection behaviour should be explored. Object/control selection can influence layer visibility, but also layer selection can influence control visibility.

Patch Review & Decision Time

  • #117270: Anim: Change tooltip for Insert Needed and Insert Available The existing tooltips were not explaining well what those settings do. Needs feedback if the proposed changes are better.
    • Christoph: Dreamworks animators, do you use these options?
    • Guillermo: changed it to “only needed” and never touched it again.
    • Brad & Bassam never touched the option.
    • Nathan: it also didn’t work correctly; Christoph fixed that earlier.
    • No voice of concern that the new ones are worse.
    • Sybren wrote a proposal for an alternative as a comment on the PR.
    • Bassam likes Sybren’s proposal.
    • Brad still finds the entire feature confusing.
    • Nathan: “Skip inserting keys that don’t affect the animation”. Christoph likes that.
    • Nathan gives example where you want to change the rotation, and then it shouldn’t key the location (even though the keying set is “location + rotation”).
    • Module likes Nathan’s version.
  • #117506: UI: Add separate option for line width in the viewport Ported from the Goo-Engine. Needs to see if this is something other users want.
    • Everybody present loves this.
  • #117508: Anim: Change text for keyframe with keyingset operator Is it clear what “Apply Keyingset” means?
    • Some nodding heads.
    • Bassam, Brad, and Sybren find it ambiguous.
    • Sybren: doesn’t match the meaning of “Apply Location”, “Apply Constraint”, etc.
    • Nathan: “Insert keyframes with the specified keying set” would be clearer.
    • Christoph: that’s pretty much what’s already there.
    • Brad: where in the menu is this?
    • Christoph: Pose Mode, Pose menu, Animation menu.
    • Decision: Drop this change for now.
  • Guillermo posted some interesting graph editor ideas on Twitter/X. Both would be optional (i.e. togglable with preference, hotkey, whatnot). To decide: might be simple to implement, does anyone want to do that on short term?
    • Two ideas:
      1. When selecting a key, automatically jump the playhead to that key.
      2. 90° snapping without having to press g-x or g-y.
    • Guillermo: comes from a specific Dreamworks workflow. That software has no way to turn this off, even. The notion: you are animating by shaping the keys, so you never go to the interpolated frame of a bezier curve. Because of that, having this as a user preference that you turn on/off would be best.
    • Christoph: “Shift+Right Click” moves the playhead to the cursor as well. So most of the behaviour is already there.
    • Guillermo: in our software, the move-playhead-on-click also allows you to drag the key up/down immediately, so the “go to the frame and start tweaking” is literally one click.
    • Nathan: we have to be careful with options for how things should behave, they can get overwhelming. Also having too many options can get very hard in terms of how they interact with each other.
    • Bassam: really likes the 90° snapping. You seldom want to move a key freely in both time and value. It’s usually one or the other. He teaches Blender, and feels like this he wouldn’t have to explain, they’d just use it.
    • Jeremy: 100%! That snapping workaround Guillermo sent out with the key maps has alrwady improved my animation experience
    • Carlos: having to press less keys to animate is really nice. It is “our bubble” though.
    • Guillermo: the changes he made to the keymap to get the 90° snapping interferes with the box-select.
    • Nathan: a good thing about Blender is that the g-x and g-y are keypresses, and not key holds. This is a known good thing to avoid RSI.
    • Nathan: press ‘G’ to move, then move, and click middle mouse, it will snap to the axis by which you moved the most.
    • Christoph: should this apply for ‘tweak’, or also when you press ‘g’?
    • Nathan: probably should be both, so that it’s consistent regardless how you trigger the transform. Beorn agrees.
    • Christoph will work on this.
    • Ares (who made a keymap for Blender for Guillermo to mimick the desired behaviour): his setup is locking everything, even when you’re working on the tangent. That aspect of it shouldn’t be ported to Blender itself, it was just a side-effect of using the keymap for this.

Help Needed

Next Meeting

The next meeting will be on Thursday 2024-02-01T17:00:00Z. Again it will be open for everybody who’s interested. The provisionary meeting agenda will be updated before the meeting.


So nice seeing professionals from other software interested in helping to improve Blender!


Just what Blender needs, a bunch of experienced animators to consult. Really glad to see this happening, very exciting times for animators and riggers