Proposal : Make time cursor stay in the animation area

Animation and keyframes are visible through multiple spaces : nla, graph, sequencer, timeline, etc… When it comes complex animation with a lot of keyframes / clips / actions, we often zoom in the timeline to better edit these things. But when we start the playback, we can not see what’s happening when the current frame is offscreen.

In my opinion, it is inconvenient for some uses, in the vse, the graph editor and also for the dopesheet.

I propose to make the timeline move instead of the timecursor.

Two options there : ( or more )

This is just a mockup from the video editor, but it is the same in other editors

Fixed time cursor

Constrained timecursor

One main problem from the user perspective is the noise that makes a moving timeline in the view. It could be very disturbing on that point. BUT if the time cursor functionment is optional, the problem is a functionality.

Another problem is the performances involved in it. Normally, just the timecursor is updated, not the timeline. Updating the timeline can be really heavy when dealing with lot of keyframes.
This is half a problem, because if the scene is too heavy, the functionality can be turned off.

This thread is about having feedbacks on how useful it would be for you, and if you think it is really useful and not too much of a noise.

Edit 1 :

Tests with Rain scene

Using the demo thene of rain_restaurant, the performances are the following :

*The tests were done in the same conditions with the scene layout, with and without the graph and vse(video sequencer editor).

Version Graph + VSE Without vse Without graph
Blender 3.1 master 7.20 fps 7.25 fps 7.30 fps
with timeline moving 5.05 fps 5.05 fps 7.20 fps

This is a regression of 30% fps when using a dynamic graph view.

Important :

  • In any cases this option would be optional.
  • Tests were done using the worst displaying in the graph editor ( not usable )

Edit 2 :

Tests with Vse scene

I added a lot of my 1080p animation in the vse, and performances are :

Scene Framerate 24 fps 60 fps
with timeline moving ~24 fps ~50 fps
timeline hidden ~24 fps ~ 60 fps

The timeline was looking like this and I tested zoomed in and out, perfs are the same.

I’ll add performance tests for the graph editor if needed.

8 Likes

This is great. I use Resolve, and they have both options, and they are both useful. option 1 is good for small refinements zoomed into the timeline whereas option 2 is good for a more general overview.

1 Like

I also use another software and used a bit this option. I recently tried to do some video editing in blender, and it was so disturbing that the timecursor goes away. And in fact, this behavior is for each editors with a timecursor. Someone said that for the graph editor, it would be also super useful.

Builds for a MVP of Timecursor modes in the VSE are available at Blender Builds - blender.org patch : D13070

It’s just a little test, feel free to give me feedback.

Modes are here

7 Likes

A patch is ready now. Some changes have to be done in term of ui, but here is the basic implementation.

https://developer.blender.org/D13070

In the settings, a new option is available in the animation panel for the floating mode.
I’ll make some demos later on.

1 Like

@Kdaf Does your patch deal with the existing Follow Current Frame option? Should it be removed? Or does it work well with your work?
Timeline Editor:
image

1 Like

Hey,

Thanks for pointing it !
I did not know such an option was available, I’ll adapt my patch to include this. There is no big problem, but the floating mode has some issues with the follow current frame.

Thanks for your contribution :wink: