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Blender is a powerful open-source tool for 2D and 3D graphics, full-on animation, compositing, and post-production. It is used to create movies and special effects, even in HD. In Blender Essential Training, Roger Wickes offers new Blender users a thorough explanation of its interface, tools, and features. He also demonstrates practical techniques and shows how to access the online and openndash;content resources of this amazing tool. Specific 3D techniques covered include navigating in 3D space, using cameras and lights, and rendering. Roger demonstrates how to rig, animate, and composite a character over live action. Exercise files accompany the course.
So now that you have your library of Actions defined as shown here in the middle window, we have like the Put Action here, which puts the ball onto the shelf and then comes back down again. Then we also have the Grab Action that grabs the ball and brings it back up. So now that you have all of these Actions together, you want to combine them into a movie or an animation. These actions are almost like fundamental little units of motion that your character can do, in this case, this little robot.
So to put those together and sequence them into a flow, we use what's called the NLA or the Non-Linear Animation Editor and that's here. Now before you begin using the NLA, you got to remember that whatever the active action is, is linked to this armature and so it's going to want to do that action when you start playing. So you want to delink your actions or any actions from your armature before you begin the NLA process.
Now I have arranged kind of a workflow here that's kind of a non-standard desktop, but I thought it worked because here I can see what's going on in 3D view. I can see my Actions and then I can work with my NLA. The first thing we want to do is add in an NLA strip. So let's say at frame 50 in the animation we want our robot to grab something and pick it up. So what we want to do is come over to Strip > Add Action Strip > Grab. And this takes that standard Grab Action that used to be only from Frames 1 to 20 kind of as a standard kind of scaling and pops it in here in our real animation at frame 51.
So now between frame 51 and 70 or so, our robot picks up the ball. Great. Now we want to add in the next Action Strip to put it up onto the shelf. Now the next action is put up here. So this overall action is now Grab and then Put. So now the ball is up here, the robot continues and it puts it up onto the shelf. If we press N, we can bring up the Strip Properties, which tells us numerically, exactly where the strip starts and ends and then what portion of the Action is played.
Now by default it's locked to play the entire Action, but you don't have to have the whole Action. You could have an Action where I'm walking, tripping, and falling, I'm standing on my head, doing a cartwheel or whatever and then you can unlock and use these frames then to pull out the portion of the action that I want to use right here right now in this particular animation. The other thing I can do is if I'm walking and chewing gum at the same time, which is a very dangerous condition, I could probably also use the Auto-Blending, and what Auto- Blending does is it tries to manage or merge overlaid actions together and averages the bone actions together so that they look natural and integrated.
So now we've slid this back and now there's a little bit of overlap here is where the bones will actually kind of accelerate through and not appear to stop in the middle here. It'll accelerate through and transition right on into the next action. So that's the way you can blend and seamlessly integrate these actions together. The last neat feature in the NLA is that you don't have to use the same speed that was set up here. Recall, like say if we rigged this for a standard 20 frames, but we really wanted it to take, say 3 seconds, we can scale the whole animation here by entering 3.
I'm going to scale this over here a little bit. Now this animation takes place 3 times as slow as you can see. So this is the way you can change the speed of your animations in the NLA, sequence them, blend them, and arrange them into the final complete animation of whatever it is you want your character to do at whatever point in the overall animation that you want him/her/it to do it. And that's the NLA in Blender and how it all brings all of these actions together.
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