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Welcome to animation in Blender. This is where we are going to actually make our characters move and jump around, and as you can see here, we have our rabbit jumping rope. Now, this may look overwhelming to you with all of these channels and everything, but the principles that I'm going to teach you are exactly the same as used in making this animation, and making him do this wonderful little jump. And the secret is what's called bones. Bones in animation make the mesh deform and make it move, and so by controlling the motion of all of these bones, you then deform the mesh that we see and that is we rendered to make the final animation.
To do that, I would like to introduce a couple of different window types because up until now we haven't really been talking about time in modeling; we have only been talking about 3D space. So now we have like a fourth dimension, which is time. So we have to start modeling and thinking about that. To do that, first, I'd like to introduce the timeline window, and that's indicated here by this little clock. This timeline window allows us to see and jump around inside of our animation. So for example, right now we have an animation that is 136 frames long, and it actually cycles and repeats.
The menu for the timeline window is here. We can go over that. That is your basic Playback controls, and being able to set markers within your timeline within your animation. Here is your current frame number. So if I want to manually advance to a certain frame in the animation, I can do that or just click or I can also drag them to get really far away. Over here is our standard VCR controls. That's to skip back to the very beginning of the animation. That's to play the animation, pause it, to skip forward or back a keyframe, as well as then go into what's called automatic keyframing and we'll talk about that little later on.
Over here is the Action Editor and the Action Editor is a whole bunch of channels that are used in animating our character and each bone or each thing that we are controlling is shown here as a channel and then there is a little diamonds here for every keyframe, or every position that we have set, where we want to control the location or rotation of something. That's something is shown in the IPO Curve Editor, which is a different kind of window that we'll be getting into that shows you the animation curves.
The scaling and sizing controls and panning controls are the exact same as in the 3D window. So if I roll my mouse wheel, I zoom out or zoom in. If I hold the Ctrl key and the middle mouse button and move my mouse up and down, I'm scaling the display up and down, left and right, to show more or less of the animation. There are different kinds of animation curves, as shown here. Now we are going to be getting into some of those as well.
The other thing we are going to be talking about is shapes and if I select the rabbit here, we have what's called the Shapes panel that allows us access to and the ability to define the various shapes of this mesh, so it can change over time. So as he is jumping rope, his belly jiggles and that belly jiggle is either controlled by a bone or through what's called a shape key. As he laughs and opens his mouth, and closes his eyes, those are all different shape keys that are defined here.
The influence of each shape key is set here by selecting Shape and then for this particular shape that's selected, we show the influence of this shape on the mesh at any particular time in the animation. So for example, his left cheek gets puffy from frame 1 to frame 3. So all of these windows work together to show a comprehensive view and provide a complete animation studio in Blender.
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