Join George Maestri for an in-depth discussion in this video Working with the Transport Controls, part of Up and Running with MotionBuilder.
- Motion Builder is all about animation. So with that in mind let's take a look at the basic animation tools in Motion Builder. We're gonna start off with the Transport Controls or the Timeline, and this is where you control playback of animation. Now you'll find your Transport Controls here. It's this window and like any other window in Motion Builder you can pull them off. So these are all of your Transport Controls. Probably a better way to see it is to change our layouts.
So I'm gonna change my layout to Preview, and you'll see I have the Transport Controls along the bottom. Now Transport Controls allow you to playback your animation and right here we have our standard playback controls. So if I hit play it will playback my animations. In fact I can zoom out here to see the entire animation and you'll also notice that I can change the camera while things are playing which is a really nice little feature of Motion Builder. Now if I want to stop my playback I can hit the stop button or I could just click off the play button.
Either way works. Now I also have a reverse playback button here and I can also step forward or back a frame at a time. And then on the other end of this I have a key that goes to the very front or the very back of the animation. Now here we have a loop control. Now if I want I can turn this off or on. I had it on before so if I playback with it off it will stop at the end.
If I turn it on it will again loop. Now in addition to this we have a record button which really won't do anything right now. If I hit that it'll just tell me that there is nothing to record, but if you're doing motion capture or something like that then this will become an important button. Now here we have our list of frames. So right now we're working on whole frames, and Motion Builder can work in fractional frames, which can be really great for Motion Builder if you want an over sample or something like that.
For right now I'm just working in frames, and we can change this here. We can say no snap to frames, which means that it will work on fractional frames. So you can see that I can go very, very fine here, but if I turn it to snap on frames it will snap to the nearest frame. And then we can just play on frames or we can snap and play on frames. So if I play on frames it will only play frames, and if I just snap to frames it will play fractional.
Okay. So if you want really fine playback you want to make sure that you turn off play on frames. If you want it to be a little bit more animated and play a frame at a time go ahead and switch that on. Now right next to that we have our frame rate. So we can do anything from 30 frames per second, which is the default to 24 or any of the standard frame rates, and we can also input our own custom frame rates. And then we can play back at multiples. So if I want I can play back super slow by putting it on say a quarter speed, or if I want I can playback really fast by putting it on four times playback speed.
Now these multiples are accurate, but you may run into problems with a heavy scene. If you have a very heavy scene it may start skipping frames to match the frame rate. So if you want to make sure that you see every single frame you can turn on this option here which is all frames. And that will play every single frame up to the standard playback rate. Now if the scene is heavy it may play a little bit slower but it will play every single frame. I'm gonna turn this back to one time.
Now down here on the bottom we have our frame range. So right now I'm going from zero on this side to 100 on this side so if I wanted to make this a little bit smaller I could just type in a new value here, 90. And we also have what's called a range slider here. So if I were to grab one of these blue bars I can actually reduce the range. And this is very similar to what we have in Maya. So if you're a Maya user you'd probably be familiar with that.
But this is a great way to zoom in on your timeline. So that way you can see your animation very specifically. And I'm gonna grab these blue dots and just put them back to normal. Now down here on the bottom we have our timeline, and if I want to I can grab this little box here and scrub back and forth and when you playback you'll see that the box moves forward. Now the timeline has a second function and that's to show you the keys and allow you to edit it.
So if I were to select the car, notice all of these little dots here, little markers on the timeline. And those are the keys on the timeline. So if I scrub here you'll see that this is where the car starts to turn. That's the middle of the turn, that's the end of the turn and so on. Now you can use these to actually edit animation in Motion Builder. So if I wanted to I could for example take this and slide it back and forth to adjust the timing of that key.
I can also left click and drag and marquis select multiple ones, and you'll see that they're highlighted here by green. If I grab on the green space I can change the positioning of all keys. If I grab one end or the other I can shrink or grow those keys, which is a really nice way to edit keys very, very quickly. Now one thing I've always had a problem with is that these are both about the same size so sometimes I mistakenly grab a key and move it when I'm supposed to be grabbing the slider so just be careful with that.
Now another really great thing in Motion Builder is the concept of takes. We can have multiple pieces of animation on the timeline at the the same time. So here we can select our various takes. Right now I'm on Take 01 and by default Motion Builder gives you one take, but you can certainly add more. Now if I go to Take 02 it will play back a completely different animation. And if I go to Take 03, again it's a completely different animation.
So we can have multiple animations on the timeline. Now another really nice thing about this is that the animation length is also taken into account. So if I go to Take 01 notice how it's at 90 frames, but if I go to Take 03 it's 140. So again the length of the animation will also be taken into account with each take. And we'll learn how to do this in just a little bit, but as you can see we have a number of very nice tools for controlling and playing back animation within Motion Builder.
So now that we understand this let's go ahead and start animating.
- Creating hierarchies of objects in MotionBuilder
- Working with the Transport Controls
- Animating with keys
- Animating character and control rigs
- Importing and retargeting motion data
- Cycling motion data
- Finishing scenes for export