I often get questions in regards to Animations in DAZ Studio. It’s a complex topic, because it combines “animating in general”, and “using the animation tools in DAZ Studio”. I recently described my animation workflow to a reader/viewer (Nkem) and thought this information might be useful to others too, so here’s what I said.
Most new users have an issue with the time it takes to both build the animation itself, but also the enormous time it takes to render an animation out. Something relatively short and simple like this is a good example:
Aside from the setup, rendering an animation frame should be treated differently to a still image. We need to live with compromises, because we’re rendering quite a few images (30 frames per second, on a 10 second animation, that’s 300 images). If each of them would take 6 hours to render, the whole thing would take about 75 days, or nearly 3 months. And that’s a very short animation.
Let’ see how we can trim that down to a few hours or less instead.
When you convert keyframes to an aniBlock, there’s a phenomenon that can happen in that the figure seems to sway left/right. It’s not something that is present in the keyframe animation, and I’m not entirely sure why this happens on conversion. The above shows how Darius 7 does his keyframe funny walk, while the bottom shows what happens after conversion to an aniBlock. In a word: terrible!
aniMate is a powerful tool, and in this article I’ll take a look on how to fix such shenanigans.
Many animation apps have an exciting feature that lets us re-use a group of keyframes in a more convenient way to build larger and more complex animations. They’re commonly referred to as non-linear editing. A popular example includes setting up an action as keyframes once, and then looping it using an NLA bock of sorts (like a walk cycle). Better yet, animations can be combined and transitioned without interruptions or ugly pops. We can even overlay several actions, such as a walk cycle, an eye blink and a waving hand gesture.
Blender has these features, and while difficult to grasp at first, they’re surprisingly simple to use once you grasp the concept:
setup an animation using regular keyframes, or import it from a service like Mixamo
turn this group into an Action Strip (that’s what Blender calls an NLA block)
add this Action Strip onto an NLA track, repeat it or combine it with other strips
add transitions in between blocks to seamless motion
add tracks to combine animations
Here’s how it works for me. This might not be 100% accurate, but it’s good enough to build seriously cool animations with ease. I’m using Blender 2.82 for this example, and I’m expanding on principles I’ve briefly touched on in my previous article about looping walk animations.
I’ve recently explained how to make use of the realistic sun disk in DAZ Studio. I’ve talked about how to make this thing visible and how to set it to mood/effect you want, and I’m pleased with the results. This workflow works great for still images, but for animations, it quickly becomes clear that the SS Time parameter under Render Settings – Environment cannot be keyframed.
Or can it? Looks like it can, thanks to a little helper tool called the Sun Dial. Let me show you how it works.
For this animation I’ve rendered the same scene twice in DAZ Studio 4.8: once with 3Delight and once with the new NVIDIA Iray engine. It’s interesting to compare the results in an animation rather than a still image due to the different challenges involved.
One thing is that the subject is illuminated differently depending on how far away it is from the camera. Another is that it’s difficult to get matching end results when mixing faster and slower hardware: Iray can take a long time to finish a render if no GPU acceleration is around.
We’ve been playing with Anime Studio 8 Pro and love it – for years I’ve been bombarded with “special offer” emails that told me how amazing this programme was so we finally gave in. I’m glad we did – Julia and I are having lots of fun creating 2D animations.
The included tutorials are great, but I believe they’ve been made for previous versions of the software. Some features have changed, and this is one I’ve had trouble funding on the web:
How to render an animation while retaining the Alpha Channel.
Woody is our favourite wooden artists’ manikin. He currently lives on a shelf with two woolly ninjas (Blackberry and Blueberry) but we though it was time that he was brought to life. I was delighted when I found him in the additional content for Poser 7.
I animated him using Animate 2 in DAZ Studio 4, then exported the sequence into Poser 7 and rendered it, much like Dancing Alien and Dancing Robot before him. I wanted to make the scene more interesting so I tried orbiting the camera round Woody – that’s different to rotating him, but not a hard job thanks to Poser.
Even though there’s still a lot that could be done to make it more realistic (Woody’s feet don’t cast shadows, and sometimes he sinks into the office floor) I’m quite pleased with the results. My MacBook was rendering for over 24 hours on this one – that was before I told him not to go to sleep – it may have been done quicker, who knows. I can imagine how the Pixar guys are sweating – render a full day just to find out it was all for nothing. That is one thing I don’t like about 3D Animation – the rendering to appreciate the full effect isn’t instantly visible.
The backdrop in this scene is Ratracer’s Film Noir Detective Studio. I added some colour correction in Premiere Pro CS 5.5 to brighten the dark scene up a bit. Julia kindly showed me how to use Garage Band on her iPad so that’s how we made the music (including robot sound samples).
I thought I’d share a couple of Splash Screens I created for my (since rejected) iPhone Apps. Splash Screens are loading screens which are shown while the sometimes lengthy startup process would show a black screen – unless you provide an image. Makes for a much nicer user experience.
Dancing Robot (above) is lovely cartoon figure called Klank by 3D Universe – I absolutely love their style! I have a couple of other figures made by them and I’ll show you some pre-production artwork a bit later.
As you may have guessed, Dancing Robot is essentially the same app as Dancing Alien with a different character, an animated background and different music. Guess I won’t be submitting that one to Apple…
Here we have my good buddy Simon – he’s one of the default figures that comes with Poser. I accidentally added two animation imports on top of each other which wasn’t so good for his hip. It looked rather amusing as he twists out of it so I thought I’d post this.
It’s also my first iMovie experience on Mac – all this was done in about 15mins (including the upload to YouTube mind you). Music written by Julia courtesy of Garage Band on iPad.