Smartbone dials: separate actions VS unique action

Wondering how to accomplish a certain animation task? Ask here.

Moderators: Fahim, Distinct Sun, Víctor Paredes, erey, Belgarath, slowtiger

Post Reply
Daxel
Posts: 77
Joined: Wed Mar 27, 2019 8:34 pm

Smartbone dials: separate actions VS unique action

Post by Daxel » Tue Nov 19, 2019 12:55 pm

While I'm getting more and more confident with Moho, I still ask myself something since day 1: when I make a new smartbone dial, I don't know if I should go for the separate actions or one unique action. I'm talking about complex rigs, for example: when making a "head turn Left-Right" Smartbone dial, or when making a "head up-down" smartbone dial.

From my noob perspective I feel like I want to have all in one action so the actions panel keeps minimalistic but I don't know if that will bring some limitations at the end.

What do you, more experienced animators, think is better?
User avatar
synthsin75
Posts: 7203
Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2008 11:20 pm
Location: Oklahoma
Contact:

Re: Smartbone dials: separate actions VS unique action

Post by synthsin75 » Tue Nov 19, 2019 11:38 pm

I almost always use one SB action, especially for actions that are mutually exclusive, like up/down or left/right. Some people might find it simpler to worry about one direction at a time, and even if you go that direction, there's nothing saying you can't control both those smart bones with a single smart bone later.
User avatar
Greenlaw
Posts: 4538
Joined: Mon Jun 19, 2006 5:45 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Contact:

Re: Smartbone dials: separate actions VS unique action

Post by Greenlaw » Wed Nov 20, 2019 12:56 am

I would be careful to not over-engineer your rig. Creating super complex Smart Bone Actions for your character can make for a really cool demo but it's not so useful if the actions prevent you from animating your character to do anything else.

The type of animation you should consider for an SBA is anything you expect to repeat many times throughout your project. For example: eye blinks, head turn, torso turn, hand poses, and mouth shapes.

It's not necessary to automate everything. In fact, a rig that has too much built-in automation is probably going to be too restrictive for actual production use.

Here's one example of an SBA to avoid: A full body turn using a single SBA. This means turning the head, body and limbs all together. This is one that will look impressive in a demonstration but it's not very practical for actual show animation because most character's don't normally turn like that. (Maybe R2D2.) :)

Tip #1: For Head Turn and Torso Turn SBAs, you might find it easier to animate a single turn and have the animation loop multiple times within a single Head Turn or Torso Turn SBA. If you start the SBA at least one cycle in at frame 1, then you have the flexibility to turn the character more than 360 degrees in either direction. This also means you only need to make the turn once in one direction, not in both directions.

Tip #2: Head Nod SBAs can be tricky. The side view is easy because all you need to do is rotate the head bone to nod the head. But in the 3 qtr and front views, it can get messy if you're not careful.

For example, if you animate the head turn and head nod with entirely point animation, it's almost guaranteed that you will run animation conflicts and get really weird deformations.

You can solve many of these type of conflicts using Multrush's excellent Mixed Smart Bone technique. A search on YouTube will turn this video up. Be sure to watch the first video which explains the technique in detail. The second video is about using a script that automates the setup but, IMO, you should understand how to set this up manually before you rely on the script.

Or, you can avoid the conflicts entirely by separating the X motion (turn) from the Y motions (nod). In other words, only do the X motions in the head turn animation and only the Y motions in the Nod animation. Again, this can be tricky if you limit the animation to Points transforms but you can work around this issue by putting the point animation in one SBA and Layer transforms in the the other...

...or putting a layer transform in one SBA and a group transform in the other...

...or layer or point transform in one SBA and bone transform in the other...

I can go on and on because there are many possibilities for separating the animations to prevent conflicts.

The best approach will depend on the character's design and the way you intend to animate it.

Hope this helps.
D.R. Greenlaw
Artist/Partner - Little Green Dog | Little Green Dog Channel on Vimeo | Greenlaw's Demo Reel 2019 Edtion
Lead Digital Animator, Dreamworks Animation

Image
User avatar
Greenlaw
Posts: 4538
Joined: Mon Jun 19, 2006 5:45 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Contact:

Re: Smartbone dials: separate actions VS unique action

Post by Greenlaw » Wed Nov 20, 2019 1:11 am

One SBA that I often see some beginner Moho animator creating is the Walk Cycle SBA. To me, this isn't a particularly useful one because it's probably going to prevent you from doing much else with the rig. When a complex character animation is embedded inside an SBA, it's probably not going to be easy to customize when you need to.

If you want to re-use animations, like a walk cycle, it's better to add the animation as a Regular Action. This way, you can insert the keyframes when you need them, and modify the keyframes to suit the scene.

Or, just save your re-usable animation as separate 'clips' in separate project files. Then, when you need one of these, you can just open the 'clip' project in a separate tab and just copy/paste the keys to your current animation project.

For easy retrieval, you might consider keeping these 'clips' projects in the Library.

Ok, I'm starting to go off on one of my tangents, so I'll stop here. :)
D.R. Greenlaw
Artist/Partner - Little Green Dog | Little Green Dog Channel on Vimeo | Greenlaw's Demo Reel 2019 Edtion
Lead Digital Animator, Dreamworks Animation

Image
Daxel
Posts: 77
Joined: Wed Mar 27, 2019 8:34 pm

Re: Smartbone dials: separate actions VS unique action

Post by Daxel » Wed Nov 20, 2019 8:31 pm

Greenlaw wrote:
Wed Nov 20, 2019 12:56 am
...or putting a layer transform in one SBA and a group transform in the other...

...or layer or point transform in one SBA and bone transform in the other...

I can go on and on because there are many possibilities for separating the animations to prevent conflicts.

The best approach will depend on the character's design and the way you intend to animate it.

Hope this helps.
Thank you both for your answers! Always so useful!

I'm doing this rig trying to learn wich rigging techniques are more powerful. I'm trying to see if is possible to make, a 360º HeadRig Left-right, and 90º Up-Down, with a relatively complex (mid-realistic) facial structures. And testing wich rigging techniques will give me better blending results. Particularly I look for:
1. Mixing head movement (looking down and left) and see how far can I make it until it starts looking bad.
2. How well the facial expresions (blinking, smiling, etc) keep working with the Left-Right and Up-Down head movements.

And the way I'm trying right now is:
The head L-R and U-D movements are made with SBA's that:
1. Animate the head shape points to look each direction.
2. Animate one mesh for each eye (only the exterior shape, not the iris) That way the actual eye drawing points are not affected so I can make SMA's for eye expresions like blinking and they will keep working well when I move the head. I think that's what you did Greenlaw, in the example you showed me some days ago.

What I learned so far is:
1. Mesh animation is as useful as layer animation to evade conflicts with point animation, but meshes are more powerful because you have more control over the shape of the drawing than with layer animation. The more complex the mesh, you have more control over the original drawing; but the less complex the mesh and the less you reshape the original drawing with that mesh, the less conflicts with later point animation you'll have. Am I talking a little bit like Yoda? (English my first language is not).

I want to try mixed smartbones too (I have the script already). Moho is in one hand incredibly powerful but on the other, I'm loosing my mind just figuring out the many rigging possibilities!
User avatar
Greenlaw
Posts: 4538
Joined: Mon Jun 19, 2006 5:45 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Contact:

Re: Smartbone dials: separate actions VS unique action

Post by Greenlaw » Wed Nov 20, 2019 11:07 pm

Don't get too hung up on learning every possible technique--it's possible that you may not ever need some of that stuff. Just get good with a few techniques and see how far you can push them. Moho's 'basics' can actually take you a long way when you know them well.

Re: mixed smart bones, make sure you understand how set up a mixed smart bone without the script. I usually do my setups without the script, partly out of habit, but often because I need to set things up differently from how the script does it. Same goes for using Moho's native Make Smart Bone Dial script. It works well for what it's designed to do but it doesn't do exactly what I want, so I always build my SBDs manually. Some of these scripts can be great timesavers to be sure, but understanding what they're doing will help you troubleshoot problems that are almost certain to come up when you're still learning.

BTW, you might be interested in some upcoming Animaker episodes I'm working on about advanced Moho rigging techniques. The hold up has been that I can't use any of the puppets I created at work for obvious reasons, so I'm been busy making comparable puppets of my own design to use in these videos. Lately, I'm making progress and the next video should be coming out soon.

I'll post announcements in the Animaker thread, and maybe release a list of what's coming up.
Last edited by Greenlaw on Sat Nov 23, 2019 3:28 pm, edited 3 times in total.
D.R. Greenlaw
Artist/Partner - Little Green Dog | Little Green Dog Channel on Vimeo | Greenlaw's Demo Reel 2019 Edtion
Lead Digital Animator, Dreamworks Animation

Image
Daxel
Posts: 77
Joined: Wed Mar 27, 2019 8:34 pm

Re: Smartbone dials: separate actions VS unique action

Post by Daxel » Sat Nov 23, 2019 2:04 am

Greenlaw wrote:
Wed Nov 20, 2019 11:07 pm
Don't get too hung up on learning every possible technique--it's possible that you may not ever need some of that stuff. Just get good with a few techniques and see how far you can push them. Moho's 'basics' can actually take you a long way when you know them well.

Re: mixed smart bones, make sure you understand how set up a mixed smart bone without the script. I usually do my setups without the script, partly out of habit, but often because I often need to set things up differently from how the script does it. Same goes for using Moho's native Make Smart Bone Dial script. It works well for what it's designed to do but it doesn't do exactly what I want, so I always build my SBDs manually. Some of these scripts can be great timesavers to be sure, but understanding what they're doing will help you troubleshoot problems that are almost certain to come up when you're still learning.

BTW, you might be interested in some upcoming Animaker episodes I'm working about advanced Moho rigging techniques. The hold up has been that I can't use any of the TV show puppets I created at work for obvious reasons, so I'm been busy making comparable rigs to use in these videos. Lately, I'm making progress and the next video should be coming out soon.

I'll post announcements in the Animaker thread, and maybe release a list of what's coming up.
You are right, I'm probably trying to learn too much at the same time, but Moho capabilities really fascinate me so I am having a good time trying to understand it all, even if sometimes that gives me a headache.

I am more than interested on those Animaker videos! ^^
Post Reply