Addons for Empathy 2: Proxies and a bonus!

Hi Folks! We’ll try to do a bi-weekly installement of Addons for Empathy (until we run out of addons). This one is a two-parter: Our main installment is about working with proxies in Blender, the second is about a bold new experiment in Rig UI. Proxy Workflow and Transparent Proxies Addons: Get the files from […]

Hi Folks!
We’ll try to do a bi-weekly installement of Addons for Empathy (until we run out of addons). This one is a two-parter: Our main installment is about working with proxies in Blender, the second is about a bold new experiment in Rig UI.

Proxy Workflow and Transparent Proxies Addons:

Get the files from my gitorious

The video is about two addons, both making proxy editing in the sequencer more friendly to our project. A quick explanation:

Blender’s Video Sequence Editor or VSE for short has a feature called proxies. This basically allows an in-place replacement of strips by 25%, 50%, 75% or 100% versions, in a fast format (.jpg or motion jpg) This is especially useful when:

  1. Editing Large format files that are too slow to be realtime – either in resolution (2K or 4K) or in type (.EXR!!!)
  2. Editing over the network, especially files of the previous types
  3. Working with complex and multiple effects that could be benefit from being cached

So Proxies in Blender work a bit like a combination of proxies and caches. I prefer them as the former, since it skips having to recalculate every single you change some timing – instead they only need to be recalculated when the sources change.

However, working with proxies in Blender can be painful by default, and this is where Proxy Workflow Addon comes in:

  1. Editing Proxy settings must be done strip by strip: Proxy Workflow lets you set them for all selected strips at once
  2. Default location is in the same folder as the originals, which is bad in the case of network shares; Proxy Workflow automatically sets them to a local directory “TProxy” that contains all the proxies for the edit, and can be moved around like a scratch disk
  3. Sometimes Blender tries looking for the original files even when it is using proxies. If you are trying to use proxies to avoid using the network/internet, this becomes a problem. Proxy workflow allows ‘Offlining’ strips, and then ‘Onlining’ them again when you can reconnect to the network
  4. Blender doesn’t know when the source files are ‘stale’ and need to be re-proxied – for instance if you rerender. Proxy workflow timestamps as it makes proxies, allowing you to select a bunch of strips and re-proxify only the changed ones.
  5. Proxy workflow is designed to work with movies and image strips only for now, as I’m interested in true proxies, not caching effects.

A seperate addon is called ‘Transparent Proxies’ and does what it says on the tin (and no more): It allows making proxies of image sequences that preserve the alpha channel for alpha over effects. It does this by cheating: It uses Imagemagick on the commandline to make a .tga proxy, and just renames to .jpg to satisfy Blender. You need to install imagemagick first for it to work.

 Bonus: Rig UI Experiment:

Code is at gitorious
This brings us to the bonus round- the Rig Selection UI. I’m continuing my round of experimentation with BGL and modal addons, to make the kind of ‘typical’ rig ui where animators can select or act on a rig by clicking on an image. This ui is using an SVG file to define the hotspots, and a PNG to actually draw the image. It already works, though I’m still going to refine it and add more options/ easier rig customizability. The end goal is to be able to do Rig UIs without writing code, simply by drawing them in Inkscape and pressing a few buttons in Blender. Stay tuned!!!

 

SoftIK revisited

I’ve done some prior experiments in Soft IK, but shied away for it in gilgamesh because the rig was getting too complex for it’s own good, and because I couldn’t find a satisfactory way of solving it in blender 2.5 and above (my 2.4 solution depended on py constraints). Since we have great drivers in […]

I’ve done some prior experiments in Soft IK, but shied away for it in gilgamesh because the rig was getting too complex for it’s own good, and because I couldn’t find a satisfactory way of solving it in blender 2.5 and above (my 2.4 solution depended on py constraints). Since we have great drivers in 2.5/6 series, I thought I’d try it that way. The result is below:

I’m guessing only seasoned animators will see the difference. From left to right we have:

  1. normal, non stretchy IK
  2. soft, non stretchy IK
  3. normal, stretchy IK
  4. soft, stretchy IK

Ik softness basically takes  care of the ‘pop’ at the knee so common in IK when going from straight to bent (or vice versa). This works out because the speed of that joint non-linearly increases as we are close to straight. Good sources here and here (softimage blog). My solution for non stretchy is exactly the same as that blog post- plugging the equation into a driver. For the stretchy case it was a bit trickier and they diverge, but the mathematical result is the same.

I’m not publishing the .blend yet, nor can I use this as is in gilga because the solution depends on driving a bone within a bone inside the same armature; until I find a workaround or blender will successfully handle this case in the dependency graph, this solution causes lagging and errors (there are python frame update handlers here double calculating the rigs to make them behave)

Once I get this working I’ll publish a simple .blend.

Blender Digital Artistry session at Siggraph 2011

Hey folks, for the first time, the Digital Artistry Workshops at Siggraph will feature a blender session, on Sunday, August 7th at 2:30, some info can be found on the siggraph page, and more details are available here. I’m quite excited to be teaching this course, an 1+1/2 session intended to introduce people from other […]

Hey folks, for the first time, the Digital Artistry Workshops at Siggraph will feature a blender session, on Sunday, August 7th at 2:30, some info can be found on the siggraph page, and more details are available here. I’m quite excited to be teaching this course, an 1+1/2 session intended to introduce people from other software to Blender, focusing primarily in my strengths (rigging). I hope it’ll be fun, we’ll try to do fun setups for atypical (and some typical) animation needs. The other sessions look quite interesting too.

Gilgamesh Rig Preview Video

The end of this week should see the initial rig in the hands of animators, and I need a quick intro video to show them what’s in store. I whipped up a quick screencap of (most) of what we have so far. The rig is far from complete – I won’t do fingers and face […]

The end of this week should see the initial rig in the hands of animators, and I need a quick intro video to show them what’s in store. I whipped up a quick screencap of (most) of what we have so far. The rig is far from complete – I won’t do fingers and face until the model is finaled, too much can change in those small details. The rig itself is quite ‘smart’ as Rigamarule has been ported by myself, Daf and Josh to Blender 2.5. As a result, moving a joint can auto-update the rig easily, and I can add bones and then ‘place’ them using rules rather than manual transforms. More on that later, onwards to the actual features for animators.
I’ve hopped on the 2.5 rig-ui-in-the-view3D-properties-region bandwagon so popular among Blender riggers these days, though more could be done there.
Nice things that 2.5 enabled is seamless Pivot switching (via Python, rather than the constraint), and not shown in this video, seamless IK/FK switching (without jumping), better drivers, and myriad small features. I’m still waffling on exactly how certain features will look/feel/work, so this is a work in progress, but it should stabilize by Wednesday (time for animation tests)
On to the video:

Get the Flash Player to see this content.

For a higher resolution version, download this file.

Rigging Goodie: Armature Layer Names

Just a small utility I’ve been using to make my life easier, a little addon that lets you assign names to layers in an armature and hide/unhide them in the 3D View Properties area. Download it here, unpack then install via the add-ons area in user preferences. Works on current SVN (and the soon-to-come beta […]

Just a small utility I’ve been using to make my life easier, a little addon that lets you assign names to layers in an armature and hide/unhide them in the 3D View Properties area. Download it here, unpack then install via the add-ons area in user preferences. Works on current SVN (and the soon-to-come beta hopefully)

There’s also a ‘hidden’ operator you can use in the 3d view (search for change bone name layer) that allows you to switch selected bones to a named layer.  It’s a bit rough, but the panel at least beats having to hunt and peck one of those 32 nondescript little buttons 🙂

This isn’t really part of the gilgamesh rig, just a utility I’ve been using while rigging. The final UI (you can see a peak of it just under the layers in the screenie) has hardcoded layer names, and only those that are relevant to animation.

©URCHIN 2015