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Motion Arc Tracker v2

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I added key blips to the motion arc tracker. This not only allows you to see the keys in regular shaded mode, but it also lets you see them when the tracker is not selected. This makes it practical to have multiple trackers in the scene, assigned to different joints.

The color of the markers is set by the surface properties of the model. change the diffuse color for each copy of the tracker in your scene to make it east to distinguish between arcs.

 

edit: original thread here

 

Edit: Newer version further down this topic

arctracker.mdl

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I notice one CP remains pinned to the model bone. Is this on purpose? If so, what is that for?

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I notice one CP remains pinned to the model bone. Is this on purpose? If so, what is that for?

not on purpose, just lazy :rolleyes:

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And yet another revision.

I have added control panel functionality. The poses for the arctracker now include two 0 to 20 sliders that set how many frames ahead and behind are displayed. There is a Marker Size slider that varies the size of the markers. There is a vertical offset that moves the arc up or down.

This one uses spheres, like John's, because it eliminates the need for Am At constraints, and it also dispenses with the single spline.

The colors are contained in the plus and minus materials, so its pretty easy to reset them.

 

Ben

ArcTracker3.mdl

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Yup. That's working good. That takes care of 30% - 50% of the things I was thinking of adding to it. Good idea about just one color for forward and one for back. Also good that the markers are lathed as four section lathe, better to keep it that simple.

 

Here's a few other things that could improve it:

 

-A slider for horizontal offset (This is in case I track the pelvis bone since a vertical offset alone might still leave the tracker buried in the torso)

 

-Perhaps the amount of scaling from the Marker Scale slider should make the largest setting be even larger, maybe 100% more than it's current maximum. That way the extreme is accounted for in case someone needed the markers that big.

 

-The ability to change the color scheme of either the forward or back group of spheres. Two sliders, one for each group should suffice. Although the rainbow of colors all at the same time is pretty, they may be distracting and less helpful. I think you're on the right track here. Perhaps have each of the two sliders range from 0% - 255% ..... so that the color settings of the color picker are represented in the sliders.

 

-Someone in the previous thread wanted 300 markers. I'd say this is what the tutorial for building one of these things should be for, so they can add to it if they want to. I'd say a maximum of 30 visible markers would be sufficient for the basic Arc Tracker. In reality, 10 seems sufficient for observing and correcting basic arcs whereas 30 would cover more complex motions at 30 Frames Per Second.

 

-In the same spirit of others customizing the basic Arc Tracker, I'd say that having the markers shaped like pointers was useful, but, just as you said, I'm uncertain whether the additional Aim At constraints would create too much overhead when combined with everything else in a scene. Thoughts on this? Maybe have it be able to switch between spheres and cones? Perhaps too much work for how simple this tool needs to be, especially if someone wanted to build it.....hmm... unknown.

 

-When I start reducing how many markers are visible, they seem to go to the center of world space. Does the marker visibility sliders just turn the Translate To constraint on and off for each marker? Perhaps experimenting with the Object Active switch might be more helpful here. Aside from that, I'd say this is a very good function. Good job setting the percentage to follow how many markers are active (20% = 20 markers)

 

-I do wonder if assigning an IK constraint from the CENTER bone to a character's bone will serve to place the Tracker at the End of the bone instead of the Pivot. That way both ends of a bone could each have their own Tracker at the same time. This would be a technique in using the Tracker rather than when building it. Just thinking outloud.

 

-Possibly the topper for this tool is if there were a way to easily set up the Tracker to track the roll handle of a bone. That is to say, the Tracker would be offset from the Pivot of a bone and follow the rotation of the roll handle. Perhaps having and additional CENTER bone which would always be constrained Translate To and Orient Like the bone being tracked but a secondary CENTER bone which would carry the rest of Tracker on an offset slider which would send the offset straight away from the bone being tracked..

 

-Lastly, once all experimentation and fine tuning are done, it would probably help if only the primary CENTER bone were visible.

 

 

 

 

Of course you, I, or others will continue to tweak the Arc Tracker, but if some or all of these functions were added, I'd say that the basic official tool would be ready for public use. Then there just needs to be a couple of tutorials:

 

-one would cover the Care and Use of the basic Arc Tracker.

 

-The other would show how to build an Arc Tracker and include suggestions for additional customization and also discuss how and why this tool works.

 

 

 

I figure on producing these two tutorials as very thorough and easy to understand video's. However, in the mean time it'd be great if anyone else wanted to produce their own tutorials in whatever form they see fit to employ. I see this as very much a community effort and a service to the public.

 

Fun! Fun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. For anyone else who wishes to contribute to developing the Arc Tracker, feel free to pipe up and chip in. The more the merrier..... and the faster this thing is ready for full usefulness.

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-When I start reducing how many markers are visible, they seem to go to the center of world space. Does the marker visibility sliders just turn the Translate To constraint on and off for each marker?

Yes that is exactly what it means.

Perhaps experimenting with the Object Active switch might be more helpful here.

Duh. I should have thought of that, much cleaner.

 

And I agree with pretty much everything else. I'll play more when I can, in the mean time hopefully more of you will pick it up.

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This Arc Tracker is amazing, people. What a fantastic learning and troubleshooting tool! Thanks for developing this, and keep us posted on updates.

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Perhaps experimenting with the Object Active switch might be more helpful here.

Duh. I should have thought of that, much cleaner.

 

Drat. It was a great idea but... it only works on whole objects. The tracker components are bones within an object not objects themselves. I set up a version that just added scaling to the same slider that's turning on the constraints. That worked okay, you still have the trackers sitting at the origin, but they are super tiny little dots. Sadly A:M froze and crashed before I saved it. I'll try again soon. If anyone has suggestion as to how to unhide components of an object with a slider let me know.

 

Ben

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Hmmm.... if A:M crashes consistantly when attempting to hide markers by scaling them very small, then I'd say instead of turning off the Translate To constraint and scaling the markers down......... make each marker a named CP group (which I think you have already done) and then set keys in the transparency channel. After I constrain a Tracker to a bone, I usually set the Tracker so that it's not pickable or selectable within the chor or action window. It can still be selected in the Project WorkSpace. This way, I can adjust the bone being tracked without accidentally selecting the tracker itself. So the end result of combining transparency and making not pickable is that the "Off" markers go away without being selectable by accident. Half build technique, half user technique.

 

Bendytoons: If you wanted to take a break, I can go ahead and work on the Arc Tracker this week. If so, I plan on progressing the basic Arc Tracker to at least 75% complete. Yes?

 

 

NOTE: it seems that Hash A:M doesn't like it when many CP's are scaled down to the same set of coordinates. In instances of lathing, the patches look pinched. It is currently unknown whether zero scaling is also affecting the Arc Tracker by crashing A:M. Probably good to experiment and log the results in this thread.

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Bendytoons: If you wanted to take a break, I can go ahead and work on the Arc Tracker this week. If so, I plan on progressing the basic Arc Tracker to at least 75% complete. Yes?

John, the ball is passed to you. I'll still play when I get a chance, but development is in your court for now.

 

 

So the end result of combining transparency and making not pickable is that the "Off" markers go away without being selectable by accident.

 

Yeah, that sound okay. The only thing I don't like is that the wireframe would still be there cluttering up the wire view, oh well. We probably gotta try a few implementations til we find the right solution.

 

Happy tinkering,

 

Ben

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Bendytoons: I noticed that the center marker is assigned to two named CP groups (Center and Blip41). Is there a reason for this or can I simplify this?

 

Also, I spotted a maximum of 41 markers in the current Tracker, so I see you're ahead of me on that one. Good job.

 

*goes back to fidgeting in his workshop*

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Bendytoons: I noticed that the center marker is assigned to two named CP groups (Center and Blip41). Is there a reason for this or can I simplify this?

 

simplify away, that is just a naming glitch because of how I creasted things.

 

Ben

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Added features listed below:

 

+ 1 pose slider Secondary Center Bone Offset

This is for tracking the roll handle of a bone being tracked. Simply constrain the Primary Center bone (In a CHOR or an ACT window) to the bone being tracked using Translate To and Orient like, then use the SCBO slider to offset the Secondary Center Bone. Now test this set up by rotating the bone being tracked.

 

+ 3 pose sliders for XYZ offset for the Primary Center bone.

This is to keep the tracker from getting too buried inside a MDL if the MDL is quite large.

 

+ 2 pose sliders for adjusting the color of the Plus markers or the Minus markers.

 

+ the Groups folder has been tidied up a bit

 

+ the Center bone has been changed to the Secondary Center bone and the Primary Center bone has been added.

 

 

 

 

- I still need to adjust the scale slider so that the markers scale larger than they do now at 100%

 

- The Frames Forward and Backward reveal sliders still need to be keyed for adjusting the transparency of the markers.

 

- The Secondary Center Pivot slider needs to be adjusted to have it's percentage coincide with distance of offset, in this case a max of 30% to equal 30 cm.

 

- Now that I'm thinking about it.... adding another Secondary Center Offset slider might be useful for setting the Tracker for tracking the End of a bone, rather than the Pivot of that bone.

 

 

 

.....almost....there......

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John-

 

I checked out the new version and I like the new features, especially the color. However, when I constrain the tracker to a bone it comes in with an offset, not sitting at the bone origin. It's a little better with the Orient like constraint, but still offset.

just lettin' you know.

 

Ben

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Yup. I spotted that after I posted. The bones in skeletal mode in the MDL window were actually offset. That should be fixed now. I'm hoping to have an update posted tomorrow.

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Another update:

 

+ Marker Scale slider checks out. All markers can scale up sufficiently.

 

+ The percentage of the Secondary Center Pivot slider is now set from 0% - 30% to complement the fact that the offset range is from 0cm - 30cm.

 

+ There is now a slider to offset the Secondary Center bone so that you can track the End of a bone rather than it's Pivot.

 

 

 

- In the Frames Ahead slider, I've set keyframes in the transparency channel of each marker, but I'm not seeing any result of that. Bendytoons, could you please check it out and see if you can make transparency work? My intent is that when each marker is disengaged in the Frames Ahead or Behind sliders that the markers also go transparent besides just shutting off the Translate To constraint. If we cannot make the inactive markers go away, we might have to settle for them stacking at the model bone. Let me know what you think.

 

 

-last thing to do after all this is to re-orient the two center bones so that the X,Y,Z sliders actually translates them in the X, Y, Z axis of the Center bones rather than what's happening now. Maybe just need to rename the pose sliders so that they reflect this change or more might be needed to get this done. Right now the graph editor can be a little difficult to follow. It's nice to be neat.

 

Here's the file:

ArcTracker3_JOHN.mdl

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Looks nice, but no transparency for me either. I say stack 'em 'til a better solution comes along.

 

Ben

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Feature set for the basic Motion Arc Tracker is completed. I'm just testing it in order to spot any kinks in the system. Stay tuned!

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Okay! I've noticed this thread has been around for a while....

There must be something very important to some people here....but what's the main advantage of this over Onion Skinning?

Also, do people really get lost over the frames on what the character looks like?

I am gathering that people would use this to keep track of where joints and limbs are while putting together animation?

 

Mike Fitz

www.3dartz.com

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Mike-

 

I like this because it gives me the ability to quickly visualize the trajectory of any point on a model. I like to see trajectory as it can give you insight into what's troubling an animation. I find it faster to constrain the tracker, than to hide various parts of a character to see a trajectory. I also like seeing the whole model, and unobscured movement, and the trajectory at the same time.

 

But it's probably just a personal preference about how I like to work.

 

Ben

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HEY!

 

This looks GREAT!!!!!!! I've only just been directed to look at this thread (I was asking for something similar in another thread)

 

I haven't had a chance to play yet... but I have REALLy needed somethig like this. GREAT WORK guys!

 

I'm going to play with it now!

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Great job! This is one of those simple-to-use tools that makes life easier and more fun. Thanks a lot for developing it and making it available for us.

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John-

 

The latest update looks really good. Thanks for keeping this momentum going.

 

Ben

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Your welcome.

Unless anyone else can think of anything crucial here, I'll go work on the brief tutorials for this thing. Then time to announce to the rest of the forum.

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I've been thinking about this tool for a little while and tried to re-download it...it must have gotten cleaned out after whatever the cutoff period was. John sent me a copy and I thought there might be others that haven't seen this yet, so, I'll repost it here.

ArcTracker3_JOHN_repost.zip

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I have read this thread last year, but somehow I didn't get to try this cool little utility... I just did... WOW and WOW!. I have read some animation tutorials that suggested drawing arcs of the movement on monitor screen?!? This certanly beats dry marker ;-)

 

Thanks Ben, Mark for this cool utility and David for bringing this back to the surface! I certanly plan to use this!

 

Drvarceto

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Yeah, this is definitely a great utility. In Animation Mentor arc checking was something that was stressed very highly, down to adding trackers to the characers nose to better see how the characters head was moving around. If there was a way to have each CP represent a keyframe (Being able to see keyframes would aid in seeing spacing and timing issues, not sure if that can be done) and be able to edit the keyframe this would be HUGE. The only other app I have seen be able to do that right now is messiah.

 

Nice work!!!

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This is a really old topic (and utility) but a very good one...

 

I recall being very interested in this topic when it was first posted but didn't have time to look into it then.

Running across it again... and testing the Motion Tracker in A:M... and seeing it work... has me doubly impress with what a little creativity on the part of A:M users can produce. A:M is one of very few programs that can be use to create tools, utilities and general solutions without any programming... or knowledge of programming). Just create and arrange the components inside A:M that are there waiting for the usage.

 

Now, I'm not always sure which impresses me more here... A:M itself... or the innovative folks that come up with utilities like this.

How one gets from Point A (Sure wish I could track my motion arcs in A:M) to Point B (I'll use Models, Pose Sliders and Constraints to create my own solution) is still something of a mystery to me but I cannot help but acknowledge the genius behind the programming of A:M that allows the genius of the user to inbetween the gaps like this.

 

This truly is Animation:Master.

 

 

 

 

P.S. Ben de Leeuw is an Animation Master too. :)

I don't want to downplay the efforts of John Aquino and others with regard to this and similar utilities... hopefully they already know they are awesome.

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