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Action vs Chor Action?

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Fellow AMers:

 

Question regarding Action vs. Choreography Actions. Which technique is better for something like a character eye-blink. Is it better to define them as part of the Choreography Action, or is it better create them separately, and then repeatedly sprinkle them into the Choreography (What I would assume is better).

 

If it is better to create a non-chorography action then my question expands a little…..

 

The eye lids of my model when I crafted it were set in the completely open position, i.e. the scarred look. This suggest to me that I’ll need to partially close the eye lids in the first frame of the choreography to exactly match the first frame of a potential eye blink for consistency. That sounds a bit klugey, especially if create any other eye lid movement before attempting to apply the external eye-blink action again. That being said, it makes it sound like an external eye-blink action is a bad idea. I must be missing something simple here; can anyone offer some advice on this? Thanks in advance for any eye opening wisdom you can impart ;)

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Well I usually use a pose for that ,then you have control in an action and the cho

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I wouldn't use an action for eyeblinks; it would make all blinks look identical which is lame.

 

Fine posing tend to place the eyelids higher or lower depending on where the eye is pointing, so a blink action that starts from a pre-defined spot is a problem.

 

I have a bone for each lid. When I want to blink, I animate them together from where ever they are and then apart again.

 

Some of the rigging gurus on the forum have made face rigs with eyelids that automatically follow the eye direction and a slider that can close the eyes from any position.

 

If you want a simpler solution, make a pose slider that moves your lids from 100% open to 100% closed , and use that during your animation to vary how open you want your eyes to be, and use it to close them for blinks.

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Well I usually use a pose for that ,then you have control in an action and the cho

 

Well that would work. Thanks for the tip!

 

If use a pose to govern all eye lid and blink activity then I would not have the problem of making my chor action match the first frame of my external eye blink action. So in conclusion, I guess I'm trying to unnecessarily create an external action, i.e. keep it in the choreography.

 

Other than a looping walk, is there any other type of actions that lend themselves to be saved separately? i.e are there any good guidelines on when to save an action externally vs. keeping it in the Choreography? Once again, thanks for any advice you can offer.

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If I make an action and it takes some time or its a bit complex I save it out incase I mess it up or loese it somehow .and if you use a model with the same rig you can probably use that action again

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Other than a looping walk, is there any other type of actions that lend themselves to be saved separately?

 

It turns out to be pretty rare. When i first started using A:M I thought I had to do everything in an action but now I almost never use an action. Repeating anything in exactly the same way tends to look fake.

 

In my sequence for TWO I used an action for the Scarecrow's "counting" motion at about 1:08. It's in the background, but it's still pretty iffy. I used Ease to vary how fast each instance played. But that was it for Actions, all the rest was just keyframed including the walks (and the eyeblinks!)

 

In musical situations Actions can work well . For this parade sequence Ken Heslip made marching actions and instrument playing actions to mix and match on the band members. Mark Allen also made waving and watching actions for the crowd.

 

Actions could work very well on motions that mechanical devices have to like in an assembly line

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Actions can be used for dialog, as well as for building sets (with action objects), and for bvh motion capture type things.

 

I use to use actions for complicated dance steps, and then would string a bunch together in the chor. However, I found that I needed to modify the actions, so that they would work for different characters of different proportions - even if they used the same rig.

 

I've used actions for repetitive breathing motions, as well as water wave motion, both to be mixed, overlayed with additional chor actions to get more variation.

 

The neat thing about actions is that you can change the timing in the chor (to speed up, slow down), crop to only subset of action, as well as repeat backwards, forwards, change holds, jump around frames, repeat only portions of action, mainly by use of the ease property

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I almost never use actions for animation. In my workflow on my work stuff and hobby stuff, I work as much of the face into things out of the gate... Normally, I work on characters that have bones/ controls in the eyes rather than the slider system... With that being said, it often boils down to the rigg you're using. In Animation Master, I find it preferable(at least for me) to remain in the Choreography from start to finish.

 

William

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I like Nancy's advice about doing dialog. I'll do the mouth and facial expressions for the dialog so that I can concentrate on them flowing properly without worrying about anything else. Then I can drop that action into the chor and focus on the body motions.

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I like Nancy's advice about doing dialog. I'll do the mouth and facial expressions for the dialog so that I can concentrate on them flowing properly without worrying about anything else. Then I can drop that action into the chor and focus on the body motions.

 

Ummm...I'm not necessarily recommending that ...I was only trying to say that it could be used for that...and that's what was done for TWO and SO projects. Some people like to do it that way. I don't.

 

I find that I prefer doing dialog as a separate chor action (separate from any body chor action), as in some cases, if the dialog was done in a separate action (not chor action) - there would be difficulty in getting the changes to show up in the real-time if one modified the dialog action. One had to go thru lots of banging on enter, space key, closing and opening of chor, saying prayers, before change would show in chor. I'm not sure what causes this - it may be that the characters for TWO and SO had such complicated rigs (1000's bones, lots of expressions) that it took forever for change to show (pure speculation on my part).

 

Another "problem" is that when the wav file is in the separate action - it usually doesn't show visually in the right place in the timeline when in channel display mode, so makes it hard to sync body parts to the dialog wav form.

 

So best to try it first with a test with your characters, simple chor.

 

The advantage to doing dialog in action is that you can have the wav file in the action, so that you can move them around in chor as a unit, and you can easily have multiple/different characters saying the same dialog, using the same action.

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Stupid Newbie question: I know what an action is. What is a Chor action and how do you start one?

 

RMB in the open chor window? How would you save it separately, or would you? Stuff like that.

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in the PWS, in the chor, RMB on the model, choose new/chor action. Then set your start/end frame for the chor action (just like you would for external action).

 

When you have multiple chor actions for an actor/model, make sure you select the correct chor action (shows as a checkmark in the PWS) before starting to animate the bones in that chor action - very important - or else channels for the same bone(s) will exist in multiple chor actions. You may want that in some cases, but in general - you won't.

 

You can export a chor action as an action - but again, sometimes there are problems - so it's best to test first to see how that works.

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I find that I prefer doing dialog as a separate chor action (separate from any body chor action), as in some cases, if the dialog was done in a separate action (not chor action) - there would be difficulty in getting the changes to show up in the real-time if one modified the dialog action. One had to go thru lots of banging on enter, space key, closing and opening of chor, saying prayers, before change would show in chor. I'm not sure what causes this - it may be that the characters for TWO and SO had such complicated rigs (1000's bones, lots of expressions) that it took forever for change to show (pure speculation on my part).

 

I don't think it was the rigs that caused the slowdown for animating TWO and SO...of course, I could always be wrong.

 

As a test, I put 11 Squetchy Sam's into a chor. Yes, there was slowdown...until I hid the nine Sams I wasn't animating by setting "Active" to "off"...working in wireframe mode speeds things up even more. I made additional Sams active to see if things would slow down and it gradually got slower as I did so...with all 11 visible, it was a little irritating, but not unmanageable. Here's what I got:

 

With realtime rendering set to "curved" on all objects in the chor:

11 Sams active: 1.2 FPS in shaded wireframe, 4.1 FPS in wireframe

 

1 Sam active: 4.4 FPS in shaded wireframe, 12 FPS in wireframe

 

With realtime rendering set to "vector" on all objects in the chor:

11 Sams active: 3.4 FPS in shaded wireframe, 7.8 FPS in wireframe

 

1 Sam active: 9 FPS in shaded wireframe, 14 FPS in wireframe

 

 

The performance will vary on faster or slower computers than mine, but that's the relative performance I got. So, my assumption is the slowdown was related to the visible geometry in the scenes and the realtime render method used (the Squetchy Sam I used has 4,995 patches).

 

My thinking is that if all unnecessary objects are hidden, proxy models are used when possible and the realtime rendering is adjusted as necessary, slowdown while animating can be managed in most cases.

 

My test method and assumptions may very well be wrong and I'm not a completely unbiased source of information, so feel free to ignore me.

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Hi David -

 

Thanks for running those tests, but I think you misunderstood the problem that I (and others) have encountered. I probably did not describe the situation very well.

 

I was trying to describe why I felt it less hassle to do DIALOG in a chor action, rather than in an external re-usable action

 

In days of yon, one could have an action window open and a chor window open with a model using the re-usable external action. When one made a change to the action in the action window, the change in the action would show up in the chor window, almost immediately. If it didn't, one could bang on the space key to refresh in the chor. That doesn't always work (15e). You can bang until your fingers are bloody stumps. It don't help.

 

Sometimes one would have to go to the view menu and choose refresh. Sometimes that doesn't work either.

 

Closing the action window after making a change doesn't always help. Closing and re-opening the chor window doesn't always help. Sometimes the change would show up after a long long time - out-of-the-blue. Sometimes never.

 

Closing A:M and restarting A:M would always help. That is a pain in the neck.

 

I don't think it was the rigs that caused the slowdown for animating TWO and SO...

 

My apologies! I agree. I speculated-spoke too soon about that, as most recently, I had encountered the worst problems with Bumpyman, which is approx 4800 patches and uses the LiteRig and some version of the Liteface.

 

And I agree it may? be related to patch count (but BumpyBoy is only 4800 patches). I really think it's something else. Expressions? and/or ver A:M? and/or layered chor actions/actions? et al speculations? (I just love to get in trouble). I definitely think it is related to the complexity of sumthin'

 

I always work in minimum windows open/components/display mode when animating, especially in SO, TWO. It didn't help the refresh problem with Bumpy. Admittedly, the Bumpy set was causing lots of problems (extremely-overly patch heavy) - but even turning off the set, and all other actors didn't help if I needed to change the DIALOG action and wanted to see it show up in the chor in a reasonable amount of time.

 

It's much easier to do the DIALOG in a separate chor action (not a re-usable action) and have the change show up immediately, and not have to worry about turning stuff on/off, display modes, etc.

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If it didn't, one could bang on the space key to refresh in the chor. That doesn't always work (15e). You can bang until your fingers are bloody stumps. It don't help. Sometimes one would have to go to the view menu and choose refresh. Sometimes that doesn't work either.

 

Hey Nancy, can you create a simple project that illustrates your problems? Every time I tap on the space bar after making any kind of change in an Action, the Chor window updates without any problems. It may take awhile, depending on the size or complexity of the action or chor, but it always works. If we can isolate why you are having so much trouble, maybe someone can make a suggestion or even submit something to AM reports. Stefan does look at AM Reports from time to time.

 

It doesn't seem that whatever animation rig you are using would have much to do with your problem.

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Hey Nancy, can you create a simple project that illustrates your problems? Every time I tap on the space bar after making any kind of change in an Action, the Chor window updates without any problems. It may take awhile, depending on the size or complexity of the action or chor, but it always works.

Simple, my good man, jes' don't do it.

 

I will repeat myself: The problem is related to the chor that has sumthin' that has tooooo much complexity. It may have eventually updated - but I just don't have that many years left in me to wait. You are younger and more patient than me. Smoke a cig, have a beer, compose an opera. I find it easier/more relaxing/more fluid to do dialog in the chor than it is to do it in a re-usable action, when a chor has aspects about it that are COMPLEX. That is why I suggested that Alano test it for his situation. Perhaps his chor/models are not as complex.

 

Here is where it became a real PainInTush DRAG for me

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Here is where it became a real PainInTush DRAG for me

yeah I know :) I apologize for my part in all of that. I did eventually discover what about the Bumpyman set was causing *me* so much trouble. It was the shadows cast by all the roof shingles on the house. As soon as I set the shingles to Not Cast Shadows, all my rendering problems went away. The other fixes I mentioned in that thread helped a little, but nothing compared to turning off shadows for the shingles.

 

Sooo... back on topic.

I do all my dialog in an Action Window and all my other facial animation in a separate Chor Action, but doing everything in a chor does have some nice advantages. In addition to the update issue, in a chor you can see where the character is facing, what it is looking at and what it is doing while it speaks. It would be nice if all the keyframes associated with a chor action would move when you move the red bar (that determines the chor range). That would make it even more convenient to do dialog in a chor action.

 

Building a set in an Action Window has some very strong advantages, but unless you are using the same set in several different scenes, it is MUCH easier to construct it in a chor.

 

Doing all the set lighting in its own separate Action Window has serious advantages. But again, if you aren't using the same set in several different scenes, it is MUCH easier to do the lighting right in the chor.

 

Walk/Wing Flapping/Swim Cycles are done in an Action Window and are mighty convenient and sure save a lot of time. Sure, they can look canned, but if you are doing a project by yourself or with a small number of people, these kinds of cycles can be a real life saver.

 

External Actions are great for repetitive environmental animations like water waves and swaying trees and such.

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My chors, models et al tend to be like me: simple. I'm more interested in animation than modeling so simple is better. I had no trouble using dialog as separate actions on my last short. I can easily see how several complex characters (especially with hair) and a generous amount of background could slow these refreshes up.

 

I just found it easy to sit down with my dialog wavs and generate the lip-synch and basic facial expressions all at once for each character. Of course a one person short has a different work-flow than a large group feature but there is an advantage to having one person do all the lip synch for a given character to keep it consistent.

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Even when I do actions in the Chor, I like to export to a separate action as well so I have a backup. (Besides, you never know when you want just one pose you did back 3 scenes ago) When doing "The Mountain", this approach helped us pre-sim TONS of cloth and saved HUNDREDS of hours that would have gone to re-simulating (we had many, many changes over 3 years)

Even some sims were able t be re-timed without glaring defects.

As others have pointed out, using actions has re-timing advantages.

Now, back to the original post : I never use them for blinks, that is what poses are for. Auto-blinks are as Robcat said, LAME. :)

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In the few animations I've done, I've done the lip syncing in an action (only using the pose sliders).

 

It wasn't something I couldn't have done in the cho, but I liked being able to isolate that and I could render quick animations to check my lip sync before dropping it into the chor. I could also do multiple sections of dialogue (lyrics, in this case) in one action that I could use in as many cho's as I needed.

 

The only thing I had to be mindful of was that I couldn't touch anything from the action in the choreography, or it would affect the action. That's why I just used the pose sliders. I animated facial expressions in the choreography.

 

Of course, this wasn't about reusability, but about having a "clean" environment to concentrate on just this one part of the animation.

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