Hero Animation Tools
- This Additional Tool for 3ds Max is provided as a bonus to help automate and simplify the operations within 3ds Max as they apply to HeroEngine.
Normally, 3ds Max allows for only a single animation in a given Max file. This can be very inconvenient, especially as you try and maintain consistency or manage skeletal changes. The "Animation Tools" window, however, lets you keep track of any number of animations in a single Max file. An example of this would be instead of having 30 attack animation files to manage and merge back and forth, we now have one file with 30 sequences. These Sequences can be batch exported as well, making the tool that much more powerful. Sequences are stored in the custom file properties with the scene. Animation tags are also used as a secondary convenience for navigating the time line. Internally each sequence is just a range of keys in the animation timeline. So there is still, really, only one animation in the file. But by using this tool, the keyframe ranges can be managed and exported as separate animations. This tool is not blocking you from overlapping animations and mixing up your keyframes. So as a user you must stay conscious of where each sequence is it. A lot has been done to give you that information, but the tool will not stop you from poor organization. In our pipeline, we use this tool to break down all like animation sets into files. For example, all the following sets will have their own max file: all normal turns, all combat turns, all normal idles, combat idles, all attacks, all spell cast, all locomotion, and any special animations such falls, impact, etc, will typically go together. So we are reducing the need to have 60+ animation files down to about 8 on an average character. You can organize things however fits your pipeline. Be aware that some tools in max, such as certain IK chains, start to break down after so many frames. Please reference MAXScript help for any of max's shortcomings in frame length. Animation Tools itself, does not care how many frames your file is however.
- This tool is a little quirky, and some bugs are still being ironed out.
So it is recommended that you experiment with it and understand it well before you go full on with it.
- The top section lists all the sequences in the file along with frame length and start and stop frame.
- The list is refreshed by opening a new file or manually pressing the Reload button.
- "Add New" and "Delete" are used to add and delete sequences and their tags
- "Apply Changes" updates the current sequences with the current settings on the panel
- "Get Range" retrieves the current frame range and sets the start, end, and range spinners in the GUI
- "Show All" set the frame range to the start of the first(lowest frame start) sequence and the end(Highest frame end)
- "Next available" sets the frame range for 20 frames after the last known sequence. It is used to quickly navigate to a new area for a fresh sequence.
- Information on start and end time as well as frame range. These values are also used in setting sequences.
- Also tells you current frame and how many sequences are in the file.
- Positional Curve Tolerance - The lower the number the more accurate the motion, but the bigger the file.
- Orientation Curve Tolerance - The lower the number the more accurate the motion, but the bigger the file.
- Scale/Shear Curve Tolerance - The lower the number the more accurate the motion, but the bigger the file.
- Orientation Creasing - Check box must be on in order to take a value. Uses sharp creasing to better fit the motion. It is sometimes used to correct limb jitter.
- "Presets" are just simple presets for convenience and rough guides for setting animation compression.
- See also: Animation Notes
This section is used for managing the animation notes on a character in a given scene. There is no need to create a note track on the character. The tool will add one automatically if one is not present, or use the current one if one is present. When a file is loaded the Note List scans the Note track and adds any unique notes to the list to be used later.
- "Add New," "Delete," and "Edit" are for manipulating the elements of the Note List.
- Under Current Frame, "Add," and "Remove" add a note from the Note List to the characters Note Track.
- "<<" and ">>" Go to buttons move the frame slider to the previous or next frame, respectively.
- "Export Multiple" Brings up a dialog to select and export multiple animations(seen to the left). Simply choose a directory and press the export button, then each animation will be exported with correct compression and frame length. The name of the exported file will be the same as the sequence name.
- "Reload Sequences" manually reloads the sequence list
- "Load from Tags" is used for converting tags to sequences. if you have a tag named "test_butter" then the tool will look for the next tag and ask it of it is named "end", if it is then it will use the "test_butter" as frame start and "end" as frame end. This one is a little quirky and we only used for converting older files to use this tool. You really don't need tags at all and may potentially be removed in the future depending on how useful people find it.