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bhGhost.

 

This is an animation tool I wrote for Maya that provides a different approach to ghosting/onion-skinning in 3D.

I was watching a recording of a live lecture with Jason Ryan (Dreamworks/iAnimate) when a student asked him if he used ghosting when animating in 3D. He mentioned a couple of reasons why he usually doesn't, even though he uses the lightbox feature all the time when animating in 2D.

I realised I feel the same way about any 3D ghosting solutions I've tried. One problem is that they slow the scene down usually, and another is that they are not that easy to see in the viewport, usually being a faded version of the mesh or a wireframe of it which doesn't read very clearly.

Then the penny dropped for me - 2D animators don't see the fully shaded character in the lightbox when animating, they see only the lines they've drawn, so the spacing is a lot easier to see. So I set about writing a tool that will give an outline of the character rather than a fully shaded one when ghosted. It's also a little different in that the animator just ghosts specific frames rather than having something heavy that's constantly updating in the scene, for my workflow at least this is preferable.

I showed this initially in a 30 second video here and was amazed by the amount of response from animators around the world. Many thanks to everyone for their comments and emails about it.

Please watch the video above so that you know how best to use it. I hope people find it useful, I know for me it's helping me see the spacing in my animation in a whole new light since I've started using it in my animation workflow. Happy animating!

Update 1.05 - 10102012 :


I got an email from Sean McLaughlin (formerly an animator at DreamWorks, currently teaching at Ringling College, Florida) saying that he really likes the the tool and asking if it was possible to incorporate multiple frame ghosting all at once. For example, the animator selects a range of keys in the time slider by shift+dragging and then when they press the Ghost button the tool creates ghosts for every frame of that range.
I thought it was a great suggestion and it was pretty straightforward to implement so I've added it in. (See it here)
So now if there isn't a range of keys selected the tool works the same as before, if there is a selected range though each frame will get a ghost.

Update 1.06 - 17122012 :

I've now added a new function to the tool which makes it much faster when working with multiple characters in a scene. Please watch the video here for more details.

Update 1.08 - 080513 :

I've added a new function where it will ghost only the keys in a selected range if a controller is selected. Please watch the video here for more details.

Update 1.09 - 160114 :

Added new 'replace' mode. With this enabled only one ghost exists at a time and each new one replaces the old one. Handy for polishing animation.

Update 1.10 - 301114 :

Added Create Tracker function - see video here to see how best to use this.

Download bhGhost _1_10

3dt Thanks to 3DTotal for featuring my ghosting tool on their site!

 

 

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bh_timelineMarkers.

This is a MEL tool I wrote for Maya to make it easier to navigate animation scenes. Essentially it allows you to create bookmarks for specific frames in the timeline and quickly jump between them, like the timeline markers in Cinema 4D or After Effects do. You can also store the markers in the scene file and even copy them to a different scene if needed. Please watch the above video to see how to use it effectively.

To use the script place the MEL file in your Maya>Scripts folder, restart Maya and then enter the following in the command line or script editor :

source "bh_timelineMarkers.mel";

You can hightlight and middle-mouse-drag that to a shelf to make a button of it if desired (I included an icon in the zip).

Download

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bh_handPoseToFK.

This is a tool I wrote to help speed up my animation workflow with iAnimate character rigs. Several of them have a very useful 'box' control for the hand with attributes like 'fist', 'curl' etc, that allows you to pose the entire hand in addition to the individual FK controllers for each knuckle. This can speed up blocking out the main poses and you can then customize the poses with the individual controllers on top of that. One issue I ran into though, is that when you get to the polishing stage it's a little confusing to work in the graph editor as the fingers are being controlled by two different things.


So, what my tool does is look at the current pose of the fingers, zero out the box controller attributes and then restore the pose so it looks identical, but is now being created solely by the FK controls. This makes it easier to polish the curves as you are only dealing with Rot X,Y,Z for each joint.
The tool will work with any of the iA rigs that are set up like this, currently that includes Dennis, Hero, Jane, Sheldon and Scarecrow.

Here's a short video showing how to install and use the script. It's now completely automatic and will match the poses for an entire animation in one click, but there are a couple of things to be aware of so please watch the video before using it on your shot!

Watch tutorial

Download

 

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ATOM Info.

atominfoUI

 

I'm really liking the new ATOM file format in Maya 2013 for animation import/export but one thing that seems akward is keeping track of how long each animation is and what frames they start on. This is a little MEL tool that allows the user to select the folder where their ATOM files are saved and it will load each it finds into the list. Then as each animation in the list is highlighted the start, end and length of the selected animation is displayed.

Download

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Keys on 'x' tool.

This is a little animation workflow tool I wrote to make it faster to time things out. Just select a range of keys and press a button to put them on 'ones', 'twos' etc. The idea behind this is to keep more in a tradional animation mindset while working and let the tool handle the maths. If you need to put them on other intervals there's a field where you can type in a value.

If you are retiming a character rig with all of the controllers selected make sure they are all keyed on the same frames or you will get strange results!

Updated 080712 to version 1.2 - fixed a bug where sometimes keys would end up on non-snapped frames.

Download

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Stagger Animation

A little workflow tool that allows you to quickly stagger the keyframes on multiple selected objects. It uses the selection order to decide how to stagger with user controlable stagger value.

Download

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Zoom Camera

A little workflow tool that allows you to quickly zoom the camera you are working with. This needs Maya 2011 or newer as it works off the 2D pan and zoom feature. Of course you can do this manually through the attributes editor but I wanted something simple I could leave floating in my UI while working. This video covers installation and a couple of things to watch out for when using it.

Update Oct 2012 - added a 'Toggle' checkbox to the GUI which allows you to quickly toggle the zoom without resetting the sliders.

Download

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Please visit the rest of my site to see my animation and rigging work with Maya and Cinema 4D.

I am available for hire!

Contact : info@graphite9.com

All work on this website (C) Brian Horgan 2014. All Rights Reserved.

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