Since I transitioned my character pipeline to iClone and Character Creator 3, I have been slowly getting extra stuff. This time, I got the Curve Editor plugin for iClone, and we are going to take a look at it.
The Curve Editor in iClone is pretty similar to any curve editor from any animation application. You have your list of animated objects or elements on one side, the curves displayed on a big pane, tangent editing tools and navigation tools. The editor will only display the elements of the selected character, or the transforms of the selected object. If you have selected more than one objects in your scene, it will only display curves of the first selected object. I think this can be very good to keep your work organized, so you don’t accidentally edit the wrong curve if more than one object is selected.
You can display the list of transforms either as a list or a hierarchy. In my case, I am more used to work as hierarchy, so that would be the way I would display objects.
However, if you are working on a character and you don’t want to scroll through the entire list of elements, you can also use a search box to find the exact element you want.
You can edit the tangents using various types from the toolbar, like linear, fast, slow, auto, step, and you can apply the tangent style to either side of the keyframe, or both sides at the same time. Also, you can also edit the tangents themselves to get the exact effect you want (you can turn on/off tangent display with the “eye” button on the toolbar). You can also “break” the tangents (a term used in other applications) so you can edit each tangent separately, or edit both as you move either of them. Broken tangents are displayed with dotted lines and unified tangents are shown with a solid line.
One thing I noticed is that, if I add a position key to my Hips bone and then move it, the entire character moves (not just the hips). I have to say I am not a big fan of that, because I would expect IK-locked objects to remain in place.
On the other hand, if you are animating with Reach Targets or Reach Effectors, the locked body parts remain locked if you move the key.
Another thing I noticed is that feet and hands don’t show any Position curves, as the Curve Editor only shows their rotation animation.
However, if you are animating with Reach Effectors, you can animate those, and they show position curves. You can add this to the “good practices list” when using the Curve Editor.
An interesting feature is the Transition Curve Presets window. If you right click on a keyframe, either on the Timeline or Curve Editor, you can find a menu option that reads Transition Curve Presets. These add a nice effect that, while you could achieve on your own, are quick to implement with a single click.
And lastly, we have the curve optimization. If your animation has a lot of keyframes (either because you sampled your motion clip using the “Per Frame” or because you added a lot of extra keys you didn’t need), you can use this to optimize your curve while retaining the shape.
While I have been loving animating with iClone so far, a lot of times I had to add extra keyframes to fix my transitions. Now, my animation work on iClone will be a lot easier thanks to this.
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