Super excited here, folks! I am now half-way into “The Complete Blender Creator Course” on Udemy! Earlier this week, I modelled a desk lamp and rigged it to get it ready for animation (click here to read Part 1 of Section 5 on the modelling and rigging process).
Actually, before I delve into the topic of animation, there was one other thing done to the model before the animation process could begin. That is, a mathematical computation called “inverse kinematics” (IK) was performed and applied to produce a more realistic rig of the model, and thus, allowing for greater accuracy when moving certain bones within the rig (for the curious, you can read more about IK by clicking here). In Blender, this process is achieved by simply applying “auto IK” to the rig in pose mode. After applying auto IK, constraints were re-assigned to each of the bones. Here, you can see the effect of auto IK in the desk lamp model I made:
Now, moving onto the topic of animation, does anyone still remember using Macromedia Flash in the old days? I ask as if Flash support has already long phased out after the year 2020… I bring this up though as I worked in Flash years back and I have to say it was one of the best programs out there for learning and producing 2D animations. Little did I know it was just as easy creating 3D animations in Blender. For instance, the timeline viewport alone in Blender was very simple and user-friendly. Here is a side-by-side comparison with the timeline window found in Flash:
Macromedia Flash Animation Timeline:Blender Animation Timeline:
In animation, simple movement of a 2D or 3D object occurs when it starts in a certain state with a particular position, orientation, and/or size and ends in a different state. The power of computer or digital animation is its ability to calculate and animate the frames between two states, a start and an endpoint (a starting or ending point is also called a keyframe). This process is called tweening or inbetweening. In the course, the instructor demonstrates this with a simple cube on frame 0 in its default position (location), orientation (rotation), and size (scale). He then translates, rotates, and enlarges the cube about 50 frames in. The 50th frame is then automatically noted as a keyframe on the timeline by a yellow bar and frames 1 through 50 are then immediately generated to give the cube from its starting state the illusion of motion until it reaches its end state once the animation is played. Frames and keyframes on the timeline can be labelled using markers. Lastly, the frame rate is also an important consideration. Typically, 24 frames per second (fps) is the standard in filmography. With the above in mind, I began to animate the lamp by creating keyframes at which point the lamp would “Jump”, be “Mid-Air”, “Land”, “Wobble”, and “Extend Out”:
Next, we learned that the active camera in the scene, an object that is used to render the image, can be animated as well. I then tweaked the lamp animation a bit before animating the camera to track the lamp’s movement:
Finally, after completing the animation of the lamp and camera, we learned how to render the animation in a lean fashion (you can click here to read about the concept/importance of being lean in my previous blog post). One way to do this is to render each frame in an animation or part of an animation as an image file (i.e.-.png). A series of numerically labelled image files can be compiled afterwards to create an animation rather than rendering the animation outright as a video type format (e.g., .avi, .mpeg). This way, in the event of a power outage or software/hardware crash, minimal data will be lost (frames rendered already will not need to be re-rendered) and any remaining frames that were not rendered can be rendered afterwards. To stay lean, two instances of Blender can be opened on the same computer and optimally render an animation simultaneously; one instance can render a weighted set of frames using the CPU while the other instance can render the remaining set of frames using the GPU – albeit this can eat up resources and stress the computer.
Without further ado, here is an 8 second animation (200 frames; 24 fps) of my animated lamp rendered in 5 hours with a Blender sample size of 200 samples per frame:
What do you guy thinks of my animated lamp? To be honest, despite having the most fun so far in this section of the course, I did not spend as much time as I would like in order to perfect the lamp’s movements as I decided to move quickly onto the next section. It should also be mentioned that Section 5 was actually a lot heavier, content-wise, then I made it out to be in my blog. For example, at the end, the instructor showed us how to re-rig the lamp by assigning vertex groups to different objects in the lamp, joining each part to create a single mesh, and using the vertex groups to create a new armature system which parents the mesh whereby different labelled bones move its corresponding named vertex groups. This was a bit more complicated but I believe this was taught as it is crucial for designing, modelling, and rigging more complex characters – we’ll have to see if this is the case later on.
The next section, Section 6, will be the longest yet as it consists of 40 lectures with a total of 6 hours and 40 minutes of lecture time. The title of Section 6 is called, “A Fluffy Bunny”. I may have to split this next section and blog in several parts again.
As always, thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! I look forward to writing the next blog post!