Blender Animation Toolkit - Character Animation Training

Hello everyone!

Beorn Leonard and I have been working really hard over the last several months in cooperation with CGCookie to put together a training series on character animation in Blender, entitled “Blender Animation Toolkit”. And today we’ve finally released it! We’re really proud of this training series, and think it will be a great resource for anyone wanting to learn character animation in Blender.

You can learn more about it and order it here:

A blurb from the series page:

Everybody loves character animation. But character animation is difficult and takes a lot of time and skill to master. To make it easier for anyone to learn we have partnered with Beorn Leonard and Nathan Vegdahl to bring you a new training series on character animation production and workflow.
The Blender 3D Animation Toolkit is a training series developed to teach you the advanced character animation techniques and workflows needed to animate complete scenes. This series is a sequel to the Animation Fundamentals Series,

The trailer:

The intro video from the DVD, which provides a bit more information:

WOW This looks Awesome!! I’m not much of an animator but a friend and colleague of work will find this very handy :slight_smile:

Great work!

Been looking forward to this since i heard about it. :slight_smile: The transforming rig feels like a watershed moment for doing character animation in Blender, a perfect answer to a thread a few months ago asking where all the Blender animators are.

Thanks to all of you for making this happen, looking forward to getting stuck in!

From what Beorn has told me that thread was one of the main things that inspired this project :slight_smile:

Beorn kept dropping hints of this in another thread so this is what he was up to with his talented friends. Cool beans I will definitely buy this I have humane rigging and Beorn’s other animation series so I will definitely buy this.

Looks very interesting,great job cgcookie staff.

Heh heh… yeah I was excited and couldn’t help dropping hints.
Actually the flexirig is an idea I’ve been working on since last year some time, but after trying to do it alone, I found I needed the help of some specialists. So I got the best; David Revoy came up with some concept art for the base character and some ideas for variations, Jonathan modelled the base mesh and developed some shaders and of course Nathan pushed the limits of Blender’s rigging system to get this thing to work.

The idea behind the tutorial series was to do something similar to the Blender Foundation open movies, but instead of focussing on the movie itself and the associated blender development, we focus on the tutorials and try make the tools as usable as possible. Basically I wanted to give people a bunch of tools and procedures to make it easier to produce their own animations.

The exciting thing for me will be to see what people come up with!

This is very exciting. The ease of iClone with the power of Blender. An unbeatable combination. :slight_smile:

will it be more practical for a beginner to get the animation fundamentals first, then move onto this later, or does this dvd teach you everything you need to know?

Animation Toolkit is meant as a follow-up of sorts to Animation Fundamentals. So if you’re new to animation then I would definitely recommend getting Fundamentals first, or you can get both as a bundle: http://cgcookie.com/products-page/blender-training-series-categories/blender-animation-bundle-fundamentals-and-toolkit/

oh fantastic, i’m definatly going to invest in the bundle then. thanks Jonathan :slight_smile:

Great! I’ll be getting this, too bad I couldn’t get the preorder, I confused the expiration date of the 20% discount (december) for the time limit to get the preorder haha

This looks fantastic!!
I’m especially excited about the customizable rig.

This is really cool, and I’m glad to see it!

Now Blender cookie needs to have a Motion Library contest. Since the rig is the same in each variation, most motion clips should pretty much transfer from character to character (i.e. fat man, skinny man, woman, etc). Can you imagine having a library of common motions you could just slap on your character as a starting point? Better than MoCap because the motions could be animation friendly, rather than just mimicking human motion

Maybe they could bundle all of the best ones and sell it as an upgrade, and the winner wins the upgrade.

I don’t think this would work out nearly as well as you think. Animation will probably not transfer very well between characters with very different sizes/proportions. I mean, it will transfer to a certain extent, but especially animations where contact points (e.g. walk cycles, a character resting their hand on thier hips, etc.) won’t preserve such things well at all.

To make something like that practical, you really need a motion retargeting system.

Would that have to be built into the rig, the mesh or the motion library? Likely, it would have to have a ‘tip of the hat’ from all three, but I’m wondering where the meat of the code would end up if it was designed with maximum user-friendliness in mind.

Not only do different sized characters move differently, but different personalities and moods produce different movement as well. By using a library of actions you would miss all that expression.
While efficiency is important, you’ll get a better result if you use the rig to practice animation.

Working my way through the series right now. Seems great so far!

Wouldn’t it be faster, though, to start from a baseline walk cycle (for instance) and then tweak for weight, etc.?