Editable Motion Trails 3D

Wow, this is pretty close to Disneys/Pixars “tangent space optimization of controls for character animation” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1zBbOowyTE I bought your addon since I do animation and this looks super helpful.

Thank you for your support! Let me know how it goes, especially if you run into any problems or have any suggestions to improve it.

How close is this to the Disney method? What is missing or different?

Also purchased - thanks for the great work

Multiple trail support almost done:

I doubt this is actually practical, just thought I’d give it a try.


Whoa, that’s nice!
Does that mean multiple trails will be able to be seen at once, soon?

Can you please answer this question.

-How can i use tracking points with a mesh that is skinned to an armature?.., i try this and it seems is working with just a mesh and not a rigged one.

It would be very useful to have a motion trail that updates live that is not directly connected to the control or bone that is being manipulated. For example if i´m moving the arm of a character i will like to have a motion trail not at the arm origin but at the point of one the fingers to see the arcs of the movement.

Yeah soon, maybe by the end of the week.

The Object-tracking points in the Object properties tab differ from the tracking points for Bones, found in the Bone properties tab. I’m guessing you might be creating the former thinking it’d show for bones.

Let me make sure we’re on the same page on the finger tip arcs:

  1. Is your use case to control an arm IK target and you want a live view of the arc of a finger tip while making changes to the arm IK target? This is already supported with a tracking point on the arm IK, placed out at a location near a finger tip. To be clear, there is no support to track the deformation of a mesh vertex specifically. Tracking points are treated as children of the trail.

  2. Or, is it to create a trail that controls the arm IK target, but all the controls are placed at an animated finger tip? I assume you expect controls to move the arm as a whole, not the individual finger? So its the first case, but with the controls placed at an offset from the IK’s original motion path?

  3. Your main intent is to get nice finger arcs. So you care a lot about the finger tip arc also updating real time with keyframe changes to both the fingers and arm IK simultaneously? I feel this is the most ideal case.

I mention finger tip as an example but it could also be the wrist or any other part at the end of the arm to see the movements that the arm is doing.

And when moving the arm i was referring to move it in FK mode. So rotate the arm in FK mode and place a motion trail at the end of it. If i select with the Rigify addon the arm in FK and set a Motion trail it will put the Motion trail at the origin of the arm, and is not what i want in this case.

I try afterwards selecting the control of the wrist, put the cursor there, and then go to bone properties in the Motion Trail Tracking Points and hitting the cursor option but nothing happens.

-And by the way, how can i reset completely the motion trail when i will not longer need it?.., if i hit the “x” in the UI the motion trail will disappear but the orangeish color on the graph editor and dope sheet remains and the settings when creating a new motion trail remains as well because i don´t longer have the option to set the frame range…

Timeline thing: (TimeLine editor header)
So just hit that button and the orange bars will go away. They show the limited time range.

The Trail will prompt to ask for the timeline preview range if that button isn’t enabled. So the 2nd time you activate the trail, the button was enabled so it won’t prompt again. To change the frame range, check out those numbers next to that button.

For the tracker point problem, here’s a quick example.

There’s currently no support to offset where the control origins are but I’ll look into adding that support. That’s something I overlooked, imagining the general case is that the bone would be moving through space. But that’s not the case for in place cycles or really small movements.

Hi I tried to test it, but when I click those trail controls and try moving them they always snap back to the place therefore I can’t control the curvature like in your previews. What am I missing here?


Ps: Wait I think I found what I did wrong, I set type to automatic

Ok I was too engaged, fixed it myself by selecting the sphere go to the graph editor selecting everything and set handle type to aligned

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Thanks for the explanation. The tracker point is working now. And i love the fact that it also responds to changes to the curves on the graph editor not just to the keys.

And yes, offset where the control origins are would be a nice addition.

The update will be out latest by the end of this week. I’m mostly just doing bug fixing by this point. It’ll add support for multiple trails and the ability to flag a trail as a dependency. So you can animate an arm and a finger tip path at the same time. After that update, I’ll start working on the offsetted rotation controls.

If anyone has suggestions for a feature, please provide a use case. Ideally it’s a video, GIF, blend file, or something tangible.


Great news, thanks.

Trail dependency support also extends to the camera when it’s set as the relative parent for the trails. Now you can track and modify both at the same time!

The trails are found at the bottom of the Motion Trail 3D panel. In the extended options, you can set the trail’s control mode (Loc/Rot) and it’s hierarchy dependency trail.


This is very impressive.

However, I do find it quite hacky that you add actual 3d objects to manipulate the splines.

You should be able to use the gizmo system instead, which would be much more appropriate, and would avoid issues with keyframing the temp objects, and generally littering the scene.

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Thanks. I agree and considered that a while ago. I’ll look back into it again.

Initially, using objects was just out of convenience. The alternative at the time, back when I supported Blender 2.79b, was to roll my own. But everybody already knows how to manipulate Blender objects. They offered everything I needed as a control: multi-selection support (and all the different ways of selection), transformation tools (with arbitrary pivots and snapping), hiding, etc. So I hacked my way into using objects and was able to use those existing features.

I’ll look into gizmos again. Hopefully they offer many of the same features already built in.


I believe the Gizmos are specifically for this type of thing! :slight_smile:

Addons in Blender can use the built-in gizmos, or can define their own gizmos as well. Obviously it’s a lot easier if you can make do with any of the built-in ones.

I’m not sure so far. There’s no documentation on the new Gizmo API. There doesn’t seem to be support for gizmo multi-selection or transforming. The built-in python examples show that they do allow you to call built in transform operators which also come with their own gizmos, great. But since they don’t seem to support treating the gizmo as an object itself, the operator won’t work anyways.

If anyone has any ideas, let me know.

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