How to animate to music in phrases?

I am starting with a piece of music that occurs in distinct phrases of several seconds each (total length is 1 min 40 sec).

I want to invent animation synchronized with each phrase that together tells an entertaining story.

I am using Blender 2.79b, and I am a beginner, having taken some CG Cookie courses but still not fluent in using Blender. For this reason, I can’t simply translate my imagination into people (or even stick figures) running around and doing things. Man, I wish I could!

I’ve decided to animate letters of the alphabet to dance around and end up spelling a message to the viewer (happy birthday). I figure that if I can animate one letter rotating and moving up and down to look like it is dancing, I can do this for all the letters in the message by repeating all the labor for each letter and each keyframe. Should be a lot of work.

I’ve succeeded in entering text for the message, converting the text to mesh, and cutting the mesh into separate objects, one for each 3-D letter. I’ve succeeded in importing the music so it plays as I drag the frame pointer or play the animation. I’ve succeeded in rendering the animation and exporting it as an .mkv video file (I’d rather have the option to create .mp3 and .gif animations, but these seem to be impossible with Blender).

Now, my main question is this: what kind of workflow can I employ to isolate each phrase in the music and make the letters dance around within that phrase?

For example, the first phrase of the music is a kind of horn fanfare that lasts 4 seconds. How can I make the timeline show just the first 4 seconds, create appropriate keyframes for tweening, then quickly tween each motion within that 4 seconds?

I want each phrase of action (animation) to be perfectly synchronized with the music. That means the action must start and end at silent moments of the music. I am using Goldwave to edit, visualize, and understand the music. Unfortunately, Blender cannot display the music as a waveform right in the timeline or dope sheet.

Finally, I want to put all the phrases together. I don’t care if each phrase is somehow in a separate .blend file, or if I develop the whole animation in a single .blend file, but I want the overall workflow to be as easy and quick as possible, keeping in mind that I am a complete beginner. I have only made one animation in my life, using pencil2d, sketching with the mouse in each frame with no tweening, and it looks horrible.

I’m really going for this animation as a present for my sister, and hoping for some really good help from you guys!

Hey, You are in need of the @clockmender I’m sure he can fix you up.

I don’t have the time to write a full reply right now so I will update later, but here’s a few pointers for a start.
If you change the Blender layout from default to video editing, you can add sound files.


add-sound-strip
After you have added sound files you can enable “draw waveform” so you can see the waveform. If the edit strip menu is not visible, press n when hovering over the video sequence editor.
draw-waveform
You can also cut the sound file by going to a certain keyframe and clicking “cut at frame” under the strip menu.

By adding your sound file/s and dragging them left or right in the video sequence editor to begin at the correct keyframe you can put together your musical phrases. Then you will need to match up the letter animation keyframes with the waveform in the video editor.

I look forward to whatever else you can add. I enabled the waveform successfully. I have no idea what “cut at frame” might do. What does it do? I can’t find it by searching the Manual.

Don’t understand. What am I supposed to do at https://blenderartists.org/u/clockmender ?

Please explain “DAW & SOUND nodes” !

Hoping for some helpful information from this community for a good workflow.

Why thank you sir! :smiley:

@David_Spector

Yes I can help, let me know how, having read up on some of my work. BTW, it is never a good idea to say “Blender can’t do…” someone will always show you how, just ask “How does Blender do…”

Do you want to animate to the sound’s amplitude, or some other feature, let me know. I note you don’t want to do a lot of work here, never a good start, animating is never dead easy, or very little work. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

Cheers, Clock. :cocktail:

That’s not what I said.

You said “amplitude”. With the exception of a logarithmic envelope, that is the same as its volume, sir. Oh, maybe you mean visual amplitude of the waveform? No, I don’t care about that. I need to know how to do the animation, the workflow.

Thanks for the advice about my saying that Blender can’t do something. In my experience, it almost always can do anything, but how to do it is the problem. It is just extremely large and its interface is very peculiar, unusual, and difficult for a beginner, in my experience over several weeks of learning it.

Please read the original question to know what I am doing.

Today is my last day to get going on this, as I am delivering my animated card tomorrow, Saturday.

I hope someone can help me in time. If not, I will have to give up.

I have planned what to do in the first 4 seconds of the total of 100 seconds. So I will start on that. (The story for first 4 seconds is: A toy car will drive zig-zag toward the viewer, then zoom by to the right. As it completes its zoom off the screen, a large 3-D letter A in Lobster font is left center stage. )

Can anyone help me? There is not much time left for my project.

Well, after two days of work, looking up each question on the Web and watching tutorials, and no real help at this website (I should not have pinned my hopes here), I’m giving up. I accomplished a lot: the music was perfect for a birthday card, and I had all the letters as mesh. And I had a free mesh car to bring in the letters. But after working for an hour or so on the first 4 seconds, and getting nowhere, it is clear that my remaining few hours will not be enough time to do any animation that tells a story within even the first 4 seconds, much less the full 100 seconds.

Thanks to anyone who reads this. I guess a beginner cannot expect to accomplish anything real. Bye, all…