ipos + actions + nla tutorials/documentation

i am using the latest 2.4 cvs builds and learned rigging and animating with them. i do characters for a game (not with blenders engine).

so far i simply added an action for every animation cycle i need. the problem is this generates more and more ipos in the ipo list of the curve editor. is this normal? doesn’t this get confusing if there are hundreds of ipos?

so i thought i have to create nla strips somehow to manage the animations better? …but i got very confused when i tried to figure out how ipos + actions + nla work together. i only found seemingly outdated tutorials and documentation which just confused me even more.

could anyone give me some tips how to handle something like that? are there any good tutorials or other informations?

I’m with you kakapo.

I’ve tried looking at how ipos, actions and the NLA all work together and everytime I do, I get a headache or just end up hitting the Q key to get out of blender.

Documentation, especially in video format, seems to be very hard to find.

Such a shame, because I’ve seen some animations where people have said they used the NLA and it looks like a powerful tool.

Tutorial links anyone :frowning:

ask fligh%

Ask Pamtango :smiley:


ok, didn’t have time for some days but here are some more concrete questions. :slight_smile:

the tutorials i found in the sticky list of this forum (which seem to be a bit outdated - for example http://mmaigrot.free.fr/didac-blender/nla/eng/nla_p1.php) say that if you convert an action to a nla strip all action ipos get lost or something like that. but they don’t get lost for me? with every animation cycle i add my ipo list gets longer and longer. in the curve editor all ipos of all actions still are available. then there is some talk about fake users i don’t quite get…

does this work differently now? could someone explain action to nla strip conversion in more detail? would be very nice.

is it possible somehow to visualize all these relationships (what is the user of what) in the schematic view? i don’t think so but it would be helpful…

I know very little about the NLA editor, but one thing you always have to be clear about is whether the Actions you’re turning into strips are from an armature or not. In NLA they are treated completely different. And in 2.40 the NLA editor has already undergone a big overhaul.

Anyhow, I am very serious when I said ask Pamtango; she has a very good grasp of it and explains things succintly enough to make it easy to learn.


I hope I can explain things for you.
I’m not at my home computer which as the newest 2.4 test build, but I’m thinking it hasn’t changed in discussing the basics. When I’m home later I’ll check this assumption out.
I think the best work flow is:
>create an isolated action that you think you’ll want to repeat at some stage in your character’s life - here I refer just to the movement of the bones in your armature. (if you’ve already done a whole series of movements you can still separate them into sub-actions, I’ll explain in the next step)
>go to the ‘Action Window’ and name the action.
>go to NLA hover mouse over the armature name and hit Ctrl-C and say yes to convert Convert Action to NLA Strip. You can also just stay in the Action Window and click create new action, name it and insert your key frames. You can do this over and over again for each motion you want and then go to the NLA, hit shift-A and add from a list of name that will drop down. NOTE: IF YOU SEE AN ACTION ALREADY ON THE NLA LIST THAT HAS SINGLE KEYS AND NOT A STRIP YOU’LL PROBABLY IEHTER WANT TO DELETE THEM OR CONVERT THEM TO STRIPS. OTHERWISE YOU MAY BE CONFUSED BY THE RESULTING ACTONS AS THEY’LL OVERLAY EACH OTHER.
> In the Action Window from the drop down select add new and rename the action for this smaller bit and delete all of the keys you don’t want to be included in it. The original will remain will all of the keys.
>go back to your original and do the same as above for any other actions you want to break down.
Now you have a clean slate if you haven’t converted to strips, or if you have so, one full of strips competing for the armature’s attention, in other workds combined.
If you have a clean slate add the actions at the frames and with the settings you want. Or move them about by selecting them and hitting “G” for grab and moving them. To set their variables hit “N”.
>convert the whole action to a stripi n the NLA
>now just define the “Action Range” to the part of the action you want performed. Of course this requires that you know where all of those points are. It’s cleaner to create smaller actions from the start.
>the world location and rotation of the armature will be seen as separate keys, so I’d wait until you ahve your actions set before moving your charater in space.
>You can also use the IPO to fine tune your actions later, each IPO will have the name you assigned in the Action Window. You get to them by selecting your armature and then go to the IPO window, Action and use the drop down to the right of the IPO type, where their names are, to select one of them. They should all have an ‘F’ in front of their names. If they don’t that means the keys for that particular actions will still be the ones running along beside their name as individual keys in the NLA.

Hope that covers all your qauestions,

So could you use the NLA editor to layer multiple object movements into one movement? Say creating a movement for the “L” sound, which involves a mouth opening into a specified (don’t remember what it is off of the top of my head) shape, teeth movement, and the tongue hitting the roof of the mouth.

If you’re using an armature for all of the movements they can have their effect at the same time or overlapping times.

thanks for visiting this thread! :slight_smile:

my ipos get automatic names like ActIpo.001 and so on. is a part of their name supposed to be the action name?

hm… strange, after i have added my 4th nla strip there is no ipo list anymore, just a [DataBrowse] and [ADD NEW].

before, when i only had 3 strips there was a list of all ipos from all previously converted actions. this list always was available even when no nla strip or action was selected.


i work like that:

  • create a new action and name it
  • animate
  • convert the action to an nla strip (ctrl-c) and do some settings (start, end,…)
  • add another action

this works quite well but usually i prefer to understand what’s going on behind the scenes. :slight_smile: sometimes i don’t get what caused what and all the relationships.

maybe i could upload my file and you could have a look at it and tell me if i made any mistakes?

Names are automatic unless you hover the mouse over, shift-delete, and rename them. You get the DataBrowse when there are too many for the drop down menu to show. Click DataBrowse and you’ll see all that you’ve created.
The IPO names will change with you’re changing the Action Names. I really suggest doing this, since otherwise you’d have to memorize that Act.003 was left arm twitching, or whatever.

ok, thanks! :slight_smile:

with databrowse i couldn’t see the whole list but only one ipo. but i will experiment some more…

the ipo names don’t change for me when changing the action name. i always have to rename all of them manually. but i will experiment some more there too with what you have suggested!

have you tried all these things with 2.4 alpha 2? does everything work like expected for you?


I have some questions about the new IK (2.40)

Could empties be used in actions, and with NLA?

The new fancy CTRL+I gives the choice of use empty. Should it be even used?

The new IK looked first very kool but now i really dont know whatta heck?? :smiley:

I am not able to do even a walk cycle with 2.40.

Would be wery nice to have a decent tutorial, or even some kind of tutorial of this new IK.

p.s. DOF-stuff is really nice!

Thanks and sorry!

UUuu! :smiley:

I foud howto include the empties in action :smiley: You need to push that small character button in IPO window :Z

And also I found that the bone movements do not take effect in action. i.e. I move the bone and hit i “loc” 10 frame forward and repeat. Result the bone doesent move? Strange :smiley:

I won’t have a chance to play with the latest version perhaps until Sunday.

ok! would be nice if you could play around with 2.4 a bit then.

@jarkkopoika: i wouldn’t use empties. i think if you select 2 bones (the ik bone and the ik target) and press ctrl-i, there will be an additional option for automatically setting up the target for you. but i am not sure about that, i just saw it in a blender conference video.