Shape Keys doesn't record Keyframes in Blender 2.62

I tried several files I made in the past with Blender 2.49b. I had made some self animated objects (characters and city props ) using Shape Keys. They are standalone animated objects used to populate cities (I packed some for Blended Cities script made by Littleneo).

I tried the files in Blender 2.62, and as the Shape Key animation didn’t work I decided to rebuild the animation from scratch in new files : bad surprise, It seems to be impossible to keyframe shape keys. No keys are created when moving sliders to adjust the weight of keys.

Any idea ?

Roubal, there is a brand new tutorial on Blender Cookie that covers this exact subject.

Thanks Zavigny. I know this tutorial, but it is very basic and doesn’t show keyframing. I have been able to set some keyframes today, but the result is very weird and I can’t get a cyclic animation. I found the system very easy in Blender 2.49 and even made some tutorials about shape keys in that time (AVK-RVK), but I can’t get anything usable with Blender 2.6… and I found nothing in the Wiki manual.

Note : I jave just looked at your Pitts S1 images : Great work ! Congratulations.

If you put an eye to my own website, you will see that I also love airplanes. Espescially old models. My preferred are : the DH-82 Tiger Moth, Stearman PT17, De Havilland DHC-2 Beaver and DHC-3 Otter, Douglas DC3 Dakota and PBY Catalina… They all illustrate adventure in my mind. I plan to model all of them when I’ll have some time. By the way, I have been 24 years in the French Air Force as a technician (I’m 52 years old and started to learn Blender and CG in 2004).

Animating shape keys is working for me OK in 2.62. Perhaps you could post an example blend file showing what is not working for you.

Well, I put a link to my current test file. So far I have been able to set a cyclic animation on one key (Relative) of the big Air fan on the right. It is a small rotation of the fan blades by 11.25 degrees. I would like to make a full rotation on the left Air extractor, but as full rotation on one Shape Key gives deformations due to the path of the vertices in straight line between keys, I would like to make an Absolute animation, instead of using relative keys, and I don’t know how.

With 2.49, we just had to set up a ramp shaped Ipo ocross all the horizontal key lines and make it cyclic. In 2.62, I can’t find out the method…

Out of interest, why use shape keys for a fan’s rotation? And if shape keys are required for some reason, could you not set up for basic object rotation, export that to .mdd (vertex keyframe animation file), then bring that back in as a shapes sequence? Seems easier than trying to hand-animate the shapes.

@Chipmasque : The purpose is to provide standalone self animated object without any dependence of any kind that can be used to populate cities, like air conditioners on building roofs, mechanically animated signs with changing billboards, pedestrians…

I am trying to convert my old 2.49 files into Blender 2.6 compatible format.

You can try out the file below in Blender 2.49b. You can resize the characters to fit your scene scale, but you have to provide them a reference : Parent them to an empty or any other object, and rescale this reference object instead of scaling directly the character, in order to keep the step length ratio, and avoid slipping effect.

You can even make the character turn at 90° at a street corner for example by putting the reference object (in that particular case one ref object per rotating character is necessary) at the rotation point and make it rotate exactly when the character walks on the ref object.

I have never heared of this .mdd file format and vertex animation file… I don’t find any exporter in Blender menu and export/import addons list. Any link about that ?


Well, I have achieved the wanted result on my spherical fan with four relative keys, but it is not the method I wanted to use. I still haven’t understood how to use Absolute keys in 2.62. It wasn’t too hard with relative keys on a simple rotation, but I am not sure that it will be so easy on an animated character ! I am going to try on my pedestrian character…

The working air fans file is here :

I can’t get absolute shape keys to work on 2.5 and up either. I hope this will be fixed.

Thank you AlanK ! I am becoming mad on that feature. Knowing that something is broken it is a bit reassuring, even if not practical !

Hello, I got a response from the bugtracker, and Blender Rev since 45413 includes Absolute keys.

I got this answer from Campbell Barton :
changes are:- shape keys now have an Evaluation Time property you need to animate (similar to the time IPO).- new shape keys will use the current evaluation time for their position, not the current global frame number.- there is an operator to reset the time of existing shape keys (small refresh icon that displays when relative is disabled).

So far, I still haven’t been able to build an animation with this feature.
Anyone has tried it ? A workflow to advice ?

I have tried using absolute shape keys with version 45492 and still can’t get it to work.

Thanks Alan ! I am losing my few remaining hair without this feature. I have achieved my character animation (walkcycle and secondary animation) with Relative Shape Keys. So far, it looks fine, but it is very tedious to set up and less accurate than Absolute keys. It requires much more curves than Absolute keys, and it is very difficult to make it cyclic. Added to that, when you want to modify the speed of the walk, you get some errors or jitter at some specific ratio. I plan to release the characters when I will be done. I hope that the next evolutions of Shapekeys will not break my animations again !

Hi, Phillipe. sorry for the delay in this response. In Blender 2.6x, look for the Newtek MDD format Import/Export add-on. I have not used this particular exporter/importer – my experience with .mdd files is from pre-2.5 versions – but it’s a standard point-cache format. I used it mainly to do conversions of cloth sim data to editable shape keys in Kata, but afaik you can export any form of mesh animation and re-import it to shapes on a mesh.

Well this is strange. I can’t add absolute shape keys in 2.6 but if I open a 2.4 blend with absolute shape keys it does seem to work. In the attached files, the Shape24 blend is a Blender 2.4 file with some simple absolute shape keys. The Shape26 blend is a Blender 2.6 file in which I opened the Shape24 file, erased the Evaluation time keyframes, then key framed evaluation time at 0 on frame 1, moved to frame 20 and increased evaluation time until the first shape was completed (Key2 in this case) and added a keyframe, moved to frame 40 and increased evaluation time until the second shape was completed (Key3) and added a keyframe. It seems to work.

Shape24.blend (185 KB)

Shape26.blend (349 KB)

Thanks Chipmasque. I have found the MDD exporter/Importer. I will try it.

@AlanK : For my own, my old 2.49b animations with Absolute Shape Keys don’t work in 2.6x. Do you know what is the Unit of the Evaluation time ?

Shape24.blend doesn’t work in 2.62.3 (rev45421). Shape26.blend works.

At frame 40 the Evaluation time is 31.5 (vertical scale). It looks more like the Amplitude of deformation than a time value.

I don’t understand why it is called Evaluation time.

I think I have found how to use absolute shape keys in 2.6.

  1. In the blend file I have added a cube, added a shape key (basis), changed to absolute keys and then moused over evaluation time and pressed I to insert a curve. I then went to frame 100 set evaluation time to 100 and added a keyframe.

  2. Go to frame 20 and add another shape key (Key1) and change the shape of the cube in edit mode.

  3. Add a keyframe for Evaluation time and reset the timing (click on green anti-clockwise arrow).

  4. Go to frame 40 and add another key (Key2) by clicking on the black arrow instead of the + sign and selecting New Shape from Mix, change the shape and add a keyframe for Evaluation time.

AbsoluteShape…blend (513 KB)

This sounds at first glance a bit complicated, but the blend file looks simple. I have to experiment !

Thank you !

Here is below a very first demo of my standalone characters pack for crowd animation.

Some characters do interesting things, but only at some specific moment than are not visible in a short video. Like the man reading a newspaper : he turns the page from time to time an also looks over the newspaper…


First thing we need to do is change our screen layout from “Default” to “Animation”.
Your screen configuration will change to show a Dope Sheet window, a Graph Editor window, 3D window
and Buttons.
Go to the Dope Sheet Window. In order to see your shape keys, we need to switch the view from Dope
Sheet to ShapeKey Editor at the bottom of the window. You will now be able to see all your shape
key sliders in the window.
Move the green line to frame 1 (or your desired frame).
Click on shape key sliders. A diamond will appear in Shape key editor window. It means a key frame has been added.
Now move the green line to the next frame you want to end your animation part.
Move the shape key sliders to your desired level. another diamond will appear in front of every shape key slider you adjusted. It means the second key frame has been inserted as well.
Now you can play your animation.

But what about absolute keys? Here you are not trying to manipulate several keys individually: you are manipulating the whole shape.

Hi! I found that to set key for key shape I need to click on a value slider, than I can insert keyframe. Is it helpful? ;o)