Blender is an amazing piece of software. It is already pretty good in terms of animation features. But I think that Maya still leads it in a number of small and big ways. The big ways are already obvious and work is being done towards re-factoring Depsgraph.
But what about all the small things that make it a bit more cumbersome? For me personally, coming from other software- the problem is not that it does things differently. That is actually a good thing. B3d does take a fresh approach. But after using it for a while, I found some things that I would like to list. Some of these are low hanging fruits which I want to see if everyone agrees with me would make a small but noticeable improvement.
Maybe the community here will help me out by pointing out workarounds and also pointing out annoyances they found themselves.
-Quaternion being the default rotation for armatures - this is strange to me, since the f curves that you get from it are much harder to deal with than Euler. I am yet to see an example where it was successfully used for character animation.
Do a lot of people use it? Maya has quaternion mode as well, but it is almost never used. In production videos of pixar/dreamworks I also notice they use euler there as well. I’ve been doing some Animschool courses for a while- nobody uses quaternion there. So why is it the default and why is there no way to change that default? Gimbal locks are scary, but there are ways to deal with them. Quaternion curves are too abstract.
-FIXED-Not being able to operate on multiple selected Joints (N-panel) - Not being able to rotate them by dragging the slider once. Having to do it all on a one by one basis (no addon).
not being able to set multiple bones rotation mode and having to do it one by one (there is an addon that fixes that).
Not being able to shift select multiple specific attributes in the n-panel and click-dragging to add/sub to them. Right now you can only drag select a range and do that(A+B+C) but not select specific (A+C).
No AutoFrame mode option in the f curves editor. In Maya there is an option where the software automatically frames the curve(s) you have selected to edit- without the need to hit the F key constantly. This saves time as the software constantly frames what you need to see without the need for you to adjust it.
In Blender you have the HOME key, which you must hit every time you want to frame your curve. There is no option to make blender automatically frame stuff (home key command) each time you select a curve.
-Copy and paste curves in the f-curve editor doesnt work as expected- Try to copy X rotation curve from one foot to the other- it doesnt work. It copies the entire animation of the foot. It does work if you use the dopesheet instead though.
-Show keyframes in Cyclic curve modifier- The cyclic channel modifier is very useful when you need to copy animation from one foot to the other and then offset it. However it does not show the keyframes in cycled curves. This makes it a little bit harder to pinpoint your offset. I wish it showed them slightly greyed out or something.
-Mass renaming channels (useful for dead f curves)- When you append an “action” from another rig, and some of the bones have a different naming convention , you must rename the channels in order to get them to work. In blender that is possible, but it is very difficult. You have to manually rename each individual channel- xyz rotations and translations. I wish blender had a quick “find and replace” operator for renaming channels. This would make animation retargeting easier.
-No button picker- for controller objects. There is currently an add on in the works, but it is not an official thing that is a part of blender. I wish Blender had a built in selection button maker- to allow for easy controller object selection. Most modern rigs in a production environment come with a 2d controller object button picker. This improves productivity as it makes it much faster to select controller objects.
Features that would make it even better than other software:
- Cloning f curves (channels) /keyframes- Right now you can copy and paste them. This is useful if you want to copy some animation from one half of a character and paste it to the other (left foot>right foot). But when you edit the animation of the left half, you have to do the same for the other half.
The animation on the other half is offset usually with a f-curve cyclic modifier. Imagine if it also allowed us to clone the animation of one foot, but add some f-curve modifiers and offset it to make it work automatically and non destructively on the other foot.
This would take advantage of blender’s f-curve modifier stack. Cloning and flipping+offseting animation of one half to the other would also give you a cleaner and easier to work with file. That way when you change the animation of the left foot- the flipped copy of the same animation on the right foot with automatically update!
How a cloned curve would work:
- It’s keys are not editable (or editing them alters the original as well) , but
> you can delete it (without affecting the original),
> translate it (the entire curve- without affecting the original),
> scale it (to flip it without affecting the original)
> add a different stack of modifiers to it (without affecting the original).
Now I get it that this is mostly useful for looping actions But this can also be used with animation baking when you no longer need the clones to be just clones. You would be able to bake them in a specific timeline range.
- F- Curve /dopesheet overlay in the 3d viewport- For people using one screen to work this would make a huge difference. It is already used in other software such as Akeytsu