Thoughts on the new animation system.

I have been animating now for 24 years, much of that time as animation director. I currently am the creative director of loura where we create animation and visual effects for film and TV.

I am also a blender zealot. :slight_smile:

With my credentials out of the way and now that the push to finish Sintel is out of the dev’s way, I thought I’d post my thoughts on the Graph editor as it stands in 2.5.

I have always had the overwhelming sensation that on opening, I was bombarded with information that I needed to cull before I could get working efficiently. I’m used to being offered the bare essentials and then digging into the options to reveal more information.
Seeing multiple objects in the graph editor had been one of the singularly most important features bought to 2.5 (as well as negative numbers which I also harped on about earlier) , but I feel that there is some confusing aspects to the information and thought I’d jot down some points and canvas your opinions.

1/ Filtering keys from channels that have no change in their values but lots of keys (often scale inherits the keys of ROT and LOC but does not scale) removes any redundant keys but seems to leave one. I would prefer it to remove all, thus removing the channel from the graph editor all together.

2/ Upon selecting multiple channels it would be good if toggling a state like “editablilty” toggled for all selected. This would speed things up a lot.

3/ “Only selected keyframe handles” requires “show all handles” to be on which I think is confusing language.

4/ I also feel that for clarity “Only selected keyframe handles” should be on by default.

5/ Is there any reason that the K key in 2.48 for moving all keys on a given frame was removed? (Or is it somewhere else now?)

6/ I find using lower case v and shift V odd for what is essentially a toggle state for visibility. Could just lower-case v suffice? Shift V is not very fluid when working.

7/ The eyeball icon represents visibility and I think it should be in place of the tick icon. I would use a more descriptive icon for “Do channels contribute to result” like the animation icon of a clapper board, or a mute icon.

Anyhoo. Keen to hear your thoughts on these.

Thanks for your time.


I don’t use graph editor at all, but I prefer dopesheet instead. As your post seems to be a plea to devs, I thought I could add mine too :wink:
Something is disturbing me concerning the dopesheet that in my sense should be context sensitive : If I select a mesh that’s got shapes, the DS should switch to shapekey editor, when I select an armature it should switch to action editor.
Having to select one state or the other over time is a bit tedious …

I agree on all points. Graph editor has gone long way since 2.49, but it needs some optimizations to be perfectly useful.

I agree on the eyeball icon part, I haven’t used the animation system enough in 2.5 to comment otherwise. Hopefully Aligorith will get a chance to take a look at this, he is very good with feedback.

I love the new system, but will welcome more function for filtering…

on the dopesheet I really miss the lines connecting keys of the same value that show the holds…

aligorith is aware…just the usual lack of time resource i guess!

I’ve been using it and the dopesheet a bit lately and I’d agree, there’s definitely a feeling of information overload. I think some of this can be alleviated with some more clever/subtle graphic design in the channel list, there are so many colours/icons/etc fighting for visual attention. Trying to find the keys/curves for your selected object alongside other in a long list can be very difficult, for example.

Other things are:

  • I wish there was a quick way to select an entire curve - I always imagined alt-click would be good for this, similar to loop select in 3d, but that combo is taken… Maybe also by doubleclicking on the channel name or something too?

  • I understand the reasoning for the new way border select works, but I still find it annoying and fiddly trying to select handles.

  • Need some better ways to use the mute/enabled/locked toggles - individually clicking each one is very tedious. Being able to drag over them would be a good start.

  • would be great to be able to disconnect/reassign an action from where its instantiated in the dopesheet/fcurve editor, rather than having to go to the action editor.

  • I’m not sure why the name of each bone is repeated at the end of each property when looking at armature animation in the dopesheet, when it’s already beneath that bone name in hierachy (the bone name is right above it). Adds extra visual noise…

  • Maybe tools/shortcuts for things like automatically scrolling the channel list to find the one that you have points of selected in the curve view?

I agree with your points that the animation needs improvement.

Other things are:

  • I wish there was a quick way to select an entire curve

+1, but no particularly new suggestions on how.

eh let me add a little one.

Animation hacks! The offset value doesn’t do anything!!! Bah, it might be a hack, but such an incredibly usefull one, I think it needs reinstatement!

I would love to have the possibilty to scale keys from the active frame, I think this was possible in early blender versions, or maybe I miss this now …

Transforms in curve editor could have an option : local, global(start/end frames), around cursor(active frame).

I am really thankful to the devs for the work/improvements to the animation system!! So I hope this thread isn’t viewed as a bitch session. I have not done alot of animation with 2.5 yet… but I couple of thoughts I have are:

Colors of f-curves are just red/green/blue by default. In the properties panel we can change that to ‘auto rainbow’ or ‘user defined’ but this can only be done on a per curve basis. Red/green/blue are primary colors, more colors, like secondary colors - yellow/purple/cyan - would be nice and/or the ability to change all curves to ‘auto rainbow’ in one step rather than on a per curve basis would be great.

The one thing I really miss in the dopesheet (and I assume it has yet to be implemented) is bone groups. In 2.49 if you had a bone group for facial bones, you could turn display of that bone group off while working with say a bone group for IK body controls.

As a side note, has anyone noticed that insert visual loc/rot/scale keys is broken in 2.54?? For instance, if you have FK bones that are copying the loc/rot/scale of IK bones and insert visual loc/rot/scale for the FK bones, then turn off the copy rot/loc/scale constraints to switch to FK mode, the bones don’t remain in the positions the visual loc/rot/scale keys were set for. I did test this and it appears to work fine 2.53, but not 2.54 and I did file a bug report on it. (#23795) I hate filing bug reports as I know the devs are busy and probably feel bombarded with bug reports. Out of curiosity, can anyone else confirm this is broken?


So shift+click add to the selection, alt+click selects all keys on the same frame and ctrl+click selects all?

I’d vote for replacing ctrl+click (since ‘A’ already does select all) with select all points on the curve.

ctrl+click seems to be bustified anyway, doesn’t want to remap to anything other than ‘select all’.

You can also press the L-key for Select Linked, same as when editing a mesh.

I think it would be helpful to borrow some common tools found in word processors like:

  • selecting a point on a curve, and then pressing Shift-End to select all points from there to the end of the curve.
  • selecting a point on a curve, and then pressing Shift-Home to select all points from there to the beginning of the curve.
  • pressing Ctrl-B to display the selected curve(s) in a bold style. Pressing Ctrl-B again would toggle the effect off.

Ah, handy.

I think there are select left/right operators but not sure if they have hotkeys or not… or at least someone was working on them.

Take a look here:
You can select the entire curve by Ctrl + Alt clicking one of it’s vertices (I guess it should be swapped with the column select which is Alt-click right now).
You also can select left/right and a lot of other things.

Hey, thanks for that! Wow, still so many “hidden” features. I wouldn’t have guessed that you had to position the cursor.