Time based key positions (not frame based)

Reply to Fweeb. Sorry, no quote but I’m referring to it:

  1. Yes, we think in hours, minutes, seconds. Why not? It is even a physical base unit. It’s not poison. :slight_smile: (btw, can’t insert the icons at the right)

  2. We could be trained to think in frames. But why adapt to the software because it is frame based instead of using a software that has been adapted to the human being that thinks in seconds?

  3. Yes, the viewer might not see the object at exactly the position that I specified (instead before or after). So what? I do not put it there at that point because the viewer must see it exactly there. I put it there because it simply has to be there at that point. I bet this is true for about 99% of the whole movie.

  4. In a time based system, you can freely design your model and be more precise. The only precision limit is the floating point accuracy. Frame based is less accurate, so you are forced to recalculate the position because the time will snap to the beginning of a frame. This is a step I’d like to omit.

  5. Concerning the remaining 1% where frame accuracy is of more interest: You still have a camera and you still have full control over the model. Make use of it! You can make the viewer see everything you want him to see. Make the plane start earlier or move the camera. It’s up to you. You’re the director. We don’t have to think in frames to do this. We might check the result on a frame basis afterwards and make corrections, but this is a fact anyway. Look at real life actors. They are not even able to be frame accurate (I think so :wink: ) even if they have an excellent timing. Do they really care about each and every of the 24 pictures taken? No, because it is not possible. This shows very well that frame accuracy is not of interest in the very most cases. I don’t see a difference between real life and computer animation: You create the scene and determine the timing. You put a camera on it and “make pictures” of what happens. BUT: In real life, it is allowed to think in seconds. In computer animation you are telling me it is not. This distinction made does not make sense.

  6. Of course, it’s a different thing if you want to mix different video sources to a final result, but that’s not my point.

  7. I don’t see a difference between an animator and a director. As a director’s thinking is usually not based on frames but on timing, I don’t see why a computer animator should make it differently.

  8. “These are your tools.” Maybe that’s your problem. Don’t get fit to the tools. Make the tools fit one’s needs. Blender fulfills the needs of many many peole, no doubt, but in the animation part not mine.

  9. " a facet of the medium". That’s our problem: You are talking about one medium, your medium, that you are referring to all the time. I am more open minded in this case because I do not have these restrictions. I am free to create a 15 fps AVI if I want, and I am free to record the same animation at 30 fps just thereafter (well I’m not but that’s the problem). Just nowadays with different media I don’t understand your 24 fps constraint. Is my DVB-S card broken because I get 25 fps? Does everything run a little too fast? No. :slight_smile:

The only problem I have is that, as an artist, a creativ person, I do not think in frames. Instead, I have an imagination of objects, their movement, and as a human being, I think in time, in seconds, minutes. I know when what happens and when what should be where. Frames don’t matter in this model. Why the … should I bother about frames?

Well, an animation, short film, 30 second spot or feature animation movie is most likely composed of scenes and those scenes are composed of many shots. I think that a long shot could be 5 minutes. You won’t be rendering a whole animation in one piece. It’s all little files. So where do you want you character to be at 47 minutes and 13 seconds and 4 milliseconds? For the audience and the script that is very interesting. But when starting an animation, you can’t determine that beforehand.

At 47 minutes and 13 seconds and 4 milliseconds your most likely be at scene 76 shot 9. Shot nine is just a establishing shot with a duration of 1.6 seconds. I think it is better to say that scene 76 shot 9 has a duration of 28 frames. Timing can be controlled through slow in - slow outs, alligning actions, keys on a frame per frame basis. It is much easier to see those 28 frames than thinking that those 28 frames represent an infinite milliseconds.

For archiving reasons it is handy also. After 2 years in the production of Lion King, you can discuss what is happening in frame 3573. You can go to the archive and request it. It is impossible for those animators to think in ‘real’ time, because time will be created when cutting the film in the editting room.

Merley the fact that you usually have many more interpolated values (than key values) that obviously seem to be acceptable makes me think that not every frame is a carefully positioned pose. In other words, most are not.

What do you think you might miss? If you miss it, it must be a pose that lasts 1/24s only. If it’s longer you don’t miss it. If it’s shorter you might miss it anyway (would require a higher frame rate).

I don’t want to underestimate the fine tuning, but I mean, the longer you see something, the more frames have the “chance” to capture it, and the shorter it is the less understanding I have for carefully positioned poses. Of course, there are exceptions.

As Captain Jack mentioned, POV-Ray’s animation system is governed by time. I’ve tried using it and found it pretty tricky. I imagine it would be very useful for certain kinds of scientific visualisation though.

Do you know about the Anim/Playback buttons? You can use the Map Old/New buttons to squash or stretch your entire animation along the time axis. If you wanted to render an animation with half the frame rate you’d halve the Map New value. Perhaps this will allow you to work the way you want?
Now we come to the beginning. :wink: Yes, I’ve used these options. My plan was to use 100 fps. I do not mean the fps setting used for animation rendering. I mean that I needed a simple time/frame association, so I assumed that 100 frames are one second. Always. This makes an accuracy of 0.01 possible (not needed that exact, but as we have the decimal system and 10 frames would have been too less it’s the best choice). So, if I wanted to put something at 0.45s, I would put it at frame #45 instead (or #46 because frames are 1-based not 0-based).

As the final video should have 25 fps (not 100 fps), I set the “map new” value to 400 (or 25?) Anyway, the map old/new ratio enabled me to always make my model time=frame based. In addition, I can choose any frame rate for rendering by setting the animation fps rate and the map old/new values. At first sight, this was quite ok but I always had to take the +/-1 offset into account in every calculation because frames are 1-based. My animation started at time position +0:00. No problem, but I can not start rendering at frame #0, thus my intial question.

Absoluetly! Why don’t you do it? :wink: SCNR

And this is true for this discussion. No disrespect intended, but your not on the verge of a revolution in animation by appealing for time based modeling.
It was not my intention - but maybe it’s one tiny little contribution? I would bet this will be used more and more in the future because it is

  • simpler to use: timing 1:1 reproducable; no unit conversion necessary
  • more accurate: floating point precision is higher than “1/24 s”
  • timing is FPS independent: render at any rate you want without changing the model or the timing
  • Isn’t the word called “timing”, not “framing”?

Many things seems not logical, but that is because your not thinking on the right level. Take for example the notation of time: 60 seconds in a minute and 60 minutes in an hour and 24 hours in a day. That doesn’t make sense at all. Why such a cumbersome system. But we accepted this Phoenician way of notation just the same (they didn’t count to 10, they had unique numbers till 60).
You probably know that this is not the point. Seconds is the base unit.

For you perhaps (if you are an American), the emperial measure system is pure logic. The rest of the world is baffled by this system. In electronics and advanced mathematics you learn about imagenary and complex numbers. “i” is defined as the square root of -1. So ii =-1 or -i-i=-1 . That seems just f*cking crazy. It is just impossible right? But with that attitude one is totaly unable to make any calculation in electronics.
Invalid comparison. You can transform any value in both units (meters and foots eg) to the other unit. This is not possible with frames and seconds (because frame numbers are integer numbers only).

See what I mean now?
But no matter, just explore the time based animation. I’ll bet my life that you’ll run into problems that just wouldn’t exist in frame based animation.
Well, you could not solve the problems that I have due to a frame based timing system.

My conclusion
Frames are pictures taken from a world that lives in a constantly floating time. The world does not live in steps. Taking more ore less pictures of the world doesn’t change the constant speed in the world.

I agree, but I did not state this. Time positions even work in small shots!

At 47 minutes and 13 seconds and 4 milliseconds your most likely be at scene 76 shot 9. Shot nine is just a establishing shot with a duration of 1.6 seconds. I think it is better to say that scene 76 shot 9 has a duration of 28 frames. Timing can be controlled through slow in - slow outs, alligning actions, keys on a frame per frame basis. It is much easier to see those 28 frames than thinking that those 28 frames represent an infinite milliseconds.
Again, I can not say that it will take 28 frames because I don’t know how many fps I will have later (I know that you can). Of course, you can have 1.6 s planned which will result in 38 or 39 frames, but that’s a matter of the cut.

For archiving reasons it is handy also. After 2 years in the production of Lion King, you can discuss what is happening in frame 3573. You can go to the archive and request it. It is impossible for those animators to think in ‘real’ time, because time will be created when cutting the film in the editting room.
In the resulting movie, of course you can refer to frames.

It’s funny you mention that after the ‘being an artist’ comment, because this is precisely part of the artistry in animation (at least keyframed character animation that is). You’re trying to express something to a viewer based on the visual forms that a character makes on screen. So if you, the artist, create an expressive pose, you want the audience to see and feel it, and not have it get lost in the mush of inter-frame motion blur. It’s about communication.

It sounds like you’re interested in directing, not animation, and yes, the two are very different. There are directors directing animators in animated productions too, you know :wink: A better analogy is of the animator as an actor.

I think that toontje, rawpigeon and broken have explained what I’ve been trying (and apparently failing… some artist/communicator I am :() to say in quite lucid terms. At this point (and I hate pulling this card, but I’m having difficulty seeing any other option), I don’t think its possible to discuss this topic further until you’ve done some actual animating and perhaps done a little bit more research. You keep referring to computers and software despite the fact that you’ve been repeatedly told that this is something more fundamental that goes to the very core of animation (and on some level, communication).

I recommend you do some animation in a variety of styles and media - everything from flipbooks to Blender… and perhaps read The Animator’s Survival Kit by Richard Williams. Then we can continue this conversation further.

When all else fails, grab a key in the IPO or Action window and shift it between frames if that’s where you want it.

There’s really practical sides to this discussion.
For example, say you’ve blocked out an animation, but want to scale down a part of it
because it is moving too slow. Well in Blender you can’t do that, because you’re keys
won’t be sitting neatly on frames anymore. Basically those keys are “dead” coz your
timecursor can no longer access them.

Motionbuilder has solved this problem ten years ago, everything is timebased.

Suggesting somebody read up on what you consider to be the correct way to do things,
is a little insulting.


A really interesting discussion here, but I think it somwhat misses the point.

-> When I’m animating I want to define some key positions, and let the software do the rest.

There is some time lapse between the key positions, and that is all I care about. And I don’t care about the number of frames between the positions, I only care about the time between the positions.

But on the other hand I want that exactly the keys that I have defined are shown, I don’t like aliasing effects - and you will get a lot of them if you’re not careful.

-> So to get the effect that I would like to achieve I have to care about the technical medium, but often I would like to work without caring about it.

What would I like to get?
=> I don’t want to work in absolute time. I simply don’t know what time an action should take exactly. I want to set the absolute time at last.
=> I don’t want to think in milliseconds - or should I say, I’m not able to do it? And for sure I don’t want to calculate 1080ms + 489ms + 1min + 2s + 0.489s.
=> I want to animate in relations, action one takes half (or a quarter or whatever) of the time of action two. So I just need a relative scale. Call it whatever you like, but don’t use time. And it has to be easy to let two actions take place at the exact same time.
=> At last let the software do the translation into frames. If I’m lucky everything works out well - if not I have to redo the framing, because my pendulum never reaches it’s end position or all my wheels are running backwards.

And where is Blender missing something?

I don’t get your point here. Why should I not be able to edit my keys just because they are out of frame?

I can do adjustments to 0.0001 frames (if I really want to).

I haven’t yet found a way for the timecursor to sit “inbetween” frames.
Maybe I’m missing a trick here. But if it was that simple, I think I would have found it .


The Timecursor doesn’t, because it’s a frame cursor.

Press K in the Ipo Editor Window. Select your key(s), move them to your liking. Or use the NLA Editor, that’s the place for it.

TImecursor or framecursor, I think that’s where the confusion lies. Why call it a framecursor
if it’s moving in the “timeline” window? I think terminology can easily confuse people.
And for what it’s worth, where is the timecursor?

The key issue here is how do I jump to a key to repose it, if it is sitting inbetween two frames.

Back to the example …

  1. Original animation all sitting nicely on integer frames. Everything moves fine but it’s
    too fast.
  2. I pick keys for the range I want to slow down and scale the keys. Motion looks fine, but
    there’s one keypose I want to change.
  3. I go to ipo window, (I would prefer to be able to do it in the timeline or action window,
    but hey let’s not get caught up in that seperate issue.)
  4. I find the relevant keypose but find it is sitting inbetween “whole” frames.
    How do I get to that key? I can’t jump to it using the framecursor cause that will
    jump to either either side of the key.

So how do i repose and rekey that frame?

Thanks for your feedback btw :slight_smile:


You select it and move it. So how do you select an object in blender, and how do you move it?

RMB to select
G to go

Blender may be strange at first, but at least it’s consistent. :cool:

You’re welcome.

That’s not the whole solution though…
I know you can move the keys in the ip window, that’s not the problem.

The difficulty is that you cannot change your pose if the keyframe is
in between frames, say frame 6.5. How do you set a key on that half
a frame?

Maybe it’s better if I attach a file, coz we’re not really talking about the
same thing, I think.


I see what you would like to do. No, you can’t edit the frame in the 3D-Window, only in the Ipo-Window.

Seems to be a limitation (though I didn’t noticed it as a limitation until now). Normally I would change the the pose, insert a new keyframe and delete the old keyframe - or clean the keys up.

This discussion is a little silly. The OP is trying to re-invent something he hasn’t even taken the time to learn. :))

Why are you discrediting the standardized practices of animation? Clearly, many have done some pretty amazing things over the lifetime of the craft. Why not learn what IS, before trying to create what SHOULD BE? You might find that you’re beating your way down an old path that has long since been established as unworkable.

There are VERY good reasons why animating is frame-based. If you really want to learn how to animate, why not…learn how to animate? It seems like you, instead, want animation to fit your pre-conceived ideas of what it should be. Focus on learning. After doing that, you’ll be in a better position to go forward with your own ideas. Who knows, maybe you’ll create a new standard but, you need some sort of foundation first.

Just some thoughts.