Timeline, IPO Editor, NLA Editor, Action Editor...? I am lost...

after learning about more than just the Blender basics, I am now trying to get the best out of Blender -> perfect workflow for my animation building. I learned a lot out of the “Noob to Pro”, Blender Wiki and various tutorials. Still there’s some stuff I didn’t find much information on.

Ok, I pretty much know what the timeline is doing. It is basically the same as in all other 3D animation software. Also the IPO Editor is mostly self describing.

BUT: There are the NLA Editor and the Action Editor. And I have absolutely no clue about what to do with those editors e.g. what to use them for.

Is anybody able to shed some light on this or point me to some Information where I can learn about them? I allready read some stuff in the documentation and the Wiki on those topics, but they did not give me a clue what to do with those editors.

Thanks in advance

The wiki is a great place to find information.

The NLA is basically to join short actions together to make a composite animation. So if you have animated a character separately walking and waving you could use the NLA to join them together and have your character wave while walking.

The Action Editor(I’m suspiciously quiet on what that does…):-

The Action Editor basically presents the same data as the IPO Editor but with some important enhancements. It’s a great place to work with keyframe data in specific groups (such as the entire collection of bones in an Armature) or for individual objects (if the IPO data is specified to be part of an Action), but outside the context of IPO curves. Keyframe values (Y axis in the IPO Editor) can’t be edited, only the time (X-Axis) location of each key. Many handy group-key-select and -operation features.

Very good for fine-tuning animations where many keys need to be manipulated in time at once – something the IPO Editor can do only for one object or bone at a time. Example – after getting an Armature’s animated motion set in terms of basic keyframing, and you want to tweak the timing of a section, you can select all the relevant bones’ keys in the Action Editor and scale them in X to shorten/lengthen the moves for the selected bones – all at once. Can’t do that in the IPO Editor.

Multiple Objects – including Armatures as Objects – can’t (afaik) be edited together as groups of keys like bones can (wish they could), but many of an Object’s IPO curves are accessible at once in the Action Editor, making global adjustments much easier between different types of IPO curves. It’d be great if all IPO curves for an Object could be accessed in the Action Editor though, such as Materials as well as Transforms and Constraints.

Actions are critical to the main functions of the NLA Editor, where different Actions can be blended to form composite animations (as mentioned before). They also make groups of IPO curves transportable, such as from one Armature or Object to another, as long as they have the same fundamental structure.

Thanks folks! Had a little mailaccount accident which prevented me from getting my mail, so I did not know that I got answers here :wink:

I think chipmasques answer answered my question completely… at least I hope so…