Setup n' Stuff
by Stefan Andersson
I felt it was time to update my shape animation tutorial. There has been some changes in since I wrote the last one, so this is also a update and a "new" tutorial. I've taken this shape thing a bit further and it might be confusing for some people. I suggest that you read all of the tutorials provided from Softimage before attacking this. It's also aimed to people who are about to go beyond the pure basics of using Softimage|XSI.
For this example I'm simply using some spheres that I have deformed. If you do the same you'll get the basics of this tutorial fairly quickly. And also you don't get stuck with fine tuning your mesh model.
Pick the other three spheres (or what ever you used). Right click when you have select them and close the popup window that appears. You should now have a sphere with green dots on it. That means you have a cluster(s) on your model.
You can now hide the other objects you used. Don't delete them, if there is a shape you are not happy with you can always unhide it and change the shape afterwards.
Do the same for the other shapes (did I need to say that?). Scale them
out by grabbing the right end of the shape track. Here comes a step that
you can skip if you want, but I find it useful to always make compounds
of my shapes. If you have shapes it's much easier to keep track of them
and also to go in and change some thing.
Now you have only one track, double click on the shape track to access the shapes.
Uncheck the "normalize" box.
Now we can go back and set up the shapes for animation.
If you now look in the explorer view and expand the null object you'll notice it has a orange square called MyShapes. This is your slider set.
At this point there are no shape sliders yet so we'll create that now.
Lets take a look at the window that appeared.
Leave the default value as it is. But check the UI Range box, then press OK (if you named it). Do the same thing for the next shapes you have. Now you have a slider set. Double click on your orange box under the null and you should have something that looks like this.
In the explorer popup you expand the null hierarchy and then select
you slider sets first slider, in my case Null->MyShapes->Sphere1. Now you
right click again on the keyframe button, but this time you chose "Set
Relative Values". Then select your slider set and drag that first slider
to 1, then in the mixer drag the first shape slider also to 1 and select
"Set Relative Values".
Now that you fixed the first slider do the same thing for the other two tracks. Pull a few sliders in your slider set and see what happens.
Shape animation tips
As I discussed earlier with null objects and text objects it can also
be a good idea to add a camera to the face of the character. As default
the camera has a direction constraint to it's interest. So just remove
that constraint and delete the interest.
Then rotate place the camera so that it's looking directly into the face.
Then parent the camera root to the head bone. Now when the character moves you'll always have a camera facing the head and you can conduct you facial animation without fixing a position for a good view.
Despite the pose the camera is always turned to the face.
I hope you had fun and learned something. That's all for now....