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Animating in Milkshape and Misfit comparison


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#1 kv

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Posted 04 April 2011 - 01:13 PM

Even though I was not selected as a beta tester for the skeletons in moviestorm I am using the Male and Female skeletons that Reacher provided, although I admit I have mostly used the male one and not really created anything and imported into moviestorm for females yet.

The skeleton used for Misfit and Milkshape is visually much different to that which I have seen a screenshot for in Max, where as in Max they are easily visible and possibly easy to select each one, the ones for the two programs I am talking about here look more complex even though they are essentially the same. This is because the skeleton in Milkshape and Misfit is not displayed as a solid entity, it is wireframe type unlike in Max.



I found an issue in Milkshape where when switching to animation mode the mesh appears to Sag all over the body, this is particularly visible on the face such as the eyes and mouth etc, however this does not seem to affect any animations exported from Milkshape into Moviestorm, this does however make it difficult to accurately animate the face within Milkshape.

However this issue does not arise in Misfit which holds the mesh together nicely.



For the above reason I have found Misfit is best for animating in, just so I can keep tabs on how the mesh is working as of course it would be frustrating if loads of work was done to make an animation and find that deforming happened that could show in Moviestorm.

Post Edited with further details.

Ok before I go on to discussing the animation process in these programs and issues faced I want to discuss methods of selecting bones to be animated.

As said earlier the bones in Misfit and Milkshape look different to how they are in Max, they are not solid shapes, they are like wire frames, this can make life a little more difficult when selecting bones using the selection tool. You see when highlighting the bones in say the fingers you need to zoom right into the viewport, regardless of what angle you use to select the bones it is quite awkward, what I mean is because the bones are hollow frames when you use the select tool and drag to highlight you often end up highlighting other bones you did not want. So selecting the complex areas is really quite hit and miss and sometimes frustrating.


Above: Shows just how complex the hand looks, this makes selecting bones in the hand (also the head) more difficult.

Both programs offer an alternative way of selecting bones individually, first I will discuss Milkshapes way (which is actually similar to Misfits).

In Milkshape you can access a drop down menu of the bones, this is in the "Joints" tab located in the top right corner of the interface, this can be very handy to pick out those really small bones.



The thing about this though is that you can only select one bone at a time, if you try to select another it cancles out your first selection, so you need to be aware of this.

Another issue is that say you are rotating a joint ie Left Clevicle (shoulder joint), you select it using the above method then rotate you will find when you get so far the hand will deform and the bones seem to leave the mesh, I learnt thanks to Reacher that this is because the Rotate joint are not selected and not moving in synch with the limb this leads to the below undesired effect:



The way to avoid this is by using the selection tool and highlighting all the joints on the arm to ensure it rotates correctly


Above: The right arm raised correctly through selection tool, the left arm deformed after using joints selection.

So that in mind the "Joints" selection is fine for small rotations, and also for use on bones that do not depend on others but not good for rotating the whole arms, legs but it does work fine for the whole head and each spine bone.

Misfit like Milkshape suffers the same issue when using the select tool for selecting bones, however I do note that the bones look neater and more accessible:



This makes a quite a bit easier to select the bones in the hands and other more complex parts of the body such as the head:



Misfit does not show the bone ends as big balls, they are instead little points, this means much less clutter and actually makes it easier to select them without accidentally selecting other bones you did not want to select.

Like in Milkshape there is a way to select individual bones from a selection list, you do this by clicking "Influences" in the top menu then selecting "Edit Joints", here you will access a drop menu with all the bones, selecting one and clicking ok highlights that bones where you can then rotate it. However using this method can result in the same undesirable warping you get in Milkshape when using the "Joint" selection menu. Also as in Milkshape this method allows you to only select one bone at a time.

For anyone reading this that is new to this you will notice I say "Rotate" a lot, this is because it is better to Rotate the bones than Move them, if you use the Move tool you risk breaking them, and since your own joints actually rotate the same rules should apply to the puppets bone joints.

Next I will discuss the animation process in both programs and highlight key issues affecting work flow.

#2 kv

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Posted 04 April 2011 - 01:17 PM

Animating in Milkshape.

It is possible to animate the skeleton within Milkshape but it takes a bit of practice to get it right.

To begin we have to load the skeleton (of course), you can select individual bones as mentioned in the previous post by browsing the "Joints" tab then selecting a joint and then going back to "Model" tab and choosing either rotate or move buttons then left click draging in a viewport to get the limb into the desired position, however it is best to use the "Select" button then highlighting the joints you want to animate.

First things first though, the puppet starts off in the idle pose, we want that at the start and finish to ensure a smooth transition between animation states in moviestorm, so before we move anything we insert a keyframe in the animation timeline. Easily done, simply click the "Animate" tab and select set keyframe, what I like in milkshape is that by clicking set keyframe it actually keyframes all the joints rather than just the ones you have selected so it makes life easier when you make a change to a bodypart and then select another, milkshape will always remember each parts movement when the keyframe is set.

An issue we have in milkshape though is that that it does not take much to end up noticing the mesh deforming, more so on the arms and hands when they are rotated, as noted by Reacher this is due to the rotation joints not staying in synch with the other parts. So you have to be careful when selecting bones that if they are attached to a rotation joint that you include the rotation in you selection to avoid the distortion, however this can be easily over looked and/or forgotten. This can be somewhat irritating and does increase work load and sometimes makes you feel limited on the type of animations you can do.



However with patience you can still achieve pretty much any animation you like, just be prepared for some frustrating times.

Another problem in Milkshape is mesh Sagging, even though it does not affect any animations you make, it can make some animating very hard, more so for the face and eyes since the Sagging is much more evident in them parts. The sagging happens when you put Milkshape into animate mode, it has been mentioned that this could be down to incorrect weighting, personally I don`t know what that means or how it works, all I know is that it is darn ugly, and it could possibly cause problems if using Milkshape to create custom costumes (bit out of my league right now).

Milkshapes Cal3d exporter is spot on in my opinion, I have always had flawless export results with it, be it animations or mesh. I like the fact that the animation exporter shows me what skeleton it is using, and that it lets me choose the starting point and end point of the animation, meaning I can break the animation into peaces. It only render out the Caf file that is required by Moviestorm so no cluttered mess of extra files.

As a cheap option it does the job, just not as easily as we would like, lets just hope the Dev releases an update to Milkshape soon, you never know it may fix some of the problems outlined here.

Animating in Misfit.


I was initially apprehensive about Misfit when I first heard of it, I thought hmmmm right (the thought of "you get what you pay for", so free rarely means good), but as stated in the previous post, the skeleton does look better in Misfit than in Milkshape. Misfit can also have the issue where the mesh can deform when animating if your not careful selecting joints, but I somehow find it easier in Misfit. Better still when you switch to animate mode in Misfit the mesh does not sag at all! This means good news when animating any part of the face, such as the eyes, eyebrows and mouth. I have been very successful in creating animations for those parts quickly and easily.

Something I do not like about misfit though is how it`s keyframing works, unlike in Milkshape which keyframes all the joints, Misfit only keyframes the selected joint/s. An example of how this is a pain is you animating the puppet Saluting, you keyframe the first frame as default pose, then scrub forward and select the arm to rotate to the salute position, you set the keyframe and scrub back to admire your animation to find that the arm stays there. Misfit has set that as the starting point of your animation blink.gif To avoid this you need to make sure you select the joints you want to animate, set a keyframe for it before the starting point of its animation, then go to the point you want it to animate, rotate the joint/s and keyframe again, this is because as I said Misfit only keyframes the specific joints you had selects, so even if you select the Root of the skeleton (which selects all joints) and set a keyframe, misfit does just that, it sets a keyframe for ALL the joints but does not show affect when you later select certain joints.

This can be a bit tiring when you want to make complex animations as it means you need to scrub forward and backward frequently.

Exporting your animation is a breeze, but the exporter is very limited in features, so no designating specific frames to export, also I have had some problematic exports, for example I made a Bite lip animation, it looked perfect in Misfit, however when I viewed it in Moviestorm the mesh went all horrible and deformed in un human ways, this shows that you do not always get what you see. However I have had many more successes than fails.

On the note of Misfits limited export features I learned again from Reacher that there is a way to split your animation into parts and batch export, this is by setting a number of Animation States, so in one state you have the starting point of your animation, in the next part you have the continuation. Something that saves you time here is by Copying the Last animation frame from the end of the first Animation State to the start of the next one, this puts the model in the position you left off from. When your dones making your animations you can export them as a batch simply by clicking file/export and setting your animations name with the .Cal extension, all of the Animation states will be exported at once. Something you have to check though is in your chosen export directory as Misfits exporter generates more iles than Moviestorm needs, so to keep things clean I delete any file generated that is not a .Caf file as I found when I left them all and loaded Modshop to set things up, there was a duplicate of the gestures folder and a folder created inside the gestures folder that should not have been there. I deleted the excess files and reloaded modshop, all was fine then.

So whats best between Misfit and Milkshape?

I like Milkshapes keyframing, it makes work easier when animating, and I love it`s Cal3d exporter, I feel in control with it, it also only generates what you need which again saves time.

However, I prefer Misfit, considering it`s free it really is good, yes it does have the annoying keyframing thing going on, but it makes animating the skeletons more reliable, allows you to get to the more smaller joints such as eye brows and eyes etc without accidentally highlight parts you don`t want since the bone ends are not big cluttered globes unlike in Milkshape. Also the "Animation states" feature is great, it allows you to break down the animation into parts and export as a batch which saves time over having to manually set frames to export like in Milkshape.

In all honesty I would have loved both the programs to work like Max, checking out the Max demo I found that animating in there is just so simple thanks to how Max handles the skeleton, you never get deforming of the mesh, and you don`t have to fiddle around with individual bones to move, but at it`s price it`s no surprise it works so well, anyway that`s a different kettle of fish.

So for me the winner is Misfit.

[/boring lecture end]

#3 luxaeternam

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Posted 04 April 2011 - 03:46 PM

Good idea for a post. I'm looking forward to reading more. I haven't used Milkshape because I couldn't see the justification for buying a tool that doesn't have a killer feature, but I'm curious to see what you make of it.


"Les miroirs feraient bien de réfléchir un peu plus avant de renvoyer les images" : Jean Cocteau

#4 ms_amos

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Posted 04 April 2011 - 04:25 PM

I'm also interested to hear how you get on...
It's interesting that you've picked up on the visual difference between the bone items in the various packages, and I would have to agree with you that the Max representation is clearer and more user-friendly. It's worth noting that most of the other 3D packages draw the bones in an almost identical way to the ones that you see in both Misfit and Milkshape, which has the advantage of being able to identify the bones easily within a complex mesh.
I wish I knew why the mesh was sagging in Milkshape, hopefully we'll stumble on a solution to prevent it from happening...

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#5 lucindamc123

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Posted 04 April 2011 - 04:31 PM

Amos one thing I did notice when I opened the Milkshape versions of the skeletons and meshes in Milkshape is that the vertices were welded but considering how badly the joints rotated, it seemed to me that the vertices had been welded BEFORE the vertices were assigned to joints instead of after. That causes problems with Milkshape. Now I downloaded all the new versions of these skeletons again and I will try it.

#6 Chris Ollis

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Posted 04 April 2011 - 04:32 PM

QUOTE (ms_amos @ Apr 4 2011, 04:25 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I wish I knew why the mesh was sagging in Milkshape, hopefully we'll stumble on a solution to prevent it from happening...

It's most likely that its a weighting threshold issue. Best solution is someone who knows Milkshape or Misfit to re-weight the problem areas and make the new version of the skeleton available to everyone.
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#7 ms_amos

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Posted 04 April 2011 - 04:43 PM

Very interesting, Lucinda. You may not have to download any other versions of the files though, the ones supplied on the new modding pages are the ones that Chris originally supplied. There will be some new content soon, though, so keep an eye on the modding pages. It will also be interesting to see if there is an auto-weld thing going on with the import process in Milkshape, please let us know if you find anything.
I have a feeling that Chris is onto something with the weighting threshold, but that presents a big problem if it needs to be re-skinned because of the accuracy needed with the weight values of the neck seams.
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#8 lucindamc123

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Posted 04 April 2011 - 05:01 PM

Yes what I did when I found that I had problems with the rotation of limbs because of the vertices being welded before they were assigned to joints was to unweld the vertices and clear all the joint assignments so I could reassign the joints, but because the entire mesh has only one texture it is very difficult to do so I haven't finished with it yet but I will get into it again. That is one of the reasons why I wanted to use 3ds Max instead of Milkshape for animating these skeletons. If you are importing the 3ds Max files right into Milkshape and the vertices are already welded, that might have caused the problem too.

#9 kv

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Posted 04 April 2011 - 05:26 PM

QUOTE (Chris Ollis @ Apr 4 2011, 04:32 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
It's most likely that its a weighting threshold issue. Best solution is someone who knows Milkshape or Misfit to re-weight the problem areas and make the new version of the skeleton available to everyone.


I find it interesting that the sagging only appears in Milkshape, not in Misfit blink.gif This means for animations I have to take on an extra step before importing into moviestorm.

Anyway I will be talking about the animation process in both programs later tonight, I was thinking about just making up a video as it would make getting the information across clearer but I will try my best with text and then consider doing screen capture videos later.

I still need to look into the problems Iwas having exporting full animations from Misfit, but that may have been an error on my part, but I will investigate that while doing this feedback.

#10 lucindamc123

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Posted 04 April 2011 - 05:47 PM

I will have to try importing into Misfit and see how it works, KV. The problems may not occur in Misfit because maybe it doesn't matter if the vertices are welded together before the vertices are assigned to joints. But it does matter in Milkshape. Also in Milkshape after you export the Skeleton you have to reweld the vertices, then export the materials and then reweld them again and then export the mesh. They come unwelded very easily.

#11 kv

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Posted 04 April 2011 - 06:56 PM

Ok the first post has been updated with info regarding bone selection and key issues around that in both programs.

In the post number 2 I will post the process of animation in both programs and the key issues in both cases.

#12 Reacher

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Posted 04 April 2011 - 10:44 PM

One thing that may help you in Misfit as far as selecting bones goes - you don't really select bones, you select the 'joints' - which is the dot at the large end of the bone.
If you are in regular mode and you correctly select the joint, that dot will turn from blue to magenta.
If you are in animate mode, both the entire bone and all of its child bones will turn magenta, only the joint for the actually selected bone will turn magenta.
In the sample below, the root 'joint' is selected (in animation mode). All the bones are magenta, but the other joints are not, the bones will just move as a result of the root being the ultimate parent.

This is why I told you that if you select the shoulder joint, you will also pick up the related twist, even though the bones are not the same, their 'joints' are in the same place.

Hope that helps.
-- Reacher

#13 kv

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 06:41 AM

Thanks again Reacher, I had noticed that but forgotten to include it in my feedback as that is quite an important point, I`ll update it later after work.

#14 kv

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 10:26 PM

My apologies for the delay on my feedback in animating in these two programs, I am still going to do it but I have had a mad week this week and what little time I have had to myself I have chosen to have some fun making gestures. I`ll have my feedback posted by the weekend when I get more time smile.gif

#15 kv

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 07:27 PM

Ok guys, I have completed my analysis of both programs and updated post number two in this thread with comparisons, hope it is helpful.

#16 Rolanda4

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 07:38 PM

QUOTE (kv @ Apr 9 2011, 07:27 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Ok guys, I have completed my analysis of both programs and updated post number two in this thread with comparisons, hope it is helpful.



This was wonderful.




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