(release 1.4)
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Animation.Timeline editor

Timeline editor is a place, where you can modify the animation at the deepest level. First of all, it gives a widescreen view of keys distribution for each object. You can move the keys, change them and copy their values, affect the time of transition from one key to another. Let us examine the possibility given by the Timeline editor.

Created objects also appear in the list of timeline objects. By default, they are expanded, so that the layers of all the keys are visible (move, rotate, scale). If they take up too much space, you can collapse them. The work will be also facilitated by view switch to the full screen (T).

In order to understand the way of graphic interpretation of the scene in the timeline we will try to discuss the following screenshot.

It shows that in the scene there are 4 objects: Sphere 1, Plane 2, Target camera 1 and Point light 1, that is currently selected object. The name of the currently selected object is displayed in yellow, and its lines in a darker color than the rest. Each object displays its all keys in the corresponding rows. The first line (on the same level as the object name) is about the visibility of the object in time. The object is visible in the animation period which is shown by the gray bar. If the bar in the visibility line is not drawn (as for example in the case of Point light 1), then the object is visible throughout the time of animation. The period of visibility is determined automatically – from the first to the last key appearing for the object. In the case of the Sphere 1 object, the visibility period begins in 1 and ends in 36 frame. Its beginning is the key of position set in the first frame and the end is the key of rotation in 36 frame. In the case, when only one key is set, the range of visibility also covers the whole range of animation time. Only two or more keys allow limitation of the visibility of the object.

Below the line of visibility, there are rows of keys for the supported features of the animation. The keys are connected by a thin or thicker line. Thicker line connects the two keys with different values, so it represents the change of the feature value.

Such an arrangement of the keys is presented by such a simple animation:  

As you probably noticed, on the visibility line there are marked small yellow rectangles in each frame, where there is any key. They are for informational purposes only, signalize the presence of the key in a frame - are useful when the object on the timeline is collapsed.

Remember : Visibility icon next to the item on the Scene objects list doesn't affect visibility of the object or group in final SWF animation. It only shows/hides the item in the work area.

Keys

Each key contains a few basic information – what value is taken by the object for the feature of the animation (Values), how is the trajectory of pass to the next key calculated (Spline type) and according to which function there will be the movement to the next key (Tween).

Values of the key, for example the coordinates such as: X, Y, Z for the move key, the angles of rotation around each axis for the key of rotation or scale factors for the scale key are broadcasted as a result of manipulation of the object in the scene. You can enter the exact values by typing them from the keyboard (F8 - Numerical transform object). You can also correct them by clicking on the key in the timeline editor.

Spine Type determines the method of calculating the intermediate frames. Linear method divides the difference in values between the keys, by the number of frames and the value of the key in each frame is changed by such a value. In other words, the pace of change is constant. The second method is based on the curves of Bezier, where the magnitude of changes in the value of the key changes over time. Without going into mathematical nuances, we can say, that the Linear type is more suitable for the linear, robotic movements and Bezier type to the smooth trajectories of movement. The difference between the two modes can be most readily check by putting a few move keys in the first or the second mode.


Spline type: Linear


Spline type: Bezier

Bezier type works well also in the keying of rotation or scale. Object reaches the target value in a smooth manner. Compare the following differences for change of the angle and scale, using both types – move the mouse cursor over the object in order to view the animation.

Rotation - Linear Rotation - Bezier Scale - Linear Scale - Bezier

Handles of Bezier are very comfortable in modeling of movement trajectories. As far as the dynamics of movement, better opportunities are ensured by the parameters from Tween groups. Bezier  type differs from Linear in intervals of values adding to the key in each frame. Mechanism of Tweening involves sampling of the next values from the interval between the keys in a nonlinear way with respect to time. The calculated intermediate values between the keys are not modified by Tweening, only their process of current reading is subjected to the change. But perhaps, the best spoken are the examples shown below (move an object below the graph to see it in motion):

Tween types have additional parameters with which you can refine the shape of the transition function between the keys. For example, for Easy in/out, additional parameter specifies the severity of distortion in relation to the linear progression. Tweens of Bounce type have additional parameters responsible for a number of reflections or the density of reflections. However, it is better to check the operation of Tween parameters on one's own.

Let's come back to the timeline editor now. Previously we discussed the ways of navigation and movement around the timeline. Additionally, it is possible to move timeline on a basis of drag&drop, grabbing the left mouse button for one of the places designated in the figure below. Existing keys can be moved also on a drag&drop. If you want to select a few keys for further displacement or removal , select by the right button of the mouse the rectangle that will cover them.

As we have discussed before, the values of the key can be copied using the shortcut CTRL+C / CTRL+V. That was about the active mode (e.g. rotate). You can also copy a set of the key of the object from one frame to another. Combination of CTRL+ALT+C / CTRL+ALT+V reminds and pastes a set of key values from all the modes (move, rotate, scale) at once. In the target frame the keys don't need to be previously created.If there are no keys in the frame you can also set a single key manually by pressing K or set of keys by pressing SHIFT+K. Option concerning copying are also available in context menu after clicking right mouse button.

Object and group duplicating

Certainly, you will often need in your animations a several identical or similar objects. The best thing is to create one and next needed create by duplicating it. Thus you bypass the need to customize the object several times. You can either clone or copy the object/group. To duplicate the object/group select it and press CTRL+D or use the corresponding icon from panel Scene object list.

Duplicate object - dialog window

There will appear a dialog window where you can name the new object and select the way of duplicating:

When you copy a group of members created by cloning the parameter change of a member of copied group will change the same parameter of other members within this group only. Look at the example below:



Create 3 spheres by cloning.
Creating 3 spheres by cloning

Select created spheres and group them (read more about groups). Then duplicate the group by copying.
Grouping spheres and duplicating the group as a copy

Parameters linkage for all members of copied group has been saved, but new group got new surface (as a copy of the one used in "Group 1").
When you change a color of one of any member of copied group other members of the group will change the color as well. This is because members of group were created as clones. How change of one member parameter affects others created by cloning