If you are interested in character animation you probably know about CG Cookie. They have a load of free and pay-for tutorials. All the basic information is free. The advanced and time saving stuff is usually pay-for. So far, everything I’ve paid for I have been happy with. I haven’t paid for all that much, but I have paid for some.
Recently CG Cookie put up a new YouTube video: Animation Toolkit – Training Series for Character Animation in Blender. It is promoting their release of the new training series.[youtube XAY3JbI4jBs]
This series gets into things that cannot be imported into Second Life™ with the BVH import. Gaia Clary’s Avastar is progressing toward what I think is the best all around tool for making mesh clothes and animating avatars, human or non-human. One of its better features is the ability to create .anim files that the SL Viewer can import. The .anim file format allows one to use more of the animation features found in Blender.
There is a wiki page that explains the Internal Animation Format used in Second Life. You can get an idea of what is possible reading the specification. It is pretty geeky and requires you know the BVH capabilities to see the difference, so the quick summary of differences between BVH and .anim uploads is:
- Individual Joint Priorities – BVH sets all priorities for all joints/bones moved in the animation to the same priority. Using a .anim format one can set different priorities for each joint/bone. This can allow better mixing of animations.
- Animation control of eyes, something we cannot do with BVH.
- Stretchy Bones – Each frame can control the length of a bone.
- Animation of attachments – actually just control of the attachment points, but that controls the attachments.
- Client side scaling – I don’t really understand this one. I think it is tied in with the appearance sliders. Or it may allow the animation to better work with different size avatars. I haven’t figured that part out.
The SL Wiki has links to discussions of various animations tools. Those all seem to be horribly out of date, mostly 2006 and 2009 stuff. All made previous to the viewer’s upgrade to allow .anim file import. So, to some extent new animators are going to have a hard time chasing down good animation information.
Now with the ability to use .anim files the CG Cookie animation information is more useful.