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15/12/2020
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switching
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2020.3 Release Highlights

By Charles-Arthur BOURGET

We deliver a first pass on the Space Switching ie Dynamic Parenting constraint with version 2020.3 right on time for Christmas. This comes together with a unified timeline experience to facilitate multi-character animation following up on the addition of Cameras in our previous release. We also updated our akeyboy test character model to give him a modern look and illustrate the use of Space Switching. Sky Surfer also gets a board and a gun that you can play around with as well as a new Sky Jump animation showcasing Space Switching.

Note : akeytsu 2020.3 is only available for Windows users for now, We plan on getting back in synch on macOS early 2021.

You can read about the highlights of this release below. Our technical documentation has been updated. Visit release history for the full changelist.

SPACE SWITCHING IE. DYnamIC pARENT CONSTRAINT (BETA)

For those who are not familiar with Space Switching also called Dynamic Parenting in other software packages, this lets you link a joint to another so that they behave as if they had a parent-child relationship. In other words the object that is space switched becomes related to the object that is defined as the origin of the space. Move, Rotate and Scale transforms of the targeted objects (Joint, IK, RF...) are inherited from MRS values of the assigned Space or Dynamic Parent object. Contrary to tree hierarchy this constraint is dynamic and can evolve in time by adding keys to "switch space". 

As a case in point you want to consider a juggling act in which the ball is first related to one hand before being related to character node when mid-air to finally land in the other hand. This type of constraints becomes extremely important when you want your character to interact with props be they weapons, accessories or other things. Since values of the dynamically parented objects are offset from the dynamic parent, this creates a direct dependency and makes for much cleaner baked FBX exports that do not need to be manually tweaked.

It also has the good virtue of saving tons of time when keyframing props that move relative to a specific joints which opens up tons of possibilities to create convincing animations featuring a character and an object.

Beta notice : Space switching is flagged as Beta for now. We delivered something permissive and flexible that can be easily used but we anticipate workflow and UI improvements early 2021 to improve user experience.

WATCH TUTORIAL
To define which objects can be defined as Spaces (Joints, IK, RF...). Access Picker window in Bind pose (Rigging Mode) and click on the chain icon opposite to an object name. Defining all objects as potential Spaces is possible but not recommended as this would clutter your interface without purpose.
When adding a Space Switching layer you will be prompted to declare which object you want to use as first Space ie. Dynamic Parent.

Each Space Switching key needs to be added over at least one corresponding MRS key including the targeted object. In the below example the Healing Potion is the target object and we have extracted a layer for it specifically. We will then create a new Space Switching layer for this object with right wrist as Space Origin ie. Dynamic Parent over the existing MRS key.
More importantly when creating another Space Switching key on the Timebar, make sure it is always placed over another MRS key including the targeted object. This is the rule to follow to avoid getting into trouble.
When selecting a Space Switching key (from Stacker or Timebar), its related Space ie. Dynamic Parent is displayed in the transform panel and can be edited quickly.
When retiming Space Switching keys, make sure MRS keys constrained by Space Switching do not change space as this can create undesired effects . A warning is displayed when that happens.

For more information on these edge effects please make sure to read our Technical Documentation

UNIFIED TIMELINES

With cameras now implemented we now offer a different cursor behaviour in Timebar so that you can easily animate in a scene where you'll have to handle multiple characters.

To activate this mode access Timebar preferences (through the cogwheel icon) and enable Unified timelines.
With the Unified Timelines option activated, your Timebar cursor won't reset when switching between different characters anymore. It will now stay at the same timecode allowing you to adjust keys efficiently in complex scenes. We have also changed the behaviour when playing and pausing your animation so that the Timebar cursor won't reset on the previously selected key.

NEW AKEYBOY AND ADDITIONS TO SKY SURFER

We took this opportunity to revamp our Akeyboy Test character with a brand new modelization including some easter eggs if you can find them. This gives Akeyboy some more swag and a fresh face. To keep akeytsu installer light PBR textures are available for download from our Free Character page.

This is not only a visual revamp but we've also cleaned the skeleton hierarchy, added a basic facial rig and a Space-Switching layer for the skateboard. This project file will illustrate nicely how 
Last but not least we've added a flying board and a gun for our Sky Surfer to play with. An example of how to use these props in creative ways with Space Switching is illustrated in the Sky Jump animations shown below.
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HAPPY HOLIDAYS AND SEE YOU NEXT YEAR

The team will ensure post-release support for an additional week before going on well-deserved holidays. As of December 23rd Nukeygara will be closed until January 3rd. Support tickets will be stored during that period and looked at upon our return in office with replenished energy.

Although no one in the team was impacted by the sanitary crisis directly, working from homes over the long run has proved challenging. Notwithstanding, we have achieved 80% of what we listed on our 2020 roadmap this year while facing many technical challenges of course but also some of a more personal nature.

Although much work has been done on Lookers (aim-at constraints), Roll Joints and Global IK solving, these will have to wait next year to be delivered with our seal of quality. For this reason 2021 will start with us executing on these promises while getting back in synch on macOS and revamping some of our UI after many additions throughout 2019 and 2020.

That's all folks ! We made it and more is still to come. Enjoy your holidays and keep on animating !

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