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What is the secret to animating bones for pilot arm

Discussion in 'Modeling' started by X_eidos2, 22/3/08.

  1. X_eidos2

    X_eidos2

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    I've been struggling with trying to figure out how to animate the pilot's arm that moves a joystick using a bone system in Gmax. According to the SDK, you're suppose to animate the bone system with the left right animations and a set of dummies that are linked to the bones are suppose to have the fore-aft animations. It seems that when the dummies are linked to the bones they have no effect as long as the bones are linked together. If I disconnect the bones from one another so that the dummies will have an effect, the bones fly all over the place.

    The pilot that flys the ultralite kite has boned animations in his arms so somebody has figured out how to do it.

    When animating the joystick you have two parts. One part has the left-right animation and the other the fore-aft animation. You link them together and you have a joystick animated.

    So my questions are - how do you establish the keyframes for the two separate parts, the bones and the dummies?

    Do you disconnect the bones from one another and treat them like you would if you were making the arm with mesh parts?

    If anyone has a screenshot of the heirarchy window that shows how the pilot arm is set-up in the DC3 that came with the SDK, that would help alot. I only have gmax so I can't study the model directly. Someone has made a gmax version of the DC3, but it hasn't been released yet.

    Thanks
  2. n4gix

    n4gix Resource contributor

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    Unfortunately, the DC3's pilot is not using bone/skinned animations. It is using the old lever_stick_l_r, and lever_stick_fore_aft method... :censored:

    [​IMG]
  3. Horst18519

    Horst18519 Moderator Staff Member Resource contributor

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    It should work well if you use this linking chain:

    pilot - dummy - upper arm - dummy - lower arm - dummy - hand

    This way you can animate the dummies in left-right direction and the arms in front-rear. Of course it takes some trial and error to get it done so that it looks realistic, most of all if you animate the yoke seperately.

    Edit: almost forgot: In this case of course you do not use movements for the dummy animations, just rotation. You don't want to slice the pilot's arm... :D
  4. X_eidos2

    X_eidos2

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    Thank you both. Thanks Bill for taking the time to post the screenshot.

    I've found out that bones can still work even when they're not linked together. I tried importing the arm parts from my FS9 version of the model and linked the bones to the old parts. It worked almost in that the arm isn't moving all over the place, but you can't see the movement because it's so slight.

    I thank you for your advice because I think it has the key to making this thing work, but I also see that it'll take a lot of tweaking to get things looking right.

    Bill had the good idea of setting up the bones in the opposite direction, with the first bone being the joystick. The first problem was to find a way to secure the end of the bone system that connected at the pilot's shoulder. Using an IK system between the two arm parts resulted in a really good looking animation - but FSX doesn't like models with IK systems, at least not from gmax. But you can capture the position and rotation information from the parts and then remove the IK sytem from the model. If I only had one animation to do, like lever fore and aft, then I'd be all set. It's been finding the key to adding the second animation that's been tripping me up. I'll try using Thorsten's linking chain next.
    Last edited: 22/3/08
  5. X_eidos2

    X_eidos2

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    Here are some screenshots to show the results of animating a pilot's skinned arm.

    The first picture shows the bone system when I tried using the joystick as the base of the bone structure. The resulting animation looked great in Gmax, but didn't translate well into FSX. The end of the parts, the pilot's arm pit, moved around too much.

    [​IMG]

    In order to see how the parts were actually moving in FSX, I built a system of boxes instead of using dummies and bones. The labels show which type of animation was assigned to each part. LR = Left-Right and FA= Fore Aft

    [​IMG]

    The third picture shows the final results with the skinned arm part. The pilot no longer looks like one of those stringed puppets.

    [​IMG]

    I did the animation in two steps. First I got just the fore-aft animation of the arm and joystick looking right. I picked the fore-aft animation because of the two, it's the one most noticeable. Then the second step was adding the left right animation. The key here was just adding the animation to only one part even though there were three parts available. I added the animation to the elbow box at the end of the forearm.

    The final results are much better than my FS9 version. Thanks for the advice on how to link all the parts together.
  6. Horst18519

    Horst18519 Moderator Staff Member Resource contributor

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    Very well done. :)

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