M o t i o n    G r a p h    B a s i c s

The Motion Graph is one of the most important parts of the messiah interface.  This is where the motions and rotations of items are created and fine-tuned.  It works in conjunction with the World View, Edit Sphere, Motion block, and the keyframe controls on the Edit tab.

Note:  Most keyframe editing can happen on multiple keys if you want.  Just drag a box around the keys, then make your modifications.  See Multi-Selecting Keyframes, below.

Sizing the Motion Graph:
The Motion Graph can be sized by simply clicking and dragging on the frame number bar.  In the Camera, Object, and Perspective view modes, the view will shrink down in the World View as you drag the graph up.  For the isometric views (Front, Left, etc.) the view stays the same size.   Because there is a certain amount of CPU time used in calculating and drawing the graph itself, you can sometimes improve the playback speed of an animation by dragging it all the way closed.  I know you'd think that the smaller the OpenGL is, the faster it will play, but in this case, gut feeling is wrong.

Moving and Zooming the Motion Graph View:

Mouse buttons & Keyframes:
Each mouse button does something different, and it's a good idea to be familiar with each.  Here's the breakdown:

Left Mouse Button (LMB):  The LMB is used for selecting keyframes and adjusting their value (up and down on the graph).

Adjusting the value with LMB.

Middle Mouse Button (MMB):  The MMB is used for two things.  If you click on a frame where there is no keyframe, one will be created.  If you click on an existing keyframe, you'll be able to drag it in value (up and down) and time (left and right).

Drawing keyframes (left) and moving keyframes (right) with the MMB.

Keys can also be created by middle-clicking in the drag area.

Right Mouse Button (RMB): The RMB is used for selecting keyframes and adjusting their time (left and right on the graph).

Moving keyframes with the RMB.

Note: Using the MMB and RMB you can move one keyframe past another in time.

Multi-Selecting Keyframes:
To multi-select keys in the Motion Graph, drag a box around them.  You can add or remove keys from the selection by just dragging a box around them, as you can see in the animation below.

Multi-selecting keyframes.

Multiple Curve Editing:
To make more than one channel appear in the Motion Graph, open the item's channels in the Item List and multi-select the channels that you want to have appear in the Motion Graph (SHIFT select or CTRL select).  If you want, you can have channels appear in the Motion Graph but not be editable.  To do that, turn off the Multi-Channel Editing icon in the Item List (see image below).  If this icon is on, then any time this channel is selected, even if it is not the highlighted-yellow current channel, it will be editable.  The image below shows some channels with the icon on (editable) and some with it off (not editable).

Cool Tip:  If you have some channels that you want to always appear together and be editable, make them a Group (click here for info) and turn on the Multi-Channel Editing icon for them.  In the Group, turn on Auto-Select.  So what will happen is that any time you select one of those channels, all of them will become selected (because of Auto-Select) and they will all be visible and editable in the Motion Graph (because of the Multi-Channel Editing icon).

Important Note For Longtime messiah users:  In versions of messiah prior to messiah:animate 4.5 and messiah:studio 2, the Multi-Channel Editing icons were off by default.  Now they are on by default.  They still work the same way, but people preferred them to default to on.

Motion Editing In World View:
Remember that motion can be edited in the World View too, even when the animation is playing.  Just click on a keyframe and move it around.  This works in conjunction with the Frame Jump setting on the Key/Frame Editing module.

Tension, Bias, and Continuity:
These controls adjust the shape of the motion spline, and therefore the timing of the motion.  You can adjust the Tension, Bias, and Continuity from the Spline Block, or in the Motion Graph.  Here is how to adjust them in the Motion Graph:

Tension:  CTRL drag on the keyframe.

Bias:  SHIFT drag on the keyframe.

Continuity:  CTRL-SHIFT drag on the keyframe.

Bezier Handles:
handles (tangents) are a way of controlling the shape of the motion spline, just like Tension, Continuity, and Bias are.  The advantage of Beziers is that they're more visually interactive and intuitive.  To activate the Bezier handles for a keyframe, select the keyframe and choose Bezier from the Curve pulldown on the Spline block.  The curve types can be changed for multiple keys too by just multi-selecting keys and changing the curve type. 

Adjusting Beziers with broken handles (or "tangents") for all keys.

By default, the handles on a keyframe are connected, so when you move one side up and down, the other side moves too, like a see-saw.  If you want, you can "break" the handles so you can move each side individually.  To do that, use the Handles buttons on the Spline block (see below) or hold CTRL and click on the handle.  To re-connect them, do the same thing, or turn off the button on the Spline block.  The image above shows broken handles.

Additional Bezier Info:
Here are some more things you might want to know about Bezier handles...

Additional Information:  Motion Graph     Dope Sheet

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