Animation and Penny’s Excellent Udemy Course

I have been learning even more animation with Penny De Byl’s Udemy class ‘Mastering 3D Animation in Unity.’ I am very impressed with her classes.

Penny starts out teaching you how to use raw mocap data for Unity’s Mecanim system, and adding material physics to objects to affect how the bounce or stick or slide. She goes into depth on keyframing, timelines, and tweening. She shows how to use colliders to trigger animations. She shows how the bones and joints rigging system works with humanoid models. She makes great use of Mixamo, which I have learned to love. I hope Adobe keeps this great resource available.

There’s a lot of useful tips on importing animations and fixing common problems. She shows how to add animations to characters, and to skin them to characters from other characters. She shows the problems that root motion, baking Y, baking rotation, and baking XZ are designed to address, and when you need them. She shows how to mix the translation from root animations, with the scripted translations and how to pass control of the translation around. There are so many techniques such as using anchors to align your animations, and putting animation events at the end of an animation.

Then she goes into blendshapes, which I already know a lot about, even though it’s been years since my doctorate. I spent enough hours on that project that I’m not going to forget the basics any time soon. But what I did learn was using the animation window to add blend shape trees, and strafe sets.

Another excellent use of anchors is with inverse kinematics. This time the anchor is an object the character might reach out to, or follow with his head.

All in all, I can’t recommend this course highly enough. Between this and the AI techniques course she has, I feel like I’ve learned most of what I need to know to develop a VR game. Most importantly, I’ve learned what’s hard and what’s easy. I’ve been enjoying adapting her projects to work in VR, and adding to them of course.

Vive VR

I finished Penny de Byl’s ‘Beginner’s Guide to Artificial Intelligence in Unity’ course from Udemy. Actually, I’ve begun about a dozen 3D/Animation/Game Udemy courses, but Penny’s was spectacular and I’ve learned the most and enjoyed hers immensely. I will get the rest of her courses. I’ve adapted her tutorials to run in VR, which really brings them alive!

Penny’s first chapters teaches the basics of animation, as you manually calculate trajectories, and tweak parameters to get turning speeds and realistic movement, manually set up waypoints, etc. Then she teaches Unity’s built-in Waypoints and NavMesh which calculates paths for you automatically as you simply set destinations.

The crowds and flocking behavior logic were the most amazing ones in my VR world, as I gaze around my schools of fish as they flee an upcoming shark, or walk around in a crowd of Mixamo characters who politely walk around me, except for the one I put Capoeira animation on after he runs up to me!

Penny also covers behavior trees and goal-oriented action planning. Oh, and she covered how to import external models and animations, and how to get them to interact with the NavMesh animation, which was extremely useful. And the basis for what I want to learn next.

There are two other courses that I’ve spent significant time with. One is ‘The complete Unity Masterclass: Build 2d, 3d, and VR games.’ The sheer volume of material here is impressive, and the tutorials are great for people who have zero experience with Unity’s C# programming, but it wasn’t remotely VR related, so its misleading but still well done. The other is ‘Fast Animation and Rigging Techniques Using Maya 2017.’ I’m finding this one a bit laborious, but that may just be the nature of Maya.


Unity and Vive!

Ahh, I am having so much fun with Vive! I can now create little games and animations in Unity and view and control them with my Vive VR. I can take 360 photos and teleport around to different scenes made from these photos in Vive. This is so much cooler than plain old 3D modeling.