action templates

1) I am having issues dropping action templates from library. I am trying the deformation rig and copy keyframes from the timeline as instructed in the video tutorial. Then when I want to drop the action template, sometimes plus sign does not appear on the appropriate layer so that I can not drop it. I am checking whether the hierarchy is changed, but I couldn’t find any changes. There has to be a consistency for using action templates so that it is reliable to use in a workflow. Possible reason: when copying characters in the templates it is suggested to copy from network view in order to maintain the hierarchy. But action templates can not be copied from network view, nonetheless it has to have an intact hierarchy in order to work properly. I think there is a contradiction in the way the action templates are implemented. On the one hand you have to maintain the hierarchy, on the other hand you have to implement it in a way that is likely to break the hierarchy. Are there any rules so that we can use action templates reliably?

2) After editing a template when you save it, a dialog box opens which states “This template may no longer be usable as an action template. Do you want to save?” What does that mean? Can we know exactly in which situations it may or may not work?

3) In one situation I manage to drop an action template of a head pose that consist of elaborate deformations on the face elements. After I dropped I realized that deformation system of the corresponding pose is missing in the imported head. There was just the drawings there. And there was only the previous pose of the head’s deformation system. (I am referring to numerically assigned deformation systems for different poses) What is wrong with this situation?

4) Could you please explain the paste special options when dropping action templates by holding ctrl key in more detail. It is not clear enough in the tutorials or the help document. A video tutorial would be great.
Thanks in advance

1)The way to do it is:
- The master rig template, with all the parts in the right order, should be copy pasted from the Network. Also before creating it, collapse the main Group of the character and force a keyframe (F6) on all the layers and all the functions (x,y,z, angle, skew, all the different deform curves, etc). It’s important that the master rig has a function curve for all parameters so that if you create later on an action template with certain changes in the movement, it knows where to bring back the new information. For example, if your master rig had 2 layers but you do not have a function for all 14 parameters (x,y,z,scale x, scale y, angle, skew), lets say only 6 (the x,y,z), and then later on you did an action template using the rotation. You would not be able to bring the action template in the scene where you had brought the master rig first because it would not know where to put the angle information.

The same applies for the deformation modules. It’s not just the hierarchy of the modules/layers it’s also the parameters of each modules.

You can always bring a simpler action template into a more complete master rig template. For example a head group into the full character as long as it knows where to put every layer and sub-layer functions.

- Action templates are copy pasted from the Timeline’s right side not the Network.

- When copy pasting action templates by careful to display the same things as when you did the master, for example, groups, fx, tagged only, etc. Although if your master has all in it like explained above it shouldn’t be a problem.

2) Usually it would happen if you add layers or functions, add composites, groups, because this would do what I explained above, introducing information that it doesn’t know where to put.

3) Not sure what you did exactly. Did you modify the action template in the library? Like adding new drawings with their deform poses that don’t exist in the master rig?

Thanks for your reply
-What is the difference between keyframe(ctrl+F6) and force keyframe(F6) In the insert menu F6 belongs to "keyframe and duplicate drawing. Do you mean that as force keyframe. Or are we using different shortcut systems (flash vs toon boom).
- I think copying and pasting templates and action templates should be more flexible. “…because it would not know where to put the angle information.” When the program does not know where to put that information, it would just skip that information and paste what it can paste. And then a dialog box would warn about the situation related to such and such parameters of such and such layers.
-The main problem is that in an animation project everything can not be prepared exactly at the outset without further changes. Characters, setups would constantly change. Animation softwares should be flexible enough to allow such changes IMHO. If a minor change in a setup or a character make the templates unusable then it will restrict any revisions and further development. Thanks again.

  • I was using Harmony’s shortcuts. F6 for keyframe.
    - Actually I rechecked the import of action templates and it is more flexible in Harmony 9.2 than in earlier versions. If you are missing the angle or a bone function it will bring the other parameters regardless. It might give you an unexpected result as some aspect is missing. It doesn’t warn you though. I don’t know if that would be possible to add.
    - I know that it can change and that’s why some studios where the rigs change too much they just bring modified rigs as a totally new layers. It means creating new masters then. Not ideal I know but to expect the software to resolve all the possible artistic changes, minor or major, is quite difficult. We found that it can’t follow names of layer only because they can easily be renamed. Following just the hierarchy didn’t work either. Following the combination of hierarchy structure and name is the best solution yet.

Thank you very much!