General discussion related to SketchUp. No off topic threads please.
27 posts • Page 1 of 1
As some of you may know, I have been looking for a good animation plugin for SU for some time. I played with SketchyPhysics (SP)for a while, but while it was a very capable app, it lacked a good tutorial and was a difficult learning curve (for me anyway). I never could master it. Then the creator dropped out of sight, and SP is as good as dead now.
I looked at a few others (briefly) but for me and what I need in an animation plugin, none delivered. In another thread The only draw back to sketchup ( http://www.forums.sketchucation.com/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=46365&p=415294&hilit=simfonia#p415294 ) Simfonia came up as a suggested solution to a posters request to animate. Thanks to Pilou.
The link to Simfonia's home page is http://www.simfonia.fr/SAT/index.php
It is NOT free, but has a free trial with limitations. (This is where I am at this time.) It is not cheap, and has several levels of capability at varying prices.
It does a lot more than SP did, does much of what SP could do as well. It incorporates a Keyframe Editor (which I am exploring as my introductory to SAT) and a ballistics processor, akin to SP. But it also has an external data input derived from an Excel spreadsheet and other sources, plus a reporting function that will plot motion. That and a video exporter as well.
Needless to say it is complex and I expect a steep learning curve. But it does come with documentation (PDF files) and a lot of SKP example files. There are several demo videos on Simfonia and YouTube.
No real tutorial though, a major bummer.
After this post I am copying over my first post exploring SAT from the The only draw back to sketchup thread, and an email I sent to Simfonia regarding this thread.
I am making notes as I delve into SAT and I will report here with them as I go along.
Re: The only draw back to sketchup
Copy of my first post looking at SAT.
Postby jgb on Wed, 11 Jul 2012 12:26 pm
Did not explore the whole site before I put my foot in my mouth...
Looks very promising.
I downloaded SimFonia (trial) and will report back here in a few days about it.
A few comments about the SimFonia website....
Nicely laid out.
There is a mix of English & French in the demos, but not to the extent it gets confusing.
Nowhere does it say how long the trial lasts.
Found out it is not time limited as much as results limited. It seems to infer animations can only TOTAL as long as 10 seconds, for EVERYTHING, or 10 animations total.
Goto http://www.simfonia.fr/SAT/index.php?page=compare for more info and product restrictions.
Nowhere does it say how much it costs, until you register and attempt to d/l the full app. Yeah, it does, in the Sat Products Versions.
You need to enter your PC MAC address in order to register, as it is a 1 PC install only.
Price is in Euros. About E60 plus E180 for the Character Animator.
Documentation (looks extensive) is a separate download. Go for the all in 1 ZIP file.
This is the email I sent to SimFonia, regarding setting up this thread.
I am evaluating SAT for my personal use. I used to (almost) use SketchyPhysics, but found it too difficult to master. SAT is far more capable and complex, but suffers from any real "How To" tutorial. YOUTUBE videos are not a solution for a new user. The examples in the PDF docs are too simplistic and there seems to be no relation (as seen so far) to any of the SKP files provided.
I am going to open a topic on SketchUcation devoted to SAT, with a link to your HOME page.
I intend to post my experiences learning SAT. As I have a background in software testing, I will note what I see as shortcomings, inconsistencies and suggest specific improvements as I go along.
I would strongly recommend you assign someone technical (not marketing) to monitor that topic and reply to it on a regular basis.
Sorry it's in French
That was a sort of Sketchup French Basecamp
Yes we had "Mr Subra" the Trimble senior with us!
Here the Simfonia part
Maybe you can use the beta caption translator
(launch the video then "red CC" button) but not sure that is a very good translation...
I'm sorry but this has to be said, I contacted simfonia before buying the hobby licence in relation to the character animation plugin and they told me I would receive the character animation plugin shortly with the hobby version, so I baught the hobby version, a month passed by and I contacted them on a Friday, they mailed me back telling me I would have the plugin by Monday, 2 more months passed by and I mailed them continuelesly about the plugin and they never reply to my emails, now they released the character animation plugin for €150, what a shower they are, tell me lies and take €60 of my hard earned cash and part of the licence is customer services, answer my emails simfonia, I wouldn't of baught the hobby version if they had told me I had to buy the character animation separately for €150, excuse my French but that's taking the piss
Bring on the Rain...
I am desolated of that!
I don't know anything about this company but I will see if I can make something for you
Last edited by Pilou on Fri Jul 13, 2012 9:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I didn't want all the other features I just wanted the BVH Animator feature which is the character animation plugin, a complete waste of €60, a plugin I was promised with the hobby version, they won't answer my emails which is part of the licence agreement, customer care is nonexistent, I'd be very surprised if they would acknowledge you in relation to my issue with them.
Bring on the Rain...
Who knows, i can reverse mountains
You have my consent, best of luck
Bring on the Rain...
I'd nearly bet on it, no returns,
Bring on the Rain...
Thank you Jgb for creating this post, it is very interesting to have feedback from users. We are about to create an official topic for SAT on Monday. Just time to give the finishing touches, conform to the forum etiquette and, as Pilou said, liberate the Bastille… About your technical questions, be sure they will be answered by a technical interlocutor; especially if you use our dedicated email (hotline and bug report).
Iichiversi, I apologize for inconveniences. I am going to investigate your issue in order to understand what happened. Can you please send me a pm with the email address you used for ordering?
The keyframe animator is a classical tool to animate your scene, the main capabilities of this one are deformation handling and the possibility to plan the animation with a csv files (see after). But SAT also offers a "transformation processor" in order to directly assign a transform to an object.
For example you can animate your scene in the following way: "this door will rotate 90° around its Z axis" or "the hand of the clock will rotate 360° per second around its Z axis" or "this car will move 110km/h along the X-axis". As the tool allow working with hierarchies and easily handling of coordinate systems you can create very complex moves with some mastering…and imagination.
I invite you to refer to the documentation relative to the “transformation processor”. And directly begin by chapter 4.4 “transformation related to a motion” (p.20). I think the tutorials will give you a good insight of this feature.
To understand the philosophy of external data-files, it is interesting to look our use of SAT. SimfonIa is indeed an engineering company. Our main task is to predict the behavior of complex systems like an aeronautical hydraulic pump, a battery for hybrid car or a smart-grid network for residential complex. A simple worflow would be:
Our customer want to predict the fall of an apple => Newton gives us the gravitational equation => our simulator solve the equation => we deliver curves, Excel datasheets and analysis to our customer
SAT was thus developed in order to emphasis the work with a video showing the result: the falling apple… That is what we call procedural animation. It is a really interesting perspective for customers to be able to see their product live instead of trying to imagine its movement from 10 stacked curves.
Fortunately, you don’t need to be an engineer to be interested in procedural animation. You can indeed use this concept to capture a scenario. You have to put the time in the first column of your csv file and signals that will drive your transforms in other columns. For example you can set the speed of a car versus time or use a trigger to launch a specific rotation after 10s or drive your keyframe transformations with these scenarios. You can also create driving signals directly in SU using the "signal generator".
It is “in the hoven”.
I took a look for skp examples of Keyframe manual, they seem relevant. Do you think about another file? You can found them in the following repertory of your SU install. \Plugins\simfonia\SAT_DATA\SAT_Examples\Keyframe_Editor
Thank you all, we are looking forward to seeing what you will do with SAT, more infos on Monday.
Please, register (free) to access all the attachments on the forums.
Pm sent, hope this matter can be resolved since I had this issue last January, cheers Pilou for getting the ball rolling
Bring on the Rain...
Thank you SimFonIA_team for your quick and informative response.
I have not had time the last few days to play more, but I want to respond to a few things you said in that post.
About your technical questions, be sure they will be answered by a technical interlocutor; especially if you use our dedicated email (hotline and bug report).
The principal reason I opened this topic, rather than address my questions to you via your web site email, is the education of SU users interested in SimFonIA. Using your email alone; that transparency is gone, unless I go through the added steps of copying all my queries and your responses back to this thread, and that I am not prepared to do on a regular basis. I doubt if other SU/SAT users would bother. Here all can see and respond to any question I or any other SU/SAT users may have as well as your replies. I am well aware that SAT is relatively new (it's all Ver 1.0) so this is a good platform for you to evaluate ideas and concerns for Ver 2. And after just a few hours playing with SAT, I have several already.
We are about to create an official topic for SAT on Monday.
If that is the case, I am open to transferring this thread to yours.
I invite you to refer to the documentation relative to the “transformation processor”
I will for sure. I am just starting to wrap my head around the TP, having spent my time so far on just moving a block around the screen, and then attempting (but not fully successfully) simulating an airplane door opening with stairs extending. I know it can be done using linkage or Bullet, as I did the same thing in SP during my learning of it, but I want to master Keyframes first as a lot of my animations will use this feature.
External data sets are way beyond my SAT comprehension at this time, but I do see a use for them in at least 3 of my working models.
I took a look for skp examples of Keyframe manual, they seem relevant.
Again, my foot being in my mouth blocked my vision. I looked again in the KFE manual and there in section 3 was the SKP files reference right at the beginning, which obviously I missed on first reading.
I expect to post here on late Monday or Tuesday with my initial experiences learning to use the Keyframe Editor.
Sorry I took so long to thank you both for the initial SAT reference, and the boot camp video.
However my very long time unused Quebec French (lack thereof) language "skills" was not up to understanding any of the video.
And I have no idea of the "Red CC Button" you refer to.
Well this one (some videos have not this)
seems this button can have some different colors today it's white, some days it's red!
Launch a Youtube video and you will see the Button who permits to acces to tricky possibilities
Tranfert the sound in direct to subtitles!
then it translates the subtitle in any language as usual
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Sorry Pilou, it did not work for me. The "Translate" was beta, and is non selectable.
I use Firefox, but I tried IE, same result.
C'est la vie.
... and see the button is red
In this vid, the CC button was red, and it worked.
In your SimFonIA vid it was white and did not work in English, but did in Korean, which is less than useful to me.
Thanks for trying.
OK, I played with SAT for a few hours today, and my response here to my experiences will be split in 2 parts.
Part 1; (today) is what problems I encountered as a newbie to SAT and my climb up the learning curve.
It will be largely what problems I encountered with the documentation, examples, the APP itself and some suggestions for improvement. I will define as best I can what I was doing and what happened, that in my opinion, was wrong, inconsistent or incomplete as an example of "how to".
Part 2: (starting tomorrow) will be a sort of tutorial based on my climb up the curve, without comments regarding stuff in part 1. The 1st one will cover installation, the documentation, and initial exercises with the KeyFrame Editor.
Later if the SimFonIA team wish to incorporate into their own tutorial any that I have written, they are welcome to do so.
I got interested in SAT because for years I have been seeking a good animation plugin for SU. I have certain needs that may not apply to others, but I love to design stuff (aerospace mostly) having a background in that area, and SU gave me the tools to draw in 3D that Autocad could not. I have a mountain of paper drawings for concepts that I have just scratched the top of the heap putting into SU. What I needed most was an articulation function that would allow me to link moving parts and see what happens as bits move. I don't just design the "outsides" I design the structures and mechanics as well to prove to myself the concepts will work.
I found SketchyPhysics and it seemed to give me much of what I needed. Others did magic with it, proving it could be done. But for me, it was near impossible to learn to the extent I needed.
Other animation plugins were nowhere near what I needed.
Then last week I discovered SAT in another thread. I went through their website, and although disappointed it was not free, at least it was somewhat inexpensive and had a free trial download.
So I downloaded the trial version.
It seemed to install as instructed, but the toolbar failed to expand. I reinstalled, same. Then I closed/opened SU and the TB was there, as suggested by SimFonIA_Team (back up this thread).
As noted before, there is NO SAT tutorial or how-to manuals. I went through several of the PDF's but as a newbie, they were a bit opaque. The Documentation webpage says: must keep the "User Guide" at your side. but I printed the UG and found it to be lacking as a User Guide. It does explain the features of SAT, but not how to use them, nor even where to start as a newbie. It gets into technical details before you know whats what. Read it once and put it aside.
The "General Introduction" is a better first read. Print it. But it is still not anywhere near a tutorial or "how-to" guide.
From what I had seen so far I figured the "Keyframe Editor" [KFE] was a good place to start.
PRINT THIS PDF This is where to start.
Read it first. Then start on PAGE 9 EXAMPLE 3. If you try stuff before that, nothing works, because there are a few quirks to SAT that are not obvious, primarily the need to use the "Transformation Processor" [TP] when defining a keyframe sequence. The TP part that is linked from the KFE (the transformation name), should be part of the KFE dialog box. In fact the whole Keyframe Editor Dialog box needs an overhaul. It is a bit confusing, disjointed and takes up way too much screenspace.
The dinnerbell just rang, so I'll continue 1st thing Tues am with the rest of the story and a suggested new KFE layout.
Thank you for your argumented return. You are raising a very interesting problem that we we did not have considered.
Indeed we have designed the documentation for a user who begins its learning by working on the transformation-processor. It is the cornerstone of SAT and as soon as you have understood its use-philosophy everything should be clear.
But your experience is showing us that a user can starts with functions which are of interest for him ( bullet and keyframe in your case). What results in misunderstandings like the one you justly notice :
So keep on reviewing, it is very interesting for us and we will for sure take your remarks into account.
Thank you this is a very interesting proposal! If we do so, you'll be informed for sure.
SimFonIA_Team; Thank you for monitoring this thread.
To all, sorry for the no-show yesterday.
The "old Battleax" pre-empted my entire day.
Right now I am looking into what may be an interference of Curviloft and SimFonIA.
Back here real soon.
It's a problem with my "shape". Posting it to the Curviloft thread.
Curviloft seems OK with SimFonIA.
Just thought you'd like to know your review of SimfonIA is of great interest & much appreciated. I started working with Sketchyphysics but had the same problems I think some others did. Sad, but it doesn't look like those problems are going to get resolved. So, although I'm still dabbling (not essential to my work but has potential) I'm very interested to hear how SimfonIA is measuring up.
Keep posting... we're reading every word. Thanks
Well, it is Wed, mid afternoon. Continuing from where I left off.........
I loaded "Example 1a.skp" and watched it move. I did the examples suggested in the KFE PDF with ease. I added a few more moves and they worked as well.
Same with example 1b. But it showed me nothing more than I found out playing with 1a. Example 1c looked exactly the same as 1b. I also tried 2a, 2b and 2c, but ran out of "play" time to master what they were demonstrating. I really need to master "waving around" multiple groups, with independent motion, as this is a major area that I will be exploiting.
Here's what I found so far with the Keyframe Editor. Some may be attributed to my ignorance of all it can do, but when I try a new S/W app or plugin I expect a certain intuitiveness and consistency of operation. Then I hit the doc's to find out more. In this case, the KFE PDF offered little clarity, up to the point where I was at exercise 2a/b & c (page 12 is where I am here).
1- From what I've seen so far, the KFE depends on the Transformation Processor for only 1 function, that is "Animation Name" and the TP is "mode sensitive" to the KFE. So if an object is not selected, the TP does NOT display the expected Animation dialog. Took a while to understand this.
In my mind, that function should be part of the KFE dialog, not a separate dialog. And I would suggest the objects' name be taken from the SU group or components name, to avoid confusion later when there are multiple moving objects.
2- When an animation finishes, the object deselects and the KFE dialog reverts back to "Camera" mode. This is VERY confusing, when creating or editing a motion sequence.
The KFE should stay in "Animation" mode and the object should stay selected. When I had 2 groups that coincided at time 0.0 and each had different sequences, it was very difficult to select a specific group to edit, especially re-selecting the group being defined or edited between runs.
3- There seems to be no way to STOP an animation part way through, only pause. You have to wait for it to finish. Not to big a problem when the trial limits you to 10 seconds, but later when the runs are longer that will be a big problem.
You need a "Stop/Quit" button on the toolbar. Preferably it should stop where it is and if time 0.0 is wanted, use the "goto" button
4- There seems to be no easy way to update a time sequence, other than creating a new one with the changes and deleting the old one. For example, changing the time from say, 2.0 to 2.1. Or swapping positions of time 2.0 and 3.0.
If the Keyframe list were dynamic, I would just change the time (or name, or objects position in SU). Add an "update" icon next to the "delete" icon to make the change. Then the "create/add" keyframe dialog would be just that.
5- In playing I royally screwed up a long Keyframe list, so I wanted to start over, rather than take the time to try to fix it. Without saving, I reloaded the same file into the session. The object reverted to the last saved position, as expected, but the keyframe list stayed with the messed up sequences.
The Keyframe list MUST stay current with the last saved SU file version. If not this will lead to problems later when the SU file is edited, or a Bugsplat requires opening the SKB or Autosave files.
6- This one is a SERIOUS bug. I ran a sequence, letting it end normally. I then modified the cube by extruding 2 sides and adding some structure to it, just for the sake of it. I ran the Keyframe sequence and let it end normally. OK so far.
I then hit the UNDO button to revert the object back to a cube. The KFE Watermark said "Rewind" then went back to its' normal view, but at the 8.4 second mark which was the end of the sequence, before the timeout at 10 sec.
The UNDO STACK EMPTIED and there was NO UNDOING any of the edits I made to the cube.
And, the 8 sec watermark STAYED onscreen during subsequent runs, with the running watermark running normal. The 8 sec watermark is deletable, but the cleared UNDO stack is a major problem.
The SU UNDO Stack must be preserved. You can add SAT operations to the stack if you want (the stack is limited to 100 operations) but clearing the stack is a major no-no.
7- I took a hard look at the KFE dialog box. My main critique is the amount of screen space it occupies. So I made a revised version, taking less space and incorporating my comments #1 and #4.
I've attached a before/after pair.
Note the size reduction, and addition of the Transformation Name, the UPDATE Icon, GOTO 0 Sec button and the warning regarding deleting all Keyframes.
I added the GOTO 0 Sec button because that is a given but I often wanted to return to a defined time repeatedly during a list creation or edit.
Hopefully tomorrow I can start the Tutorial based on what (little) I have learned so far.
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While writing the tutorial (a bigger job than it seems, especially since I am learning as I write about it) there needs to be some clarification on a few of the previous points I made.
Point # 1 - The Transformation Processor (as far as Keyframes are concerned) does another important function. If you have 2 or more moving groups and therefore 2 or more KFE lists, the TP also ENABLES or DISABLES any KFE List. This allows you to select which group(s) are moving in that run.
3 - Toolbar STOP or Quit button. I now realize the REWIND button does exactly that, although it resets back to Time 0 as does the GOTO 0 button in the KFE, the KFE may not be visible during a run.
I still think a STOP button on the toolbar would be useful if it stopped the object at that point in time (between keyframes) for analysis or to create another keyframe between 2 others and be exactly position accurate when it ran. Tweaking a position midway between 2 keyframs is dicey if you need to place it manually.
5 & 6 - I need to play with these more to validate the conditions. During the tutorial writeup, what I saw happening in these 2 conditions was not consistent, but they DID happen.
The Tutorial is up to 12 pages so far, as a MS Word document, with many screen prints (which take up a lot of page space). It's about 2/3 complete with part 1, dealing only with moving groups around the screen. Part 2 will cover moving the camera POV which is akin to SU Scene manager.
Then I will decide what part 3 will cover. Any suggestions??
Well, it is a long work you did there ! Unfortunately it is sometimes difficult to imagine your problem without knowing precisely what case you treat.
So : Points 1,2,3,4,5,7 are possible improvements to the plugin, they are stored on our side and will be discussed for the V2.0. Point 6 is clearly a bug, it is now in the bug-list.
About Part 3 of your exploration I sugest you to take a look at the cornerstone of SAT : the transformation processor )).
27 posts • Page 1 of 1