Thoughts on animation scripting language

Re: Thoughts on animation scripting language
I haven't used LDCad, so forgive me if any of this misses the point. I haven't used it because I'm very experienced with my existing setup (MLCad -> LDView -> PovRay), because I don't presently have the time to investigate it, and because LDCad looks a little too "heavy" for my aging PC :-)

But it does look interesting, so I wanted to just say a few words.

I've done complex animations before (example: The method I use is to use standalone command-line PHP as a general scripting engine to write a script that modifies the .pov file output by LDView to include all the additional calculations and rotations needed for the animation.

Using this technique not only can I easily manipulate the position of parts and the camera, but I can also programatically generate sequences whereby parts become hidden or unhidden on a frame-by-frame basis thus automatically generating a brick-by-brick build animation of an entire model regardless of whether the model is flattened first or left in a sub-model/structured state (parts are first sorted using MLCad's part sorting feature - example I also use this technique to assist in automatically disabling sub-models which are not visible within specific ranges of frames (or still renders) in order to reduce the memory footprint and speed up the render times.

The example script you gave is in fact very similar to the code I inject into the .pov file for cyclic animations, so for someone of my skills I feel you are going about this the right way. The choice of language matters more to the developer than the end user, as long as it has access to stuff like sin/cos/tan/asin/acos/atan/sqrt and preferably also inbuilt functions for splines and beziers. It's clearly too complex for a non-programmer, but in my experience those type of people would only attempt an animation if they had some sort of simple "wizard" to generate the script or animation sequence for them - which is something you could consider later for novices and simpler animations such as the wheels of a car spinning (from recollection SolidWorks provides something similar whereby you select some parts, select a single rotation axis and speed, and you're good to go - all without writing any code).

One thing I would like to say about that example script. Your example uses relative position calculations on each frame. That's fine, for many cases. But I've found that in most of my cases I prefer the ability to perform absolute calculations based upon PovRay's frame_number. I realise it was only an example, and you were probably going to allow something like this anyway, but I'd hate to see you implement an animation system where absolute calculations could not be done - it's much easier to choreograph and splice sequences which have been calculated absolutely with respect to the frame number.

The other thing that is unclear to me is what LDCad would be outputting here. Are you going to output a new unique .mpd for every frame and leave it to the user to convert these to a format suitable for raytracing? Or are you going to output a new .pov file for every frame? If that's the case, someone like myself is more likely to stay with my current system. One php script. One master .mpd file. Possibly one programatically altered .mpd file. One master .pov file. And one programatically altered .pov file. From that last file I can generate 1000s of renders using a batch file.

Ultimately, given the range of functions my scripts provide, I'm probably always going to roll my own anyway, so I'm probably not the best person to offer advice ;-) but I'll certainly be keeping an eye on what you're doing.
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Re: Thoughts on animation scripting language - by Stephen - 2014-02-11, 16:33

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