Licence to drive! (now with blend)

  / by Bassam

We’re finally in the driver seat! Yesterday, Ton and I went over a list of to do items for the animation features needed for project orange. Today, he committed IPO drivers in blender (the top of the list).

Currently this is limited to using object transformation or bone poses to drive any IPO curve you want.

Here’s a rather boring little video showing this feature in action: face-slider test. As you can see it’s incredibly useful to have a 2D slider controling 4 different facial shapes at once.

Continuing the test, I added more controls to the face, and now the setup looks like this:
gizmos galore!
The pose you see in this screenshot is entirely made with the custom controllers.

Further, you can replace the custom controller with a bone; use bone rotations to drive shapes for automatic muscle bulges, flesh compression or even cloth wrinkles. Andy made a nice little test anim to show cloth wrinkling and twisting as the character moves his arm.

cloth shapes

[edit] ok, as promised, here’s the .blend file for the scene… again, you need the most current cvs to run this – and there are a couple of wrinkles with actions and drivers yet- they’ll probably be fixed very soon, but they might mean you have to choose between normal armature animation and drivers for now: driver controller test file

[edit] Ton fixed the updating problem for bone drivers.. the jaw/look and eyelid controllers should work fine now, including live updating in the viewport.

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78 Responses to “Licence to drive! (now with blend)”

  1. JoOngle said on 5 Oct, 2005:

    Now more than EVER – the PROJECT ORANGE will be THE MOVIE
    to bring attention to Blender – serious attention! People
    are looking to switch now!

    *gah* Can you tell I’m a bit too excited? :)

  2. Toon Scheur said on 5 Oct, 2005:

    JoOngle, you have some strong points there, and considering that you’re a ex-Max user.

    To get back on track: Basam, wouldn’t it be more logical to arrange the planes and circles that drives/control the movement of the face, like a schematic face?

  3. luckybreak said on 6 Oct, 2005:

    …and for added ooh ah factor have a render of the characters face/limbs in the 3d view under the drive objects.

  4. TroutMaskReplica said on 6 Oct, 2005:

    sure would appreciate that .blend! ;)

    i’m trying to set up my own driven facial animation system and while i’m having some success, we don’t all have ton roosendaal sitting by our side to explain the new features! (lucky bastard) /end jealousy

  5. Brian said on 6 Oct, 2005:

    Really to push blender the biggest thing people are wary of is the lack of support. Yes, I know their are user forums and IRC chats galore. But companies/studios like to have a tech support person to call. The blender foundation should setup a group of volunteers to do just that.

  6. yeonil said on 6 Oct, 2005:

    If it is such a big problem that companies pay for it why not create a payable solution? Of course if anybody out there want this. (It would involve teaming up with a some new company not closely related to BF {but maybe binded by papers or sth. i don’t know}/{or not binded at all, but providing this support on it’s own, in some way contributing to blender welfare} :] )


  7. Reno said on 6 Oct, 2005:

    Did you ask Bill.. for some donation.
    He is the biggesed funder in the world.
    I`ll try if I was you!!!!! :)

    Please Bill…. it also works great on your stuf.

  8. Toon Scheur said on 6 Oct, 2005:

    That support idea is not bad at all. Kinda like MySQL does it. It is open source, but for a piece of mind, you can buy licenses which also means you’ll get support.

  9. Bassam said on 6 Oct, 2005:

    Ok, to all those who wanted the .blend, check the original post.
    as mentioned there, there are a few issues, right now the action that has the driver sits in the nla, but it seems like ‘normal’ actions override it (old nla problem) and furthermore, there are some problems with alt-r/s/g in actions.
    I’ll keep you posted as to new development.

  10. Vassilios Boucer said on 6 Oct, 2005:

    THANKS for the Blend file Bassam (driver Controllers test file.)…
    Thats AMAZING!!!!!!

  11. Bassam said on 6 Oct, 2005:

    It looks (at least with my current cvs of blender), that the armature drivers aren’t working without explicitly forcing a refresh of the 3d view… I’m not sure why, either a problem with my blend or with blender- It was working earlier.
    that’s why the jaw/eyelid/look controllers seem like they don’t do anything.

  12. Polygone said on 6 Oct, 2005:

    Yup. I also found that the 3D viewport didn’t update when moving certain sliders. Mind you, niggles aside, that’s a damn cool .blend file to experiment with.

  13. Auteuro said on 6 Oct, 2005:

    Thanks, Bassam. Haven’t got the build to open it yet, but I don’t care. As they say, “A .blend is worth 10,000 words”. At least I think that’s how the saying goes…??? ;D

  14. kindzu said on 6 Oct, 2005:

    im Portuguese 2
    my mail is
    (sorry for the off topic talk)
    apart from that, im completelly amazed with the drivers :)))
    did u know that only a month ago project messiah got a similar future? :)

  15. Simon said on 8 Oct, 2005:

    First up, Good work on blender and Orange and I a keen to see the ongoing work.

    I really like the fact that you are publishing .blend files as you go.

    I have taken the model offered in this post and put it into one of my own scenes.

    It is the blender guy waiting to go in for his screen test at the Orange Lab.


  16. Bassam said on 8 Oct, 2005:

    hehe, awesome! I always hoped people would use that guy for whatever they wanted.

  17. Bassam said on 11 Oct, 2005:

    ok, last comment, as the post edit shows, ton fixed the updating bug for bone drivers.

  18. cekuhnen said on 12 Oct, 2005:

    Hey guys,

    you just made my morning. i just downloaded the driver test file and we had a blast creating facial expressions in seconds.

    I have to get the orange movie DVD when it is finished so i could
    give a presentation about blender here at my university. quite some students are interested in it and also like the way to model in it.

    regarding patents, i also have heavy stones in my stomach.
    wings3d was nearly squizzed, but at the end they did not sue
    the programmer. i do not know if they had a silent agreement.

    however i share the point that at one stage when blender gets finaly realy usefull for studios for certain tasks, or could even give users who do not need all features from maya/xsi a program for free which let them model, animate and render their work in a way they want and need to, the major 3d companies might feel threatned and try to shut down blender, while i am unsure if studios will so quickly make a switch or replace/add blender to their modeling pipeline. i think the special fx and the render engine in maya with mental ray and its plug ins are quite important. i can see the modeling part be done in blender since i render with maya in mental ray as well.

    but i am curious how you would export the animation made in blender inro maya for example? i have to admit that i am not realy aware of what the open doc format is about and how much it will support (mesh, texture, bones, animation, …)

    anyway i am more than excited about seeing this project develloping and having a great influence on blender!

    thankx a lot


  19. etienneL said on 14 Oct, 2005:

    hoho, i saw bassam model training to incorporate the Orange movie. Seem to be very motivated ! :))
    Keep going on Orange team !.


  20. Tom Musgrove said on 14 Oct, 2005:

    [QUOTE]but i am curious how you would export the animation made in blender inro maya for example? i have to admit that i am not realy aware of what the open doc format is about and how much it will support (mesh, texture, bones, animation, …)[/QUOTE]

    Currently we don’t have any robust exporters that handle all of that, however, there is a widely supported format that can handle all of that information and more and support is being written for it right now.

    [QUOTE]regarding patents, i also have heavy stones in my stomach.
    wings3d was nearly squizzed, but at the end they did not sue
    the programmer. i do not know if they had a silent agreement.[/QUOTE]

    Mirai may have had design patents which protect the ‘look and feel’ of a program – which given how closely wings3d was modeled after them could have been in violation. I don’t know what if any patents Mirai held (indeed they may not have held any and it could have been lawyer bluff, which is not uncommon).

    Blender is extremely unlikely to infringe design patents, being a european foundation currently shields it from a lot of patent issues as well. According to Ton, as long as the infringement is not willful (ie as long as the Blender Foundation didn’t implement it knowing it was patented), all that could currently happen to the foundation is it is forced to recode stuff to not utilize the patent.

    Of course if europes patent law changes, that could change too.


  21. Greg Smith said on 16 Oct, 2005:

    I read in the release notes that actions can also be driven by the movement of objects, just like IPO’s can be driven. Does anyone know how to go about doing this?

    Greg Smith

  22. PolygoneUK said on 19 Oct, 2005:

    Been looking at this .blend file for a day or so now. I’m wondering if anyone out there has the time and patience to create a video tutorial on how to do the facial controls?

    I can see ‘what’ they do, but have no idea how they are made to make things happen :(

  23. alt said on 23 Oct, 2005:

    Well, about this fear of suing: I don’t get it.

    All the big packages (XSI, Maya, Houdini etc) implement the same features and pretty much in the same way. Still they are not suing each other, because:
    a) their opponent also has wide patent portfolio
    b) suing would give them bad name (they are all catering artists, after all.. artists are picky)
    c) that particular stuff is *not* patented

    There are not that many ideas in computer graphics that haven’t been around in academic circles for decades now. But they are getting implemented and used only lately because now there’s processing power for it.

    It is very hard for me to imagine that Blender would be only tool used in a big studio and threaten the sales of Alias for example. Most of the studios code their own stuff, buy everything there is and glue it all together to get best possible result in a given time. But Blender and other free tools may cause all big providers to keep checking their prices.

  24. rogper said on 23 Oct, 2005:

    Puting aside the ipo drivers and the viewport controlers for the moment, whitch are in fact outstanding. I dont Know if someone noted the bone armature of the dude!? Well I have, and let me tell you guys that it works torifical, I stayed marveled whit the brutal amonte of them, but what reely stuneed me was the fact that, well… is just the best riging i ever seen, it realy works.
    I realy want to learn the HOW TO DO, I’ve been tring reverse engenering but :-/ Tuturial Please :-)
    Keep the excelente work… OHH! Sory the ortografic mustakes, it seems to be the new fashion in this reply thing so I have to say it to, I’m Portuguese.

  25. TroutMaskReplica said on 12 Nov, 2005:

    i’ve been able to reverse engineer everything in the .blend except for the movement of the eyes.

    i’ve created 4 shape – lookupleft, lookupright, lookdownleft, lookdownright – and created a widget using guitargeek’s script using the 4 mix preset.

    problem is, the eyeballs squash in strange ways in between the four poles.

    any advice?

  26. Janete said on 5 Apr, 2006:


    I’m working on a project related with facil emotions. Right now I have a facial mesh with some vertex key animation. But I would like to do something like this?

    How do I do it? Can someone recomend me a tutorial?
    It’s really important…

    Thank you!

    Janete – Portugal

  27. Mike Stramba said on 5 Apr, 2006:


    For some reason, after either keying the armature or the facial controls, some of the facial controls stop working. Specifically the jaw and look at … which I see at the top of the blog were ‘fixed’ (in the ‘controller2.blend’ file that I downloaded from this page ???)

    What is the fix / workaround ……… if any ?


  28. tony said on 28 Apr, 2006:

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