Introduction to Animation in Terragen

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Introduction

This tutorial will cover the basics of how to set up animation inside Terragen 2. In order to do this tutorial, you must have Terragen 2 Deep + Animation for it to work. This will assume you know the basics of moving and setting the render camera.

The Animation Basics

To start off, the animation key is located near many fields all over the place, to signify that you can make a keyframe for this setting, and move it around within terragen. This button looks like this: Anim button.jpg. It will bring up a few options, and the one we most likely will be using is the set/remove animation key. The other two options deal with importing animation data from another file.

The main animation settings are located down at the bottom of the window, as seen below: Animation bar.jpg From left to right:
Project setting: modify what frame you are on, max number of frames in the project (default 100), and some name information if you want to put it there.
Frame: The text box shows what frame you are currently on, and allows you to type in a frame you want to jump to.
Movement keys: They do as follow: jump to first frame, move back 1 frame, play animation in preview render (toggles on/off), move forward 1 frame, move to last frame.
Frame slider: This slider can be used to move to new frames, and also show generally where you are located within the animation as a whole.


Now, animation works with keyframes, these are frames where you can change object settings on one frame, and Terragen will automatically scale/move/etc anything from the last key frame to the next keyframe smoothly for you.


Motion blur: Motion blur is a setting on the camera, called motion blur length. Change this setting if you want more/less motion blur in your animation.

Camera Animation

To start off we will show how to do camera animation. First, I want more frames then 100 to work with. Most film is at about 24-30 frames/second, so 100 frames would only be between 2-3 seconds of smooth animation. I'm just going to set mine to 1000 for now.


Then what you want to do is set the first frame to be a key frame for camera position. To do this, go to the Cameras tab at the top, pick the render camera, and hit the animation button for Position and tell it to add a keyframe. The text should now be green for the x/y/z coordinates. This signifies it is a keyframe, and blue text signifies its a frame between keyframes and therefore is moving accordingly. I'm now going to move to frame 60, and move my camera position to zoom in. Once you find a new position, hit the copy to render camera button. Now, go and create a keyframe at that new position. It is important you move the object FIRST then set the keyframe. As they keyframe needs the new position data to generate the in between frames properly first.


Set yourself back to the first frame, and hit the play button, and you should see your camera move to where you set the new position to be. Lets say we want it to start to roll the camera too as it gets near the final position we set. Lets say I want the camera to do a full roll as it approaches its end position. To do this I would set a keyframe back on the first frame again, this time for rotation. I would then set the set up my roll (360 degrees). You can technically start/stop keys seperate of eachother and wherever you want. So lets say I started to move position at key one, and then ended it at 60. What if I just wanted to rotate the camera a few degrees starting at the 40th frame, I would set the rotation keyframe at 40, and then again where I wanted it to end.

That about covers the basics of camera animation. For "speed" you would just have more distance between two keyframes that are close to one another, and to slow down stuff, you would move less or increase the distance between keyframes for the distance.


Objects

Objects are a lot like the camera movement with animation. You can edit many of its settings with keyframes. I'm going to add a sphere, and make it grow bigger. To do this I would add the object I wanted, and then starting at frame 60 I want it to start to grow to double it's size by frame 100. I would simply at 60 set a keyframe for its normal size, and then at 100 I will increase the size and set a new keyframe. You could also move its position the same way.

Rendering Animations

Animation renders are output as a bunch of images with the frame number in them. To render an animation you have set up, go to the render tab, and pick the renderer that you want to use. From there, pick the "Sequence/Output" tab near the bottom. Under "Output image filename" is where it is going to save the images for your render. Click the little save button and choose the folder you want to save in, and you can change the "temp" part to a name of your choice. The .%04d is so that images, when rendered, come out as temp.0001.bmp. The 04 part is how many positions it has. So 03 would put frames as 001-999. You might want to change this if you are doing a project that requires more then 9999 frames.

For extra output image, this is the alpha channel, if you ever need it (if you dont know what it is, you don't need it).

And finally, you can set up the sequence first/last frame to render, and how many frames to render. You can technically choose to render every other frame, every 5 frames, whatever you want. After setting all the quality settings you wish and the frame sequence you want, and set where to save the sequence, hit "render sequence" instead of the normal render button, and it should automatically go through and render all your frames and save them where you asked it to.

My Final Animation - It's only 150 frames and goes really quick, but you can get an idea of what happens. I also animated the sun.

Applying What You Know

Now that you know basically how that powerful little animation button works, you can now use that knowledge to animate any setting that contains this button. Theres a huge addition of other nodes that can do this animation, so explore and see how it works.

Tutorial Video

Check out this short 2.5 minutes video on youtube that demonstrates how to make a simple camera animation path. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4ULGYzthmc