QAvimator is the successor to Avimator but is more detailed and can support basic prop shapes and multiple avatars for creating group poses. The program is highly suited for those wanting to create static poses and other animations for Second Life (SL). It is a freeware program and available for download at: http://www.qavimator.org/
When you initially open the program, you will see that it opens to a default pose in a female form. The default amount of frames for a new file is 30. For static poses, you only need to adjust frame 2 but keep the rest of those unedited frames. Without those extra frames, you will not be able to smoothly transition your poses in SL.
On the top left, you will see the basic menus; File, Edit, Tools, Options and Help. Below those menus is a graphic toolbar; New, Open, Add, Save, Save As, Cut, Copy, Paste and Reset Camera.
Under File you have New, Open, Add, Save, Save As, Export For Second Life, Load Props, Save Props and Exit. The first few are your basic commands. You do not need to use Export For Second Life since you can save the file as a .bvh which is what SL uses. Save Props allows you to save the prop shapes you created for later use while Load Props loads them.
Under Edit, you have Cut, Copy and Paste. When making animations, you can copy an entire frame and paste it onto another frame.
Under Tools, you have Optimize BVH and Mirror. Optimizing removes place marks that are the same between two other same place marks throughout an animation. Basically if the arm does not move at all and has place marks on frame 4, 10 and 16, it removes the unnecessary place marks between (being frame 10). Mirroring mirrors the entire animation, not just one frame. This is handy for animations if you mirror, copy that frame, mirror back to the original and paste it where it is desired.
Under Options, you have a variety on both essential and non-essential options to toggle on/off. Skeleton merely shows the “bone” structure of the avatar. Those familiar with creating mesh will recognize that as the structure that all mesh is attached to create the smooth movements. You do not need to see it so leave it hidden. Joint Limits is what keeps the joints from bending beyond the general human body’s norms. Though you can turn the limits off and on, it is best to leave it on and only turn it off on the rare occasion you need to make an ‘impossible’ pose. Be careful in bending a joint beyond its limit since this will most likely distort the avatar and clothing. Loop simply controls the playback for the moving animations. Always keep it on, even for stationary poses. Keep Protect First Frame active. You do not want to touch the first frame anyways or you will not be able to upload the file into SL properly. Keep Show Timeline active as well. You will want to see if you have or have not activated all of the joints. Configure QAvimator is not necessary to touch since it controls floor translucency, fog visibility and default keyframe type.
Under Help, you have the software information.
If you have a mouse wheel, you can zoom in and out with that. Left-click and hold to change camera positioning. If you accidentally screw up your camera position, click on the Reset Camera button in the toolbar.
On the right hand side, you have two tabs; Avatar and Props.
Animation lets you switch between each file with the drop down menu but each additional file has to have been saved before you can do this. This is helpful when you have group poses.
Figure allows you to switch between the male and female avatar. You can re-size it too but honestly, you do not have to.
Edit Part is to indicate which body part you have currently selected. You can choose between the parts in this drop down menu or by simply clicking on the figure itself.
For the Rotation section, you have X, Y and Z Rotations. Each body part must have one of these three adjust, even in the slightest, for the body part to be locked into position. Failure to do so will result in a bleed-through effect where the underlying AO, pose or default SL movements will show through. To make only the arm or hand move for a bag animation, move only the body parts needed and the rest will remain inactive for the bleed-through.
Below that is the Position section. This affects only the pelvis, which is the avatar’s center. The Y (avatar hover height) is defaulted at 43.5285. This can be rounded to 43 without noticeably affecting the avatar.
For the Ease In/Out, do not worry about those since you will determine that during the upload process.
Loop In/Out is also one you do not need to touch.
By default, there will be 30 frames so you will see “2 of 30” with 30 being the total amount of frames currently. Next to that is FPS: 30, which stands for Frames Per Second. If you are only doing static poses, leave that be since it applies only to animations.
On the bottom, you will find the timeline with the scroll bar and two buttons for replay (a cycle button) and lock position (a lock button). Clicking replay will cycle the animation until you click it again to stop. Clicking lock will freeze the position of your current selected body part. If you do not have a single body part selected, it will lock the entire frame you are on. Unlocking a body part is done the same way by selecting the part itself or the entire frame.
The hips are the most important body part of the whole body. It dictates where the avatar is in reference to the default pose. It can make your avatar go up, down, left, right, back and forward from the original spot. You can change that by clicking on the gray slider and moving from right to left slowly. You can also be more precise with the numbers by entering the desired number itself, such as 65.25 instead on 65. If the number is too high or too low for normal bending, then it will automatically revert to the highest or lowest it can go, such as entering 23 but reverting to 20. Un-checking the Joint Limits under Options removes that limitation.
After modifying a body part, you should see that the part is highlighted on the timeline and with a little symbol on frame selected. The joint is now active. Inactive joints are those that are zeroized (0,0,0 for their x,y,z axis). This allows animations under it to bleed through such as a bag that has an animation affecting only the arm but allows the AO to bleed through for the rest of the body. If you do not want any body parts moving, modify ALL of them slightly. It can be as small as 0.
When making animations, each point where a body part changes position in either the x,y,z axis is indicated by an arrow or square. An arrow connects with the lines that indicate transitioning frames from one position point to another. A square is a changed point between two arrows. No lines indicate no transition between frames. A circle indicates a point that is the same between two other points . The option to Optimize BVH under Tools removes those since they are unnecessary. Keep in mind that the ending frame reflects the last point ever changed on the timeline but the frame itself can be modified, unlike the first frame.
To save the file, name it to what you want and add the extension “.bvh”. An example would be “whatever.bvh”. Always keep the .bvh extension there because QAvimator will try to save them as .avm which is the Avimator file type and is incompatible with SL.
To upload a pose into SL from your viewer, go to Upload > Animation. You can find your file under Computer > your hard drive > Program Files > QAvimator > data > and whatever folder you put it in or saved right there. Open a test animation and wait. Some systems, such as a 64-bit Windows 7, will have Qavimator files under Program Files (x86).
When selecting the Animation Priority, keep in mind what you intend to use the animation for.
- Priority 2 – Good for weak animations that are meant to be overridden such as AOs. The avatar will sway slightly so it is not good for model poses.
- Priority 3 – Good for animations that are meant to be overridden, such as default stands, since the avatar does not sway. Also good for walking animations to allow a purse or other accessory with a built in animation override certain parts of the body. Not good for model poses though.
- Priority 4 – Best for model poses and walks that are not meant to be overridden. Any P4s played over another will override the previous in their respective order. This is done through manual posing.
- Priority 5 – This is only achieved with older viewers that have had their core program coding modified to make this available. Do not expect many to have this option anymore with viewers that are up to date.
Check mark the Loop box. It keeps the animation playing, even for static poses and walking animations. This is essential for model poses or else you will go into the pose and pop right back out into the default SL pose.
Hand Pose changes the way the classic avatar’s hands look when the animation is active. Normally hands are relaxed unless you are holding something. Keep in mind that if you are hold in one hand, the other has the fingers spread, not relaxed.
The Expression gives you the silliness of SL’s finest facial expressions. Have fun with that but please, do not use it for runway poses.
Preview While should never be touched. I do not know who would want to use that but you can see how it affects your pose if you want. It basically blends SL’s default sitting, walking and flying to your pose if you select them. Keep that setting at standing.
Ease In and Ease Out dictates how long it takes for the avatar to go into the pose. IsoMotion’s ease in/out time is set to 1.8 seconds for modeling poses, 0.9 seconds for default stands and 0.5 seconds for walks.
Fun fact: Di’s Opera and Manifeste poses are at either exact or similar rates. Compatible rates make blending poses from different pose makers easier for a flawless look. It is essential to have the transition time the same for each pose. You do not want to be on the runway and have one pose move into place faster than the others.
For Firestorm users, the camera looking button plays the animation on your avatar in-world. You will be the only one to see it in this preview. You can also click on Reload File if you have gone back to QAvimator to fix something and re-saved it on your hard drive. This will refresh the file that the viewer is previewing from. You will have to redo the Priority, re select Loop and adjust the Ease In/Out again if you do that. This is quite handy for the small touch-ups to create the perfect pose for your avatar. Only when you click Upload, will you spend the 10L so use the preview wisely.
Cam around and make sure that the feet are flat on the ground, even in heels. If the avatar is too high or too low, adjust the hips. Make sure that the pose looks good at all angles. The biggest mistakes in runway poses is one foot hovering slightly off the ground or the whole body tilted at an awkward angle. The pose may look good from the front but if it looks like you are falling from the side angle, fix it.