Houdini Playbar Basics

Houdini Playbar Basics

We are going to take it easy on this #QuickTip with some Houdini playbar basics. We last tackled a lengthy Python series so you may still be digesting those. It was also a tough week in my neck of the woods. We had Irma, a category 4 hurricane pay us a visit. Luckily, I just had a minor leak in one of the rooms from the rain and power was only out for a day. I was lucky. In a previous storm a few years back, I was without power for a month.

Hurricane Irma
Hurricane Irma

 

Key Selection

The first thing you need to learn are selections. It’s really easy. All you have to do is hold down shift and left mouse drag in the timeline over your keyframes. You should see a yellow bounding box appear with ends that show the start and end frame of your selection. If you need to resize, just drag one of those ends. You can also do multiple selections so it is not only constrained to continues selections. If you want to deselect everything, just hit the letter q on the keyboard or click on the timeline.

 

Key Selection
Selecting

If you want to deselect just a portion of your selections, hold down shift and right mouse drag over the selection. You will see a red bounding box appear.

Deselecting
Deselecting

 

Moving Keys

Once you know how to select, you will want to move keys. Moving involves using the middle mouse button and dragging the yellow box selection. It doesn’t get easier than this. Notice that when you have multiple selections, you move all of them at once.

 

Moving Keys
Moving Keys

 

Scaling Keys

A common thing to do is scaling keyframes. Maybe you want to stretch or compress your animation. This is as simple as dragging the solid squares at either end of the selection to scale the selected keyframes using the middle mouse button. Remember you middle mouse drag the ends. If you drag inside the yellow box, you will move the keys.

 

Scaling Keys
Scaling Keys

 

Hold Keys

Let’s say you have some keys and you want to insert another key at a specific frame with the value from another frame further up or down the timeline. This is done by middle mouse dragging from the frame you want to copy the values from to the frame you want to insert the keyframe at. Notice the animation values do not update. The keyframe tick bar should turn into a dark, pale orange. Once you are at the frame you wish to add your keyframe to, hit ctrl (command) + k or just hit the letter k.

 

Hold Keys
Hold Keys

 

Muting Keys

This is one of my most used functions. I like to mute keys when I’m experimenting or fine tuning animation and don’t necessarily want to delete keyframes. This is in case I want to add them back or just need to turn off the animation for an object. First, select your keys as previously mentioned and then press shift + e on your keyboard to disable the keyframes. You should see the tick marks on the timeline become darker. In order to enable keys again, select the muted keys and press ctrl (command) + e. Handy!

 

Disable/Enable Keys
Disable/Enable Keys

 

Toggle Between Frames

If you shift and right mouse click the current frame field next to the playbar controls, you will toggle between the last two frames viewed.

 

Toggle last two frames viewed
Toggle last two frames viewed
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990adjustments

990adjustments

I am a motion designer & developer based out of South Florida. When not designing or animating pixels, I wrangle some code. If all else fails, I watch Twilight Zone, I Love Lucy, or Three's Company reruns.