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Assemble puppets into scenes

New Starter mode is now available! 

Character Animator 22.5 (released June 2022) introduces Starter mode to get you started animating now without any prior experience. Update now to the latest version to try this out.

A scene contains puppets, audio files, and recorded takes. You can view the contents of a scene in the Scene panel. You can also pan and zoom the panel’s contents for better viewing.

Create scenes

To create a scene, do either of the following:

  • Choose Scene > New Scene (Command/Ctrl+N), type the name for the scene, then press Enter or click away from the text field. A new empty scene is created in the Project panel. You can add puppets and other supported project items to the scene.
  • Select one or more puppets or other supported items in the Project panel. Now drag them into an empty Scene or Timeline panel, click the Add to New Scene button, or choose Scene > Add to New Scene (Command/Ctrl+/). A new scene containing the selected project items is created in the Project panel, and is opened in the Scene panel. If only one item was selected, the new scene is named after it.

Newly imported puppets are positioned at the center of the scene by default. Use the Transform behavior option to reposition a puppet in its scene.

The new scene defaults to the same frame rate, duration, width, and height as the last-created scene or the last scene whose settings you modified.

Scenes also include a Recording Speed parameter, but it always defaults to 1x.

Duplicate a scene

To duplicate a scene, select it, then choose Edit > Duplicate (Command/Ctrl+D).

Edit contents of a scene

To edit the contents of a scene, double-click the scene item in the Project panel. The scene opens in the Scene panel.

Refresh the content of a scene

To manually update the scene in the Scene panel, click the Refresh button at the bottom of the panel. You can also double-click the scene in the Project panel to update it. Refreshing a scene is useful if you want to reset simulations (for example, Dangle or Particles behaviors).

Pan contents of the Scene panel

To pan the contents of the Scene panel, hold down Option/Alt while dragging in the Scene panel.

Zoom contents of the Scene panel

To zoom the contents of the Scene panel:
  1. To zoom into or out from a region, place the pointer there.
  2. Hold down Option/Alt while spinning the mouse wheel or using your trackpad’s vertical scroll gesture.

Reset panning or zooming in Scene panel

To reset the panning or zooming of the Scene panel, do either of the following:
  • Choose 100% from the Zoom Scene menu in the lower-right corner of the Scene panel.
  • Hold down Option/Alt while double-clicking in the Scene panel.

Zoom content to fit panel

To zoom the content to fit the bounds of its panel, choose Fit from the Zoom Scene menu in the lower-right corner of the Scene panel.

Change background color of a scene

To change the displayed background color of a scene, click the Background Color button (a small color chip) at the bottom of the Scene panel. It cycles between black, white, and dark and light transparency grids (checkerboards). The color is ignored during export.

Close a scene

To close the currently open scene in the Scene panel, press Command/Ctrl+W. You can also choose Close from the panel’s tab menu (opened via the blue scene name in the tab). Choose Close All to close all open scenes.

Changing scene settings

  1. Select the scene in the Project panel, or click in the Timeline panel for an open scene but do not have anything selected.
  2. In the Properties panel, adjust the following parameters:
    • Frame Rate is the number of frames rendered per second.
    • Duration specifies the number of seconds of the scene to be exported via File > Export menu commands.

              The duration is visualized as a lighter background in the Timeline panel.

    • Width and Height define the pixel dimensions of the scene. Frames exported from Character Animator use these dimensions.

Scene snapshots

Use snapshots of a scene to reference a specific pose of a character when modifying the pose at the current time. For example, you can compare or align the positions of a hand between shots of a character. A snapshot appears as an onion-skin display. You can show or hide, update, and adjust the visibility of this display relative to the live version of the character. A snapshot can even appear in a different scene, if the scenes have the same dimensions.

To take a snapshot of a scene, select Scene > Take Snapshot (Shift+F6). 

While a snapshot is displayed, Scene Snapshot Enabled appears in orange in the upper-left corner of the Scene panel.

To hide or show the snapshot, select Scene > Hide Snapshot or Show Snapshot (F6).

The opacity of the live puppet decreases as the snapshot’s opacity increases. To change the visibility of the snapshot, choose Scene > Increase Snapshot Opacity (Command+Option+=) or Decrease Snapshot Opacity (Command+Option+-).

  • Switching to a different scene automatically hides the snapshot, but you can show it again if needed.
  • Snapshots do not appear in exported scenes or Dynamic Link connections.
  • When showing the mesh, it appears only for the live puppet, unless the opacity is set to only show the snapshot. This allows you to compare the meshes of a snapshot and the live puppet.


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