Dancing Box

Welcome to the world of animation!!
This tutorial will help you make a box dance on the screen.
Why start with the box? Because if you go through the trouble of
modeling an object before animating it, it's a much bigger bummer
if you have to start over. Once you start with something simple,
you'll be able to move onto other ideas. :)

Step 0: The Idea

Animation in Blender using keyframes is relatively simple.
You set up positions that your object, camera, or lamps will be in
at certain keyframes, and Blender interpolates to find the positions
at all the frames in between. Then Blender (on your command) renders
every single frame you say, and saves the sequence as a film file.
We'll be using the .avi extension.

Unless otherwise specified, Blender interpolates on a Bezier curve.
For more information on changing the interpolation and playing with
the keyframes, start reading at page 45 of the Blender Basics book.

Step 1: Begin

Start Blender, or open a new file. Leave the pink box where it is
this time!

Step 2: Look Around

Look at the bottom of the current buttons window. Hit F10 if it
doesn't look like this.

Choose a frame rate (red circle) by clicking on either arrow.
The nice results, used by the industry, range from 24fps to 30fps.
33fps start to cause seizures. That's not a joke. We don't want that.

Remember, if your future animations have lots of objects and use rays,
it will take longer to render each picture of your animation. This
means the higher fps you pick, the longer it will take to get your movie.

I left my fps at 25.

Step 3: Setting File Type

In the same button window, circled in blue, you see the file type
menu. Click on it, and select Avi Codec.

A menu will now pop up. The most common setting is to use Intel
Video 5.1. Then scroll the bar from 85 to 100%. Click ok.

Step 4: Setting a Path

You want to be able to FIND your animation after all the time
you're about to wait for it to render. So in the same button window,
look at the part circled in green. Click on the topmost bar, where
it now says either "//render/" or "/tmp" or something like that.
Erase the line and pick a filename for your box animation. Use the
.avi extension after it. Now click anyplace else. Step 4, done.

You will be able to find the movie now right in your C:/ drive

Step 5: Pick the Number of Frames

You may not know how many frame you'll need, but at least I'll show
you where you look. Direct your attention to the purple circle under
the bulky "Play" button. You can change the number by clicking on
the arrows, or by dragging the mouse across the number in one direction
or another. I suggest you change the number to 75 or 80 frames.
This will give you a three second box animation, and won't take you
long to see the results of your labor.

You can always change this number later, and add more key_frames
after you get the hang of it.

A note about the "Play" button: In Blender, after you hit the
"animation" button, and all of your frames are rendered, when you
close the window showing the last picture, you can hit the Play
button to show you your most recently rendered animation. It plays
on a loop. The numbers under the Play button represent the starting
frame and ending frame of your animation.

Step 6: Nitpicking

In the yellow box, click the OSA button. This will make the edges
in your animation frames pretty. Leave the '8' highlighted for now.
With bigger and more detailed projects you can obsess with the bigger
numbers, but they take longer to render.

I'd also hit the 100% button not too far to the right of the OSA
button if I were you. But that's just so I could see the rendering
nicely as it took place.

Step 7: First Keyframe, at last!

Move the mouse into your object window (the one with the pink box).
Type "i". The following menu pops up. If your box is not selected
(in pink), nothing will happen. The object your moving has to be
highlighted all the time in object mode.

If you hit the 'loc', you'll be ok.

Step 8: First Motion

Look at the top of your buttons menu. See the part in the circle?
That shows you what frame you're in.

What you just did was make a keyframe for the first frame. Now you
want to move ahead, and change the box somehow.

Move your mouse into the buttons window. You can jump up by ten
(or down by ten) frames by hitting the up arrow (or down arrow).
You can click the tiny arrows on either side to move up or down
by one frame. Also, you can press SHIFT+Left Arrow to get back
to the first frame.

Now, move up to the 25th frame.

Move your box somehow, by either translating, rotating or scaling
it however you like. User's choice.

Double check to make sure your camera can still see the box.
(Numpad 0)

Hit 'i' again. This time, if you translated it, click loc; if you
rotated it, click rot; if you scaled it, click size; if you did any
combination of the three (or 2 of 3), find the option on the menu
that covers it all.

If you move it and scaled it but didn't rotate it, relax. You have
two ways you can do your keyframe.
(1) Click locrotsize, and nothing bad will happen. or
(2) click loc, then hit 'i' again and click rot.
Both ways work.

Step 9: Repeat!

Move the frames ahead again, like in the start of step 8. Jump to 35-50
or so. Up to you how many frames you want to put between motions.

Change the box again. Double check to make sure the camera can still
see it.

Type "i". Select based on what you did.

Step 10: Again!

Keep changing the frames and the box according to how fast you want
it to move. Timing only comes with practice, so I can't tell you the best
frame intervals you should use between keyframes. Make sure that since
you set the endframe under the play button to 75 or 80, that your last
keyframe comes at or before 75 or 80, but not after. Blender will stop
rendering at the frame specified under your play button.

If you want to change the colors of the background, lamps or materials,
start reading page 45 of the Blender Basics book. It's basically the same
method, but this time, your lamp, world, or material will be selected,
and you'll be clicking "i" in the respective menus (and thus, getting
different menu options, like RGB instead of loc).

Do NOTE however!! When changing a lamp, you have to make a keyframe
in BOTH the shading window where you change the colors, AND the object
window where you grab and move it around. If you do.

And that is it!

Once you've gotten the hang of keyframe basics, you can view your animation
and be proud of your work. I made like 5 of them with my box, and I even
moved the camera around in one of the scenes from another tutorial.

Wanna see what I got?