Action Pro - advice for getting started!

Thanks for this interesting new product, and the intro video.

The "animate with mouse" concept seems quite inviting for novice animators such as myself, so I'll definitely be following this project.

When your time permits it would be quite helpful, and inspiring, to see Action Pro used to do something specific.  From watching the intro vid I think I get that Action Pro creates the path some object will follow.  So far I don't understand how the object is attached to the path, or what the end product might look like.  I do realize this is a new project and that more info will be coming in time, so I'll follow along and wait for that.

If this isn't really a nube level product, ok, no problem, that information would be welcomed as well.



  • It's very simple actually. Make a path and export it as a comp shot. Import comp into Hitfilm.

    The exported comp shot from action pro contains a keyframed point (called an animation point) and a camera. 

    You can then parent (attach) an object, model,  particle sim to the animated point.

    Here is something I threw together yesterday..

    November 25

  • Thanks for your input GrayMotion.  

    Has anybody animated an image, video, layer etc by this method?   I get that it can do squiggly lines, and am trying to imagine it being used in a more conventional manner. 

  • Well, I have the same questions as you....but it's new so I'm just going to have to wait. I did manage to write my name...which is a bit of control over squiggly lines but not like a path for a dogfight or something of that nature.

  •  Right now everybody is playing with squiggly lines because hey, that's what it can do right out of the box but I think there's a lot more that can be done. Imagine using a good sized graphics tablet instead of a touchpad or mouse. Now you can trace a path along pretty much anything you can print or draw. You can use actual screenshots or storyboards for reference. Graymotion's handwriting becomes a cinch. You don't have to be a Calligrapher to get top notch results. Organic paths for slideshows. Organic acceleration/deceleration for all kinds of things. I don't see it as something to replace existing methods but as a tool to make getting results easier and quicker alongside existing methods. 

  • Mal.

    Have installed Action Pro and successfully activated the program. Restarting the program brought up the window ,which lasted only 2 seconds, then closed. Several attempts were the same. Did a reinstall with exactly the same result - no success. Can anyone offer a solution to this problem? Grateful for any suggestions.

  • Mal

    Please ignore the previous query I posted. Have solved the problem. Did not the requirements for Action Pro. Thanks.

  • @Aladdin4d is spot on when he says that Action Pro is a tool to be used beside traditional animation rather than replacing it.

    It is early days with the software, but it will be the perfect tool for creating organic dogfights and camera moves in the future.

    I'm going to look into many different input methods over the coming months as I think the mouse is probably the least useful tool in some cases.

    Firstly I'm going to get a few more tools working on the timeline then we'll see some more recording inputs. :)


  • My thought was that with an Air mouse or controller of some kind that laying out a dogfight can become close to trivial. Some path editing/tweaking/bending/stretching tools would likely still be needed verses retracking the overall path(s).

    The mouse could probably do this but we may want/need to trace different axis movement separately using a mouse and merge those. Good path tweaking/bending tools would absolutely be necessary. I think.

  • edited November 2017

    From the proposed uses suggested so far: dogfights etc. are all going to have to follow the standard rules of acceleration, gravity, wind resistance etc. to look realistic, so isn't it more likely that you'll want to join together predefined turns, twists, whirls and rotates to get something that looks good, because it's accurate to real life?

    Unless you're trying to animate a movie about a fly, random jiggles and wiggles is going to look out of place in most circumstances. Smoothing them out by throwing a bezier curve through every 10th capture point or something will help; but if the original drawn path was very unrealistic, it'll still look unrealistic, just smoother.

    Say you do a cool wiggly spinning move intended to be of a jet fighter in a death spiral before it crashes. What you'd actually want is Action Pro to plot the best mathematical smooth curve through the points you made to tidy things up and ignore outliers that were way off that curve.

    You might then add a bit of gravity or drag or whatever to make it less like it's been done in a vacuum  - although those might be fairly small if the animation is fast. Then you could much more neatly scale it in 2D, stretch it into a third axis and/or join to another wiggly move on multiple other axes etc. and it would all neatly join up.

    E.g you draw a spiral in 2D, it maps to a perfect spiral, you stretch it into a corkscrew in the Z axis, turn it on its side and ... you have a tornado.  Add some random noise, jitter and squash, overlap a couple of them, add particles and let rip on some unsuspecting small town. :)

  • "going to have to follow the standard rules of acceleration, gravity, wind resistance etc. to look realistic,"

    I'm not so sure. I don't think we are not talking about simulation here. Just an easier way to map out an animation path. Scissors or split-S as fighter examples.

    The path will have to be smooth enough relative to the camera distance and lens FOV. A real fighter does not move smooth in an absolute sense but in shots we normally see it seems smooth. Exactly what is smooth enough remains to be seen and worked out.

    Certainly some things like a loop we would expect velocity to be down a bunch at the top, to look "real", for something like a fighter. You have to track that in. Although path edit/tweaks/bends/stretches will be nice here. A WWII fighter for sure slows significantly in a loop. Not so much with a modern jet fighter if you disregard fuel consumption. Film normally disregards all kinds of stuff. People in shootouts do not reload often enough, if ever, and a movie fighter does not have to worry about fuel consumption. Afterburners just look cool. Unless that is the plot point of course!


  • @NormanPCN yes it's to be easier, but that doesn't have to mean completely unrealistic. You might be moving too fast or slow for the scale speed of what you're animating, but nothing on earth - or off it - has to have a hiccup as it moves. Or speed up and slow down because you couldn't hold your mouse well at that angle of movement while you were drawing.

    Just smoothing out the bumps limits the usefulness to your skill with the input device, whereas being able to place start and end points in 3D space, set a speed or acceleration along a line and adding your own wiggles, spins and curves to that path will give more satisfying and convincing results and also be a darn sight easier to do.

    You want a dogfight? Map it out with lines or simple curves in 3D space by placing them as normal. Then select a segment, 'Action Pro' some flavour on it and have it fix it up to the correct speeds, convincing paths and hitting the start and end points. Cut'n'Paste and put somewhere else. Make half a dozen of them. Tweak them, squash them, stretch etc. and it'll all still join up. Trying to draw a dogfight from start to finish, even in small segments, with each section being consistent with the next; would take forever.

    Want debris flying out of an explosion? Draw a curve and some bounces. Smooth it out - mathematically - then place in random positions radiating out of the centre point at slightly different speeds, scales and spins. Result:  convincing, realistic, apparent chaos.

  • (but for debris flying out of an explosion you're just better using the particle sim with some 3D debris models.) 

  • @Triem23 only if you know how that works. ;) And I've tried it a little, and the lifetimes graphs etc. and creating floor planes for bouncing? Forget it. :D

    I can however draw a fairly convincing "wheee, boinkity, boink, boink, plop" path with a mouse, so dragging that into a project, duplicating it, scaling it a bit for variety (scale from bounce point) and placing at different angles would be a lot easier. For me anyway. ;)

  • The idea of Action Pro doing some simulation in the future is very possible - but the main point is to move it towards being a practical, time-saving tool rather than a sophisticated simulator. I believe a lot more simulation is coming inside HitFilm over time with the behaviours.

    What I've found with my R&D projects leading up to Action Pro was that each input enables the user to create different things.

    • Mouse/Trackpad - These give you scope for organic paths or "magic" style effects most easily. That is very useful in motion graphics style animation if not in creating 3D dogfights. Once you can add banking or direction of travel other helpful animation is also possible, but there are better methods below.

    • Tablet - Like above but with far greater control and therefore even more useful for other applications.

    • Leap - With 3D position and rotation you gain the ability to create an organic movement for 3D objects. While we're not talking about full scene simulation (which has practical applications but is often massively overkill), it does allow you to create a motion for an object with a static (or slightly moving) camera. Micro-movement or quick-to-slow movement is much easier to build than with keyframes. You can also record hand movement data which can be useful for UI (if you hide the Leap onset).

    • Joypad - I'm looking at joypads for another method of recording which you guys might like for dogfighting too. ;)

    • VR - You gain the ability to be both the camera and object just like when you're playing with toys as a kid. You can recreate camera angles (even focus pulling) and realistic movement without the restrictions of a simulation. You don't have to simulate a plane travelling at 600mph if the camera is also moving that fast. In this setup, the VR becomes a virtual rig of the camera and the object - brilliant fun (and very useful).
    The goal is for you to be able to output data which can then be rigged together inside HitFilm and even exported pre-rigged from Action Pro.
    In a future build, you'll be able to export rigged animation (rather than just a single point) which I often prefer when trying to work with the keyframed data. Another goal will be to simplify the data down to Beziers with a sufficient degree of control.
    An update is coming today hopefully to fix the activation issues on Windows and enable the snapping tool.
  • @JoshDaviesCEO Subtle hint - I just ordered a Steam controller over the weekend. 

  • @Aladdin4d - The Steam controller would be where I started.  There are multiple input types I could make when using a joypad... I think flying around with basic flight sim controls could be quite interesting?

  • edited November 2017

    I look forward to trying this out. Has anyone thought about using Wii remotes? They've got to be cheap. Can't they Bluetooth in to a PC or Mac for a cheap 3D tracking source?

  • +1 on the wii remote 

  • Action Pro Beta requests features not available in the latest consumer version of the Leap Motion Service. I have the Leap Motion Controller installed on High Sierra (MacOS). I get the following message from Leap right as I start Action Pro Beta. 

    {*Software Update Required*

    An Application is requesting features not available in this version of the Leap Motion Service. Please Instal... }

    When I go to check if I have the latest driver on the Leap software it shows I'm fully up to date. 


  • @HitFilmer247530 My guess is Action Pro is built using the Orion VR SDK. Unfortunately I don't think Orion is available for Mac right now so I have no idea how to fix it. This is one for @JoshDaviesCEO because I'm sure he has it running on a Mac of his own.

  • Observations: not actually Action Pro as I've not gotten to play yet. 

    Try recording a "POV" motion with a camera and solve in mocha. Rig a model to a point. I've had success with spaceships testing this... 

    Otherwise we'll see if I get to my tutorial on animation of dogfights in Hitfilm  Pro before Action Pro makes the techniques obsolete. @JoshDaviesCEO you have no idea how many of my techniques you've made obsolete with software improvements. Took me MONTHS to workaround 3D models in the particle sim in Hitfilm 2 Ultimate. Poor @SimonKJones had trouble keeping his mouth shut that development cycle... 

  • Here is a short example of using the Action Pro software to create a moving point (using the mouse input) and then aligning and following another point to it. So in effect, I have combined the Action Pro inputs with the new Behaviors Follow feature in HitFilm Pro Version 6. While it is crude, It only took a few minutes to create this, and I think it shows that you can quickly come up with a pretty nice dog-fight scene fairly quickly.

    The particles effect is only visible to show where the original Action Pro data is, and the Letter A represents the spaceship assigned to the second point which is following and aligned to the first.

    @GrayMotion, what do you think?


  • I just played with camera and object rigs and I found out you can easily add some "organic" camera or object shake/lean if you parent the rig to the exported animation. Very very useful tool, and I really enjoy tinkering with that. You can easily create a dictionary for this little moves.

    It would be nice to have some phone app to get the movement data from your phone accelerometer. It would be a cheap way to get full 3D motion data. 

    I hope there'll be some way to generate animation from sound or music too. It's a low hanging fruit for this app, I think ;) 

  • @Messen

    "It would be nice to have some phone app to get the movement data from your phone accelerometer. It would be a cheap way to get full 3D motion data."

    Absolutely. +1

  • Since action pro is beta can we have acess to the developer kit 

  • Here is another example of what I have done with Action Pro... Landing a space ship. The Y-Axis keyframing data of the ship was generated in Action Pro using my Wacom Tablet as a mouse emulator.

  • HitfilmSensei, that's a good example, thanks.

  • edited December 2017

    Do you have a small or large Wacom @HitfilmSensei? My small one seems to outdraw the area grid

  • @GrayMotion Before I export the data, I drop the "Export Scaler" down to .1 to prevent it from being too big. You can find it under the animation properties icon of the animation document itself. It looks like a cog wheel and is right next to the export icon in Action Pro.

  • edited December 2017

    Yep. I do that...I was talking more about the draw area.....

    Screen Area - Full, Portion and Monitor 1

    Target  Area -  Full or Portion

    Right now I'm on full....understanding I'm working with a beta software:-)

    btw - I like your experiments. Very interesting

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