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I'm currently tasked with designing a small HTML5 game. Having done everything by myself so far (3D models, codebase, game design, etc) I'm now at a point where I'm running out of time.

I've less than a day to animate and bind everything together. However, that's exactly my problem.

I was under the naive impression that everything would be easier if I went with pre-rendered 3D models. However, I didn't consider the most difficult part. Animation.

After having spent over an hour trying to figure out messiahStudio, I figured it's time to ask for outside help.

Is there any easier solution to 3D animation than 3D rigging? What I'm basically looking for is some sort of tool that allows me to simply grab and move/deform select polygons.

It doesn't have to be as life-like and accurate as rigging, just efficient enough.

Were the circumstances any different, I might just learn how to rig. But that's sorely out of scope right now.

PS:The models were created in Sculptris but are fairly low-poly.

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That would be vertex animation, but I don't know if your toolset handles it. –  Laurent Couvidou Nov 27 '12 at 11:09

2 Answers 2

Rigging will save you time in the long run. You don't have to get fancy with constraints or IK chains. Just slap in a basic skeleton and let the automatic weighting do its job. Any later adjustments can be done a lot easier if you've used a rig, and animations on rigs can be transferred between characters if you reuse the same skeleton.

The other option is to use what is called morph target animation, per-vertex animation, shape interpolation, or blend shapes. Deform the mesh for each key frame using sculpting tools or otherwise just pulling the model around. It depends on what your toolset can do, whether this is an actual possibility. It's normally used for facial expressions and similar subtle animations that are difficult to do with rigs.

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Thanks guys.

I tried vertex animation inside several tools, but have decided that rigging is probably the way to go after all.

Right now I'm trying to rig my model with anim8or. Unfortunately, I don't really know how to split my model into several parts (which is how they did in in the Anim8or tutorial).

I guess I'll have to find another rigging tool which is a bit more straight forward than messiahStudio but also more flexible than anim8or.

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I've now tried Pinocchio Auto Rigging, which seems to do quite a good job. However, it won't import my meshes. "Bad mesh: Should be a single connected component". Does anyone know a good tool to check for this? My own tool suite really doesn't come with a lot of frills (which I normally prefer, except in such a particular case). I'd try Blender but that takes forever to download (I'm limited to 384Kbit DSL-Lite currently). –  HappyFerret Nov 27 '12 at 13:15
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This isn't a forum, but a Q&A site. Check the faq: it's OK to answer your own question, if you can make this answer useful to others. But don't post other questions as comments, just open a new question if it fits the site policy. Also, when you'll get enough rep, you'll be able to use the chat for this kind of discussion. –  Laurent Couvidou Nov 27 '12 at 13:34
    
@HappyFerret You have enough rep to join chat now or comment where you need to. Don't use the answer area to reply to posts or extend your question. –  Byte56 Nov 27 '12 at 14:02
    
Blender has good rigging and animation tools. The Blender interface takes a few hours to learn, but is quite consistent throughout the program so once you know the basics it's much less intimidating. cgcookie.com/blender/2010/08/31/… and the first half of cgcookie.com/blender/2011/12/12/… should get you started. –  ccxvii Nov 27 '12 at 15:24
    
Sorry. I mistook the answer field for the comment field (was a bit stressed yesterday). Anyways. I've decided to give Cheetah 3D on my colleague's Mac a try. Works really great so far. Rigging my model was a matter of seconds and the whole UI follows the clutterfree concept I know and love so much. Unfortunately, my model's geometry is flawed so the animation is a bit harder to pull of. But that's another story. –  HappyFerret Nov 28 '12 at 11:50

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