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Feedback Animation Gripes

Discussion in 'Animation' started by artyrambles, Apr 19, 2019.

  1. artyrambles


    Jan 10, 2014
    Hey community!

    I haven't been using Unity for a very long time (started sometime late in 2017), but lately I've been working with it almost daily (using 2018.3 right now). And of all the headaches it gives me, the animation system is probably the biggest one. I figured I'll share some of my experiences - hopefully it will help gain some insight about what the system handles like from the perspective of a Unity "noob".

    My situation: I make models with Blender and import them into Unity, where I assemble their individual parts and animate them via the Timeline. I record these animations for a non-commercial project I'm working on.

    So now that you know what I'm doing, let me share the hardships I face while doing it. Let's get started.

    The Good:
    Don't get me wrong, I'm not here only to complain.

    Unity has made my dream possible and I'm very grateful for that. The Blender workflow for animating and rendering was not my cup of tea. Unreal didn't work out for me, either.

    I'm also not much of a programmer, but in Unity I don't need to do any programming to get scenes set up and animated/recorded. With some asset store scripts and shaders, I can do everything I need to do with the Timeline and the Animator. Even though in some places I did add a little bit of custom code - because some things can just be done faster that way.

    The resulting visuals I get with Unity are stunning. I've gotten lots of praise for the look and quality of my videos.

    The Bad:
    However. The time I spend just fighting the animation system is baffling. Many parts of it are completely counter-intuitive, which leads to me wasting a lot of nerve and time on repeatedly checking and unchecking options, fiddling with values, googling, and skipping back and forth on the timeline.

    Root motions? Offsets? Defaults? It's all very confusing and when finding the right combination of the options and settings, I usually rely on randomly changing them until it works the way I want it to. It doesn't seem to be predictable in any way to me what the exact correct combination needed is. The documentation on these things is not very clearly written in my opinion, and in one situation unchecking an option seems to be the solution, while in a very similar situation later on, checking the option is.

    Even changing unrelated things in the scene seem to affect the animation sometimes. I was messing with the shadows on one of my prefabs, and suddenly the animation clips didn't line up anymore - when they did before. I had to mess with offsets that weren't needed before. Was it set up incorrectly before, and did fixing something else "fix" it into not working anymore? Or did I break something? I couldn't tell.

    And these are just things that I believe work as intended, but don't seem logical to me at all.

    The Ugly:
    I have to say it, when you spend a long time trying to fix a problem, thinking it's an error on your part... only to end up restarting the editor and the problem is gone .... you just want to throw your computer out of the window.

    The other day, when I animated a part and then deleted the animation to redo it, Unity seemed to think the part was still animated. The fields showed up as blue and when I tried to change the values, they just reset themselves. The fix? Restarting Unity.

    Or, when a problem can only be fixed by doing something completely random, but you have to do it every time. Some of my animations just disappear sometimes. I do something, and suddenly half of the animations - while the clips are intact - refuse to play in the editor and the game mode. The fix? In this case, checking and unchecking the "Remove Start Offset" box. (Which I cannot find in the manual at all.)

    Last but not least, the habit of parts to just change their offsets the moment I hit the Play button, even when their position is fine in the editor mode. The fix? I have to cheat and add manual offsets, putting the parts in the "wrong" positions, just to make them display in the intended positions - even when the part in question is not animated at all.

    While Unity is a great tool, it's slowly but surely driving me insane.

    When you have to ask yourself "is it a bug or a feature?" constantly while using the engine, you go to bed very exhausted and frustrated a lot. I don't know if the problems I mentioned above are simply errors on my part or errors of Unity, so I can't even categorically blame it. So far, I always managed to find a fix or at least a hack to solve my problems.

    But the more I use the animation system, the more it has me feeling like I'm playing Whack-A-Mole with a blindfold on. I don't think it should be that way. Shouldn't it get easier with more experience?

    Unfortunately, I don't even have any concrete proposals how to make it less difficult to deal with, but maybe someone who reads this feels in similar ways and does have proposals? If you do, please share them.

    Thanks for reading,