Skitter - Chapter 4 - Motion Editing

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Table of Contents:
    1.0 Introduction
    2.0 Install Skitter
    3.0 Performance Files
    4.0 Motion Editing
         4.1 Motion Files & Keyframes
         4.2 Navigating Motion Files
         4.3 Creating Keyframes
         4.4 Moving Keyframes
         4.5 Editing Servo Position
         4.6 Standard Poses
         4.7 Servo Speed Limits
         4.8 Smooth Motion Servos
         4.9 Mirror Motion Left/Right
         4.10 Reverse Motion (play in reverse)
         4.11 Scale Motion (change how long it takes finish)
         4.12 Mouth Wizard
         4.13 Tailwag Wizard
         4.14 Customize First/Last Keyframes
         4.15 Converting AIBO Platforms
         4.16 Undo/Redo Changes to Motion
         4.17 The Splitter Bar
    5.0 LED Editing
    6.0 MIDI Sound Editing
    7.0 Wave Sound Editing
    8.0 The Reference Library
    9.0 The AIBO Window
    10.0 Test Actions on AIBO
    11.0 Upload Actions to AIBO
    12.0 Specify Preferences

4.0 Motion Editing

Motion files tell AIBO how to control its servos -- where to put them, and when.  Skitter shows the "where & when" for each servo as a black horizontal line.   The small blue tabs (called keyframes), indicate points where the positions change.

Motion Editor

4.1  Motion Files & Keyframes

AIBO tracks movement using keyframes.   A keyframe is a snapshot of AIBO's servo positions (ie: head, shoulder, knees, etc...).   Keyframes tell AIBO where all its servos should be, and when.   AIBO smoothly moves servos from one keyframe to the next, as it performs a motion.

A motion file always has at least two keyframes -- the first & last.  There can never be zero or one keyframes.   The start/stop keyframes are special, since AIBO expects them to contain a standard pose (sleep, sit, stand, etc...).   Therefore, they cannot be edited directly.

AIBO supports up to 250 seconds of custom motion (over 15000 keyframes) in a motion file.   Note keyframes are always marked with a blue pointed tab in the ruler bar.
Tile Marker

4.2  Navigating Motion Files

An orange marker bar shows the current time position.   Left-clicking in the ruler or data pane, moves the marker.
Current Position Marker

Click-n-drag in the ruler bar (above the data pane), and a green selection marker appears at the starting point.  Skitter highlights between the markers & changes any included keyframe tabs green.   All servos are selected.
Range Selection

Click-n-drag in the data pane (below the ruler bar), to select a range of servo data between the two markers.   Special effects only affect selected servos.
Servo Range Selection

In the upper-left corner of motion editor, is the 3D preview of AIBO.   It shows AIBO servo settings at the current time position (the orange marker). Motion Preview

4.3 Creating Keyframes

There are several ways to make keyframes.   First, position the orange marker bar where you want a keyframe.  Next, choose one of the following:

  • Press Ctrl+K, or...
  • Double click in the ruler bar, or...
  • Select the "Edit->Create Keyframe" menu option

Skitter calculates the servo positions under the orange marker, and creates the keyframe.

4.4 Moving & Deleting Keyframes

Moving keyframes is easy.  Select a keyframe tab in the ruler bar (so it turns green), then click-n-drag the tab marker to adjust the spacing between keyframes.  Note:  It does not create new keyframes.

Alternatively, you can move a keyframes by inserting/deleting time before it.    Position the orange marker bar before a keyframe, and use the [INSERT] or [DELETE] keys.

Tile Dragging

Note:  If you hit [DELETE]with the marker on a keyframe (tab marker highlighted green), that keyframe is deleted.

4.5 Edit Servo Positions

Skitter offers a variety of ways to edit servo positions.   First, click on a servo line at the location you want to change.  An edit diamond appears under the mouse. 

Pick one of the following methods to alter the servo position:
  • Use the Up/Down arrow keys   -or-
  • Move the edit diamond with the mouse   -or-
  • Press [ENTER] and type a number using the keyboard.
Edit Diamond

Keyboard Edit4.5.1  Editing From Keyboard

The edit diamond turns black during keyboard editing (for clarity).   The value is edited in the current value box, found after the servo name.

4.5.2  Create Keyframe from Editing

If you select a location between existing keyframes, editing (with any of the techniques mentioned above) creates a new keyframe.

4.6 Standard Poses

You can use a standard pose anywhere you like, including the first & last keyframes.   From the Motion menu, select "Set Pose".   The following options are available.   ERS-7 owners review the ERS-7 Skit Guidelines.
  • Sleep Position
  • Sit Position
  • Stand Position
  • Baby Position
  • Belly Position
  • Sleep Wide
  • Sleep Flat
  • Sit Wide
  • Sit Flat
(normal sleep or down position)
(normal sit position)
(normal stand position)
(legs pointing out away from body)
(rear legs pointing out away from body)
(sleep position, with rear legs flared out to the side)
(sleep position, with rear legs spread out flat on floor)
(sit position, with rear legs flared out to the side)
(sit position, with rear legs spread out flat on floor)

These are the standard built-in poses that AIBO knows.   Once a pose is copied into a keyframe, you can customize it further (except for the first/last keyframes).

Sleep Sit Stand Baby Belly Sleep Wide Sleep Flat Sit Wide Sit Flat
Sleep Sit Stand Baby Belly Sleep Wide
Sleep Flat
Sit Wide
Sit Flat

4.7 Servo Speed Limits

AIBO can wear out prematurely, overheat, or even damage servos that move too fast.

Skitter monitors for such situations, and highlights them.  A transition turns yellow when above the speed limit, and red if excessively fast (more than 10% over).   Skitter prompts when saving/testing files with excessive speed violations.

It is HIGHLY recommended you fix violations yourself manually, or let Skitter do it automatically (usually there isn't a noticeable change).
Speed Violation

4.8 Smooth Motion Servos

Smoothing makes a servo move in a straight line, between the start & stop times.   Keyframes are updated to match the changes.

In the example below, the highlighted servo is smoothed.   Between times 20 and 70, four keyframes are changed.  The result is a clean transition from the start time to the stop time.

Before Smoothing
After Smoothing


4.9 Mirror Motion Left/Right

Mirroring a motion file left/right (or part of one) is an easy way to increase variety in your AIBO personalities.   DogsLife has several performances identical, except mirrored left to right.

Movement on the left & right sides of AIBO are swapped.

4.10 Reverse Motion (play in reverse)

Reversing a motion (or part of one) is helpful when working up complicated action files.  You can have AIBO "unwind" some sequence of steps required to get it into a position.

4.11 Scale Motion (change how long it takes finish)

Scaling makes motions play faster or slower.   It's easier to watch all the small details on slow motions.  Once finished, you can scale it up to speed.

One particular application is keeping sync with sound files.   AIBO unfortunately isn't accurate at keeping time with sound, especially "busy" MIDI files.  

Sometimes there is drift from what Skitter estimates, and the sound AIBO actually produces.   The variations aren't easy to predict.  To compensate, scale motion files into keeping sync with the music.
Scale Motion Dialog

4.12 Mouth Wizard

For AIBO's with mouths (110, 210 & 7) the mouth wizard generates automatic mouth movement from sound files (MIDI or Wave).  Mouth movement should be added after other leg & head movements are complete.   The wizard typically creates -many- additional keyframes and complicates editing thereafter.

The wizard supports a variety of common settings, for horizontal & vertical tail wagging.  

The "mouth speed" setting controls how quickly the mouth is opened/closed.   The "sound level" specifies the threshold at when the mouth should open or close.   The wizard updates the motion in real-time for previewing, since selecting the sound level is very dependent on the sound file.

Before starting the wizard, select a time range to receive mouth movement (otherwise the entire motion will be affected).   

From the Motion Menu, select "Mouth Wizard".   Select your preferences, and sit back while Skitter does the work.
Mouth Wizard

4.13 Tailwag Wizard

For AIBO's with tails (110, 210 & 7) the tail wagging wizard (as the name implies) takes all the pain out of wagging AIBO's tail.   Tail wagging should be the very last thing you add to a motion.   The wizard typically creates -many- additional keyframes and complicates editing thereafter.

The wizard supports a variety of common settings, for horizontal & vertical tail wagging.  

The intensity setting controls how far the tail moves.  The speed range supports from nothing, to the maximum possible speed for the tail servos.   The image next the speed slider previews the results.

Before starting the wizard, select a time range to receive tail wagging (otherwise the entire motion will be affected).

From the Motion Menu, select "Tailwag Wizard".   Select your preferences, and sit back while Skitter does the work.
Tailwag Wizard

4.14 Customize First/Last Keyframes

Customizing the first/last keyframes is an advanced override.  Only use once SURE you understand everything below.   Please read this section fully and exercise caution.

First & Last Pose Override Confirmation

4.13.1 Custom Poses Overview - Please Read

Custom start/stop poses are very useful, and safe when used properly.   Dogslife uses custom poses in its various games to great effect (for example).   Here are a few facts you should know:

  • AIBO doesn't track its servos very well between motions (fortunately).  
  • Motion files tell AIBO the start and stop poses, separately from the servo positions.  These are text descriptions (ie: "stand" or "sit").  Skitter updates these text descriptions when you select standard poses for the first/last keyframes. 
  • AIBO uses the start/stop text descriptions for automatic transitions.   These occur before a motion is played, if the previous motion ended in a different pose.   For example, assume the first motion ended sitting, but the second starts standing.  AIBO automatically performs the sit-to-stand transition before starting the second motion.
  • AIBO doesn't do anything before a motion, if its start-pose matches the previous motion stop-pose.
  • AIBO never verifies the pose text descriptions match the servo positions.
  • Therefore, if you guarantee AIBO doesn't need to do anything between motions, the servos can be in any pose you like.

CAUTION!!!   If you forget AIBO is in a custom pose, and it suddenly tries transitioning into another pose, bad things happen.   AIBO might snap its servos at maximum speed, or legs could collide, etc...   It is NOT healthy.

Essentially, we take over responsibility for managing transitions.   We fake out AIBO, using the same standard pose in all motions with our custom poses.

You need to provide two special skits.  One transitioning INTO the custom pose (from a standard pose), and one transitioning FROM the custom pose (back to a standard pose).    ie:  The DogsLife rock-paper-scissor game has "rps-intro" & "rps-close".

4.14.2 Custom Poses Step-by-Step

  • Pick one standard pose for both start/stop frames.  
  • All skits containing your custom pose must use that standard pose.
  • When creating a new skit for custom poses, step one is changing the first/last keyframes into that standard pose.   Skitter changes the start/stop pose text descriptions only when you pick standard poses.   If the start/stop text descriptions aren't right AIBO might decide to perform automatic transitions.
  • Create an intro-skit to transition from the standard pose into your custom pose.
  • Create an exit-skit to transition from your custom back to the standard pose.
  • Create custom-pose skits (as many as you like).

4.14.3 Custom Poses Used Safely

Your behavior or RCode, MUST guarantee the intro-skit plays first, custom-poses in-between, and the exit-skit after.   One easy way is using a wrapper.  ie:
PLAY ACTION GAME_INTRO // move into custom pose
CALL PlayGame
PLAY ACTION GAME_EXIT  // move out of custom pose

// use various custom-pose skits at will here
// return to wrapper once game over

The intro-skit is performed before the game, and the exit-skit once the game finishes.

4.15 Converting AIBO Platforms

Skitters supports changing a performance from one AIBO platform into another.  ie: 210 into 310 (or visa-versa).   Servos are translated, removed, or added as necessary.    From "Edit Menu", select "Convert Platform", then the target (110, 210, 220, 310, or 7).

Conversion is a lossy process.  If you convert a 210 performance to a 310, then back into 210 you lose information.   Motions for the mouth, ears & tail are lost.  Detail LED information is gone also.   Range of motion can be affected as well.

Platform conversions cannot be undone.   Therefore, before converting a performance, save it.   After converting, save again using a new action name (assuming you want both versions).

4.15.1  Special Cases

Skitter has special case processing when converting from the 210 into 220.   Mouth, ear, and tail motions translate into visual LED patterns.   Mouth motion converts into face & headlight LED's.  Ears converts into the mouth LED (over the chin button).   Tail motions convert into the tail-fan & tail LED's.

There is also special case processing when converting motions into 310.   The 310 is more "tippy" because of its larger head, especially in sit-up actions (where AIBO raises its front paws off the floor).   Skitter attempts to identify these situations and adjusts the motion to use more stable pose.

4.16 Undo/Redo Changes to Motion

If you make a change that doesn't work out, simply undo it (Edit Menu->Undo).   Skitter supports unlimited undo (ie: all edits since the motion file was loaded, or last platform conversion.).  If you undo too much, you can reapply changes (Edit Menu->Redo).

Warning!  Changing AIBO platforms currently cannot be undone.

Keyboard shortcuts of Ctrl+Z (Undo) and Ctrl+Y (Redo) are available.

4.17 The Splitter Bar

The vertical splitter bar allows two views of the motion data at once.   To adjust the position of the splitter bar, select:
   "Window Menu -> Split Window". 

You can move the splitter at any time.   To dock the splitter bar (hide it), simply drag the splitter to its left-most position. 

Splitter Bar

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