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Sequencer with an anim BP working as designed? (or how to make Sequencer work with an anim BP)

Sequencer with animation assets works fine but is a bit boring because you can’t use any animation setups you’ve made in your animation BPs and it ends up kind of like the “play animation x at time y” that you would do in your 3D software. Sequencer with an animBP kind of works but doesn’t really work in the way I would think makes sense. This is based on 4.20 experience, 4.22 is a bit broken right now so I couldn’t test it, but here’s what happens right now:

Playing back a sequence with a character with an animation BP

Nothing happens. Well, that was easy. You can scroll, play back the sequence, the character isn’t affected at all. When you render however you will see the correct output so I’m guessing the animation system is just not triggered at all in the preview window. You could work like this but it gets harder without the possibility for realtime previewing (which honestly is most of the point when using Sequencer).

Playing back a sequence with a character with an animation BP and an animation asset assigned

Something interesting happens when you assign an animation asset - your animation BP starts running, even when not playing back the sequence. It’s just on all of the time and not really “synced” to the sequence in any way. The animation you assigned doesn’t play though, but it may be possible to use a Slot node and blend the assigned animation with your anim BP if that’s how the assigned animation hooks into the system. To make sure the animation BP is running for the whole sequence you need to stretch the animation until the end of the sequence so it doesn’t revert to “non animation asset mode” before the end of the sequence.

The point is that something happens so it’s easier to preview what you’re doing. Weird things happen though because of the always running animation BP, the initialize animation event only runs when you open the sequence so you would have to do any initialization you’ve got in the update animation event. But this way it is possible to change animations and so on as long as the variables you’re changing are hooked up into the update animation event.

What about Copy Pose from Mesh meshes? (armor/clothes)

The above thing would only work for your main character, but you can assign animations in your sequence to any other character parts (like armor/clothes) that are using Copy Pose from Mesh and they will move as you would expect as well. So it does work but it’s a bit strange having to add a bunch of animations to your meshes that don’t really affect the overall animation in any way, it’s just to make sure the animation BP runs in the sequencer window.

How should Sequencer with an animation BP work then?

So this is where I explain what I would want for Sequencer to do. First a recap of what happens now:
*AnimBP with no animation assigned in the sequence: Nothing happens in preview, renders fine though.

AnimBP with animation assigned in the sequence: Anim BP is always running (independantly of sequencer information) even when sequence is paused, renders fine.*

Here is what should happen ideally:

*When you open your sequence the character should be the same way it is in the actual editor, stopped at the first frame (like with an animBP with no animation assigned).

When you scroll the sequence the character should move the same way as if you played the game with the variables you set in sequencer. *

The anim BP shouldn’t “play back” but instead “evaluate for the Sequencer frame where 0 (or 1, forgot which is the start) is the first frame in game time”. This means if you scroll to frame 60 in your sequence you should end up with the same pose as if you played the game for 60 frames and then paused. If you then scroll backwards you would evaluate the anim BP backwards from that position (more accurately evaluate forward from the beginning until the new position).

The important part is making sure Sequencer is adhering to game time. Not not playing anything (disconnected from game time), not playing back constantly (not synced with game time) but evaluating the same way as if you played back the game outside of Sequencer, but with you in full control of the variables of your anim BP. In my opinion this would Sequencer way more powerful for making cinematics.

Some other things too, ideally root motion should work as if you were in the game. The animation asset should have a bunch of modes that work with anim BPs like “replace input animation”, “hook into (selectable) slot node” and so on. The sequence recorder should have the option to record variables instead of an animation, and so on. But the most important thing is having game like previews for your animation BPs in Sequencer, that would be great.

Missing features (note: only tested in 4.20)

  • {subscene} token for rendering. Right now if you render a sequence containing different subscenes and {shot} the output filename will be the the master shot instead of the subscene itself.

  • Shortcut for snap to start/end of selection. Very annoying when you want precise placement of the edit cursor (?) for placement of keyframes or inserting shots/stuff.

  • Feedback in main UI for start/end markers. Very strange, if you want a specific end frame you can go to the playback options and set it there, but why isn’t it in the main UI for when you want to drag it around? There is the view range/working range but not the actual sequence range.

  • Batch import of subscenes. Basically drag and drop and end up with a linear sequence of all the subscenes instead of the current behavior where all the subscenes get stacked vertically. Should also support ctrl+click ordering when selecting subscenes before drag+drop. (ctrl+click subscene 1, 3, 2 and end up with 1, 3, 2 in that order in Sequencer.

Bugs (reported)
(will remove when they are fixed)

  • Delay Before Shot Warm Up doesn’t work like warm up frame count but introduces hitches

  • Rerun construction script disabled means construction scripts don’t run at all

  • *Sequencer: need to focus (click) in sequencer window for arrow hotkeys to work

  • Sequencer: Actor to Track gets broken on sequence saving (Broken reference to actor ID, it was deleted or renamed)

  • Sequencer: Negative delta frame crashes (note: no bug report sent but a lot of crashes reported)*

  • *Sequencer: after closing the sequence the animdynamics/parts on the character will not reset

  • Sequencer: When using an animBP there’s no animation at all (preview) without an animation in the animation track*

- Sequencer: thumbnail saving is done using viewport camera instead of the active camera/camera cuts track

*- Sequencer: Strange waiting period after rendering a sequence

  • Sequencer: first rendered frame doesn’t use AA/motion blur even with a warmup period*

I would like to work with AnimBP’s in the sequencer instead of just animation sequences so I can easily blend animations together (specifically facial animation combined with body animation). The way two animations blend together now in sequencer is more of an “additive” way of blending. So if I have a body recording and blend it with a facial animation recording, 50% of the facial animation is blended with the “blank” expression of the body animation, so I don’t get the full facial animation blended together.