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In this video we explore Euler Rotations, the most common method for orienting objects in 3d.   It's by-product  "gimbal lock" can cause headaches for animators because the animated motion can move in strange ways. Here we learn how euler's "rotation order" is a bit like hierachies, and how changing this order can help us to avoid gimbal problems. This is demonstrated with a solution to a common camera problem, by finding the correct rotation order.

Before watching this video you should have a good understanding of hierarchies , and be familiar with the rotation problem .

Running time:  8 mins 06 sec


Knowledge of these concepts is required: The Rotation Problem , Basic Hierachies , Basic Animation, Objects .

Andrew Silke is an award winning filmaker and has worked on projects such as Scooby Doo, Happy Feet and Avatar

XSI (coming)
Maya (coming)

Euler: Pronounced "oiler" Euler is a common method for calculating 3d rotations. Is popular because it uses 3 values X, Y Z angles (360 degree equals one full rotation).  Euler  requires a "rotation order" and can experience gimbal problems, the worst resulting in Gimbal Lock when 2 axes align.  This is why it's sometimes refered to as Gimbal, instead of Euler.

Gimbal: Gimbal is the effect caused when Euler rotation axes break the usual 90 degree angle difference on a rotation manipulator.  The extreme of this is gimbal lock when two axes align completely.

Key or Keyframe: Setting a value and recording it on a time value (frame) in animation.

Manipulator: The widgit/tool that appears to help us visually click and rotate/move/ modify an object or selection.

World/Local Coords: Rotation manipulators usually default to world or local (object) modes to rotate objects or components (verts edge faces). In local or object mode the manipulator will rotate with the object or section.  In "world" the rotate manipulator stays aligned to the xyz layout of the scene.

Rotation Order:
The order (x, y and z) that the computer calculates the rotation of an object when calculating using Euler Rotations. There are 6 possible combinations.

xyz, xzy, yzx, yxz, zyx, zxy

Gimbal lock will occur when the middle rotation axis is rotated 90 degrees from zero.

2010solar | | 2011-01-05 16
The main th...
kodde - Nice | | 2010-05-22 01
Really good execution and visual aids are great. Well done.
Lak Mobes - Wonderful Explanation | | 2009-03-11 00
I really Enjoyed this, I have been learning about this in class, and the visual
aides you used made it easier for me to understand.
I did have one part of
confusion, With the camera rotation at the end, you say it rarely looks up or
down, which I get. How ever you say because of that you make the parent access
'Y' However, the movement up/down looks to be on the X-axis. I felt a
disconnection there, I have been able to see how the order is the best, but it
was confusing to me. Once Again, Thanks, I plan on referring to this often for
andrewsilke | SAdministrator | 2009-03-21 02
Yeah think about the direction you want gimbal lock to occur (in this case up)
then find the axis that doesn't align/change at all with that, (y) and make that
the parent, I sort of skip over that earlier on in the vid, could be clearer I
weluvmovies - After Effects | | 2009-02-20 12
Thanks, I am in the middle of a 3D camera move around a building I had to make
in After Effects, the camera moves are out of control and this makes perfect
sense as to why. I have been stuck inserting unwanted keyframes to solve the
problem... maybe now I can just try focusing on a point of interest.
andrewsilke | SAdministrator | 2009-03-21 02
ha, yeah I didn't know after effects had this problem too, but makes sense that
it would.
Alex - Thank you very much | | 2009-01-21 12
Hey, Adrew - thank you very much for explaining that topic so accurate and
clear. It doesn't make solving the problem any easier but at least I know what
causes the problem now and not curse my 3D software package any more.

It really
isn't that difficult to understand any more once you see it explained visually.
So really - thanks :)
designingpatrick - Nice and clear | | 2009-01-12 17
Thanks for the breakdown. I am used to hearing an explanation that states
"complicated math" as the reason behind gimbal lock. And the solution
commonly includes freezing the rotation of an object. I have found myself
performing all sorts of tricks and workarounds while rigging in order to
maintain the expected results of some rotation based operation, and I don't
really understand why these maneuvers are used. This presentation has shed a lot
of light on the topic and gives me a more based understanding of the reason
behind common issues and resolutions in the 3D world.
andrewsilke | SAdministrator | 2009-01-13 00
Yeah gimbal isn't really as complicated as people might think, or would have you
believe, as an artist you don't need to know any maths, I don't. I've found it
difficult to explain to beginners without a visual representation. Which is why
I made this vid. Glad you liked it. If anyone else has probs playing the vid,
let me know, it works cool in my firefox.
zcreem - Stuck | | 2009-01-12 15
I can't seem to get it to play beyond 3 mins
May be it's the weather, very cold

OK seems to be a firefox thing played fine in chrome.
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