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Animation Editor Scrubbing Area
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Description

Overview

One of the major unsolved issues for left click select in Blender 2.8, is the problem of scrubbing in the Timeline and other animation editors. We would like this to be done with the left mouse button, but the problem is, we cannot use the same mouse button for both selection and setting/scrubbing the playhead.

We can solve this by adding a scrubbing strip to all animation editors, so that you can scrub the playhead inside one region, but select in the rest. The good news is, as it turns out, we already have such a region, which can be configured to work this way: The region we currently use for markers, which already exists at the bottom of all animation editors.

All that's needed then, is to make some visual changes to the markers sub-region inside the animation editors. The keymap/interaction part can already be done inside the keymap.

When the Timeline is very short, you can then still drag to scrub:

Changes

Inside all time-based editors (Dopesheet, Timeline, Sequencer, Graph Editor, NLA), we should make the following changes:

  • Step 1: Move marker region to the top
  • Step 2: Make it always visible and more visually prominent
  • Step 3: Move the frame numbers from the scrollbar to this region
  • Step 4: Make the scrollbar thinner to match other areas
  • Step 5: Change the left click keymap to scrub inside this area, but select everywhere else (trivial)

Once the above visual change is made, we can easily fix/update the default keymap to make proper use of it, as is already done here: D4626

Graph Editor:

This editor also has vertical scrollbars. We could change them also to fit in with this change like so:

Either next to scrollbar

Or opposite:

Details

Type
To Do

Event Timeline

Step 1: Move marker area to the top

Agree, would fix T57976: VSE, marker area is invisibly blocking the strips

Step 3: Move the frame numbers from the scrollbar to this area

In VSE horizontal, but also vertical labels are barely visible.
This would fix horizontal labels, but vertical should be dealt with also.

Step 5: Change the keymap to scrub inside this area, but select everywhere else (trivial)

Don't agree.
This can be very limiting. At least allow users to leave that area and still scrub as users do need to concentrate on viewport / other things when scrubbing.

Unfortunately I don't know how other apps deals with this, but I don't think they do have designated scrubbing area.

@Richard Antalik (ISS) Most apps do work this way.

Keep in mind this only applies to left click select. This is where we have the issue. Because we use left click to select, we can’t also use it for scrubbing.

For right click select you can continue to drag anywhere with LMB to scrub.

Also, even for LMB select, we could keep Ctrl-RMB as an alternative way to scrub anywhere. But it’s too hidden to be the only way, and requires using a modifier key.

Brecht Van Lommel (brecht) raised the priority of this task from Normal to Confirmed, High.

Design update:

It makes it easier to deal with markers if we separate them from the scrubbing region. Looks like this:

Without marker area:
This is how it looks by default.

With marker area:
When the marker region is enabled:

Because it takes up some space, we should add the ability to hide the Marker region.

The current behavior of the seconds-drawing seems a bit wrong already -.-

@Jacques Lucke (JacquesLucke)

You are probably right, but that is the current behaviour with the seconds display. I would advise to not go too far into rabbit hole of changing how that works inside this patch. This is all about making it nicer & easier to scrub using left click select.

Changing the seconds display to be better seems like an entirely separate task to me.

If we can just take the current way we display frames and seconds and move it to the scrubbing area, that should be okay. Then separately we should improve display of seconds, also to use the units system better to make use of seconds, minutes or hours display.

Couldn't upload the current version today, because I could not access the site.

Currently there are two main issues.

  1. This is a design issue. How should it look like in the dopesheet when there are keyframes. Currently the keyframes overlap with the marker and scrubbing area. They can't be easily moved down, because then the channel list had to moved as well, which is ugly, but possible. Ideas?
  2. Drawing the frame numbers is a bit more difficult than expected. I'll tackle that tomorrow by refactoring the drawing of grid lines and scrollbars in a separate patch

#1:
Can’t think of a better solution than moving the source list down by 1. Eventually we could add filtering here like search which then fits better.

#2: ok makes sense.

what if the markers can only be selected by holding a modifier key?, I think it would be better, because really you dont want to move your markers by mistake nor that often.

There were a few other issues when the markers are directly in the scrubbing area.

  • They become hidden when the frame indicator is on top of the marker.
  • The marker name is on top of keyframes, which can be annoying.

During testing, I also found that this change makes it relatively easy to move markers by accident, because the scrubbing area is so close...

Also, even for LMB select, we could keep Ctrl-RMB as an alternative way to scrub anywhere. But it’s too hidden to be the only way, and requires using a modifier key.

Agreed that this would be a nice alternative. Some other DCCs have a modifier key that when held down activates the dragging and overrides the usual "select/tweak" action - I currently have this bound to alt+LMB because I use LMB select, and I find very nice being able to scrub without having to precisely target the "scrubbing area" (which is often quite narrow).

@Jacques Lucke (JacquesLucke)

As for your issue with moving the source list down, I think this can actually turn out rather nicely if we do as suggested earlier and move Search above source list items:

Before:

After:

This arguably makes more sense anyway, since you are really filtering the source list.

Cann you make the mockup for the case when there are markers?

For that case I cannot think of an elegant solution:

It's functional but just not exactly elegant.

Which is another reason why I think it's important to add the ability to hide the marker areas inside each editor. Even if you use markers, you probably don't always want to see them in every single editor.

Adding arrows on the ends would make scrolling easier.