Curve Editor (CE)

Whenever you are dealing with animation inside RealFlow, there comes a moment when you have to work with animation paths and curves. The "Curve Editor" provides sophisticated functions and features to make this job really easier.

Though RealFlow works with dynamically created motion and position data, animation is an essential part, because it is often necessary to animate parameters, build ramps, control velocities or create regular movements, etc. Traditional key-based animations and expressions are important features and frequently needed. Of course, it is often better to do complex animations within your 3D software, since you normally have much more sophisticated tools, but there are things that cannot be done externally, like animating an object’s physical or rigid body dynamics parameters, or it is sometimes simply faster to create various motions directly within RealFlow.

Additionally, the "Curve Editor" is a powerful function generator for expressions.With expressions it is possible to define custom functions, which will be used for a node’s animated property. The big advantage with expressions is that you do not have to set a single key, because everything is based on mathematical formulas. The "Curve Editor" even gives you the possibility to blend keyed curves with expressions.

Basic Animation

Simple key animation inside RealFlow is as easy as in your 3D program:

  • Drag the timeline slider to the very first frame of the animation.

  • Select the attribute/value to be animated, enter a value and right click on it.

  • From the expansion menu choose “Add key” or double click on a parameter with the ALT key pressed.

  • Locate the last frame of the animation.

  • Enter the end value of the parameter.

  • Again, right-click on the attribute and set another key.



That is actually all you have to do. What you have now is a linear animation. Of course, you can add new keys at any other point in time. Instead of entering values, changes can also be made in the viewport with RealFlow’s appropriate tools (“Move”, “Rotate”, “Scale”) to get immediate feedback. Another idea for key animation is to switch on or off certain attributes, such as “Simulation” and “Dynamics”. To have a look at the animation curve it is necessary to open the "Curve Editor". You have two options:

  • Right-click on an attribute/value > Open curve

  • Double-click on a name of an attribute, for example “@ mass” or “Friction”

A basic curve for a linear position animation could look like this:



Working with Curves

Each node provides a wide variety of parameters and almost all of them can be animated or controlled with an expression. RealFlow does not differentiate whether an object is imported or native, but imported objects are locked by default. This means that you will not be able to change any of the item’s position, scale, or rotation data. You first have to unlock the settings with:

 Node Params > Node > SD <-> Curve

Setting keys is one thing, but in most cases that is not enough. You often need more options to work on curves, because linear animations normally do not give the results you are looking for. For this purpose RealFlow has a powerful built-in tool to enhance animation curves and adjust them. The "Curve Editor" provides a wide variety of versatile and easy-to-use features. To take an example, it is even possible to mix key-based animations with expressions. The "Curve Editor" has also been designed to give you a better and faster overview of your animation data. It is also now much easier to select from different animation properties and toggle between them. Functions for copy and paste will also enhance and accelerate your workflow and offer lots of possibilities.

To get a better feeling for the "Curve Editor’s" functions, it is indispensable to understand the main concepts behind RealFlow’s animation system. This especially concerns how animation data are handled and structured within the program. An animation value inside RealFlow consists of two parts:

  •  The node’s name
  •  The animated attribute

Both segments are separated by a dot. This notation, which is also similar for Python scripts, is the reason why dots should be avoided in node names. Assuming that you want to animate a standard rocket’s X position, RealFlow internally uses the following notation to identify the curve in the editor:


 The "Curve Editor" disassembles this notation into a tree structure that is visible in the “Curves” section. Normally you do not have to care about this notation, but it is important for expressions or if you have multiple animation curves displayed and want to toggle between them, or copy/paste keys from one curve to another. This syntax helps you to identify the individual curves and the animated properties.