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Non-Linear Animation Editor
The NLA editor can manipulate and repurpose actions, without the tedium of keyframe handling. Its often used to make broad, significant changes to a scene's animation, with relative ease. It can also repurpose, and 'layer' actions, which make it easier to organize, and version-control your animation.
Tracks are the layering system of the NLA. At its most basic level, it can help organize strips. But it also layers motion much like an image editor layers pixels - the bottom layer first, to the top, last.
There's three kinds of strips - Action, Transition, and Meta. Actions contain the actual keyframe data, Transitions will perform calculations between Actions, and Meta will group strips together as a whole.
Creating Action Strips
Menu: Add → Action
Creating Transition Strips
Select two or more strips on the same track, and go to
Menu: Add → Transition
Grouping Strips into Meta Strips
If you find yourself moving a lot of strips together, you can group them into a Meta strip. A meta strip can be moved and duplicated like a normal strip.
Hotkey: ⇧ ShiftG
Menu: Add → Add Meta-Strips
A meta strip still contains the underlying strips. You can ungroup a Meta strip.
Menu: Add → Remove Meta-Strips
The contents of Action strips can be edited, but you must be in 'Tweak Mode' to do so.
Hotkey: ⇆ Tab
Menu: View → Enter Tweak Mode
If you try moving the strip, while in edit mode, you'll notice that the keys will go along with it. On occasion, you'll prefer the keys to remain on their original frames, regardless of where the strip is. To do so, hit the 'unpin' icon, next to the strip.
When your finished editing the strip, simply go to View > Exit Tweak Mode. Note the default key for this is Tab.
The contents' of one Action strip can be instanced multiple times. To instance another strip, select a strip, go to
Menu: Edit→ Duplicate Strips
Now, when any strip is tweaked, the others will change too. If a strip other than the original is tweaked, the original will turn to red.
Strip properties can be accessed via the NLA header.
Menu: View→ Properties
This is which track the strip currently belongs to.
Elements of the strip itself. An Action Strip can be either an Action Clip, or a Transition Clip. Note that the 'Strip Extents' fields determine strictly the strip, and not the action. Also, the "Hold" value in the Extrapolation section means hold both beginning, and after. This can cause previous clips to not work, if checked.
This represents the 'object data' of the strip. Much like the transform values of an object.
Like its close cousins in mesh and graph editing, Modifiers can stack different combinations of effects for strips. Obviously there will be more to come on this.