Just realised I forgot to post my re-done croquet shots! Whoopsie!
I made some very minor tweaks to the croquet animation, probably not terribly noticeable with Blogger's horrible video compression! I altered the timing as the mallet swings back so it's a little faster and added a minor delay, just before it swings down. The downward swing could certainly use a little speeding up; seems a bit slow, considering the speed of the backwards swing. I tried to add a very slight overlap to the mallet after it finishes its swing; it drops back very slightly before coming to a rest. It's only minor and I think that if the swing was a little faster and the overlap a little more exaggerated, it would probably feel a bit looser and more lively.
I think the ball, despite my best efforts to create a slow in/deceleration, comes to too much of a sudden stop at the end. I've been finding Softimage's "predictive" inbetweens a little confusing to get to grips with, though I can't pinpoint why; I suppose it's best to go back and manually tweak them by hand in order to iron out the bugs, much like in After Effects, though it's not such a problem here with such basic animation. In the shot below you can see a large clump of keyframes; my attempt to "slow in" the ball to the ending pose.
I think I'm gradually getting to grips with the dope sheet. It certainly is more intuitive than the regular timeline... and it's not quite so headachey as the animation editor (which I know I'm going to have to conquer sooner or later!)
You might notice the weird red and blue afterimages following the ball in the screenshot above; that's the animation ghosting, Softimage's answer to onion skinning. It took me a while to figure out how to enable it!
Basically, you need to select the object(s) that you'd like to onion skin - in this case, the blue ball - and manually enable the ghosting feature. Open up the property page for the object (shortcut: Alt + Enter) Within the visibility tab there's a small button that says "Ghosting" - if this is checked on and ghosting is enabled within the viewport, you'll get a lovely wireframe trail showing you the position of the object on all the previous frames.
The option to enable ghosting within the viewport can be found in the same place as the headlight or object view options:
Simply check on the "Animation Ghosting" option and hey presto:
Lovely onion skinning! It's already proving infinitely useful in figuring out things like timing and just generally planning the animation. I'm hoping that, with a bit more practice, I'll begin to gain a better understanding of how things like timing and weight can better be achieved in Softimage. It's easy to forget that, even though the environment has changed, the basic principles remain the same. I'll probably go back and do some more tweaking to this a little later on now that I can better see what's wrong with it.