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Watch as author George Maestri employs the basic principles of animation to bring to life simple 3D characters in Maya. Starting with an overview of the character rig, this course provides guidelines for arranging stock characters into strong poses and explains how to generate locomotion between poses in a modular fashion. The course includes step-by-step instructions on animating realistic gestures, walks, runs, facial expressions, and dialogue, and culminates with an animated scene built entirely from scratch.
Prerequisite courses: Maya 2011 Essential Training.
Now, that we have the character's weight distributing properly and we have his feet moving, we pretty much have the basic foundation of the animation. The next step is to add in the finer details, such as overlap, follow-through, secondary action-- those sorts of things. So we're going to go ahead and do a little bit of that. I'm not going to do all of it, but I'm going to show you some of the finer points of where to look for secondary action and how to refine that animation. So let's take a quick review as to where we are currently in the process.
(Character: Ha, it worked. Prepare to meet your doom!) Okay, so the animation is pretty well blocked out. It still needs more overlap, follow-through, that sort of thing. He still looks a little bit stiff. So in order to make this a little bit easier, I'm going to go ahead and turn off the sound, so that way I can talk over this. One of the first areas we want to look at is this really broad action here, where he says, "Prepare to meet your doom!" right there where he tosses his finger out. Let's go ahead and play through that.
You can see how this is really stiff. So if we take a look at this arm, there's really no secondary action. T here's no overlap. There is no follow-through. We can actually make this a lot better. So the first thing I'm going to do is let's go ahead to this pose here, right around frame 66. And if you notice here, we've got this arm. It's really kind of tucked up against the face here, and there's really no clarity of this pose, so let's go ahead and fix that.
What I'm going to do is I'm going to extend this a little bit more, so I'm going to rotate this shoulder up, and I'm going to extend the arm a little bit more. So what I want to do is get this hand in the clear. I want to make sure that this hand is pointing about as straight up as we can because this will give a much stronger motion when he moves down. So now he comes up. But as he comes up, remember, we're going to have drag on the way up as well, so I want to add in a little bit of that, so I'm going to go to the wrist here.
And between frame 60 and 66 is when this moves up, so I'm going to go ahead and just start to straighten this out a little bit. Now remember, with secondary action, the body is moving this way and the hand wants to stay here, so the overall result is that there's going to be a rotation in the elbow that allows the hand to stay where it is. So now as we do this, you can see how that hand kind of rises up a little bit more, and then as he comes down, this is where we really want to get a sense of action.
So what we want is we want this to be almost in a curve. We want this hand, again, to drag back, and bend the elbow right here. So let's go ahead and do that. So what I want to do is bend this elbow and also bend this wrist back. So I want to give kind of a nice arc here. So as this comes down, we have a stronger line of action. Then once he hits here, his weight just kind of stops.
If you scrub this, you see right there, he just kind of freezes. Well, again, we're going to have a little bit of overlap here because his weight is going this way. So it's going to overshoot this point, and then it's going to kind of settle back. The same is going to happen with his arm, and in order to make this a really strong pose, I want his arm to be as straight as possible. So let's go ahead and do that. So I'm going to go to frame 72, and let's go ahead and make this arm straight out, and make this arm pretty much as straight as possible.
I may have to rotate this wrist a little bit to get a really strong pose. Then I'm also going to take this hip and I'm going to move it forward. But before I do that, I'm actually going to go a few frames forward and set a keyframe so I know exactly where my resting place is. So what I'm doing is I'm just duplicating this key at 72 to 75, and now I'm going to adjust the one for that at 72, so that it overshoots. So basically, now he goes over and then he comes back.
Let's go ahead and overshoot him. He's actually going to be a little bit higher here. Then as he comes back into this pose, the arm is going to relax. So now I'm going to relax it into that final pose that I have with a little bit of bend in that arm.
Now what I've got here is I've got a nice little bit of an S shape here through the shoulders. And again, this is just a nice line of action that will kind of guide the eye towards that pointing finger. So now what I've got here is I've got this. You can see how it goes over, and then it settles back. Now one of the things I'm noticing is that it still kind of stops, so I'm actually going to take the shoulder and the wrist, and I'm actually going to move those back a little bit, maybe to frame 76, so that it doesn't all stop at the same time.
Then I'm going to create another moving hold. So what I'm going to do is on the hips, I'm just going to keep them, maybe move them back just a little bit, and sink them down just a little bit, so he has a little bit of motion. Again, we want to just kind of keep him alive, and actually, I can do that a little bit more, and maybe even a little bit of rotation there. This is just real subtle.
Again, just that little bit makes it look like he is breathing. Now, another thing that happens with an arm, particularly an arm that's extended, is that gravity will be pulling down. There's a big weight hanging out here which is called a hand, and its gravity is going to pull that down. So we have an effect called drift. What drift does is basically it says if something is out there, it's going to tend to drift down. So again, I'm going to go out to somewhere around frame 86 or so and I'm just going to rotate that hand down just a hair-- again, just to indicate that gravity is pulling it down.
You can see how that just gives it almost like he is breathing or something; it gives a nice sense of aliveness. So let's go ahead and play this. Okay, so that end part looks really good. Now, we can go through the rest of the animation. Now, another part here is where he comes up. So there is another place where we can have a lot of drag, and overlap, follow-through, a little bit of secondary motion.
Again, let's take a look at this wrist. So as this wrist comes up, we've got some forces working on this. We've got the shoulder is moving up, but again, this hand wants to stay where it is. So let's go ahead and add a little bit of drag here to give it a little bit more realism. So what I'm going to do here is let's go ahead and find, okay, let's find the wrist here. And then as he moves up-- Okay, so he's going to start moving up somewhere around frame 34, so I'm going to set a keyframe here.
Then as he moves up, I'm going to drag that wrist down. And then as he comes up, I'm actually going to bring that wrist into position a little bit later. So right now I have it at 38. I'm going to bring it back to 40, and this frame here at 36, let's bring it to 37. So now we've got, he is kind of almost rotating down and then that hand pops up after the shoulder stops, which gives, again, a little bit of overlap to that motion.
We can also do the same thing with the elbow. So what I'm going to do is pull that second keyframe for the elbow back to 40, and that gives a little bit more overlap. So let's go ahead and play that. Just that little trick will actually give it a little bit more realism. So we can go through the rest of the animation and add these little effects, understand where every joint is moving. So, as a joint moves, if it's moving fast, it's going to have a lot of drag.
If it's kind of falling down, like for example here, this hand, as it moves down, it's almost falling. So when it kind of moves down here, there's not going to be a lot of drag, because really, he is just relaxing. A lot of times you'll get drag when there is a lot of force applied, so when a character is moving quickly or when he is under the action of a force. So go ahead through the rest of the animation and add in secondary motion, and make sure that the character flows from pose to pose smoothly and easily.
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