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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.
Once you understand how to animate vowel sounds, we can move on to consonants. So let's take a look at some very simple cases here. I have got a very simple piece of dialog. So let's listen to it. (Character: B, D, G, F, M, so, no.) So let's go ahead and work on these one at a time. So I am going to zoom in, and let's go through this very first one here. So this is-- (Character: B.) B. So B starts with a letter B, which is a closed-mouth sound.
So the thing about consonants is you do need to have that shape before the mouth opens. So in this case, the mouth is opening somewhere around frame 3, so I need to make sure that the consonant is visible for a few frames before that. So that means in frames 1 and 2 that 'B' sounds needs to be there. So let's go ahead and start with a neutral position. We are going to do the same thing we did with the vowels. So I am going to select all of this lower face, set a keyframe here, move forward to frame 1, and I am going to grab that dialog slider.
That's going to be kind of the 'B' sound, so I am just going to move it over right about there. I just want to get that closed-mouth shape. Now if I want, I can actually use the Jaw slider to even close that mouth a little bit more. And again, I want to make sure that that's in place, so keyframe it again on frame 2, so you can see I have got a bit of a transition there, and then the mouth opens. So within two frames, we are going to start here and then the mouth is going to open into 'E'.
So 'E' is the Dialogue E plus the jaw open. So let's play that. (Character: B) Okay, then of course we need to close the sound. So we have got-- (Character: B.) And so that closes down by right around frame 16. So I want to make sure my jaw closes and then that Dialogue slider goes to 0. (Character: B.) Okay, if I want, I can keep this open a little bit longer. So if I want, I can go into this and make sure that maybe I have my jaw opened just a little bit more, and let's take at look what this looks like.
(Character: B, B, B.) So what happens here is that because we have tightened up the lips beforehand, it accentuates the opening of that mouth, and we are get a nice good pop open when we do B. Okay, let's go on to another consonant that ends in E and in this case it's the letter D. (Character: D) Now with D, it's a little bit different. We are not starting with closed lips; we are starting with a slightly open mouth. D is actually the tongue against the back of the teeth, so the teeth actually need to be a little bit visible.
So we are going to go to frame 30, and we are going to start with our neutral position, and I am going to select all my lower face and set a keyframe. Then I want to make sure I get a 'D' sound, so I want to make sure I see the teeth. So, again, that's going to be this dialog slider here, so I am going to bring it up here so I have the teeth kind of showing, and as it goes into 'E', we're pretty much there on the Dialogue slider. All we have to do is just move it over and then open the jaw.
But we want to make sure that the jaw is closed when we have that 'D' sound. So I am going to go back to 32, make sure that the jaw is at 0, and then come out to 34, and open. (Character: D.) And then we can play with this a little bit, and then we can close it out. So again, I am going to zero out my dialog and my Jaw slider somewhere around frame 48. So let's take a look at this. (Character: D, D, D.) So with D, and lot of other vowels, you want to show teeth just a little bit before the mouth opens.
So D, T is another good one, so those kind of show a little bit of teeth before the mouth opens. Now another one very similar one is G. But G has a little bit of a pursed mouth to it. It shows teeth, but the lips are in a slightly different shape. So if you have G, so let's take and listen to this sound of G. (Character: G, G.) Okay, now with G, you have got a little bit of sound here coming out. Then it goes into E. So we are actually going to start this at frame 63 or so. So I am going to go to a frame before that, to frame 62, start it in a neutral position, then go to frame 64, and I want to get that 'G' sound.
It's almost more of a pursed-lip sound. So for D, you get kind of this. But for G, you would actually get, this is actually the 'sh' slider, but this actually gives a pretty good representation of that. You could actually combine this a little bit, somewhere around there. So you can see we get a little of this kind of pursed-lip action and then maybe add in a little more smile from this Dialogue slider, a little bit more teeth smile.
And then it goes into, again, an E. So here I want to make sure my SH goes to zero and then again we are going to go into an E, and then I am going to push this Dialogue slider all the over and open up that jaw. But again, I've got this jaw opening, so I want to make sure that I keep that jaw closed until that 'G' sound is open. (Character: G.) And then again, we can just close this out.
So let's go ahead and play this. (Character: G, G, G, G.) So these are thee basic vowel sounds. So we have 'B', which is lips closed; 'D', which is teeth exposed; 'G', which is teeth exposed with a little bit of a lip shape. So let's go ahead and play all these three, and then in the next lesson, we will move on to the rest of these. (Character: B, D, G, B, D, G.) So you can see they are slightly different, but each one has their own individual character.
Now again, your character may speak a little bit differently. Different shapes may work better or worse for your character. So just play around with these and see if you can get some really good mouth shapes.
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