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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.
So now we should have most of the animation done. We're still going to do one or two more passes on the animation, but the next step is to actually animate the dialog, or the lip sync. Now notice how in this process, we've actually done most of the acting with the body, and then the mouth comes second. So let's go ahead and take a look at what we have so far, and notice how the acting pretty much plays with the body. The mouth is just going to add a little bit more on top of that.
(Character: Ha, it worked! Prepare to meet your doom! Ha!) Okay, so now we've got the basic animation blocked out. Now we can start to add in the mouth motion. And after that, we'll go ahead and fine-tune the body once more, add in a few blinks, and we should be pretty much done. So let's go ahead and start animating the lip sync. Now one of the problems you're going to find with this is that, well, the head is moving all over the place. How do you animate dialog when you really can't see the face? If I'm in a front view or whatever, the character is not really looking at the camera, so it's kind of hard to see the dialog to match it.
Now if you want, you can use the Camera view, but here's a little trick that I like to do. Now typically, what I do is I go into a front viewport, or really any viewport, and I create a camera. We can create a new camera in the scene by going to the Rendering tab and just clicking on the Camera icon, which will create a camera. We can go into that camera by going Panels > Perspective, and selecting camera2. And I position it on the character's face.
Let's turn on Smooth Shading by pressing 5 on the keyboard. And I want to get the character's face centered in my camera. So when I do that, now I can actually see the character's control panel, and his face pretty much in my Camera view. Open the Outliner by selecting Window > Outliner. Find the camera and make it a child of the character's head control.
So I'm going to go into my hierarchy here, so I have the head control here, and I'm just going to select the camera, middle-click, and drag, so that the camera is now a child of that head control. I'm going to go ahead and turn off sound here, so we can see this. So as the character's head moves, the camera is actually moving with the head.
So we can actually see this in a perspective viewport, so let's go into perspective view here. So this is the camera that I have. So as you can see, when the character is moving, this camera is always looking at the face. That's because the camera is parented to the head. So what I can do is I can use this camera to actually animate my lip sync. So I'm going to go ahead and turn on my sound, and let's start working with lip sync.
So the first thing I'm going to do is select the lower part of the face, and just set a keyframe for everything. And now we can start to animate lip sync. So it starts somewhere around frame 3, and the first word is "Ha," which is basically just an open jaw. So I'm going to go ahead and open the jaw, just go ahead and move that so that the jaw is open. And then go ahead and close the jaw.
Now at this point, he is actually pretty happy, so I'm actually going to dial in a smile. So he is pretty happy; he goes-- (Character: Ha!) And now we have "it worked." So again, I want to make sure that I have a neutral point here, so I'm going to go ahead and set some keyframes here. So we're staring here at frame 16. Actually, let's move those back to frame 15, because "it worked," the maximum volume here is at frame 17, so I want to give it two frames to work "it." "It T, it" worked.
Now worked is a 'U' sound, so I'm actually going to have to take out that smile at this point, and go into 'oo'. Actually, I want to make sure this Jaw is pretty much at 0 here when he go into this 'oo'. And again, "wor." And then in the end, we have a more of a consonant sound, "worked." So that's going to this kind of bare-teeth pose.
(Character: It worked!) And then we can add in some smile into that if we want. So I'm going to go ahead and hit, set key for smile at 27, and by 29, I'm going to go ahead and put in some more smile. (Character: Ha, it worked!) Now we have the word "prepare." So in this case, we need to again, tighten up the lips; we've done this before. So in this case, we need to create the letter P, so I'm going to go ahead and bring the Dialogue slider over here.
I want to make sure that my Jaw is at 0, and let's go ahead and turn down the Smile. Actually, I'm going to keep the smile up here. Let's go ahead. So I want to make sure I've got a P here, so let's go ahead. I may have to close the jaw. There we go! There we go. "Prepare." So "prepare", it actually has kind of an 'R' sound, so it's almost like to an 'oo' sound.
We have to purse the lips a little bit, so I'm going to go ahead here, and let's go ahead and take that smile out, and also close the jaw. So we've got, "Pre." Okay, let's move it.
And then go back to another P, so right around 40 I need to close everything. So again, I just want to dial that in. So again, we're going to bring this down. (video playing) And then "air"; big A, and let's take this slider out. So as you can see, it's pretty much like animating any dialog. So all I'm doing is just going through and basically following the phoneme.
So let's go through what we have so far. (Character: Ha, it worked! Prepare to--) And we can go through the rest of it. I don't have enough time here to go through everything, but let's take a look at how it looks on the full body. (Character: Ha, it worked! Prepare to meet your doom!) Okay, so we can just go through the rest of this and animate it. So that's what I want you to do. So you understand the process here, and that is, let's go ahead and look through the camera that we created for the head-- in this case, camera2--and finish out the rest of the dialog animation.
And then we'll go ahead and do some more refinements in the next lesson.
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