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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 let's go ahead and pick this up where we left off and just animate the rest of the character. So we're going to animate the body of the character, just to give him a little bit more life. Now in a shot like this, where we're actually just kind of giving a head-and- shoulder shot of the character, we don't have to worry too much about the things that are off the screen, the things that we don't see. All we'd really need to do is give the character a little bit of body motion, just to understand that the body is alive and that it's moving. In the next chapter, we'll go through full-body animation, but for this we're just going to do just a little bit, just to kind of give you a taste of it.
So first thing I want to do is I need to select the body. Now typically, for a shot like this, I'm going to actually zoom in here, so I just want to animate the hips of the character to give him a little bit of bounce in this shot. One of the most important motions in this is when he shakes his head. Let's go ahead and play that. (Character: I've sworn off.) So in this we can actually add a little bit of body motion to actually help sell that. So I'm just going to select the hips, and I am going to set a keyframe at 1.
Then I am going to go a little bit further in. We want to anticipate that motion a little bit, so I'm going to go ahead and move him up just slightly. Now what this does is it lifts his shoulders, okay, so it's almost showing like a shift of weight. So as he comes down, I want to drop those hips and maybe even rotate him forward a little bit. So I want to make sure I've got a keyframe for rotation at frame 5 and then maybe even just tilt him forward just a hair, just to give him a little bit more life.
So let's go ahead and see what that looks like. (Character: I've sworn off.) Then we can again bring that back to 0. In fact, we can type 0 into Rotate X here and then just kind of bring him back to normal. So what we've done is we've dropped, essentially, we've dropped the hips, which makes it looks like he's doing a little slight shift weight. (Character: I've sworn off pancakes.) That gives a much better sense of motion. Let's go ahead and show this in full. (Character: I've sworn off.) That gives you a sense that his whole body is moving.
(Character: I've sworn off pancakes.) And let's go ahead and do this one more time. So the next big one is 'French toast instead'. I want to go ahead and accentuate that as well. So I'm going move here to right before he says 'instead', somewhere around frames 75 or 76, and again, I want to anticipate this, so I'm going to go ahead and set a keyframe here at frame 76.
Then as he says, "instead," I want to drop the hips. And then as he says, "instead," I want to bob him up a little bit and then settle him back down. So now we've got something like this. (Character: I've sworn off pancakes. I'm having French toast instead.) So you see how he says-- (Character: toast instead.) So that gives a much better sense of motion.
Now we can also do a little bit of motion here in the middle. So where he says, "I'm having," then we can also add a little bit of a bump there as well. So let's go ahead. We're at before frame 50, somewhere around frame 46, and then we want to set a 0 point. Then we want to anticipate this, by moving it down, so at frame 48, I'm moving it down, and then I want to pop him up somewhere around frame 51 or frame 52, and then again bring him back to 0 to kind of settle him back down.
Okay, so this is just rough, but you get the idea here. What I'm doing is I'm just giving a little bit of body motion to accentuate the dialog. It's the dialog that is really driving this animation. So let's go ahead and take one more look at it. (Character: I've sworn off pancakes. I'm having French toast instead. I've--) So there we go. So we can continue to fine-tune this and tweak this, but you get the basic idea.
So the basic process for animating this type of dialog is, we can do the mouth and the lips first, then we need to make sure we get the head motion, then the body motion. Now there are other ways to animate this sort of dialog, but the goal here is to show you that it's not just getting the lips correct; it's getting the entire character correct. Okay, so go ahead and tweak your animation and get something that looks good to you.
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