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In Maya 2011 Essential Training, George Maestri demonstrates the tools and feature set in Maya, as well as the skills necessary to model, texture, animate, and render projects with this deep and robust piece of 3D animation software from Autodesk. This course takes an in-depth tour of Maya's interface, including navigating and manipulating objects in 3D and customizing the workspace. The course also covers object creation and modeling basics, shading and texturing, surface mapping techniques, character rigging, and lastly, rendering and final output. Exercise files accompany the course.
One of the more common ways to animate an object is to animate it along a path. This is used a lot in motion graphics. But really there's a number of places where this comes in handy. So let me show you how to animate objects onto a path. I'm going to create a simple object, such as this Cylinder here. And then I'm going to draw a path along which it will animate. And a path is basically just a curve. So you can take a CV Curve, for example, and just draw out a Curve.
And so now I have an object and a path. So all I have to do is select both of these and then do Animate > Motion Paths > Attach to Motion Path. But let's take a look at some of these values here. So when we attach an object to a Motion Path, we can attach it to the range of the Time sliders. So in this case, from 1-24. We can give it a Start value or a Start and End value. For example, here it would be from Frame 1. It would be at the start of the path.
At Frame 30, it's at the end of the path. I'm going to keep it at Time Slider here. And then also, do we want the object to follow the path? In other words, do we want the object to be pointed along that path? And what axis of the object do we want to actually be the front of the object? And then some other parameters here. But let's just go ahead and do Attach. When we Attach, what happens is that this object now gets two keyframes: one for the beginning of the path, the other for the end of the path.
So Frame 1, it's here. Frame 24, it's here. So if I want to adjust that, I can adjust a number of things. So if I go in the Attribute Editor for the Motion Path, you'll notice that I've got a lot of values that I had when I created this. So I can actually change these. So, for example, if I wanted to I could change which axis was up. So, for example, if I change that to Z, that means that now a different axis is actually pointing up. I can also change which axis is the front of my object.
So in other words, I can make it follow the path this way. So really, it depends on your object as to which direction-- what's the front of the object and how it points along the path. So these values here can change that. So typically what I do is I just click them until I find the one that works. But if you want to get specific, you just have to know how that object is constructed and which axis is which within the object. Now we can also change it by actually adding in keyframes to this path. So right now it starts at 1 and it ends at 24.
But if we want, we could actually add in some additional keyframes. So I can go into Animate and go Motion Paths and you can actually do what's called Set Motion Path Key. And what that does is it sets another key on that motion path. So when I go into my Animation Editor and my Graph Editor, you'll see that now I have a motion path here. So basically all motion of this cylinder is controlled by this curve, which basically goes from 0-1, 1 meaning the end of the path.
So if I wanted to, I could actually select any one of these keys and just, again, hit the Move icon or hit the W key on the keyboard and middle-click. And I can actually drag this and affect how far along the curve this is at any given point. So if I wanted to slow in and then get faster, I can do that just by adjusting this middle key. So those are some of the basics of motion paths. But let me show you one more example here. We're going to go ahead and open a scene here called MotionPath, of all things.
And it's our character on his scooter. And I have actually something hidden beneath this. So there should be a layer in here called Ground. So let's go ahead and unhide that. And you'll see that I actually have a ground plane for my character. And so let's say I want to animate him riding his scooter along this ground plane. Well, sometimes when you have a rough surface like this. It's really hard to create, you know, have him stick to this. Well, this is where motion paths can come in very, very handy.
So all I have to do is draw a curve on this surface and then just attach him to that curve. So now remember back to modeling when we did curves on surface, all you have to do is make the selected object live, Create > CV Curve, and just draw the path. So let's say we want him to do this. So now I'm drawing a line that is attached to that surface. So now all I have to do to animate him is select that locator at the very bottom, Shift+select that curve on surface, and do the same thing, Animate > Attach to Motion Path. Okay.
Well, now he is actually attached to that path, but well, he is going sideways. So we can do one of two things. We can actually rotate the scooter, or we can change the attributes for that motion path. So let's go change the attributes for that motion path. So what's his front axis? It's not X. It's not Y. It's Z. Okay. There we go. And so now he is driving along the surface rather than-- which is defined by that curve.
Because this is animating from the center and the wheels are actually a little bit off. He may not be sticking totally. But he sure is a lot closer than he was. So this is a really good example of what animating along the path can do.
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