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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 we have the weight of the character moving from 1 foot to the other, we still need to work on the rest of the body. At this point we have the computer in betweening these poses and the computer in-between isn't quite exactly what we want. So let's go ahead and fine-tune and tweak these in-betweens to make this a really strong transition. So let's go through this a frame at a time. It starts at frame 20 and at frame 22 already I am noticing a little bit of problem. Right here there is some interpenetration between the hand and the forearm here and as he goes into this other pose, I am noticing this is kind of a weak transition here.
So we need to cover work on this arm as well. So let's go through this a step at a time. The first thing I am going to do is let's just focus on this outside arm, the right arm because that's the one that's going to move first. It's kind of blocking this left hand from moving. So let's go ahead and just animate that first and then we'll go through the other arm. So thing I am noticing is that we have a little bit of this interpenetration here. So the easiest way to get rid of that is to just grab the elbow on the right arm and just rotate that a little bit out of the way.
In fact, let's just rotate that down quite a bit. Now the other thing is that as this arm rotates down the hand is going to drag, because what we have here is we have this force is moving the forearm in this direction, but the hand also has a joint and it kind of wants to stay put. This is again what we call drag. Now what's going to happen here is that this wrist is going to bend back and actually we can use this to our advantage because what we can do is we can actually make a nice arc.
As we go through these sorts of transitions here, we want to make sure that we have kind of nice poses here. His arm is kind of moving in the nice arc and this gives the audience of visual representation of where it's moving. So if I see an arm in that position, I know that the force is coming from here and that it's moving generally in that direction. So let's go ahead and continue this. We are going to move this arm out again at Frame 24.
This arc that we created here is kind of broken at this pose. So let's go ahead and put that back in. So I am going to rotate that arm out just a little bit more, and again I am going to rotate this hand and again I want to try and create a nice arc here. So now you can see how that's coming out and now as this comes in, let's go ahead and continue this arc a little bit and kind of bring it back and then just kind of straiten it out. So really what we're getting here is we are getting almost kind of a whip action.
So almost looks like we've got kind of a whip action happening here and here we can kind of just tweak this a little bit, and make sure that this hand is in a decent position. So now the right arm is definitely moving a lot better. So let's go ahead and focus a little more on the left arm. So let's take a look at this. So as this arm is moving, we have a very similar situation. I am going to have another drag that's happening on this wrist.
So as we go to say Frame 24, I'm going to move that in and now the arm is coming up and right here we have an kind of an awkward pose. This is really where silhouetting can help you with animation. If I were to silhouette this, you can kind of see this shape here. It really is kind of an awkward shape. We can make that a lot smoother and a lot more elegant just by reposing this a little bit. So I am going to go ahead and move this arm out a little bit and then just drag that wrist back.
So by doing just that little thing, what happens is we get a nice arch. Again we're getting this kind of whip action and in fact we are getting it here in both arms. This is a very strong silhouette and this will actually tell the audience how this is moving. So as he brings that arm out you can see what direction it's moving in. It's a much stronger sense of that motion. Now we have got one more little thing to tweak here. We have got one more major joint that we haven't really touched and that's the head.
So let's take a look at what we can do with this. So the first thing is he's moving forward. As he moves forward, again he moves forward from the hips so the head is going to be the last thing that moves forward. One of things I want to do is maybe just start repositioning these keyframes. So I positioned this as kind of my master pose, but I don't have to keep this pose exactly the way that I have. So one of things I can do is to just move that keyframe over just a little bit.
So now as he comes in, his head is going to rotate down a little bit later. In fact I can rotate that down a little bit more and then as he comes up into this pose, the head will be the last thing because again it starts at the hips, moves through the spine, and the head will be the last thing that moves into position. So I am going to grab the keyframe for the head at frame 30 and move it back two frames to frame 32. Now what this does is it gives me a little bit of overlap. Everything in his body is not all moving at once.
It kind of gives you a much more fluid effect. So let's go ahead and take a look at this. I have got this up to about frame 36, so let's just take a look at where we are at now. So you can see that that pose is looking pretty good. One of things I'm noticing is that I'm getting a little bit of a flop here on this arm. So as he comes in, he kind of just freezes there. So one of things I can do is just move some of these keyframes back.
So I am going to go ahead and select all the keyframes in the arm and Shift+Select and select the right arm's shoulder, elbow, and wrist and just go ahead and move those back as well. So now at this point we are actually into the part of the animation where the character starts to wave and we are going to go ahead and do that in the next lesson. So for this lesson, let's just go ahead and recap what we have done.
We've gone through the automatic in-betweening that Maya has done for these poses and we've fine tuned it so that it's stronger. A lot of this involves making sure that parts of character don't overlap, that we have strong silhouettes, and that when the character's body parts move, particularly the arms, that they move with drag and that they give kind of a whip action to that motion. And then also we've added in a little bit of delay in the joints such as the head to give the sense that the body is not moving all at the same time.
So keep these things in mind as you start to tweak your pose to pose animation. And they can make it a lot stronger and make your transitions a lot more effective.
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