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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, at this point we have the character running in place. Now, I've tweaked the animation just a little bit, but you can see that we have this nice little cycle going where he is running in place. But what I really want to do is have him run through the scene, so we're going to do that, and then we're also going to do another little trick that'll allow him to run forever. So the first thing that I want to do is actually have the character run through the physical scene. As you remember, we have our character root node, and we've animated that back so it looks like he is running in place.
Now, this really helped when we animated our run, but we don't need that anymore. So I want to make sure that character root is selected, and then I'm going to Shift+Select all of the keyframes for character root and then just right-click over the timeline and hit Delete. So now, he should run through the scene, because we're not animating him backwards; he is just running through the scene. Now, the next step is to actually keep him running, because, if we look at this, he is only running for 17 frames, and he is only running for two steps.
We would like him to keep running. We can do this in one of two ways. We can continue to animate keyframes, but that can get kind of tedious. So I'm going to show you a little trick that allows him to just run for as long as you want. Now, first thing we need to do is to give ourselves more frames to work with, so let's go ahead and bump up the number of frames to 100 and make sure that we're viewing 100 frames. So now you can see he runs up to frame 17 and then just stops.
So I want to keep him going. So the first thing I want to do is select all of those objects that are actually moving forward in space. So what is actually moving forward? Well, his feet, so his right foot, his left foot, so I'm going to Shift+Select those, and then I'm also going to Shift+Select his hips. Those three objects are the only ones that are actually translating.
So let's go into our Graph Editor and we'll make some cycles here. So I'm going to go into Window > Animation Editors > Graph Editor, and those are all of my curves that I created for those objects. So if I want, I can just do a real simple thing here. I can just select all of my curves. Or I can select them here in the sidebar here; I can just Shift+Select all of the curves. Either way, it will work. And then I can do Curves > Post Infinity > Cycle, but when I do just cycle, what happens is, well, it cycles.
He runs forever, but he always keeps jumping back to the start every 16 frames. Not what I want. I want him to go instead of on frame 17 jumping back, I want him to actually just keep going forward. So we can actually affect that by going back into our Graph Editor and just working with the translation keys, because really, I just want his translation to keep going forward. I'm going to select the right foot, Translate Z, Ctrl+Select or Command+Select left foot Translate Z, and the same for the hips.
Because he is running in the Z axis, what I want him to continue to do is to continue running in that Z axis. Then I'm going to go Curves > Post Infinity, and instead of doing Cycle, I'm going to do what's called Cycle with Offset, which means that it's going to pick up where it left off, but only in the Translate Z direction--everything else will be the same. So now let's go ahead and zoom out, and we can see what we've got.
So now he is running off the screen, pretty much, but we've only done this for the hips and the feet. So you can see that we haven't done it for all the rest of the objects in the scene. The first thing I'm going to do is select these knee direction locators, and then I'm going to go through and just Shift+Select everything else. I'm going to Shift+Select the spine, the head, which I animated, as well as the shoulder, the elbow, the wrists of both arms, and as well as the ankles, or the heels, as well as the toe.
So now I've selected everything but what I've selected before. Then let's go back into our Graph Editor, select everything in here. We can actually go through here and select it all and then do Curves > Post Infinity. And because we're not doing translation, we just do a regular cycle, and that should fix it.
Now, I'm still not getting these locators here. So let's go ahead and set a keyframe for those and move him forward. Let's go to frame 17 and just move him forward. Make sure they're ahead of there, and then let's go back into our Animation Editor, our Graph Editor. Make sure that we have these all selected. Curves > Post Infinity > Cycle. I actually want to do Cycle with Offset because we want them to keep moving forward, and let's go ahead and do that.
So now, I've got my character running as far as I want him to run. So now he is running over the course of a hundred frames; in fact, we can make him more straight into the camera if we position it properly. And there he goes. So as you can see, by using Cycle and Cycle with Offset, we can take our character and make him run as long as we want.
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