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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 that we have the lower body animated, let's go ahead and work our way up the character. We're going to start with the spine. So before we do that, let's just take a look at what the character is doing at this point. So we've got the lower body animating, and it looks like that spine is really stiff, so let's go ahead and give that some flexibility. So I'm going to select my one, two, three spine controls here, and we're going to animate those pretty much all at once.
So the first thing I want to do is make sure I set a keyframe at 1 and at 9, just to kind of lock them in just a little bit. The first thing that you'll notice is that as the character is moving, the hips are rocking back and forth at frame 5 and frame 13. So when the right foot is forward, the left hand is forward. It's just the same as a walk. We want to create the shoulders moving in opposition to the hips, so I'm going to select those controls and I'm going to rotate his shoulders a little bit forward.
So now when this foot is forward, the opposite shoulders is forward, and let's do the same thing for the other side. So now we should have that, and one of the things we need to do is actually give an end keyframe, but because we're not doing translation, we don't have to worry so much about him moving out of place. I can just take the keys at frame 1, copy them, and paste them at frame 17.
So now his shoulders are moving along the vertical axis in the proper direction. But we still don't have a lot of looseness to the spine. In fact, I'm going to go ahead into my side view, so we can actually get a little more flexibility in the spine. So again I'm going to select my one, two, three spine controls. And then at frame 1, I'm going to go ahead and rotate him so he has a little bit more arched, because what I really want to do is get a nice line of action from that heel all the way up to the head.
If I want to accentuate it, I can do it like that, but I don't want to accentuate it too much, but just enough to give it a little bit of flexibility to that spine. And in fact, I can copy this and paste it to frame 9 and frame 17. So what we've got is he is leaping up here, landing, and then quashing. So when he leaps at frame 3, I want to arch his back just a little bit more, because what's happening is that he is resisting that forward motion.
So he is being pushed forward, and his head wants to stay back, which is going to bend that spine back just a little bit. In fact, we can almost bend but we'll hyperextend it, so there. And then as he falls forward, the spine is also going to flex forward. So we're going to flex the spine forward a little bit this way, so we can do that same on the opposite side as well. So bend him forward at the height of it and then squash him down and bend him in the opposite direction here.
When you actually look at it frame by frame, it seems a little bit extreme, but when you actually play it, it's pretty good. One of things we have, his head is actually kind of bobbing around a little bit too much, and we can actually kind of treat that almost as an extension of the spine. And one of things I like to do is just to make sure his head stays pointed forward, so I'm going to go ahead and set a keyframe here at frame 1. Make sure I have that same key at frame 9 and 17.
Then, as he goes up, I'm going to try and keep his eyes facing forward, and right there--this is actually the real key one-- I want to make sure that he is looking where he is going. So again, I want to kind of tilt it down just slightly here and then at frame 15, I want to make sure he is facing forward.
So now I should have this--a little bit more realistic. But his arms are still out. Well, we can get those in the next section. So what we've done here is we've animated his spine so that the shoulders mirror the hips, and we also have some front-back flexibility to the spine.
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