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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.
Now let's go ahead and start animating the upper part of the character. We are going to start with the spine and then later we're going to go ahead and work on the arms and the head. But for this one we will just focus on the spine. So let's go ahead and turn on the upper part of the character. I'm going to turn on the upper controls and these are just layers, so I am going to turn on the Controls Upper layers as well as the Upper Geometry layer. So now let's go ahead and just scrub through what we have. So I'm going to go ahead and just play.
As you can see, that spine is totally stiff. That's really not bending or flexing at all so let's go ahead and correct that by doing a series of rotations. So I'm going to scroll to frame 1 and in frame 1 we have the passing position, so we have the right hip forward the left hip back. Remember the shoulders of the character counter rotate to match the hips. So I'm going to go ahead and select 1, 2, 3 spine controls here and the first thing I am going to do is rotate that spine so that it basically is opposite of what the hips are.
So I'm going to go ahead and rotate this in Y so that when the right leg is forward the left shoulder is forward, and in fact I'm going to rotate this about negative 9 degrees per spine to get this kind of rotation. You can see this is one of the reasons why I turned off the head, so I could see this angle here, and this is really what I'm kind of looking a,t is how does that match to the legs.
So once I have this then all I need to do is go ahead and match that. Let's go ahead and set a keyframe and then scroll forward to frame 17, which is the next extended position. Then instead of negative 9 we are just going to rotate each one of these 9, and again set a keyframe. So now you can see that his shoulders are pretty much-- now he's kind of tending to face forward more and again we can do the exact opposite at the very last frame and go to negative 9.
So just by doing that you can see when I play you get a little bit more flexibility to the spine and that actually gives him a little bit more life. So now we're going to go ahead and focus on how he looks from the side. We are going to focus on basically the x-rotation which does the forward/back motion. So what we've got here is we have got some forces happening. So as he goes forward, he is falling.
So when he falls forward, he's going to also bend forward a little bit. We can exaggerate like this, but really we want to do it just enough so that it looks natural, somewhere around? I'm figuring between 2 1/2 and 3 degrees or so. So now he bends forward and then as he comes up and falls forward we're going to arch his spine just a little bit. So I'm going to go here to about frame 11 and just arch his back just a little bit.
So now I've got that. Let's go ahead and repeat this on the opposite side. So I am going to the next passing position, which is at 21, and again I'm going to rotate him forward, somewhere between 2 and a half and three, and let's just go 2.75 and then let's go ahead and go a little bit past that extended position there and rotate him back.
So from the side you can see we're getting this sense of weight, so when he falls forward we're getting a little bit more of an arch to the spine. We kind of get the sense that he is falling forward and then when he stands up, I want him to be pretty straight. So we are going almost from a compressed to an exaggerated, extended position here. So now there is one more thing that we need to take into consideration and that's the spine bend from the front. Now when he is in the extended position here, his spine is pretty much going to be vertical.
So when we get to the passing position the hips are going to be pulled down by gravity and it's going to pull them out of center. So basically, everything is pulled to the right. So what we can do is we can actually rotate the shoulders a little bit in the opposite direction to counteract for that. So now we've got, it goes like that, and then we can do the same thing at the next passing position and just rotate them slightly in the opposite direction.
So now when we play that, we get a pretty good cycle, but notice there is a little bit of pop at the end of that and that's because I need to rotate those out. So I need to go ahead and zero out X and Z for all of those. So now once we have that, we can take a look at the spine. So let's go and take a look at the cycle here. You can see we have a lot more flexibility in the spine.
So now that we have the spine in place, we have the guides also in place to work on the arms as well as the rest of the body.
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