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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 let's go ahead and animate the last part of this animation, which is the character waving. A wave is a really good example of secondary motion. It's a good example of drag and so you are going to learn a lot of these principles as we animate this. So let's go ahead and play what we have. So you can see the beginning. It looks pretty fluid and then when it gets to that wave, well the arm is pretty stiff. So starting at about frame 30, the last half of this animation that arm looks like it's just stuck in place.
And the reason is is because well, the arm is actually composed of three joints. It has the shoulder, the elbow, and the wrist and each one of these will be affected by the motion of the other. So in this case, the shoulder is the thing that's driving the motion of everything else and typically in arm motion, that's the case. So as this character moves down, you can see that what's happening is that the shoulder is pulling that arm in that direction. It's rotating.
Now we have two other joints here. We have the elbow and the wrist and now they want to stay where they are. This is Newton's law of motion. An object at rest wants to stay at rest. So let's take a look at this animation here and actually let's go ahead and make sure that we have frame 28 open here and you can see what's happening is that the wrist is kind of coming over the top and then going into that wave. So what we need to do is make sure that we have that as part of the motion.
Because what's happening is that it's being pulled up and so at this point it's still going to be rotated a little bit forward. This is because of drag. So I am going to go ahead and rotate that a little bit forward. I am not going to worry too much about fingers. I am going to curl those over just a little bit and then as he comes over into that I am going to go ahead and straighten those up, but as he goes into this wave what's happening is again the shoulder is pulling everything down, but these things want to stay up.
So I am going to go three frames into this first part of the cycle. Now remember the shoulder starts moving at 30. It's down at 36, back up 6 frames later at 42. So every 6 frames, we have a change of direction. So as that change of direction happens the elbow and the wrist are going to drag behind. So I can animate this, by going about halfway through that cycle. So at frame 33 or 3 frames in, I am going to go ahead and bend the elbow.
I am going to go ahead and straighten out that wrist a little bit so we have that fully to the camera, but I'm going to bend it. What I have done here is have created a pretty strong silhouette. I've also created a nice arc. So you can see I have got a really strong arch there and again that's going to convey information to the audience about where this joint is moving. So as we come over the top it's going to start coming down.
At the next point, which is three frames later, frame 36, this is where the shoulder starts moving in the opposite direction. It starts moving everything up. But one of the things we have is we still are going to have this elbow and the wrist dragging behind the motion of the shoulder. So I am going to ahead and grab the elbow, move it back, and again just kind arc that wrist back and again we wanted just kind of get a nice arc here.
So it now goes that way and when the shoulder starts moving back, again we have the same situation. The shoulder is moving, the bicep and everything this way, but these are still moving in the opposite direction. So they want to stay where they are. They want to keep going in the direction that they're going. So we can again do the same thing. We can move them in the opposite direction. In this case I am not going to go 3 frames up.
I am just going to go 2 frames up because this actually will walk out a little bit more quickly, going in the up direction, and then I'm going to rotate that wrist as well. So what I've done is I have rotated the elbow until it's straight. Now remember the elbow only goes so far before you're going to break it. You could probably animate it a little bit past straight, but if you go to too much past, its going to look a little odd, and then I'm going to tilt that wrist a little bit over. But now we have got it coming like that and that looks pretty good.
But again we have that same situation when we come up to the next cycle, which is at frame 42. This is going to be moving back, the elbow, it's still going to be a little bit locked, and this wrist is still going to be dragging behind. So we have got a kind of straightened out here, so now comes over the top and now it comes up and now it's where it's going to bend down. So it's straight at 42 and now it's going to drag behind.
But at this point we actually have the pose that we want, because this pose here at 45 is going to be exactly the same as the pose we had at 33, so we can actually copy that. So I am going to go ahead and Shift+ Select the elbow and the wrist of the left-hand, go to frame 33, copy, paste at frame 45. Now the reason it's at 45 is that it reframes in from that start of the cycle.
And again, we can do the same for the rest of the animation. In fact we can actually start to cycle the whole thing. So I could actually Copy what I had at 36 and paste it at 48 and we can actually do this cycle over again. In fact I could do the whole thing just by Shift+Dragging 36 through 45, copy, go to 48 and paste. So what I've done is I have just copied the rest of those and we should have a pretty good wave. So there we go! Another thing I am noticing is that the right arm isn't really moving naturally.
Let's take a look at this arm here, the right arm. You can see it's really not hanging naturally. This is supposed to be a relaxed arm, so let's go ahead and just do a few little keyframes, just to kind of get it to relax here. So as he comes up into this pose, we can start to relax and so and in fact one of things I want to do is maybe Shift+ Select all of these joints, make sure I have the wrist, the shoulder, and the elbow selected, and I am actually going to go ahead and delete the keyframe that I had at frame 32.
What this does is it gives the computer more time to in-between into this pose here at frame 36, which will actually give it a much more gentle transition, so what I've done is I've just kind of deleted a few keyframes to give a much more gentle transition into this pose. Now at frame 42, if you look at this, it feels kind of like it's going like this. So let's go ahead and just kind of soften that up a little and I can do that just by rotating that wrist and just letting that wrist hang a little bit more naturally, and again we can do that again at frame 48 and again I want to kind of let that arm hang just a little bit, a little bit more, and again I am getting this kind of break in the wrist so I am just going to kind of straighten that out juts a little bit.
On both of these frames, 54 and at 60. So that should clean it up a little bit. Let's just take a quick look at it. So let's take a look at the whole animation. Now we could go over this with a fine-tooth comb and really make sure that everything is in place. But by now you kind of get the idea of what the process is for animating a pose to pose animation. So let's take a look at where we are at and see what this looks like.
Seems pretty good. So let's go ahead and recap what the process is for animating pose to pose animation. First thing you need to do is you need to create your poses. Don't worry so much about timing; just get the poses in the order that you want. Next step is to block out those poses to make sure that the timing is right. Then after that you release the curves, and then you go through and you start tweaking the animation a section at a time.
And with animation, it really is what we call an iterative process. You go over it once, then you go over it again, and then you go over it again, and then every time you take a pass at it, it gets a little bit cleaner, a little bit better, a little bit more lively. So if you want, go ahead and take another pass and just clean up any rough spots you see, but the basic process of pose to pose animation should be clear to you by now.
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