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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 once we have our poses blocked out, we need to time them to the actual soundtrack to create our animation. Now, I've got this character in his basic poses. So, if we scrub through, we can see I have got a pose every two frames. If we are going to start timing these poses to the soundtrack, we need to be able to select everything of the character so we can select an entire pose. We've done this before, where we've actually created a MEL script, or a button on a shelf using MEL scripting, to create a Select All button.
Now, I have that right here, and this actually selects everything in the character. But let me show you how to do this, just so we can refresh our memory. I am in the Camera view, so it's probably easier for me to go into another view because I have locked off this camera. Because we are actually acting to this camera, I don't want to move that. So, let's go into another view here, and then I am just going to make it into a perspective view. Then I need to open the Script Editor, so I am going to go to General Editors > Script Editor, and let's go ahead and play with this here.
And so what I need to do is select everything in the character. So I just want to Shift+Select all of the objects that represent this character. And I'm just going to work my way through this fairly quickly. I hope I don't miss anything, but we will see. Try and get everything here. Get the hands and then get the arms as well.
So, I should have everything. Now, once I have everything selected, you can see that everything is here in the Script Editor. So I just need to go up to where I started selecting and then just highlight all of these and then use this to save it to the shelf. And then I can just do something like SelectALL. And once, I have this button saved--I am going to save it as MEL script here-- it makes it much easier to work with poses because I can select the entire character. So, go ahead and do that. Make sure you have a button to select everything in your character, and then we are going to go through and actually time this to the soundtrack.
Right-click over the timeline, make sure that the file Doom is activated, and the waveform should show up in the timeline. And if you have everything selected, you should see some red ticks here on the timeline that show you that the poses are also animated. Now, let's take a look at this very quickly in the Animation Editor. We are going to go into the Graph Editor. Now, when I created the poses, I created a keyframe for every part of the character, and then what I did was I went into the Graph Editor, I selected all of these keys, and I set them to Step tangents.
Now, this is important because this allows us to do our timing pass. If I don't have Step tangents, if I have some other form of tangent, what's going to happen is that everything is going to in-between as you scrub. And I don't want that. I just want to see that the poses are hitting on the marks that I want. So, in this case, I am going to go ahead and make sure that it's Step tangents. So, now let's go ahead and start blocking this out. The very first pose I have is kind of this neutral pose, and I don't want that.
And actually, my animation starts at frame 1, so I am just going to go ahead and first off, just start this at frame one, which kind of hides that initial pose. So, the first thing I want to do is select all of these keyframes, and let's go ahead and get this one back to 1. I am going to select everything here and move it back one frame, and that starts him at this pose where he is kind of just looking off screen. Now, the major pose is where he says, "Ha." So, what I want to do is go ahead and drag these so that I've got this pose pretty much in the middle of where he says, "Ha." And I'm suspecting it's right around frame 8, so he goes.
The next major thing is where he says, "it." When he says, "it," he is basically anticipating the next pose, so it's actually going to be, this second pose is going to be it, and then the third pose is going to be work. Let's go ahead and select all and get those in place. So, now I am going to slide the second keyframe, which is now at frame 10, to frame 16.
And then the keyframe after that, which is this kind of proud pose, I want that to be at "worked." You can even see the waveform, "it," "worked." So, I am going to go ahead and slide this keyframe over, somewhere around there, and then the next major part of the animation is where he says, "prepare." So, we want this pose for where he says prepare. So, I am going to put this key at the beginning of where he says, "prepare." And then we've got two more poses.
We have got this home where he anticipates the word 'doom', and then we have that one as well, so I am going to go ahead and move those over, and here is the word 'doom'. Now, I want to make sure that this keyframe here 40 is somewhere over here, right around 70, where he says the word 'doom'. So, let's go ahead and slide that over. And then I need to anticipate that, so that's what's going to be this pose. So, the pose at frame 38, I want to move that-- oh, I don't know, say about 6 frames or so before.
So, now this should be a reasonably good blocking of the poses. So, let's take a look at this. (Character: Ha, it worked! Prepare to meet your doom!) (Character: Ha, it worked! Prepare to meet your doom!) Now, we can take this and you know slide things around. So, if you don't like where one thing is, you can move it, and by having these Step tangents, you can see how it just pops from one post to another.
This makes the broad blocking of the scene much easier. Now, I want you to go ahead and take your poses and time them against the soundtrack so that you have reasonably good timing.
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