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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 take a look at the full character rig. I'm going to open a scene called Full Char.ma, which is our full character. Now as you can see, this character is very close to the other character that we had. In fact, it's just a more complex version. As you can see, the character has full geometry. In other words, his geometry deforms. So for example, if I select the foot here, you can see that his geometry deforms.
The character also has full hands. So instead of those mitten hands, we have a three-fingered hand. So for example, we could select the index fingers here and rotate them. So this gives you a lot more control over hand gestures and that sort of thing. Now the most important change to this character is in the facial controls. I've given him a full face with full control over that face.
So if you want to move the head, it's still pretty much the same. So you just select this ring and you can rotate it and you notice this HEAD control rotates with the character. The controls themselves manipulate various portions of the face. So the lower part of face, in other words, the mouth is the lower part of the controls. The upper part is the eyes. So let's start with the Mouth controls. All of these controls are translations, so if you select this, all you have to do is hit W or select your Move tool in order to manipulate these.
Now these all manipulate in X or Y or in a single dimension. So if I select the jaw control, which is labeled here as jaw, you can see how if I move this up or down it opens and closes his jaw. If I move it left and right, you can see how it actually biases that so you can get some left-right jaw motion. So if you wanted him to chew for example, you can do left-right type motion. I'm going to go ahead and undo that. Let's move over to the next one called Dial and that's short for Dialogue.
And now these are most of the phoneme shapes that we used for lip sync. Now this will be used in combination with the jaw as well as some other controls. But let's take a look how this works. If you move this control to the right, you can see he goes into an 'oh' sound. If you move it to the right and all the way into the bottom, that 'oh' closes down to an 'ooh'. If you move it straight up, it kind of just neutralizes. Now the other side of this starts with the consonant sound or CH, kind of that smile.
And then as you move down, those lips close and it kind of tightens up, so you can get like an M or B or P. So simply by moving this through two dimensions, you can get probably about 80% of the dialogue controls that you want. If you can see these move from -1 to +1 as we go along this. And now if we want to center this out, all we have to do is select both of these, type 0, and that centers it out.
The next one is the Smile control, and this is pretty straightforward. If you move it straight up, he smiles; move it straight down, he frowns. And then we can control that. If you move it up to the left, he kind of gives a half grin on either side or a half frown on either side. And again, the center of this is 0. So if I select these two translations, I can set those to 0. Now along the bottom are two special phonemes. one is F, basically F or V, and that's where the lip is tucked underneath the top teeth, so for the F or the V sound.
Now another cute little trick is if you move that in the opposite direction, he kind of gives a little pall, which could be useful. And again, the center of this is 0, so I'm just going to 0 that out. The Shhh sound is basically just kind of, well, it's this shape here. Now this is a pretty strong shape. You may not use this too much, but it's there in case you need it. Now the next ones are Sneer and Grrr, and they kind of do the opposite on the top and bottom lips.
So the Sneer kind of controls the muscles around the nose that lift up the lips into a sneer, so you can do left sneer, right sneer, or you can go in the middle. And again, the center of that is 0. Grrr actually activates what are called the corrugators, which kind of give you that fear or kind of that concern, fear, anxiety type of emotion. And again, that biases to left and right.
Now along the top we have the eye controls. Now the first one here is these big circles with what are basically the eyelids. So I can select one or both of these. So let's select one and you can see I can lower that eye, but it doesn't go all the way down. In order to do a full blink, you have to grab the one on the bottom and pull that up to give a full blink. Now if you want to, you can just grab both of these and pull them down and grab both of these and pull them up for a full blink.
Or you can do any combination of these to give kind of some cockeyed look. So if you want him to kind of do one up, one down, that sort of thing, you have the control to do that. Now in the center of this is the pupil control. So I'm going to go ahead and Shift+ Select both of these and then move those. And as you can see, it just gives him left, right, up, down, and just gives him eye direction control. And again, you can do these separately if you want or you can select them and do them together.
Now the one here is just called Eyes_ Wide and that kind of gives him that surprised look. So if you're going to just do a surprise type of action, you can do that there. And then the last one are the Brow controls and these are very similar to the dialogue and the smile control. In that, each corner is a different type of-- So if you want him to lift his brow, make a worry brow is here, an angry brow is here, and these actually work in opposite. So if you want to do both worry, you have to kind of select them separately and put them down, so that way you get anger or if you want to out them out to the side, then you can get worry, and so on.
But again, all of these bias back to 0. So all I have to do is just type 0 to get them back to center. So those are the basic controls of the full character. Now we're not going to be using this character until a little bit later in the course. I am kind of saving him for when we actually do dialog and lip sync and facial animation. For the first part of the course, we're mostly going to be working with the simple rig. But if you want, you can use this rig instead of the other rig.
The control names are all the same and really the only difference for those exercises are going to be the way that you pose the hands.
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