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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.
Once we have the basic poses in sequence, we can start to timeout the animation. So let's going ahead and do that. Now let's refresh. I've got a couple poses here. He goes from folder arms, squashes, comes up and waves. Now if we were to play this in real time, it would actually go by really quick. I am going to go and click my Preferences here. Make sure I have this set to Realtime. We are animating at 24 frames per second.
And let's just go ahead and play this. When I play it in realtime you can see obviously everything is two frames apart, so it's going to be very, very fast. So let's go ahead and start spreading out these keys and start building the animation. Now the first thing I want is I want to make sure that he's holding at the beginning of the sequence. I am going to hold him for a little bit less than a second. Maybe about 20 frames or so. Now in order to do that, I need to copy another keyframe.
So let's go ahead and select our character and first thing I want to do is start to move these keyframes back. So I am going to Shift+Select everything up to but not including that first keyframe. So down to Frame 3, and then I am going to grab here and just push those back. In fact, I am going to push back to about 24, which will give me enough room to put in that hold. So I am going to go ahead do that first frame at Frame 1, copy it, and paste that at Frame 20.
If I scrub this, you may get some weird sort of in between like this, and if you do, let's go ahead over to our Graph Editor, which we will be playing with, and let's take a look at what we have here. Now if the Graph Editor comes in a little bit too tight, all you have to do is hit the F key for Frame and that will go ahead and frame it. If you notice here, it's automatically in betweening all of these joints right there. You can see it's kind of got just a weird little in-between there.
Now what I would like to do when I start to work with these keyframes, as I select them all. I want to make sure that all my nodes in my character is selected. Then you select all the keyframes of all those nodes. And then I start off with Step tngents, and what that does is it makes him jump from pose to pose. Let me show you how this works. I am just going to make this a little bit smaller so that you can see how this works against this. So as he scrolls through, he is going to jump 1, 2, 3, so he is basically just jumping from pose to pose, which actually can be very handy, because then you can kind of see where everything goes and you can get basically the rough timing in, and once we get that, then we can release the curves.
The next thing I want to do is to make him go from here to the squash and then back up. So again, I am going to select all of my parts of my character and then I'm going to give myself some timing here. As he comes down and comes up, I am wondering if it works best four frames down and four frames up or six frames down and six frames up. This is one of the places where you can start to play around with the timing and just get what feels right.
I am going to start with four frames in between each of these major keyframes. And then I'm going to go ahead and push that first wave back by maybe about six frames or so. That's what my instinct is telling me. I am going to go ahead and close this window here. Let's just play this and see what it looks like. Obviously, the wave is too fast, but really what we are looking at is that squash and that kind of coming up, and I am wondering if that's enough. I think maybe I want to give a little bit more space to that.
So I am going to go ahead and select him again and let's just go ahead and push back the second key here by about two frames, because what's happening here is this is actually closer to this and he has to move a lot further to get up. So I think I am going to squash him pretty quickly so it's four frames to this pose, but six frames here. And what this does is it gives him a little more time to move up. So let's see how that plays. Yeah, that feels a little bit better.
Now a lot of times when you're doing this, you are stepping from pose to pose. So this is again just rough timing. As we get further into the animation, we may have to adjust these poses again. Now the next thing I need to do is to time the wave. For this I'm thinking maybe couple of waves per seconds, so about four waves per second, which means every six frames at 24 frames per second. So in order to do that, I actually have more poses than timeline, so I need to extend my timeline a little bit.
So let's go ahead and bring this out to 60. It gives me a little bit more space. And then I am going to zoom in here so we can just work on this last half here. So from here to here I have got six frames, so from this pose to this pose. So all I really need to do is to basically space out the rest of these poses. So this one, I need to go 1, 2, 3, 4, 36 to 42. That's 6 frames. So remember, these are two frames apart, so in order to make them 6 frames apart I just have to slide them by 4.
So again what I'm doing here is I am just Shift+Selecting the keyframes on the timeline and then I am grabbing this little glyph here and I am just moving it over, so 48 to 54. That's another 6. And then we should be able to end this at 60, so I can just select that and go to 60. Now I am just going to go ahead grab here, drag my timeline so I have everything on the screen, and let's go ahead and do a quick play through.
So that's pretty good. I think that's good rough timing. Now there's one more thing that we can do. We've done our blocking pass, and this is something you may want to show to a client or give to a director just so that they understand where you're going with it. But the next step is to do what I call releasing the curves, in other words going from step curves back to interpolated curves and that will give even a better idea as to how that animates. So again I am going to select my character, and this time we need to go into our Graph Editor and I am going to frame this, hit F to frame it, select all of my keyframes. Let me expand this a little bit. Here we go.
What I want to see is this one here is Plateau tangents, and that's what I want to hit, and what this will do is if he is holding, such as this first section, it will go ahead and just make all the tangents flat. So you don't get that crazy in-between that we had before. So let's go ahead and play this. So this is a pretty good first pass. So from here we need to do a number of different things. One is he is holding, so we need to kind of do what's called the moving hold, and then we need to finesse the rest of this to make it a lot more realistic.
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