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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.
In this last chapter, we're going to work on acting. What we're going to do is take a full piece of dialog and animate the full character acting to that dialog. Now typically, we do this pose by pose. When you read out a track in dialog, what you want to do is get the basic poses that the character will hit at various points in the track. So let's listen to the track that we're going to use for this lesson. (Character: Ha! It worked. Prepare to meet your doom! Ha! It worked. Prepare to meet your doom!) So this track is fairly broad.
It's actually a little over the top. So it will have some broad acting to go with it, and this will be good because we can actually see these points fairly clearly. When you go through a track like this, you want to understand exactly what the character is doing at each individual point. Now, you may listen to the track many times and kind of act it out yourself. I like to thumbnail-out poses; you may want to work out the poses in Maya. Whatever it takes to get a rough idea as to what you want the character to do.
So let's go through this track a little bit at a time to try and understand what the mood of the character is and what the major points are. And then we'll look at some poses, and then we'll move on from there. So the first one is, well, what is he doing before? What is the moment before this track hits? Well, obviously, he is looking at something and reacting to something. So in the very first frame we want him to be kind of looking offscreen at whatever it is that he is reacting to, and then he's going to react.
So that's actually going to be a very broad motion. He is going to be looking and then he's going to react, then he is going to say, "Ha!" And then we have a little bit of a realization. So he realizes that whatever happened, it worked. Okay, so he's going to get happy. So he's going ha, react. It worked, realization. Then after that, he makes this declaration. (Character: Prepare to meet your doom!) So with this, I would like to have at least two major poses, which is, when he says "prepare," I almost want him to be declaring almost like he is in a speech.
Then when he says "doom," I like him to actually point at the person he's threatening. So with all that in mind I'm going to show you very quickly what the poses are that I think would work for this scene. So I've just sketched these out on a piece of paper and scanned them in. So basically, he starts by looking offscreen. He is kind of focusing intently on something that's happening. Then he reacts. He says, "Ha! It worked." So now he is really happy. So he has kind of got his hands up to his chest, almost like he's proud.
Then he goes into this declaration, "Prepare to meet your doom!" And then when he has doom, we're going to have him point. So, however you get your poses, you want to make sure that you have a pretty clear roadmap as to what you're going to do in the scene. The next step after this is to actually block out your poses and actually pose your character for each individual pose that you want in the scene. Now, I've already done this just to save time. We don't want to go through the process of making all these poses.
We've been through posing and the process of that before, so I don't need to rehash all of that. So let's just take a look at the poses that I've created in Maya. Now, this actually starts on frame 0, but I've put the poses every 2 frames. So here he is looking offscreen, and he goes, "Ha!" So basically, he just kind of comes up. Then he says, "It worked. Prepare to meet your doom." So all told, I think I have about six poses in here.
Now this one I'm not going to use because it's actually at frame 0, but I like having that neutral pose at frame 0. Then we've got a couple of different poses. What I want you to do is to go through the scene and block out your poses. Now what I've done is I've blocked these out just every couple of frames, so then we'll actually time them against the soundtrack to begin the animation.
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