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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 we should have the dialog animated, and the rest of the steps are to add in some blinks as well as the final head motion, and we should pretty much be done. So, let's go ahead and play what we have so far. (Character: Ha, it worked! Prepare to meet your doom!) (Character: Ha, it worked! Prepare to meet your doom!) Okay, so he looks pretty good, but his eyes are still a little bit dead, and there still needs to be a little bit more head motion. So, let's go ahead and start with that head motion, and again, I am going to turn off the sound to little bit easier to talk over what we are doing.
So, the first thing I want to do is, as he comes up, that head is going to actually start to drag, so I want to make sure I rotate that head down. When I'm looking to do is make sure I get a nice kind of an arc here, so that head is going to be part of that. And so as he comes up, he is opening his jaw, and so when he opens his jaw, I actually want to kind of extend that a little bit. So, as he comes up to this top, I want to make sure I open up this throat area so that he can actually say that word.
Now, remember, when you have big vowel sounds, a lot of times people will tilt their head back to open their throat, and we want him to do that at this point. And again, we're doing the same thing here. He is moving up. He has got a really big motion here, and his head is very heavy, so the head is going to want to stay here as the body is moving up. So, again, we are going to have a little bit of overlap, a little bit of secondary motion here. As he moves up here, his head is going to dip down.
Then he has got another big valve here, so again we want to make sure we tip his head back so that it can say that word. So, now we have the rest of the dialog here. So, let's go ahead and actually turn this on, so we can see what we've got. So, again, the word 'prepare', we probably want to accentuate that a little bit, so what I am going to do here is, as he's coming up into prepare, I want to make sure that that head is dipped down a little bit.
Again, I am just doing this for contrast. Right there. So, that's actually a stronger pose. This is stronger than this, so let's go ahead and tilt that head back. I am going to tilt it down when he says the P for prepare. And again, I've got a very big vowel here in the 'pare' in 'prepare'.
So, again, I want to make sure I tilt that head back a little bit so that the throat is open. Meet. Now, here's another situation where we are going to have secondary motion. The body is tilting back, but again, this head is going to want to stay here. So, let's go ahead and do that. So as he starts moving back, this head is going to kind of rotate.
And then we have the opposite situation here. The body is starting to move forward, but again, the head is still kind of going in that direction, so we are going to have to tilt the head back to compensate for this. So, this is somewhere around frame 69. So again, this just gives a little bit more of a sense of motion here. And again, we have more overlap here where the head is going to overshoot this position.
So, now we should have this motion here. Let's see how this works. (Character: Ha, it worked! Prepare to meet your doom!) So, now all we have to do is add in a few blinks. So, let's go head back into that camera view here, the face camera. Now, I have it on here. I renamed it. So, I have got a camera here called FaceCam.
In the other lesson, it was called camera2, but I actually renamed it so that it was a little bit more explicit as to which camera we were using. So, let's go ahead and do some blinks. Let's go ahead and take a look at this in camera1. I am going to turn off my sound just for a second here. So, as he comes up, actually, I want to do a blink right here. So, let's go ahead and just do this in this window here. So I am going to set a keyframe for the lids at frame 4, and then let's close them down by frame 10.
So, that's a six-frame blink, which should be pretty much standard. So, now watch what happens. It almost looks like he's laughing. Just by having the eyes closed, it almost looks like he is laughing; in fact, I should probably close those one frame sooner, just because that's really the top of his motion. And actually, it works to have his eyes closed almost through this whole part. And then what I am going to do is as he rises up again, that's when I am going to open his eyes again.
So, what I am going to do here is I am going to select both lids and on frame 18, I am going to set a keyframe, so that keeps them closed. And then somewhere around frame 23-24, I am going to go ahead and copy the keyframes at frame 4 and paste them at frame 24. So, now what we have is they start closing at 4. They're close by about 10 and they open up again.
So, now let's go ahead and play this with sound. I am going to turn on that sound here. Now, again I have a little bit of an open space here right before he says prepare. This is actually a pretty good place for another blink, so I am going to start another blink at frame 30. Again, I am going to go into my FaceCam and this time I am just going to copy and paste keyframes. So I am going to start this at 30, so that means I am just going to set a keyframe here, go into frame 36, find a closed-eye keyframe, which is here at frame 18, copy, paste those somewhere around 36 and then copy the ones at 30, and let's go ahead and paste those at 40. I want a little bit of a faster open for this.
So, let's see how that works. Okay, again, he is doing this broad motion here where he says, "Prepare to meet your doom!" I think I want to do one more blink there, so as he's throwing his hand forward, I want his eyes to be closed again. Let's go to frame 62 right on this little lull in the dialog. And again, I'm going to select my eyelids, upper and lower, and let's go ahead and set a keyframe to leave them open.
So, now I need to copy a closed-eye keyframe, so I am going to find that somewhere around frame 36, copy that, and then let's paste that at frame 68. Now, let's take a look at this. And then as his head rises up here, that's when we are going to open his eyes. So, there, I want them to be closed, and then as he rises up, I want to open them.
So, I want them open by frame 80, so subtract 6. 74 is when I want them closed; 80 is when I want them open. So, let's go ahead and select the lids, set a keyframe to keep them closed, find an open one at frame 62, copy, paste at 80. So, I am copying the keyframes from 62 to 80, and that should pretty much be it for the head and blink motions. 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!) Actually, I think that open of the eyes is a little bit late, so let's go ahead and select that, and let's just move it back. So, I am going to select these eyes here, and I have got this blink kind of coming in at frame 62 to 80. Actually, I am going to turn off sound because I am going to scrub this here, so I don't want this to be too loud. Select these keyframes, and then I am going to move them back a little bit.
I am going to move them back to say starting at around frame 56. So, let's see how this works. Actually, let's moving back another two frames, so 56, 57, 58. There we go. That looks good. So, let's see how that works. That looks good, okay. So, let's turn on the sound and see what we have. (Character: Ha, it worked! Prepare to meet your doom!) 0:09:54.26] (Character: Ha, it worked! Prepare to meet your doom!) Okay, so that looks pretty good.
Now, we are pretty much 90% of the way there. We can go through a little bit more and refine this a little bit more, clean up the loose ends, but this is pretty much the process. So, I am going to go ahead and actually load up my final version. So, I've got a version out here called Acting_08, which is my final version, and let's see the final version that I have actually created. (Character: Ha, it worked! Prepare to meet your doom!) (Character: Ha, it worked! Prepare to meet your doom!) So, we have got a pretty good animation here.
So, remember, this is what the process is. First off, read the track, understand what you are animating, then block out the poses, then time those poses to the timeline, loosen up the curves, make sure we have our moving holds, our shift of weight, overlap and follow-through, then dialog, and then a final pass for head motion, blinks, and then any other ancillary things that we're doing. So, hopefully, this whole process is a little bit more clear.
Now, each scene is obviously going to be a little bit different, but now we have a little bit of a workflow that we can use to animate other types of scenes.
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