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Character Animation Fundamentals with Maya

Understanding drag


From:

Character Animation Fundamentals with Maya

with George Maestri

Video: Understanding drag

At this point we have the character on the platform and moving. Obviously, there's nothing happening other than the platform and the character moving. Now the character is going to be affected by the motion of the platform. He is also going to be affected by gravity so let's go ahead and work on those forces. So the first thing we have is we have two forces. We have gravity, which is pulling this character down, and then we have the actual motion of the platform which is actually moving him right at the feet.
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  1. 22m 18s
    1. Introduction
      1m 10s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 8s
    3. Character rig overview: Simple character
      6m 19s
    4. Character rig overview: Full character
      7m 30s
    5. Using other rigs
      48s
    6. Using screen drawing tools for Windows
      3m 9s
    7. Using screen drawing tools for the Mac
      2m 14s
  2. 23m 47s
    1. Creating strong poses
      3m 27s
    2. Creating custom MEL scripts to help pose characters
      4m 39s
    3. Using layers to select characters
      1m 10s
    4. Learning the basics of posing characters
      10m 7s
    5. Creating stock poses
      4m 24s
  3. 25m 11s
    1. Understanding forces and character motion
      2m 13s
    2. Understanding drag
      5m 51s
    3. Working with secondary motion
      5m 33s
    4. Bringing the character to life
      4m 21s
    5. Refining the animation
      7m 13s
  4. 39m 30s
    1. Keyframing initial poses
      4m 21s
    2. Creating the blocking pass
      7m 42s
    3. Moving holds
      5m 27s
    4. Animating weight shift
      4m 21s
    5. Animating pose to pose transitions
      7m 46s
    6. Animating a wave
      9m 53s
  5. 42m 15s
    1. Analyzing a walk
      5m 43s
    2. Setting up a character for a basic walk
      1m 22s
    3. Animating a walk: The feet
      5m 55s
    4. Animating a walk: The lower body
      8m 23s
    5. Animating a walk: Making the cycle symmetrical
      3m 10s
    6. Animating a walk: Working with the spine
      5m 59s
    7. Animating a walk: Arm motion
      7m 28s
    8. Animating a walk: The head
      4m 15s
  6. 24m 15s
    1. The importance of the passing position
      4m 52s
    2. Working with foot placement
      3m 50s
    3. Adding character to a walk: Contact position
      5m 10s
    4. Adding character to a walk: Passing position
      3m 20s
    5. Adding character to a walk: Finalizing
      7m 3s
  7. 52m 27s
    1. A run in four poses
      2m 39s
    2. Animating a run: The first pose
      4m 31s
    3. Animating a run: The second pose
      7m 17s
    4. Animating a run: Mirroring the basic poses
      10m 59s
    5. Animating a run: Hip and foot motion
      5m 12s
    6. Animating a run: The upper body
      5m 2s
    7. Animating a run: Left arm motion
      5m 31s
    8. Animating a run: Right arm motion
      4m 39s
    9. Animating a run: Cycling the animation
      6m 37s
  8. 1h 20m
    1. Animating blinks
      7m 56s
    2. Animating changes in eye direction
      5m 6s
    3. Animating a head turn
      4m 35s
    4. Working with audio
      3m 38s
    5. Overview of mouth controls
      2m 44s
    6. Animating vowels
      15m 14s
    7. Animating consonants: B, D, and G
      7m 2s
    8. Animating consonants: F, M, and S
      8m 22s
    9. Animating lip sync: Assigning phonemes
      10m 43s
    10. Animating lip sync: The head
      9m 44s
    11. Animating lip sync: The body
      5m 10s
  9. 55m 55s
    1. Creating the main poses
      4m 18s
    2. Blocking poses to dialogue
      7m 1s
    3. In-between blocking pass
      3m 27s
    4. Animating moving holds
      5m 19s
    5. Creating weight
      6m 19s
    6. Adding secondary motion
      10m 0s
    7. Animating dialogue
      8m 12s
    8. Finalizing the animation
      11m 19s
  10. 24s
    1. Goodbye
      24s

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Character Animation Fundamentals with Maya
6h 6m Intermediate May 20, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • Using screen-drawing tools for Windows and Mac
  • Quickly posing characters with custom MEL scripts and layers
  • Understanding forces and their role in creating lifelike animation
  • Sequencing and timing pose-to-pose animation
  • Fine-tuning transitions
  • Animating a character's gait and run
  • Crafting realistic facial expressions
  • Syncing speech to animated dialogue
Subjects:
3D + Animation Animation Character Animation
Software:
Maya
Author:
George Maestri

Understanding drag

At this point we have the character on the platform and moving. Obviously, there's nothing happening other than the platform and the character moving. Now the character is going to be affected by the motion of the platform. He is also going to be affected by gravity so let's go ahead and work on those forces. So the first thing we have is we have two forces. We have gravity, which is pulling this character down, and then we have the actual motion of the platform which is actually moving him right at the feet.

Now when we have this forward motion we have what's called drag, which is basically the main mass of the character, is right up here. That will not want to move. Go back to the laws of motion. Abody at rest will want to stay at rest. So that part of him will want to hang back. It doesn't want to move forward. So as this moves forward, from an animation perspective it will appear as though a force is pushing him in the chest.

When in reality it really is just the body itself wants to stay where it's at. So we can animate this by doing some keyframing. The first thing I want to do is go ahead and just drop those arms to his side. Just want to give him a little bit more of a relaxed pose. We will play with the arms and the rest of the body a little bit later, but I just want to start with the center of mass of the character which is centered around the hips. Now when we pose characters we typically pose starting with the hips and when we are working with these sorts of force problems we also a lot of times will start with the hips.

So I am going to go ahead and set a keyframe here at frame 1. Now I am going to move forward a little bit, maybe a couple frames, maybe three or four frames. Let's go to frame 5 and let's give the impression that that body wants to stay in place, so I am going to go ahead and rotate it back a little bit and move it back. So right there I want to basically drag him back. And you can see even right now it feels like he's got a little bit of force acting upon him.

It's starting to understand the flexibility of this character. But he is not going to stay back the whole time because this is moving at a pretty constant rate, so again he will tend to straighten up. So I am going to go back to frame 1 and copy that keyframe and then we're going to go to forward say about 10 frames or so, to frame 15, and I am just going to paste that keyframe. So now he goes backwards and now he kind of straightens up.

And then at frame 25, where he starts to move back, I want to straighten him up again. And then we can do with the opposite. We can go another couple of frames in, say about five frames again, and this time his body wants to keep going in that direction. So I am going to move him forward and then also rotate that a bit and make sure that his heels are not off the ground there. And again at frame 40, I want to go ahead and copy this and just straighten him up again and then go back to the very beginning and let's make sure that we've got a keyframe there.

So now what we've got is he's going backwards and forwards. So you can see that even right now we've got a much better sense of motion for the character. We've got a sense of force acting upon his body. Now one thing I'm noticing here is that we have a little bit of a bounce in the animation. Sometimes you have to be real careful in looking at these and you can kind of catch it, but notice how that as he comes past here he actually overshoots this a little bit. So right here he feels like he is a little bit far-forward and then he comes back a little bit.

It looks almost like he is kind of more of a spring. He has kind of got this kind of back and forth motion. Now this may actually be a problem that we can diagnose in the Graph Editor. So I am going to go into Window > Animation Editors > Graph Editor,and let's take a look at this. So I am going to go ahead and select his hips and let's take a look at the rotation curves for the hips. Specifically I'm rotating him along the X axis, so I am rotating him back and forth. So if I select the Rotate X curve immediately, let me go ahead and frame this by hitting F. Now what we have is he starts at 0, he goes down a little bit, he comes back up and the next keyframe is at 0, as is this frame and this frame.

But what I've got is I've got this curve it is kind of overshooting right here and then it undershoots, and that's what's giving me that kind of wobble in his motion. In fact, let me go ahead and highlight this and you can see how the wobble and the curve kind of match up. Now that we can see what the problem is it's very easy to fix it. One way would be to just to select these curves and unwind them, but the easier way is to select all the keys that are 0 and then all we have to do is hit what are called Plateau tangents.

What that does is that make sure that all of those are 0. So particularly here where it goes from a 0 to a 0, you want to make sure that these two sections are flat. Now once we've done that, you can play it back and now we have a very smooth motion. So this really is just the motion of the platform affecting the character. This is one of several forces that we are going to deal with. So let's go ahead and refine this a little more in the next lesson.

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Q: Where can I download the Linktivity Presenter drawing tool?
A: Linktivity Presenter is no longer available since the recording of this course. An alternative on-screen drawing tool is VB Doodle, which works with most 3d rendering software. Download VB Doodle here.
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