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In Maya 2011 Essential Training, George Maestri demonstrates the tools and feature set in Maya, as well as the skills necessary to model, texture, animate, and render projects with this deep and robust piece of 3D animation software from Autodesk. This course takes an in-depth tour of Maya's interface, including navigating and manipulating objects in 3D and customizing the workspace. The course also covers object creation and modeling basics, shading and texturing, surface mapping techniques, character rigging, and lastly, rendering and final output. Exercise files accompany the course.
Now, Maya has a lot of great animation features. But it all really is centered around the Timeline. So, let me take you on a quick tour of the Animation Timeline, so that you understand how to work with time before we actually get into setting keyframes. So, along the bottom we have a Timeline. If you left-click and drag on this, you can actually scrub through this Timeline. Now, along the right here, we have our playback controls. So if you want you can actually play back.
You can step forward a frame at a time. You can jump to the end, jump to the beginning, and so on. Now, along the bottom here, we have two pairs of numbers. The inner ones here, from 1 to 96, is how much of this Timeline we're actually viewing. The outer ones are the total length of the animation. So, right now, these are set to 96. So, my entire animation is 96-frames long.
But let's say I wanted to zoom in and just look at the first portion of this. Well, I can certainly change this number here and just say I want to just view the first second of my animation from frame 1 to 24. Now, notice, when I do this, this little bar here, shrinks down. What this is is it's called a Range slider. This is our window into our animation. So, if I grab this, I can change how much of my animation I see.
If I grab one of these handles on the end, you can stretch or compress this as well. So, right now, I can only go back to frame 11 and up to frame 52. That just means that I can only see this much of my animation, but the entire animation itself goes from 1 to 96. Now, along the bottom here, we also have some options to set keyframes. Probably the more important one here, right now, is our Animation Preferences, which we also need to take a look at.
This shows us how our Time slider looks and also how it plays back. So, here we can actually set the numbers that we set down here, which is our playback and animation start and end. We can also set the height of our Time slider. Now this is maybe important if we have sound in there or something like that. You can also turn on what are called key ticks, which show you exactly where each key tick is. We can change the size of those. But probably, more importantly, is the Playback. This tells you exactly how to play back the animation.
So, do you want to play every frame or do you want to play it in real time? This may seem a little confusing, but let's understand how Maya works. If Maya plays every frame and you have a very complex animation, it may take longer to calculate the frame than it has to play the frame. So, for example, if it takes half a second to compute a frame, the most it could do would be two frames per second. But if you want, you can force it to go in real time. So, in other words, it will skip frames to just make sure that it hits the frame rate.
So, we can play real-time, half time, double time or whatever. If we set it to play every frame, we also have another option, and that is do we want to play back by every frame, every other frame, which would be 2, every third frame, every fourth frame, whatever? And what's the maximum playback speed? If we set it to Free, that means it could play a thousand frames per second, if it doesn't have much to calculate, or we can give it a top end, which means I don't want it to play it any faster than I'm going to render it.
Now this actual frame rate, the actual timing of your scene, is under this tab here called Settings. So this is where we set our coordinate system, our working units, and our time base, right here. So, this is where we set, whether we're doing film, PAL, NTSC and so on and so forth. So I'm just going to leave this at Film, because that's how I was animating. So, these are some of the basics of Maya's Animation Timeline. Get familiar with how this works, so that way you'll understand it when you start animating.
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