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In Maya 2009 New Features, George Maestri demonstrates several breakthrough updates in the latest version of this 3D modeling, rendering, and animation tool. He explores the upgrades to the interface and covers soft selection and other modeling tools. George then delves into more complex new features, including the Asset Manager for organizing objects and nodes within a scene; animation layering to blend, merge, group, reorder, override, and add to preceding layers; Maya Muscle, for creating lifelike skin motion; and nParticles, a new particle system. Exercise files accompany the course.
Now let's take a look at animation layers. What this does is it allows you to place motion on multiple layers and then be able to mix and switch between different types of motion. You can also blend motion together to create all sorts of really cool effects. The file we have open is called Simple_ WalkRun.mb. Now, if I hit Play, you will see I have a simple walk. Now this is just a walk cycle. Now this walk is actually on a layer. So you can see here, we have several different types of layers. We have a Walk, a Run and a BaseAnimation layer. Now these layers are in what's called the Animation Layer menu. This is very similar to Display Layers, which we have all worked with, Render Layers and now the new one is called Animation Layers.
Now if I want, I can take this layer and I can actually manipulate it. So if I hit Play, you can see if I hit this Mute button, you can turn on and off the animation. There is another button here called solo and what this does is allows you to solo the animation. So if you've got more than one clip mixed, you can just highlight that one clip and turn everything else off. It's kind of the opposite of a Mute button. Then we also have a Lock button, which allows us to lock the layer. Now the other thing we have is we actually have a Run Layer as well. So if I hit Play, I can actually turn on that Run layer, and turn off the Walk Layer. So I can actually mute each one of these and so either I can turn them both on or both off. Now if I have them both on, let me slow this down so you can kind of see what happens. What it does is it actually adds those two layers together. So we are in what's called Additive Mode, and what this does is it takes the Run Layer and it just lays it over and adds the keyframes to the other layer. Now what you can see here is you are getting kind of-- it's not really a walk or a run. It's kind of like a hop-skippy kind of thing and it's not really all that great. But what we can do is, we can actually take both of these layers and mix between them. So you can actually go from a walk to a run and back. So let me show you how this works. We have a Weight slider here and what we can do is we can actually weight the animation on or off. Rather than just muting it on or off, we can actually fade it on or off.
So what I am going to do is turn on both of these layers. And I am going to take this Run Layer. And turn it all the way down to zero. And then there is a little K button next to it and that just keyframes it. So now at frame one, I have completely turned off the run. So now all I have is the walk. So let's go ahead and fade from the walk to the run, or we can do the exact same thing with this Walk Layer by keyframing it. So if I want to, I can just hit this key here while the weight is at one. So that just sets that to one and now I am just going to fade this out over say, about 12 frames. So let's go to frame 37, and I am going to turn this all the way down to zero. Now there is another good shortcut here. These two buttons allow you to go from one or to zero automatically. And then if I just hit a keyframe here, you can see this walk kind of fades out. It fades out to whatever is below it, which is this BaseAnimation Layer.
Now if I want, I can go back and I can take this Run Layer, which I had keyed to zero and key it up to one, so we can go from the walk to the run. So as this walk fades out, I am going to fade in the run. So here at frame 25 I am going to hit K for Keyframe. Go up to 37. If I want, I can bring this up to one or I can just hit this little button here and that brings it up to one and I keyframe it. Now, if I play it, walk to run.
Now I can certainly go back the other way as well. So if I take, for example, this run, I can certainly key it here, and then just fade it out over a few frames. So now I have got walk to run, and then run to standing. Now I can certainly take that Walk Layer again, and just keyframe it up to one and so now what I have done is I have actually gone from walk to run back to walk.
Now notice here I've got a little bit of a glitch that comes in as this fades in. Now one of the things is, when we are doing cycles like this, you may have a little bit of overlap where the feet don't quite match up between the two cycles where they are kind of out of sync. And so you really have to pick your spots as to where you want to fade between something like this.
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