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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.
At this point we have just the main mass of the character animating. We've got the platform moving forward and then the torso of the character reacting to that motion. But the character is made of many joints. The spine has several joints, the arms also, and the head, all have joints that will be affected by these forces, so the character himself will move in stages. In other words, the feet move forward first and then the hips start moving forward a little bit later, then the shoulders, and then once the shoulders start moving forward, the hands will start moving forward, because everything wants to stay in place.
So in other words, this force will start at the feet, then go to the hips, then the shoulders, then the arm and the hand. So each of these will drag behind what it's connected to by a few frames because it takes a while to get everything going. Now in animation terms this is typically called secondary motion, but it also can be known as drag as well. So let's go ahead and start doing a little bit more realistic animation. First thing I want to do is go ahead and just select the three joints of the spine, set a keyframe for those, and then as it moves forward I want to rotate that spine back just a little bit.
Again, just to understand that the character has flexibility in his spine. And then as he comes forward here he's going to straighten up. So again we could actually animate those to 0. I can just type that in here. That should straighten him up. So now he gets a little bit of bend in his spine and the same this way. Now remember, the spine bends a little bit more forward than it does back so we can give him a little bit more extension this way. And then again, he's going to straighten up, but let's just go to frame 40 and straighten him up and I'm going to type 0 for his rotation.
So now I've got a little bit more rotation here. Now one of the things I forgot to do is I forgot to animate it to 0 at frame 25. I want him to kind of stay vertical until he moves forward again. So now once I have this, you can see it's a little bit more flexible. But again this force which is transmitting down the spine gets to the shoulders a little bit later and the hands will also drag behind.
So let's go ahead and just animate one arm. I am going to select the left shoulder, and then as that character bends back, you can see he kind of bends back around frame 5, but let's go a little bit further out and then rotate the arms back, and again they're kind of be dragging behind, so about frame 8 I want those to drag behind. And you can see how it's kind of going behind and then again I want that to kind of settle out somewhere for the beginning here, say somewhere around maybe frame 20.
I am going to rotate those back to 0. And again, set a keyframe at 25, and then again we're going to go in say about 7 or 8 frames. So 25+7 is around frame 32. Rotate that forward, go back a little bit say around frame 42-43, bring that back to 0, and then go ahead and set a keyframe for that as well at 48.
So now you can see how again we're getting a lot more flexibility with this character. The force of being pulled along that platform is now being transmitted through almost the entire body. So let's go ahead and do the right shoulder as well. I am going to go ahead and set a keyframe at 1, 8. We're going to go ahead and move that arm back, kind of 0 it out around frame 20, another keyframe at frame 25, frame 32, he is forward, 42, it goes to 0, and then at 48 I am just going to set a keyframe again just to get that locked in.
You can see now we've got a lot more flexibility. He's starting to look more realistic. But again, these are just external forces. These are just the forces acting upon the character. Now I've got one more to worry about here and that's the head, and again the head is going to drag behind as well. So again, I am going to do this around frame 8, just rotate his head just a little bit back, straighten him out, and again 0 is neutral. 0 him out at 20, 25. I am going to pretty much do what I did with the arms.
32, bend him forward just a little bit. 42, 0 him out and then another keyframe at 48. So I've got this pretty much on the same timing as the arms. So now once I have all of this, you can see how flexible he is. Now the thing is is that well, at this point all he is is a rag doll. There's no motion that he is providing to counteract any of these forces.
So this is just the effect of external forces on our character. So in the next lesson let's go ahead and start giving him a little bit more control over his body and a little bit more character.
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