Saturday, November 26, 2011

Maya - Animation

This week was getting to grips with the basic animations using Maya. To start with we learnt about how to key frame using the auto key frame button. I produced a simple animation using a sphere primitive to show movement and scale.

After this we looked at the graph editor. This is where you are able to change key frames more specifically without having to delete them from the actual timeline. You are able to move them from one key frame to another, edit certain points and create more of a fluid motion using tangents. This next animation was just to make a pendulum swing back and forth using the rotation as key frames.

With this exercise the aim was to create a block of animation where if it was on loop you wouldn't notice that it was only a short section. When on loop it should be seamless and flow really well. One of the ways to do this was to duplicate the animation sequence on the graph editor and overlap them with each other. This will create easing in and easing out - one of the 12 principles of animation. Seeing as there were multiple parts to the pendulum as well, by overlapping this will cause the separate parts to move one after another allowing a more fluid movement. Another way was that I had to place pre-infinity and post-infinity curves using the graph editor. With the curves in place I then had to add in new key frames (see picture below). This was to ensure that the movements would flow correctly and smoothly after the block of animation had ended. Once the new key frames were in place I deleted the old ones and reshaped some of the curves to make them fit in with how they were before. It took me awhile to get the hang of this as to begin with I wasn't sure if I had to place the key frames on the dotted line or just anywhere. The main thing was to get the pendulum moving as smooth as possible and I think I managed this quite well in the end.

Using the same pendulum model the next part was to make it move and stop abruptly causing the bottom half to swing back and catch up on the top half of the pendulum. I actually struggled with this exercise and I couldn't get the pendulum to stop fast enough. It took me awhile to achieve what I wanted and needed a bit of help from other people to tell me what I needed to be doing. In the end I got it moving in a way I was really happy with however when I came to play it back again using the timeline, something went wrong and the pendulum kept jumping back to its origin halfway through the sequence. Apparently there were key frames on my timeline that was causing this however they were not showing up on my graph editor which meant I could not alter this in any way. I ended up having to re-do the whole thing as I didn't save it before. The final one I did was not as good as the previous one but below is the video with an image of how the curves look on the graph editor.

The final one we had to do was a bouncing ball animation. After setting the basic key frames I realised that the movements were too smooth so I went into the graph editor and tried editing the tangents. I changed them to linear and then back to spline, by doing this it took out the smooth points between each bounce and made them more sharp. With this it then causes the ball to bounce back up more quickly. I feel that I am getting to grips with animating, I will just have to practice a few certain areas like playing around with the tangents to edit the animation more.

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