Sunday, April 13, 2008

Tuesday, April 15 Class Part 2: Jumping Ball and Intro to Hold Keys

It's time to take our first stab at character animation--we're going to make the ball live. We'll start off by making the ball perform a basic jump.

As we'll see from our breakdown, this animation calls for three holds. Holds are important in creating believable, life-like character animation. Holds let the audience absorb one thing and get ready for the next. A hold acts as a visual comma or period, separating and ordering actions. Knowing where and when to add holds will help your animation become more deliberate and coherent. In Maya, we'll refer to a hold key as a keyframe that contains the same scale, position, and/or rotation info as the previous key. For today, we'll want to connect our holds with linear tangents. Let's get started on the ball.

1. Draw your breakdown. Here's my breakdown showing the main keys and rough timings:

1 Rest pose HOLD to 10
10 Hold Key
13 Squash. HOLD to 24
24 Hold Key
25 Stretch
30 Apex
35 Stretch to contact
36 Contact squash
37 Rest pose HOLD to 50 (copy from frame 1--copying frames can mess with tangents!)
50 Hold Key

2. Look at the breakdown and determine what kind of keys you're going to have to set in Maya. For this particular animation, we'll need move and scale keys, but we're not going to be using rotation at all.

3. Figure out which keys will need move, which will need scale, and which will need both. For this animation we'll set scale and position keys for each frame as we block in the animation. In the 3-bounce animation we saw that without proper hold keys, a scale change on frame 10 would carry throughout the entire animation. Not good. It was fixable, but it threw off our work flow and raised the stress levels. With more complicated rigs, not setting hold keys can throw off your animation to the point of ruin.

4. With breakdown in hand, enter Maya's lair. Set up a floor, ball, and camera.

5. Block in your animation, setting position (Shift + W) and scale (Shift + R) keys for each pose. We're not doing anything technically new for this assignment, so review the 3 Bounce tutorial from last week if you forget any of the procedures. Remember to save your work and scrub the timeline early and often.

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