Monday, November 11, 2013

WEEK 11: Motion Studies DESN1136 Assignment 6: Treadmill Walk Cycles: Due next week!

Now that you've worked out the bugs of handling a new rig and using all the cycling and timing tools in Maya it's time for a whole new level of picky: walk cycles.

There are 2 ways to animate a walk cycle  - straight-ahead, which is often called "walking off the coin" meaning you leave the main controller or god node behind as the character walks forward as you would in real life. In order to turn this into a cycle, the coin slides back in perfect sync with each step so that the character does not move forward on the screen. The other way is to 'treadmill' it by having the coin remain in place and have the feet slide backwards, just like on a treadmill at the gym. The coin can be animated moving forward at the same speed as the feet slide backward to make the character travel forward. Different animators and studios have their preferred method so it is wise to know about them both. We will be working with treadmill walks for this class. 

One common pitfall to avoid is creating a 'vanilla walk' with the intent of altering it later. Please don't fall into this trap. Animators animate characters walking, not generic walk cycles. I will be teaching you a pose-to-pose method of animating walk cycles that should start with an apparent personality from the very start. There are some tutorials online that use a 'layered' approach to creating walks starting with feet sliding back and forth like on a Nordic track ski machine and then adding each detail one at a time. Ok, no. Just no to that. Please do not let me see you doing that. It was the method I was taught too but it is not industry standard and it focuses entirely on mechanics and not on personality, which is the way an animator should be thinking and working.

When animating complex motions like walks it's a very good idea to study live action reference, or even create your own.

Walk Reference:
Treadmill Walk: Dude
"Endless Reference"'s You Tube channel (also see sidebar link -->)
Monster's Inc
Iron Giant

Digital Tutors has a comprehensive tutorial on walk cycles using this this method.

Getting good at cycles requires patience and practice. You should try a few different ones so you get faster at setting them up. It's always better to work from reference. Shooting your own reference can be invaluable so you understand the mechanics.

If we get all the way through the walk cycle instruction I can show you how to import and export animation into other files so you can work on combining them. Until you understand how to combine animation, work on your walks in a completely brand-new file.

DESN1136 Assignment 6: Walk Cycle
Playblast and Maya file
% of final grade: 10% 
Assigned: Tuesday, Nov 12, 2013
Due: WEEK 12, Nov 19th at the end of class
*Late assignments are worth 0

Quicktimes only, 560 pixels by 316 pixels, H.264 codec, max 10MB.
Animate your character walking on the spot in a treadmill cycle. It should be a loop about 1-2 seconds long. Animation should show all 12 principles of animation, especially strong posing, weight, and overlapping action. The character should have believable weight, a clear personality, and move with fluidity and clarity.

Please REFERENCE your rig into your shot (do not open the rig and start animating or import him.)


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