Project 5 : Character Animation
Date Assigned: Monday, July 18
Date Due: Mon, July 25 in class

Reading: Chapters 12 (Chapter 13 is optional) Maya Manual as needed

The goal of this assignment is to bring an articulated character to life. Working in the same groups as last week, you will animate your character performing at least two motions: a characteristic motion and a walk cycle.

What to do

  1. Expressive Motion
    Pick two poses from last week and plan a short (~1 sec) animation that transitions the character from one pose to the other. Timing is critical, as is the series of inbetweens. Act out the poses and transition and try to sketch some of the inbetweens. Animate the chosen pose transition in Alias. First block out the motion. Next add the central body motion and significant gestures. Finally, add all the missing nuances and details: breaking the joints, overlapping action, squash and stretch.

  2. Repeated Walk Cycle
    Plan a walk cycle (where "walk" is whatever type of locomotion makes sense for your character). Decide on a mood for the movement, i.e. a determined walk, a strut, a shuffle, etc. Again, to get started, act out the movement, sketch the key poses, think about the timing of each sub-motion, etc. Animate the walk cycle in Maya. As before, first block out the motion, next add the most important parts, and finish by adding the details. Create a cycle that can be repeated end-to-end smoothly and put it together for several paces.

  3. Natural Walk Cycle
    Start with the exactly-repeated walk cycle and modify it so that there is subtle, natural variation across the paces.

  4. Interaction (optional)
    Create a short animation in which your character interaction with a prop (e.g., answers the phone).

What we're looking for

  1. There has to be a story that motivates this motion. Concentrate on telling that story with body language. Focus on the character's intentions so that it looks self-motivated and not like an inanimate puppet. Things that will help the motion look natural are: thinking about the weight of the character, getting the center of gravity in the right place, staggering sub-motions (e.g., to turn around, first the head turns, then the body, then the legs), overlapping actions (e.g. body starts turning before the head is completely around).

  2. Again, think about how the physical construction of the character would affect its motion. The walk does not need to be motivated by a story, but it does need to convey a mood. Note that the legs and feet are generally the last parts of a character to be animated; getting the proper bounce of the body and head usually comes first. Make sure there is some asymmetry in the walk or it will look mechanical. Put a textured ground plane underneath the character and make sure its contact points don't slide. The cycle should lead back into itself smoothly.

  3. In the previous part you created an individual step that is asymmetric and natural. Now, slightly vary the stride length, bounce height, and/or timing across the animation so that the set of paces together seems natural.

  4. Story and motivation are key again for this part. Think about how to use the prop to accentuate the character's body language. Also think about the relative weights of the character and the prop and how this affects the way the interaction would take place.

In summary, you should handin the files listed below to Blackboard
To handin a file (click thru the following menu options):