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
- 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.
- 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.
- Natural Walk Cycle
Start with the exactly-repeated walk cycle and modify it so that there is subtle, natural variation across the paces.
- Interaction (optional)
Create a short animation in which your character interaction with a prop (e.g., answers the phone).
What we're looking for
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
In summary, you should handin the files listed below to Blackboard
To handin a file (click thru the following menu options):
Communication > Group Pages > Project 5: Char. Anim. FINAL > File Exchange > Add File
Please include all files in one .zip file. Remember, you
will be marked down if you do not follow the case and name
conventions listed here-no extra underbars or caps please! Also
ensure that this zip contains a folder with your group name (zip
the entire folder, please). Please also ensure you only hand in what
is listed here-extra folders/files complicates creating the
Please double check your file names! For the first critique Tuesday,
I will not be able to check your files names. If they are incorrect,
your critique page will not display correctly.
Your .README files will be displayed in .html. If you want to
add .html tags to make these display in a nicer format, feel
free to do so.
Any links you include in your .README must be enclosed in anchor
Please create a single zipped file called GroupName.zip which contains the following:
- GroupName_README.txt text file with group members and who-did-what info, as well as anything you wish to tell me.
- Any other extra files... *Please explain what they are in the README*
This has potential for extra credit points.. ;)
*Please use the naming conventions specified above..
not doing so will require me to remove points from your grade *