animation week 2- Planning and Maya tools for animation and Homework

We discussed how to plan an animation, planned a bouncing ball animation, pretended to be a zombie and drew some zombie poses.

In planning you plan a character, personality traits, history, look at references,  timing- how long a move will take, spacing- space between key frames. The more you plan, the earlier you can find and correct mistakes and the easier it is.

bal planzombie

Then we covered tools for animation in Maya. The 2 main tools are the graph editor and dope sheet.

We made 6 spheres and keyed the same 3 poses for each,  then we assigned the different tangents to them and watched how the animations differed, broke and unified tangents and the saw the difference between weighted and un-weighted tangents and how they changed the curves in the graph editor in different ways.

Finally we looked at the dope sheet for the animation and discovered how to select whole objects or part there of to alter the curve in 1 piece, by selecting the parts we wanted and scaling.


I started to play with the ball rig and ended up spending the rest of the day animating the bouncing ball because it was fun. I looked at examples online and saw some good tutorials that I have included, I also saw in ‘the Animators Survival Kit’ by Richard Williams some good examples and teaching on animating a bouncing ball. I love Disney animations where things have a lot of squash and stretch.

I also played with the stuff we learnt in rendering with mental ray and had cool chrome reflective surfaces and a globe with a nature scene for the setting when I rendered the scene but we just had to playblast it so I replaced it all with plain colours. The lights were hard to get right until suddenly they were.

Anyway I started by putting key frames all along the bounce path, or translate Y, then deleted and changed the curve with the tangents, trying the different kinds but mostly breaking them and adjusting each side individually.

I had a straight line downwards for translate x so that it moves across at a steady rate. I think it might be better to slow it towards the end as the bounces get smaller.

I found the top of the curves needed to be flatter so I added more key frames there. At one stage the ball was hovering at the top of the curve so I raised the top keys a little.

The squash and stretch and rotate z were timed to change with the bottom of the bounce. I put extreme squash there and let it slowly un-squash going towards the top of the curve and re-squash towards the bottom of the next curve.

I discovered that scaling curves with the dope sheet made the keys move off the frame timing lines