Introduction to Animation

After learning about the various principles of animation, we were set on a quick task to try our hand in Maya: take a basic polygon cube and make it move about. The first part of the task was easy, setting key frames for the cubes’ three poses: its starting position on the ground, its middle position at its highest point in the air, then its end position where its back on the ground.

jumping-cube

It was important to keep in mind that film animation is done in 24 FPS (frames per second) and game animation is done in 30 FPS. We were using Maya for film animation, which means we had to set out project up for animation. Each new animation project, we should check that we have the correct FPS for what we’re doing – I tend to forget to set my projects until after I’ve started my scene, which is a terrible habit to get in, so I appreciate being reminded each time.

cube-timeline
The key frames are designated by a red stroke on the timeline.

 

Once again, we encounter key frames in this program, like we have in After Effects and Animate. Key frames are set on the timeline at the bottom of our screen by pressing S when the object is in the location we want to capture. We were to incorporate easing in and out, so our cube would slow at its peaks and troughs during its animation. The one thing I’ve taken away from this entire process, and the fact that it can translate to other classes we’re doing, is it’s so important to think about key poses and key frames.

This is an extremely simplistic exercise, all things considered, and I think I’ll take a couples this week to add some further principles of animation to my cube:

  1. It would be good to add a squash and stretch as the cube lands, then launches itself back up into the air.
  2. Perhaps have the cube jump side-to-side, so it travels in a small arc as it moves, and thus have a trajectory it’s travelling on.
  3. I could change the cube into a ball, set up a wall, and have it on a three-point bounce like someone is throwing it against the solid surface.

I’m eager to continue practising these easier animations, including using some of the rigs that Matt has placed in his folder. I’ll update further as I keep going, hopefully with some more GIFs!

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