Producing an Animation (part 2)

I feel like some time and distance from my endeavours last week have resulted in a much better class spent animating my squid rig. Not only have I managed to block out the smaller squid, I’ve set up the lighting, a camera, and my name is ready to appear in the scene when the small squid runs away.

I’ve now realised that the character rig(s) I’d tried to set up last week just didn’t work, even after trying on different saves, closing and reopening Maya, or restarting the computers (at home and at school) – I’ll have to investigate this when I have a little more time, because it really shouldn’t be happening. Matt did mention I could use Auto Key, but there are dangers in forgetting to turn that option on/off. At the moment, my current option is to animate each leg and the body of the squid independently to achieve the motion I want.


After learning about blocking last week, I set up my first two keys for the squid rig and opened up my graph editor to turn on step tangents in order to get that pop through on the animation.

The result was the picture on the right, where you can see the quick movements that the squid will now be doing from key to key.

Following my storyboard from a couple weeks ago, I set the keys for the squid right up to the point it would run away from the off-screen danger and reveal my name. I learned that you could actually create 3D text in Maya, however I’m not too sure if I’ll be keeping that or adding something different once I figure out what I how I want to manipulate this in After Effects.



I think the pop through has actually turned out all right, resulting in a couple of playblasts below – I’ve included one with the camera resolution gate and the other without.

Speaking of the camera, we learned about adding cameras to our animation scene and how they can also be animated using keys. You can achieve zooms, shakes, pans, and all sorts by thinking about how you want you camera set up. In my ident, however, I plan on having a stationary camera, much like the Nickelodeon idents we watched. By using the viewport menus, you can change your perspective in your main panel to the main camera we’ve added. This is quite good for making sure your scene is framed the way you want, but also that your camera is moving how you want it to.

Off the back of this, we learned about making an infinite ground plane/background, to add a cleaner look to the scene. First you need to add a polygon plane and add a background shader to it, so it blends in with the scene. Since we have a camera, we can change the colour of the background and the plane will change with it.



As seen here, it’s the environment background colour that will determine what the infinite background will be. While I’ve chosen an off-white for now, I may end up changing it to a crisp blue, since my ident is meant to be underwater.

For now, I still like the look of the white.



So far, the scene is lit with three-point lighting, has the plane, and a camera in place. Taking a couple of quick renders, I think it’s looking much better than what I thought it would this time last week!

So far, the squid has squash and stretch, anticipation (since the squid sees something the audience doesn’t… yet), and is using pose to pose (via blocking). I’m feeling a lot more confident in being able to animate this ident now, even though I would still like to figure out why my character set wasn’t working last week. I also have a feeling I may need to change the angle of the camera a little bit, just to see a bit more of the little squid coming on screen. So far, I like the movement the squid is currently doing and the timing feels about right.  To finish up the blocking, I need to add in a second tentacle to come down and grab one of the letters (likely the Y); then it would be off to After Effects to add the finer details!


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