Project 6b: Simple Animation

Goal To practice basic animation principles.
Prerequisite Exercises

For this part of the assignment you will be animating two balls bouncing with forward momentum from an orthographic side view in Maya. One will be a light ball ping pong ball and the other a heavy bowling ball. The bowling ball must bounce until it rolls to a stop, but the ping pong ball is not required to (do a minimum of 5 bounces). Before starting, read the prerequisite exercises.

Animation Workflow

You will be using this ball rig for both of your animations. Note that you will be turning in two different Maya files, one for each bounce.

The frame rate we use is 24 frames per second. Open up the ball rig and click the Animation Preferences button () at the bottom right of the screen. Go to the Settings category and make sure that Time is set to Film [24 fps].

There are two controls on the provided rig: the "ball_anim" is for both movement and rotation, while the "squash_anim" allows you to modify the direction and magnitude of the squash and stretch independent of the ball's position and rotation. This means that it is much easier to add/adjust squash and stretch without negatively impacting other portions of your animation.

You should always key both controls on a given frame and not just one without the other. Note that there are two approaches for constructing the ball poses: Roughing in the poses every two frames, or by setting the extremes first (up, down, up, down, etc) then filling in the breakdowns. The second approach is how more complex character motions are usually created, but the first will also work for this assignment. You don't necessarily have to worry about timing at first. Create the poses then shuffle them as needed.

Let the animation principles guide your motion. Focus on timing, spacing, arcs, and squash and stretch:

  1. Timing. How does the rhythm of the ping pong ball bounces differ from the rhythm of the bowling ball bounces? Observe how these objects behave in reality. There are several ping pong balls available in the lab. Bowling balls are slightly harder to come by (if not a bit rough on the flooring), so check out video reference on the web. Here's one example. You may also find it helpful to draw planning sheets like the image at the top of the assignment to compare and contrast how the two different types of balls bounce.

  2. Spacing. When does the ball speed up? When does it slow down? In essence, what effect will gravity have on the motion? Acceleration and deacceleration will also affect when squashing and stretching happens.

  3. Arcs. These should be included in every aspect of motion, as they serve to make animation more fluid and natural. Luckily, bouncing balls have built-in arcs. It may be helpful to sketch in the path of motion for each ball before drawing the poses. How do the paths differ between the two different types of balls? Don't hesitate to exaggerate this difference.

  4. Squash and stretch. Keep in mind that you are animating a "normal" bouncing ball that doesn't have a mind of its own. Squash and stretch that is too extreme and that spans too many frames will make it look like the ball is willing itself to jump, and that's not what we want to see. You generally shouldn't see squash and stretch when your animation plays at full speed, but you should be able to feel it.

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