Assignment #4: Walk Cycle


Part 1: Video Reference of Different Walks

What to do:

  1. Take video reference of three unique walks (not including yourself or anyone else enrolled in this class).

Part 2: Walk Cycle

Walk cycles are very important in animation. They are important not just because they are a common type of motion, but because they reinforce many of the motion principles you learned. Squash and stretch, arcs, overlapping action, follow-through, timing, and weight all play big roles. As with your last two assignments reference and planning will be important starting points. Take video reference of yourself walking from both a front and side view. Keep in mind that for this particular walk you are trying to understand the mechanics of a walk itself, so try not to get too creative (that will come later). Just walk as you would normally. When studying your reference, pay extra attention to things like the rotation of your hips versus the rotation of your shoulders and how your weight shifts.

Luckily walk cycles have been done so often and are so important that there are a few different ways of approaching them. If you can get a copy of the Animator's Survival Kit then you should definitely read the section on walks. One way to plan a walk cycle is using what Richard Williams calls the "contact method". A walk cycle has four basic poses: contact, down, passing, and up. Each given step in the contact method starts and ends with the contact pose, coming out to a total of eight poses in one cycle.

It is important to keep in mind that the preceding poses are only a guideline. They should give you a general idea about weight and motion arcs, but what you do within and in-between these poses will determine the style of walk. The reference you took is a version of your "normal" walk, but everybody walks differently.

What to do:

  1. Take reference of yourself doing a normal walk from both a front and side view.
  2. Draw two walk cycle planning sheets from your reference. One for the side and one for the front. The poses can be based on the contact method, but you will want to indicate what makes your walk unique. Making notes on the side of your planning sheet in addition to drawing might be helpful as well.
  3. Animate your walk cycle. This involves completing two full steps, after which the animation will repeat. Have your character walk across the screen and not in place. This way you won't have to worry about sliding feet. Here's a mini-tutorial on how to make your animation cycle when you're done. Also make it look good from all views (side, front, perspective). Don't neglect the weight shifts and leg positions in the front view! Also make sure the arms overlap. Their movement will be in some ways similar to the pendulum example.

General Animation and Maya Tips:


Playblasts are Maya's way of creating a preview of your animation that runs in real time, and is much faster to create than a render. Go to Window > Playblast > OptionBox. Change the option for Viewer to 'Movieplayer', change the Display size to "Custom" and enter 640 and 480 for the two values. Change the scale to "1.00", and check "Save to File" and name it appropriately.

IMPORT NOTES: The point of playblasts are to get a good preview of your animation. This means that you should hide everything that clutters the screen, and set the camera up to get a good view of your motion (you don't want the camera so far away that your bouncing ball it just a dot!) You will want to hide the heads up display information by going to Display->Heads Up Display and unchecking everything in the list. You will also want to hide all of the animation controls. Since these controls are usually NURBs curves, go to the panel menu and uncheck Show->NURBS Curves.

Turn-in Checklist: