Assignment #4: Walk Cycle
- Assigned: Thursday, Jan 28th, 2009
- Due: Thursday, Feb 4th at 3:00pm
Part 1: Video Reference of Different Walks
What to do:
- 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:
- Take reference of yourself doing a normal walk from both a front and side view.
- 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.
- 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:
- Your planning sheet should have everything you will need to know. You
should, in theory, be able to animate without ever referring back
to your reference - just to your planning sheet.
- Start with your key poses first! Get those right, then add breakdowns
(keys further defining the motion between your keyframes) as you need them.
- When working on key poses you will want to key all of the controls on the same frame. If you stagger their
keys, figuring out which key goes to which
pose will become frustrating later, and in general slow down the workflow.
- Make sure keys don't land on partial frames (for example, frame 3.14).
If this happens it is usually the result of key scaling. To fix partial
framed keys, select all of the problem keys in the timeline, right-click
hold on the selection, and choose "Snap".
- Try not to spend too much time in the Graph Editor. Focus on what your
animation looks like, not what the curves look like. Don't be afraid to
add more keys or breakdowns.
- Save iterations! You especially want to save an iteration when all of
your key poses are set, before moving on to clean up the graph editor and
adding inbetweens (basically another word for "breakdowns).
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.
- Use .ma and not .mb
- Please name your files lastname_firstname_assignmentnumber_partnumber_filename.*
- Part 1: Three videos of different walks.
- Part 2: Reference videos of you walking (at least a front and side view).
- Part 2: Planning sheet(s) of a front and side view of your walk cycle.
- Part 2: Three playblasts of your walk: side, front, and perspective.
- Part 2: One maya file of your walk cycle.