Character Animation: Animate with Motion Capture in Autodesk Maya | Yone Santana | Skillshare

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Character Animation: Animate with Motion Capture in Autodesk Maya

teacher avatar Yone Santana, Animator & Coach

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Class introduction


    • 2.

      Finding motion capture


    • 3.

      Using Human IK


    • 4.

      Connect rig to Human IK


    • 5.

      Walk - Initial setup


    • 6.

      Using animation layers


    • 7.

      Cycling the lower body


    • 8.

      Cycling the upper body


    • 9.

      Idle - additive layers


    • 10.

      Run - override layers


    • 11.

      Summary & class project


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About This Class

Is motion capture here to replace animators? During this class I'll demystify how to use motion capture to create animations for video games and VFX. Motion capture is just another tool you can take advantage of to learn how to animate and broaden your skillset.

Welcome to Animating with motion capture, a class where you can learn my workflow to take a standard motion capture clip and use keyframes to create custom animations. This class is great for students who are interested in animating for video games and visual effects, where you need to use motion capture to make many animations quickly.

In the first 5 lessons, you’ll learn how to find motion capture clips and apply the animation data to ANY character rig. Using a custom rig you'll have all the benefits to easily animate hands and faces, which are usually not included in free mocap.

In the rest of the lessons, we will focus on animating. Finding your key poses within the motion capture and building animation layers. I'll give you a detailed explanation of how to turn a walk cycle into something more characterful. You can apply this same workflow to make any other animation. I'll also explain how to make quick edits to motion capture and repurpose clips to create brand new animations.

Meet Your Teacher

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Yone Santana

Animator & Coach



My name is Yone Santana and I’m a freelance animator, currently living and working in the UK. I love sharing the knowledge and skills I have picked up during my career and turning them into easy to follow tutorials. I’ve also had the great fortune of also teaching all things Maya for over 10 years at a university level.


You can find me on Twitter and learn more about Maya on my Youtube Channel.

If you want to learn the core skills to become an animator, then you are in the right place.

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Level: Intermediate

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1. Class introduction: Hello and welcome to animating with motion capture, a class where I will be sharing with you my workflow of how to take a standard motion capture clip, and combine it with key-frames to create your own custom animation. This class is great for people who are interested in learning more about animation for video games, and visual effects, where you need to create a large volume of animations very quickly. I have split this class up into two parts, and the first part, I will be showing you how to take a standard motion capture clip and apply it to any character rig that is available for Maya. By having a custom rig will be able to take advantage of creating the animation for the face and the hands, which is normally left for the animator to do by hand, and if you are just interested in how to apply motion capture for a video game character or to create that dance animation that you have always dreamed upon, then we will have you up and running in no time. In part two, we are going to be focusing on how to animate with motion capture, so we will be selecting our key poses from the motion capture file, and we will be adding on animation layers. Now, I am going to be focusing on creating a standard walk which all turn into something more character for. But I will be sharing with you guys production techniques of how to use motion capture and edited quickly for when you are in a pinch, and how you can even take motion capture clips and re-purpose them and redesign them to create brand new animations or variations for different games scenarios. My name is Yoni and I am a character animator currently living and working in the UK. Most of my work has been in commercials and now I am working in the video game industry. I also run a small YouTube channel where I teach all things about Maya. Now this class is aimed at students with an intermediate level of Maya, if you are completely starting out, then I recommend you watch some of my other classes on skill share, where I talk more about the basics of animating with Maya and how to use the graph editor in more detail. For this class, you will need access to a computer with any version of Maya from 2016 onwards, and a free plug-in called twin machine, which I will leave a link to in the resources page. If you are the type of person who has noticed how 3D animation is more in demand than ever for videos and motion graphics, or maybe you are creative and curious and just want to learn a new skill, then motion capture is a great way of learning how to animate. I have design this class for you to be able to break through the technical hurdles and start entertaining an audience with your ideas. You can join the class, or you can follow me on skill share as I will be releasing some new classes on animation very soon, and I have really had a good time putting together this class with loads of tips and tricks of production techniques that I use in my work on a daily basis. I hope to see you in class, and I hope you will join me in this journey in learning more about animating with motion capture inside of Maya. 2. Finding motion capture: Now, there are a few places to find motion capture files online besides having your own motion capture studio or paying for a motion capture library. For those who might not know, this is Mixamo, a website now owned by Adobe, and this site contains, asides from some useful tools, a large library of motion capture clips that you can download for free. You just need an Adobe ID. And the nice thing about Mixamo is that you can search for different clips by typing in the Search Bar, and you'll actually see a 3D model plane backed motion capture. So I'm going to look for three motion capture clips that will help you to start learning more about human locomotion. I'll search for an idle animation, and a walk, and a run. These three clips are normally used in video games to help describe how a character moves, and it's a very early setup stage where you'll have a character in a stationary position, one speed of movement. And then another speed of movement while he's running. So I'll browse through the clips and I will find an idle position that I like. Feel free to choose your own, but I'll choose this one here. I'll press the Download button, and I want to make sure I have this settings. I want to make sure that I downloaded an FBX file type, and I also want to download the motion capture without the skin. That way it will ignore the 3D geometry from Mixamo and only download the character joints. Also, I'll choose to have the project frame rate at 24 frames a second, and when that's done, I'll press Download. Let's also choose a walk animation, and we will use the same download settings, but make sure that the animation is set to play in place. So instead of running forward in 3D space, the character will appear to run on a treadmill. Now, download a file where the character is also running, and we'll also make sure that that is in place, and we'll go to the Search Bar and also look for a T-pose. Now, we're not going to use this file for animation, but we're going to use it for our technical setup later on. With that, we've got all the animation files we need for the project. 3. Using Human IK: We're now going to take an existing character rib and set it up to receive motion capture data by using Maya's Human IK System. I'm using a character called Franklin, but this method will work with almost any free rig you can find. I'll leave some links to some free rigs in the resource pages that are easy to set up, but this technical setup can vary a little bit depending on your expertise in Maya. First of all, let's make sure we save a copy of our rig before we get started. It's really important that we save a new version of our rig before we make any modifications to it. If we run into any case where we have any mistakes or errors show up in Maya, we want to make sure that we can always go back to the original file and start again. Let's go through our hard drive, and I'll just call this file Franklin_MO cap 01. Now we can start modifying our rig with ease. We'll go into Windows Outliner and bring up a list of all the 3D objects in our scene. We will be looking for the joints that are in the character rig, but these are normally hidden away by rigors to make sure that us animators don't tinker around with them, but that's exactly what we're going to do in this tutorial. We're going to be breaking a few good rules here. If you're not familiar with joints, they're just the articulation points for the character, and some other 3D packages usually referred to them as bones. We can search for specific objects in the Outliner by going into "Show joints". Now we will only see the joints in this list. We'll open up the rig groups and press "Shift" plus left mouse button on little plus sign to reveal the whole content of the group. Let's look for the rig joints that have this icon. In Franklin's case, I can choose the whole rig group and reveal all the joints by pressing "Shift" plus "H". In your rig, you might need to dig around in the Outliner to reveal specific joints that you might need. That's why I left you some easy to use rigs in the Resources page. Now, if you're a beginner, I'm going to show the joints in the view port all the time by using this view port filter to show the joints on top of the shaded polygons. That way, I don't need to be in wire-frame mode all the time. In my setup, I'm actually missing two joints for the lower spine. I can actually reveal these also in the Outliner, but they were something that I just missed as they weren't in the main group. We're going to take all the animation power of a custom rig like Franklin, and we're going to combine it with the Human IK System that comes inside of Maya. This system originally came from motion builder and is a great system for editing motion capture files. This is now fully working in Maya for a few versions. I want you to go ahead and go to Windows, animation editors, and open the Human IK window. We're going to set up a new custom rig, so that we can use the animation controls that Franklin has for his face, hands, and custom attributes instead of using the Human IK default rig, which is much more basic. Clicking the button, we will be prompted to define a new character. We will name this character Franklin, so it can be easily identified. Now this is a character definition template. When a rigor builds a character, they will name the joint of the arms, chest, and head in a way that makes sense to them, but this makes it hard to share animation characters between different people, because they tend to have different names for their joints. The definition template is a file that we're setting up to say what the name of an arm is, what's the name of the chest? What's the name of the head in a generic fashion. So then you can share animation or motion capture data across multiple characters, and everyone's happy to set up their characters however they feel appropriate. There is one more piece of theory I need to share with you before we can continue our setup. That's that the Human IK System also expects all of its characters to be in an initial starting T-pose. This pose is the character standing up with his arms out perfectly at 90 degrees. Now, Franklin looks like he's fairly close to a T-Pose in regards to other characters, but we're going to make sure that this is as best as it can be. I'll go into in an orthographic view and turn on the grid, so that we can see that his arms are slightly down from the horizontal. We will then select the joints and rotate them by selecting the rig controls. Depending on the design of your rig, you might not be able to select both arms and rotate them at the same time, or you might need to set your values on one side of the character and then copy them to the other side of the character, with negative values in the channel box. Don't worry about being mathematically perfect. You can be off by a few degrees here and there, but the more time you spend aligning the T-pose now, the less time you will have to be adjusting the animation poses for every motion capture file you use in future. Now that we're all set up, we can tell Human IK which joint corresponds to which body part. Let's double-click in the Human IK interface on the hips diagram, and then we can select the hip joints in the view port on Franklin. We'll work our way through the upper leg, lower leg, foot on both sides, and for additional joints like the toes, we can click on the circular button to reveal the additional toes, fingers, and additional spine joints. If you are ever in doubt, you can select the joint that closest matches the location you think that the joint is, and don't worry, because we'll remap the rig controls later. So you can feel free to make some few mistakes while you're learning. Always, you can go back to the starting file and actually start this process again. It just takes a little bit of practice to become familiar. I'll usually work my way up the body, and you need to at least assign one spine joint, one neck joint, and one head joint, but the more joints that you can add into the Human IK System, the better the motion capture will play back on your file. The head joint is actually just the tip of the neck joint, and you can ignore any other of the bones in the head. They work with the eyes and other things that Human IK is not interested in. For the arms, we will start at the clavicle bone, in its own little panel, and we'll work our way down the arm. If you do make a mistake and select the wrong bone, this usually happens many times in the fingers, you can always double-click the diagram again and you can select the right bone. Just confirm the remapping prompt and you are all ready to go. The fingers will follow the same method, but as the joints are closer together, it can be harder to select them right. You only need to choose the fingers and one joint for the hand. Select the joints from the base and as a rule of thumb, you can select the triangular part of the joint to make sure that you have the right section of the fingers selected. If you struggle, you can always select the joint in the view port and actually right-click on the diagram to choose the assigned, selected joint menu. After spending some time with all of the joints, you should have the character working correctly, and it should show up in the Human IK window that the character is all green. If you see any red joints, it means you have assigned the wrong joint or there is a joint missing in the hierarchy. If the joints show up yellow, it means that Franklin is not in a perfect T-pose. This can still work while applying motion capture, but personally, I always prefer to align the rig first into a T-Pose and then make sure that I get this prompt come up in green. We're all done. Save your file, and now you have a character ready to receive motion capture data. 4. Connect rig to Human IK: One of the main aims of this class is to be able to animate and correct our motion capture data while using Franklin's existing rig. Instead of building a new one with the HumanIK system, we'll press this button to assign a custom rig, and this will create a new rig panel in the HumanIK window. This will allow us to map the spline controls that we can see in the viewport into the expected place where HumanIK is going to save all the key frames from the motion capture data. We will now select the control curve that we used to animate Franklin's hips, and right-click and assign the selected rig point in the diagram. We will do this for all the major control rig points, and check to see if they are using position or rotation data. Some of them can use both. For example, the hips can move in 3D space and rotate as well, while the arms tend to be only using rotation data as they are in the FK. In the Channel box, we can actually see each individual controllers translate and rotate values if they are available. Now, Maya's quite smart now at figuring out if a controller has rotation and/or translation data, but it's always a good idea to check to see if these are configured correctly. You can also change values at anytime before you publish the rig to make sure that it's correct. For extra joints like the toes, and the spine, and the clavicle, we will click on these rectangular controls that we have, and we will assign them to the rig. This will make sure that the motion capture keyframes are saved onto the rig controls. You can check all this working by clicking on the diagram and seeing that the right control is selected in the viewport. Every controller that has been assigned will have a nice green color assigned to it. Depending on the design of your rig, some rotation channels might be hidden. If the X, Y, and Z channels are not visible in the Channel box, HumanIK will not assign the control rig to them. You'll have to go into the Channel box and click on "Edit Channel Control" and select Rotate X and Z in this case, and move them into the Keyable List. We'll also have to unlock their values, and I like doing that by right-clicking on them on the Channel box and choosing Unlock Selected. Now, the good news is that most free motion capture files do not have any finger or facial data, so we won't have to add any more joints beyond the hands joint. Once you've connected all the controllers, it's a good time to go into the Outliner and hide all of the bones again by pressing "Ctrl+H" on your keyboard. Save this file and keep it in an easily accessible directory as we will be using it multiple times during the rest of this class. Now, let's go ahead and open the T-pose file that we brought from Mixamo. We are going to have to repeat setting up the character, but only to create the character definition template. It's good practice to do these tasks a few times to become really familiar with them. Still feel too stressed about how to set up the HumanIK. Just in case, I've also included a finished version of this file in the Resources page. If you want to skip ahead, you can feel free to download that and use that. However, I really recommend you get the practice that actually using the HumanIK interface. The one important thing that you must do when setting up the character definition is to delete any keyframes that are on the bones describing the T-pose. We're going to have to use this template to import all of our Mixamo clips, and that import process will fail if there are any keyframes on the skeleton. Save this file in an easy to find directory and call it Mixamo_T-pose_character. Just as we are going to be using it multiple times and we want to show that it's a characterization file. Now, we can go to File, Import, and we can import any clip from motion capture data that we downloaded from Mixamo. It will instantly be applied to the HumanIK character because it recognizes the same names of the bones. In this case, I'm bringing in our Franklin rig with the HumanIK template as well that we made earlier. Now, we can zoom in and in the HumanIK set, we can change our character to be Franklin and the animation source to be Mixamo, and this will apply and scale the motion capture that was originally from the Mixamo file directly onto Franklin. If you find any issues with your rigs, legs not looking the right way when you apply the motion capture to Franklin, you may have to change the local space of the knee controllers to follow the foot. Just as a quick description, you can change the direction in which the IK leg bends, and we want the leg to bend following the direction of the toes. In this case, I go into the Channel box and I set out to Franklin's foot space to equal to one, to follow the direction of the foot. Now, we can see Franklin walking away. Now, this animation is only playing back. If we select a controller, we can see that the rig actually has no keyframes applied to it. The keyframes are actually still on the Mixamo bones, so we need to transfer them onto Franklin by baking the keys. We will click on the "HumanIK Menu" button and choose Bake To Custom Rig, and Maya will run through the timeline and set a keyframe on every single controller that we defined in the HumanIK system. Now, if we select any of the controls that are on Franklin, they all have keys. When you bake the data, you'll just end up with this huge collection of keyframes filling up your timeline. Now, it's time to clean up the file by deleting the Mixamo character. After the bake, we don't really need it. Let's open up the Outliner, and just by selecting the first bone in the hierarchy list, we can delete the entire Mixamo rig and save a new version of the file that is now ready for motion capture cleanup. Try to keep your files as small as possible whenever you're working as you don't want unnecessary things to clog up your Maya files. We want to be able to go back to the T-pose Mixamo file and repeat the import process with any other motion capture data clips that we have so that we can go transferring the idle animation, the walk animation, and the run animation onto Franklin. We will animate these using motion capture files as a base for our animation. Now, I want to remind you that motion capture is a great way of learning animation and to understand how human locomotion works, but we're going to always be using motion capture during this class as a way of using it as reference. There are parts of motion capture which we will have to fix just for technical reasons. But we can also stylize the motion capture and go much beyond what was originally in the capture. I'm going to show you a few ways of how you can use your motion capture just as a base line. But remember, we're going to be adding on top of this to create even stronger animations. 5. Walk - Initial setup: So we'll start off with the Franklin walk file that we just made now, after applying the motion capture data. We're going to start creating this walk and clean up the files and look at some of the technical issues that come up when we apply motion capture to a character. I'll start by creating a ground plane from a polygon and scale it up. Now the motion capture initially looks great and I don't want you to feel intimidated that you could never animate something that looks so realistic. Being a better animator than your motion capture is not the point of this exercise. I want to highlight some of the problems that are in the file, that we don't actually see until we look at them in a little detail. I'll just throw in a directional light into my scene and I'll turn on lights and shadows in the view-port. Now you can see that Franklin is not even standing on the ground, but he's slightly above it. This is a very common mistake. We're going to have to move him, but to keep all the animation working at the same time. To achieve this, we'll select first the hips and the legs, go into an orthographic side view on the first or last frame of the animation, and we will open up the graph editor. Here, we'll select all the translate y properties, and we can move all the curves at the same time and lower the hips and the feet to the ground. The arms and upper body are in FK, so we don't need to select them and they'll be just dragged down by the hierarchy. Check the height of your legs when one foot is firmly on the ground, and you can use the root controller as a guide as to where the floor is. We can go into the perspective view now and turn our lights back on. You'll see that the contact looks much better. But now we can also notice that the toes go through the ground. Very common mistake. We'll fix this shortly, but I want you to be aware that all motion capture clips will not translate perfectly onto an animated character, just because the proportions and size are completely different between characters. It's up to the animator to actually make adjustments to make the animation work. We've mentioned before that this clip has no finger data. Unfortunately, Franklin has some custom controls for posing the fingers quickly. We can curl the fingers by selecting a main controller which has an inbuilt pose, then we can choose a little bit of this neutral pose. But I also like to pose the fingers individually as well, to make them seem more organic, relaxed and especially less symmetrical. As there is no data, I can just pose the fingers and the pose will stay the same throughout the entire animation. So I can choose to drop a key-frame or not. If I want to modify the wrists, I will have to go into the graph editor as there is motion capture data here. I will have to do the modifications by dragging the entire curves up or down on the x, y, or z axis. A quick way of selecting a curve is to double-click on the spline and I can select the whole curve. Now with just a few adjustments, I can finish off posing the hand. We can make a small adjustment to the height of the shoulders, as motion capture data on the shoulders is only rotation values. So actually I can move the shoulders around using the x, y, z translate properties and I don't need to be messing around with the curves. Now let's move on to the face. There's no reason to leave him with this blank, neutral face, we can add a little bit of character here. There is no motion capture, so let's change the face into something more relaxed. By selecting the head, I can turn on the eye controls and I can move a point where Franklin is looking at, and I can also go into manipulating the face controls, to give him a more casual look. You might want to check out my class on Skillshare, about dynamic poses, where I go into a lot more details about the face, but I want to pose him so that his face is not symmetrical, and I'm using the properties for the smile and also posing the eyebrows and the eyelids in an interesting way. So now we have a nice walk with a lot more detail. Now, this version I could load into a game engine for initial testing, but there's still quite a few fixes we need to do here before we consider that this walk cycle is ready. 6. Using animation layers: I'm going to go ahead and show you guys how to create a walk cycle based off motion capture. Walk cycles are very common animation exercise and it's one that people ask you to practice quite often in order to practice your animation skills. Let me hide the Face UI and select all the controls, I'm going to create a quick selection set by going into the menu Create, Sets, Quick Selection Set. I'll call this selection set All and I will create a button on a shelf and I'll make sure that that's my customer shelf. I'm going to use this to create keyframes on all of Franklin's controls. Just with a click of a button, I can key the whole REG. Now it's quite normal for animators to freak out when they have too many keys on their timeline as we lose track of what needs to be edited and where, it's a much more messier way of working. However, we can overcome this problem very easy by having many keys for motion capture by using Animation Layers. Next to the Display Layers under the channel box we have a tab called Anim and here we can find our Animation Layers. If we select all our controls and then create a new layer from the existing objects button, we will have a base layer with all of our motion capture keyframes added there and a new Animation Layer which is currently blank, notice how there are no keyframes here. Now, if you've ever used animation layers before, you're going to see that I'm going to be using them in a fairly unusual way. I'll right-click on the layer, Layer Mode and turned mode to Override, Franklin would jump to his default T-pose, which will override all of his controller values and then now set at zero. Now our motion capture has temporary been overwritten by the Layer Mode, but just like in Photoshop, we can actually lower the strength of a layer with this Weight slider, and that will reveal the original motion capture. We're now going to go ahead and use this as a way of saving the essential poses to describe our walk. Now, these key poses you will have to create from a walk normally from scratch and they're very well described in a book by an animator called Richard Williams, which is the Animator Survival Kit. He gives individual names to each one of these poses, starting by the contact, the down, pass, up, and back to contact position and all of these poses are necessary to start describing an accurate walk. I'm going to use the layer system to actually save the specific poses from my base animation and I'm going to put them into my new Animation Layer. I'll go into a custom sideview just to be able to see the character moving from left to right and I'll focus in on frame 6. I can find my first contact pose here, the feet are mostly apart, and I'll select all of my controls again and set a keyframe by pressing "S", notice that my layer Weight is still at zero. Now if I bring the layer weight up to one, you'll see that I've actually saved the contact pose up onto the next layer and now we can go through the entire motion capture and start sampling the poses of the walk that most match the key poses necessary. The next contact pose is around frame 18, now's a good time to show you guys the importance of making good breakdowns. Many times your animations will fall apart if they don't have enough poses or detail to describe the actions. If I tried to make this walk only by using two contact poses, you'll see that it looks like Franklin is just skating on ice on the ground, so I need to create a good breakdown in between those two poses. I'll lower the layer weight again and I'll create the past position, which it will be around frame 12 or 13. The past position is where the ankle passes over the ankle which is on the foot on the ground, I say 12 or 13 because it could be either. When you're using motion capture, it doesn't exactly match the pose that you might see in the books and you need to choose which ones there and we can always modify later. Notice how by creating a strong breakdown and you can start defining your animation with actually very few poses. Now you may be thinking why I didn't choose frame 12 for the past position if time-wise, it is the halfway point between frames 6 and 18. I'm only using the motion capture as reference, and I'm looking for the best possible pose for the animation. I can always retime my keyframes later, just the same way as when I am creating my initial animations by hand, I'll pose everything out and then retime things afterwards. We'll go ahead and we'll create the next pose, which will be the down position and this is where the weight transfers onto the front foot, we can see the hips go down. Actually, if I just turn the grid on in the view port, we can see the hips translate down slightly, so I'll set a key at frame 9. I can then scrub forward and look for the up pose. Again, this will be a motion with the hips right there, the hips go up and we can scrub through the poses and look for one that we think matches closest to what we see and I'll go just for frame 16. If I stepped through my keys, you can see we have created the basic poses for a walk, very much as I showed you earlier and these poses by themselves, we can see by turning the layer Weight back on. We'll see there's a lot less data here, but we can still describe the walk quite well. You can actually spend hours scrubbing between the before and after animations and just comparing the differences, it's a lot of fun. We can see in the Graph Editor that we've created a simple curve to describe the movements of the hips, but that curve is based on the motion capture layer that is a lot more detailed. Now, remember that animation is about trying to stylize and clarify motion, and actually you'll notice the reality in motion capture is much more irregular than what we actually do when we create a stylized, cartoony character. I've created one step of the walk cycle, let's create the other. To make the cycle will just go to the first pose and last pose and make sure that these are exactly the same. Now, Mixamo has already done this for us and all we have to do is go to frame 0 and frame 25. After the past at frame 0, let's make the rest of the poses, and we'll go down to look for the up at frame 3, the next down pose at frame 21, and then we're going back to the past at frame 25. Now with all the key poses in place, we can see that the walk is working and if we turn the layer Weight on and off, you can see that very minor difference between the motion capture and the keyframe animation we just made. Now's a good time to start working on the timing and we can shift all of these poses around on the timeline so that they are regularly at three-frame space in between each key. I'll even shorten the overall length of the timeline to make it 24 frames and I'm doing this so that every step is at its constant beat. When you're cycling things, it's very easy to notice things that are not on a regular beat, so again with stylizing things beyond what we saw in the motion capture. Walk cycles are hard because they need to be regular and smooth and the timing of each step really needs to be the same for it to not look repetitive. We can now be really flexible with our timing and if we wanted to make the walk faster, I could play around with taking all of the keyframes and scaling them down to around 16 frames, and you'll see the walk is much faster. I could also do the opposite and increase the length of the timeline, stretch the keys out and make him walk at a much slower rate, giving him an air of a casual stroll. I'll just trim off the last frame for now, but I'm really going to scale this all back down to the regular walk that we had at the beginning. In both of these cases of making a walk faster or slower, I will have to modify the poses that I just made and also I might have to add some new ones, especially in the slower walk, because the animation won't match and to make the weight seem believable, I will then have to play around with the poses that came from motion capture and make them more appropriate to the speed of the walk I just made. Again, this is just an example and I want you to continue and save a version of a 24 frame walk. 7. Cycling the lower body: Now we could continue just technically, fixing this standard walk, but that would be quite boring. This wasn't a good time to add some character, even to something as simple as a walk. Many times in a game, you might have to have a character in different situations and you can make up a character look afraid or injured, and you can actually layer those animations on top of the standard walk animation for the character. When I'm animating a walk, I tend to focus it in two parts, where first of all, I really focus on the hips and feet and try to get the bottom part of the body actually all working together as a unit. Then I'll work on the chest, head, and the arms afterwards, as you can almost think about them two parts. But the movement of the hips is so important that it's really, really necessary to get that right from the beginning because it will influence the entire motion. So with that, I'll take the hips and I'll rotate them forward in the x-axis a little bit, and then I'll take the chest and upper spine controls and rotate them forward, just to give him a little bit of a pose, so that it looks like he's leaning forward. We can always look at the difference between the original and the changes we just made with the layer weight and we can push the z-axis forward just a little bit, so that he feels a little bit more off balance. I'll choose a nice height for the hips, to make sure that the leg stretch when he walks. I just want to make sure that the hips are correct before I start working on the legs. I'm going to design this as a grumpy looking walk. So I'm going to go ahead and do all the main strokes first, by deleting all the keys for the hands and I'll curl his hands up into fists, to show a bit of tension, and as always, I'll pose the fingers as well individually just to improve the appeal of the pose. Remember to set a key at the start of the timeline, so the fingers are keyed on that frame throughout the entire animation. Let's change his facial expression to be grumpy here. You can use some reference or look at your own face in a mirror. When posing the face, I tend to focus on the shape of the eyelids and the eyebrows and make sure they work together, and I'll straighten his lips to show a little bit more tension. There are some controls to curl the lips in. So it looks like he's biting his bottom lip a little bit. It's always nice to make your facial expressions not too symmetrical. Select all the controllers for the head and make sure that these have a keyframe also on the first frame. Moving down to the feet, I'm going to show you how you can cycle your animation, so it loops perfectly. We're going to extend our animation curves and the graph editor, by selecting all of our animation controls and going into curves pre-infinity, choosing cycle with offset, and we will also choose curves post-infinity with cycle with offset. This allows us to visualize the curves by going into view infinity. Now we can see that the curves in the graph editor go beyond their start and end position. They'll actually cycle the curves onwards from each point. So if we play the animation beyond frame 24, it will just loop endlessly. Let's just make sure that we've actually selected all of the controls for all of the curves that we could ever possibly have in the leg, and let's change them all to pre and post infinity, to save a little bit of time. Now we can start editing the feet to fix the toes intersecting on the ground by adding a little bit more stomped to the stride as well. I'll start by using the graph editor to select all the keys, where the foot should be on the ground. I can actually go into this little box and type the value to be zero. This will actually place the foot perfectly mathematical on the ground plane, which is at 0, y. Another thing I'll do when I work on each set of curves is to make sure that the tangent handles for the first and last frames, are making a smooth curve to avoid easing in and out. I will actually drag and select onto the keyframe to make the tangent handles appear. I find it quite easy to drag and select onto each tangent handle by holding shift to make multiple selections and then move the first and the last tangent at the same time. By default, Maya will leave automatic tangents at the beginning and end to be flat. So there'll be a little bit of speeding up and slowing down, if we don't actually cycle these correctly. So imagine that Franklin is walking on a treadmill. His walk speed would always be the same. So one of the things we can do is we can select all of the keys where his foot is on the ground, and in the translate z property, we can set the tangent type to linear. We can then remove these keys, so that the feet are moving along this straight line at constant speed. Also put the keys back in with the insert keyframe every three frames. I can use a shortcut by either pressing ''I'' on the keyboard and dragging, or I can right-click on the specific keyframe with the playhead and choose Insert key. After normalizing the position of the foot on the ground, we can select the foot to bring up some custom attributes. We can actually use this bullet x property to pivot off its ball instead of from the tip. Widths will add a slight bend to the foot on the contact position, and we can repeat this process for the other foot. Let's check the hips before we proceed. First, I'll check the rotations of the curves and then I'm going to see if the first and last frame loops smoothly. I can then go ahead and use the movements Scale Tool, which is this button here, to exaggerate the height of the curve by clicking on these white controls and I can stretch out the entire curve up and down the graph editor. This stretch helps me to see the movement of the hips more clearly. We can always scale the curve down later to a more normal size. We can also play with the position of the keys, so that the hips move faster between each step and hold their position a little bit longer. The extra rotate, will add a bounced to the upper torso and while the zero tape will add some sway from side to side. We can balance the use of both of these to create more character in the walk. Then after we've done the rotations, we will start looking at the translations. We will need to show the weight transferring as the character walks. There are specific axes where we can look at, that show this in great detail. The up and down is basically produced by the stretching of the legs, while the weight shifts from site to site on the x-axis, and we should add a little bit of a sway on the past position from each side. It's okay to add a bit of a steep drop after the foot contacts as this gives the impression that the character has weight. So it's okay not to have curves that are perfectly smooth. When we go to the past pose, we can start fixing the foot intersection the ground and we can see that this might be tricky to find a nice believable pose because Franklin has ginormous feet. It almost looks like he's walking with a pair of flippers. So we have to play around with his foot. I'm going to make it curl outwards slightly and lift up above the ground just as little as I possibly can. Any changes that I make onto frame 1, I will have to click and copy in the timeline and copy them onto frame 24, again, to maintain the cycle looping perfectly. Also I'm going to have to adjust the tangent handles when I copy frames as well. That's correct to the other past position on frame 12, but here I don't have to do any copying. Now that we've fixed these poses, let's go on to frame 9 and fix the toes. Here we're going to have to move the toes further back in the z-axis, and I'll use that straight line in the graph editor as a guide. I can then start raising the ankle up either by lifting the foot using the translate why control, or I can use the custom toe attribute. Now, each method has its own advantages and disadvantages and I will constantly be looking at the spacing of the ankle as it rises up off the ground. I'll prefer to work with the customer toe attributes as they give me a nice peel off the ground, and it might allow me to work with a few keys less. If you do struggle in putting the leg in the right position, a quick tip is to draw the silhouette of the leg before you change the ankle position, and then you can use the bullet exposition to control the position of the knee and the upper leg. It's going to be impossible to match the lower leg and the ankle as the foot is in a completely different place. But we can get to a relatively similar position, and this will be the start of making the foot look like it's animating smoothly. 8. Cycling the upper body: I'm going to now start working on the upper body by focusing on the chest, the head, and the arm swing. On the chest, I'm going to be exaggerating this swing of the chest in the y-axis, and this will affect the arms swinging left and right. I can also offset the timing of the chest, usually by one or two frames in comparison to the hips. I'll work my way through the major rotations until I get an amount of exaggeration that I like. Now, I'm not worrying about having keys in the wrong place right now. Because I can play around with offsetting the keys and look at basically creating the motion that I like, and afterwards, I'll go ahead and I'll set a new key every three frames and I'll delete the extra ones. This is a very easy way of keeping things organized. For the chest's y movement, I am actually going to copy the up and down movement of the hips. To copy things in the graph editor you'll need to go to the start of your timeline with the play head, select the curve you want to copy, and in the graph editor menu, you choose edit and copy. Then you go to the chest, select the translate y. Sometimes I just delete the keys for clarity that were already there, and then I go into edit paste, make sure you don't do the edit paste in the main menu at the top, it won't work. I'm going to invert this curve. I will type in the little properties window a function saying "Times equals minus one," and this will multiply the curve by a negative number, inverting it. I might have to adjust the tangent types again by selecting the keys and choosing the automatic tangents again. But this will be an exaggerated way of seeing the body move up and down, squashing and stretching like piece of chewing gum. However, if I was going to offset the keys and then scale them back down to a more rational amount. You'll see that the chest has a nice overlapping field with every step and as the hips move up, the chest crashes down a few frames later. Copying curves is a great way of saving time when you're animating cycles, and sometimes you have to work so quickly that these quick cheats are really useful to know. In cases like the lower chest, the curves from the motion capture might also be so messy that sometimes it's perfectly fine to rebuild the animation from scratch. I'll actually copy the curve of the x rotation from the hips as it's much cleaner now and already published it earlier, and by offsetting and repositioning that curve, again, I can add to the overlapping animation. On the head, we will also exaggerate the existing curves. It's a good idea to push this exaggeration as far as you can as when it looks ridiculous and I bring the scale of the curve back. We'll normally notice that you've actually brought it back to a level that's much further than what you thought was possible. The exaggeration is a natural way of adding appeal to the animation. You should try to go to areas that are interesting and try a variety of levels of exaggeration depending on the brief of your projects. For the arms, I'm going to rebuild the poses just for the pass and contact positions. I want the arms to lean forward, be straighter, and add into that grumpy emotion with those clenched fist. But once I've built those two poses for the context and the pass sections, I'll use twin machine to build some new poses for the down and up poses. I'll use twin machine here specifically, because as a general rule, the arms should ease in and out of the contact poses. They spent very little time when they swing in between those two positions. We're going to use twin machine to favor each one of those poses by using the slider and dragging it closer towards the contact pose as it comes up, and we'll favor it towards the contact pose as it goes down again as well. We can also check the graph editor and we can see if the arms are smooth here by looking at how smooth the animation curve is in each one of the individual axis. In the end, I've continued working both in the view port and refining curves inside the graph editor to create the design of my grumpy walk. If I turn the animation layer down, you'll see that it still is at its essence, the same vanilla walk from myxoma. Now, we can polish either the standard walk or this character walk that we've made over here, but thanks to working with animation layers, we can make a small mix of the two motions. I've tried to show you only the key elements of what I've been doing for the walk in terms of exaggeration, manipulating the keys, and I focused really on the important parts without bogging down in the detail of how I pose every arm or how I lay out every single curve. Hopefully, it should be instructional for you guys and you can apply it onto your own works. Ask for any feedback if you have any questions. 9. Idle - additive layers: Up until now we've been using this fairly unconventional, but very effective way of using override layers to copy poses from one animation layer to another. However, I now want to demonstrate quickly what's the difference between additive and override layers. We're going to use one of the modes for idle animation, then we'll set up a run later on. With this idle animation from Mixamo, if I add an animation layer only to the controls on the top half of the body. Maya by default makes it an additive layer. Now, any changes we make on top of the existing animation, Maya will, just add them to what come from below. For example, if I take an element that does not have any key frames like the fingers, I can create a single key-frame to pose the hand and it will just translate across the entire animation the same as we did before with the override layer. However, if we take an element like the wrists and I'll just rotate them back slightly to give him a sense of being alert and maybe a little bit tense. We can see that the hands will still move with their original overlap. I haven't had to go into the graph editor and change keys all over the place and just adding a new key frame and it's adding on to the existing animation. One of the things that additive layers are really good at is adding overlapping action. For example, if we look at the hips in the base layer, we can actually find where the highest point is, where the hips move up and down in the y-axis. Jumping back up to the animation layer, I'm going to make sure that there is a key saved at the beginning and the end of the animation. I always go back to the original hand pose and then I'll go back and create a key in the middle where I'm curling the fingers using the custom control by bending the fingers slightly, I'm going to create an opening and closing of the hand, I'll go back to frame 15 and with tween machine of favor the previous pose by about 60 percent. Now I go to frame 31, and I forgot to actually favor the key-frame in the right direction because it should favor the following key-frame by about 60 percent. But with the combination of watching the curve in the graph editor and moving keys around on the timeline. I can quickly create some overlap on the fingers by correcting the way I want the hand to open and close. This animation is just very quick, but already start selling the idea that there's some weight and flexibility to the fingers. The fingers should be about three or five frames behind the movement of the hips depending on the animation. We can copy our keys to the other hand to save some time. Just remember to use your pre and post infinity cycles. Spend some time playing around with those. We can do a similar trick for the x rotation on the jaw. If we offset it correctly with the up and down of the hips. This will give the impression that Franklin is breathing. It's important that when we're using additive layers were actually always adding a key which we find is correct and our animation, and then another key that is passed it at the end, we're actually creating small changes in between those keys, but we always want to go back to the original position. Now we need to imagine using Franklin in a game where the camera is placed like a real-time strategy game or a mobile. The character is so small on screen that we can almost barely noticed the movement of the idol. Let's take the hips and in the y-axis set a key on the first and last frame of the timeline. Then another key frame at frame 23. Lift the hips up in the view-port and using the graph editor, find an exaggerated up and down to the hips. Keep your eyes, however, on the camera view and see what is actually working. When Franklin only fills in a very small portion of the screen. Let's quickly copy and paste the y-curve from the hips onto the chest. Will adjust the values like we did previously to make sure that the chest doesn't look too crazy, but we won't invert at this time. However, we will offset the up and down of the chest by two frames to create a slight offset with the hips. Remember to turn on your pre-infinity curve so that the animation lopes. But also copy the curve from the hips onto the head as well. Or we can make another copy from the chest. Again, we will adjust it slightly and very quickly offset it by four frames in relation to the hip. We'll end up with the hip, chest, head being on slightly different offset times with their own up and down. Now in the main view-port, the amount of exaggeration we've added to the body looks positively ridiculous. But if we look at it from the camera view, it looks and feels completely different. I hope you can see that depending on the size of the character on screen, the amount of exaggeration in the movement of the character will change depending on how far the camera is away from the character. This can even affect the speed of a run or the timing at which a character is moving. These changes can be quite traumatic. It's always worthwhile to experiment while having your main camera always in view. 10. Run - override layers : Now I'm going to show you how to create a custom modification to a run by using override layers. Override layers replaced the existing animation with new key frames that we create. For example, if you imagine that at some point in a video game, a character can pick up a small object like this pot. They can probably still run at the same speed because the objects quite light. For this, I'm going to create an animation with using this standard run that we brought in from Mixamo. But I'm going to modify the hips, the spine, head, and the hands to basically create the animation of the character running, holding this part. For this, I'm going to turn on the IK Controls. Now I haven't really had much time to explain the difference between IK and FK in this tutorial, but as things are getting quite long, I'll leave the explanation for another time. Needless to say, IK is very useful for when characters are holding objects. I will have to select the controls of the risks which just appear to pose the arms along with the elbows, and add them also into the animation layer by right-clicking and selecting add objects to layer. Then on frame zero we will create a new pose for the upper body where Franklin is holding the pot. Now this pose will be the base for the whole animation. It's important just to focus on creating one pose where he's holding the pot. His arms are in the right place and his upper body is looking like he's performing the action he needs to do. When we finish this first pose, it'll look a little bit funny because the feet are still running, but now the upper body is locked into a single pose and it feels a bit unnatural. However, we'll take the translation channels from the hips and copy them up to the animation layer. Now we're going to do something very specific with the hips, which is we are going to separate the translation movement from the rotations. The reason why I want to do this is because the rotations would create some swinging with the upper body if I paste it all into the main hip controller. I'll take the hips and choose all of the translation keys in the channel box and copy it up to the main controller. Then I'll come down and select the rotation key-frames also in the channel box, and I'll go to this other controller, which is like a box, which most rigs will have a separate hip control for exactly these reasons. If I paste the key-frames into this control, the hips will move, but the upper body will stay following its original rotation. The animation already starts looking a lot better with the base movement of the hips. I'll refine the hips and use them as the main animation that I will copy to other parts in the body, just like we did with the previous example. We're going to just have to add some overlapping action to the chest, head, and the hands just a tiny bit. As a rule of thumb, we will copy the curves, but the motion should be every time smaller as we go up the body towards the hands. The hips have to be polished up a little bit and make sure that they're moving in the correct direction or if not, the animation will look funny when we actually copy it to other parts. I'll be going through each curve individually, sometimes inverting the curves and other times completely rebuilding them from scratch. The keys for the chest and the head will be offset in the timeline in a similar way that we did in the idol and we're going to keep that in mind that the hips, chest, and head all run on separate times. So we'll be offsetting them by two frames as we work. A very cool way to animate the hands with ease is to use constraint. This will be available in the animation menu tool set, which you might have to turn on on the left to drop-down menu at the top of Maya. To connect a constraint, we will select the part first and then Shift-Select one of the risks controls. We will make the connection of the constraint, always choosing first the driver object and then connect it to the driven. We'll turn a constraint on by going into the menus panel constraint, parent constraint, and click on the little box to bring up the options. We just want to check that maintain offset is ticked on and then we can hit "Okay." You can now animate the pot thanks to the constraint and you can move the pot around and the IK hand will actually follow around and the arm will move around as we move the pot. If we can strain the other hand in the same way, remember always to go from driver to driven, we can now have both hands connected to the pot. Instead of animating three objects we're just animating one and the hands are being driven along with the animation that we create. We can now create key-frames on the pot to create a bit of overlapping action. Some up and down, side to side, and a little bit of a sway left to right, forwards, and backwards. We can refine these animations even further by adding a nice counter-motion between the chest and the hips, keeping the head always pointed forwards towards its target and also the pot can have a very slight motion in all axes. Now, we could polish the animation even further, but polish is another subject that I'll do another class at some point because it can be quite a large subject to talk about. I always want you to remember that no matter what you're animating, you can always take things further than you might think. Always don't be shy and share your work in progress in the project page. I always mention that getting feedback is the best way of being able to improve your animations, and it's important that you ask for feedback constantly because that will inform you on the changes that you need to make, and you can take your animation from being standard to being exceptional. 11. Summary & class project: In summary, we've learned how to take a standard motion capture clip and apply it to a custom rig. We've seen the advantages of using a custom rig are all about being able to modify the animation later and rigs will have elements like squash and stretch or facial animation that really useful for us to add character to our motion capture. We've also seen that by using the animation layer system, we can create animation in a very similar way to how we create keyframe animation in Maya from the start. We've then gone ahead and also showing you some quick tips and techniques of how to modify your animations and these are all based on how much time you've got to work in production. If you're creating five or six animations a day, you're probably not going to have a lot of time to polish, but you can use animation layers to achieve very quick results which are very useful to a design team. It's project time. What I want you to do is to take one of the three motion capture clips that you selected at the beginning of the class that can be an idle, a walk or a run and I want you to add some character on top of these animations. I want you to take the basic motion capture, select some keyframes from it, and start designing something that has personality. You can choose a standard emotion, like anger, sadness, or happiness, and try to add that to your animation or maybe you're thinking about a specific character that you know and you want to try and convey him in a piece of animation. Now, it's important to take the standard motion capture clip and really add on top of it and I want you guys to post a before and after video. Submit in the project page of video of what the motion capture looked like when it starts, and add another video about how you've created the personality. It can be from any angle and any size, and I'll be available in the comment section to give you guys some feedback even if it's a work in progress. I encourage you to really take some time to actually get some comments and feedback, participate in the community page, and let's see what great animations you can come up with.