Friday, October 2, 2009

moving a static cycle forwards

Last night I realized a bit too late that the technical aspects of maya were taking over for everyone, so I figured out a nice low tech way to move a static cycle forwards without using space switching tools and rerigging mid project. I’m a huge fan of the simple solution whenever possible.

I grabbed a quad walk I had from an older project that was blocked in in-place. I often start my cycles in place to establish the rhythms but move them to translation as soon as possible, as cycles in place are a bit of an abstraction. At the very least, I’ll take the master node and translate it (linearly) to better establish the footfalls and eliminate foot slide as soon as possible, then mute it at the first frame when necessary to better evaluate the cycle (especially on runs, which move too fast to evaluate well with translation)

So..pretty simple…looking at the curves on one of the feet…pretty rhythmic in that sine wave shape that in place cycles have.


Next, let’s grab all the nodes that need to translate forward (in this case, 4 feet, pole vectors, and the pelvis)


On the bottom right of your screen, next to the display layer tab, there’s a button for Animation Layers. Click that, and the on the LAYERS dropdown, create new layer. The one thing you don’t want to do is create an override layer, which can be really useful, just not in this case.


With our nodes still selected, we’re going to set 2 keys. One at the first frame, then at the last frame of the cycle, translating the character forwards in z. Make sure there’s no wobble to these splines ( I usually grab all the curves and press SPLINE, which oddly makes them behave as if they’re linear). Now I fuss with this final location until there’s as little foot slide as possible. If you’ve done this cycle in place the whole time, there’s invariably going to have some foot slide, but if it’s minor, let’s not worry about it yet.

So here we are…first pass..translating forward, working as expected.

Save off a version, and let’s bake the changes down.


These are the settings I like to use…Smart Bake is really useful for not making a cloud of points.

Now that it’s baked down to a layer, we can look at the Z curves


This is linear, but you can see the foot drift on the holds, which should be fixed.

This method falls into the category of a simple solution rather than an elegant one, but anything that gets you towards your goal faster is a good thing, as far as I’m concerned.

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