Since I’m out of work at the moment I thought I’d take some time and see if I can get into the swing of 3d animation in Maya. I’ve dome some 3d before but only as part of a class at UCLA. I suppose the class was informative and helpful but in no way did it get me where I need to go. I ended up spending most of my time in the class making amateurish models with amateurish rigs, leaving very little time for actual animation, which is where my interest really lay. I ended up kind of half-assing the final film, not having enough time to really get it done right. The only motion I ended up finishing was supposed to be of a fat sheep reaching in vain for some grass, but it ended up looking more like it was barfing.
I come to it now knowing what I really want to do, though, and what I think I’ll enjoy and be kinda good at. I’m a character animator. What I want to do is animate characters – not model them, not rig them, not paint them. Let the other people do those things – people who enjoy and are good at them.
When I was working on Don’t Fear the Sitter I dreaded doing the backgrounds. A lot of animators I know looked forward to that part, since it was so much less work for them. And while, yes, overall the BGs took less time for me than the animation did, and I don’t think I did a bad job on them, they were a real chore.
End of Aside
So I downloaded the student version of Maya. (The people at Autodesk totally have the right idea in making it free for students and the unemployed – training up their future customers.) I bought a Maya book. I downloaded a character rig (thank god there are people out there who make these things and release them for free). I dove in.
I figured the most basic thing to try out at first would be a good old walk cycle. I tried to put in some Richard Williams style flourish, breaking elbows and escaping from that two-dimensional plane in which the traditional side-view walk cycle resides. Here are the results: