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Personality Walk Cycle

June 18, 2014

The personality walk cycle was a chance to use the knowledge obtained from the previous simple walk cycle to create a walk cycle that would show character and personality. I decided to do a sneak walk cycle for this project because the timing  was quite different from the simple walk cycle. Sneaking is slower then a normal walk cycle and takes at least 25 frames for one step to occur. To make sure I could plan the animation correctly, I did some research to find references of sneaking. However, I could not find anything that proved to be useful. So I decided to act out the sneaking movement and record it on a camera. I acted out various difference types of sneaking to get an idea of what type of sneak I wanted to create. In the end, the traditional and almost cartoon looking sneak was used as reference. Having studied the reference in detail, I began to draw some thumbnails of key poses before I started blocking in Maya. The thumbnails I drew were not as accurate as my video reference and therefore spent most of my time looking at the actual video than the thumbnails. The thumbnails did, however, help me to understand the movement better as I could see which poses I had trouble drawing and therefore studied those poses more clearly in the video reference.

Thumnail key pose drawings

Thumnail key pose drawings

With the thumbnails completed, I was ready to start blocking out the animation in Maya. Using the ‘Malcolm’ rig, I spent some time getting familiar with the rig so that I could determine which controls would be the best to set keys for and which controls would create the poses I wanted. I began the animation process by keying the contact poses first. A contact pose on frames 1, 25, and 50 were made. When making these poses, I paid attention to creating good silhouettes and making sure that there was a clear line of action. The next step was to block in the passing poses, then the extreme down pose, and finally the extreme up pose. In this initial blocking stage, I chose not to block the arms as I wanted to focus on the hips and legs and get that right first. This allowed me to get a fairly good first blocking pass for the actual ‘A’ to ‘B’ movement.

Upon continuing the animation and starting the second pass of blocking, I began to start animating the hips and spine in the Y axis from the front view in Maya. I also touched up some of the key poses created in the first pass of blocking according to teacher feedback.

With blocking completed, I started to change the animation curves in the graph editor to auto tangent. I then began to clean up the frames inbetween the key frames I created which Maya was interpolating for me. The were problems that had to be fixed such as the feet of the character sliding slightly, feet clipping through the ground, random head wobbles, knee popping. The feet sliding were fixed by keying each frame and adjusting them manually. This was also the solution to the feet clipping through the ground. The knee popping issue was caused due to an extreme contact pose and was fixed by making the pose less extreme by bending the character’s leg more. I also added a keyframe before the knee pop frame and that also greatly fixed the issue. The head wobble problem was the most troublesome as I had to go through the numerous controls for the character rig and see which controls were causing the problem as the issue was not due to the key frames on the head or neck controls. It was eventually fixed by tracking down controls which had values on them and zeroing them out.

I continued to clean up the animation and then finally began to animate the arms. This was done in the same process as the legs where I blocked in the poses and then changed the animation curves to auto tangent and fixed up any issues. A problem which I was not able to solve on the arms was where the right arm would swing back and fourth quickly before returning to normal. This made the arm look like it had dislocated. I minimized the problem as best I could and completed the sneak walk cycle.

The sneak walk cycle turned alright despite the arm problem which I couldn’t fix. Having said that, I could still clean up the feet, head, and arms more.

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From → Animation

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