Non-Destructive Animation Editing: Basic setup and single clip editing

Non-Destructive Animation Editing: Basic setup and single clip editing


The ability to edit animation clips non-destructively is an important factor when working in an
iterative workflow. It allows an animator to create and compare many
different variations of a scene in a short amount of time. In Maya 2017, you can accomplish this via the
Time Editor. In this movie, we’ll show you how to store your
basic animation as a clip, then layer non-destructive edits on top of it in
order to create variations. Start by setting your current project to the
provided scene folder, then load the file “flight_deck.ma”. The scene depicts the deck of a futuristic flight
deck as well as a ship. It’ll be our job to populate it with a crew. To prepare for working in the Time Editor, switch
to the Animation workspace. This will automatically optimize the layout of your
menus and editors for working with animation. Note that the Time Editor appears at the bottom
here, alongside the Graph Editor. Now import the file “crew_man.ma”, making sure
to retain namespaces. This is just a basic character model already
skinned to a skeleton. Also import the file “ship_work_anim.ma”. If you play through the scene, you can see that
this contains an animated proxy rig. Proxy rigs are great for performance, but now we need to get the animation onto our
final character. We’ll start by creating a clip of the animation by
right-clicking its control set in the Outliner and selecting its set members. This selects all
the character’s control curves. Now in the Time Editor, click Add selected content
from the scene. Maya adds a clip to the Time Editor, which becomes the new driving force for
animation of the selected control curves. You can see this if you expand the clip. Notice there are keys for all the objects and
attributes that originally had keyframes. Meanwhile if you select a control, the keyframes
have changed from red to beige to denote that they are now driven by the clip. This means that if you ever delete the clip, the rig
will no longer animate. However, this also means that you can do things
like mute, move, scale, or trim the clip. For a full list of the ways that you can interact
with clips, see the Maya Documentation. For now though, let’s remap this clip to our
skinned character. Select the clip, then in the Time Editor go to Clip>Remap and
Create Clip for Namespace>:crew_man. Maya displays the Roster Mapper. This shows
exactly how the attributes from our animated rig will be mapped to those of the skinned rig. By default, Maya automatically maps any
attributes found in the namespace, which appear in the Mapped section. You can also manually map attributes by selecting
them in the Unmapped section and then clicking the Map button to add them. In this case we won’t need to do that since our
rigs match perfectly, so just click Continue. Maya creates a new clip for your skinned rig.
Now if you play the scene, you can see that the animation is identical on
both. Rename the new track so you don’t get confused
later on. You can also delete the proxy rig and associated
clip. Next, we’d like to loop the animation of him
working on the ship to make it longer. The loopable portion of that animation is from
about frame 46 to frame 95. So go to frame 46 and split the clip using this
button. Now to loop just the second clip, we’ll first need to set the Edge Edit mode to Loop
via the button here. Other options include Scale and Trim. Now just drag the right side of the clip for as long
as you want. Once you’re done, select both clips and group
them together using this button. Rename the group appropriately. This will keep the Time Editor tidy, and allow us to
position both clips together. To do that, select the group and create a
relocator on top of it via the Relocate>Create Relocator menu. This adds a relocator object to the scene at the
character’s root. Use the transform tools to reposition him next to
this ship. Note that this relocator is non-destructive to your
animation clip. If you were to delete the node at any time, either
in the Outliner or via the Relocate>Remove Relocator menu, the
animation would return to its original position. We’re not done yet though. If you look closely, you’ll see that the character
can’t quite reach the part of the ship he’s supposed to be working on. We’ll need to animate him getting up on his toes, but like the relocation we’d like to do this non-
destructively in order to preserve our original animation. We can do this by first selecting his foot, waist,
and hand controls, and then selecting the group and adding a layer
on top of it either by right-clicking or going to the Clip menu. There are two types of layers we can add: an Override layer, which records keys relative to
the base skeleton (without animation), or an Additive layer, which records keys on top
of our existing animation. Let’s go with an Additive layer. This adds a grey
layer clip on top of our existing one. Make sure to select this layer before doing
anything. Once you have, then keyframe the worker
standing on his toes. Notice that when you expand the layer, those
keyframes appear in it. Once finished, you can mute and unmute the
layer to hide or show the tweaks. Also take note of the Weight attribute, which you can adjust to determine how much of
an impact the layer has on the base animation. Because you can keyframe it too, you can use
the Weight to fade the effect in and out. Suppose you want to try a different variation in
which our character doesn’t stand on his toes, but instead steps onto a small box for leverage.
We can animate that on a separate layer. Rename the current layer then mute it. Again select all the foot, waist, and hand controls
to create another Additive layer. As before, select this layer and keyframe an
animation of him stepping onto a box. Use a cube as a stand-in for reference. Also note how this time we need to offset the knee controls as well. You can add them to the layer by selecting them and then right-clicking the layer to display the
appropriate menu. Note that you can use the Graph Editor to make
adjustments to the keys just like you would in a typical animation
workflow. Now you can quickly swap between animations
by muting and unmuting their respective layers, which is a handy way of comparing them without
destroying your original clip. Now that we have our various animations, we
need to export them. Exporting in the Time Editor will bake any
currently visible clips and their respective layers into a single animation clip. This will make it easy to save each variation of
the scene as its own file. Start with the worker on his toes. Select the clip and go to File>Export Selected in
the Time Editor. In the options, export as a .ma file. Notice we also have this Save
Thumbnail/Playblast option. This will allow us to create a preview that will
show up in the Content Browser. Click the Capture Thumbnail/Playblast button. By default this starts in Capture mode, so position the camera in the workspace and
click the Capture button. Use the Preview below to make adjustments as
necessary. We could stop at just a still shot, but instead let’s
create an animated preview. Change Type to Playblast, then set the Frame
range to whatever you desire. Click capture again. Once playblasted, try clicking the small play
button in the Preview window to double-check that it looks the way you want,
then click Save. Export the clip as “crewman_variation1.ma”. Now if you open the Content Browser, you can see that the clip appears in the Clip
Exports folder of your project. If you mouse over it, it animates with the playblast
we recorded. Now your TD can import this clip into the original
scene to view your variation. Repeat the same steps to export the step layer.

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11 Replies to “Non-Destructive Animation Editing: Basic setup and single clip editing”

  1. This rather interesting when I started to watch the video, then when you put the bucket, I noticed the following, apparently if not for Script, plugin, or something addition of programming according to the program used, any features that Maya of a lively bones than by physical as happens in all the videos and programs using vehicles do not incorporate the bones detect a surface which automatically modify such animation that runs, walk, whatever you do, and step object a long time all this creation of programs, then … shit because programmers do not think of things how are you, or not? Maya software is crazy, which added in its new version, the iClone program already does, barely Cinema 4D also, if you know the program … none brings it detects a surface. Fucking day to do something, any program that is, whatever encourages anyone in a short time. Juano of Argentina, El Unico Chiri.

  2. Hello, I looked through the creating a character rig tutorial but I couldn't seem to find a tutorial on facial rigging on this channel
    ;(

  3. truebones fbx doesnt seem to work with time editor. any idea how i can make it work or where to get working fbx

  4. I used the referencing system for making all my different animations. When I try to import my jump animation into the reference scene, nothing happens. I used the Human IK Tool for animating. It only imports assets that are not referenced (like an image I used for posing my jump). I am pretty sure this is possible, but I cant figure out how.

  5. Hello sir, thank you for wonderful explanation. Will be truly great if we can copy and past keys on overrides layer, or even middle mouse click and drag from frame to frame and copy position like in regulat timeline, so far i couldn't do that, i should position my control manualy again and set key or go to graph editor and copy paste keys. If i'm wrong with this please let me know how can i copy and paste keys directly in time editor. Thank you.

  6. Hello. I have subscribed to your channel ever since I have started 3D modelling/animation. Thanks for all your great tutorials. I have a question. Although not totally relevant to this tutorial. How do you import multiple animated characters to one scene? Mine snap to the middle of the grid, kind of merge together. One is a human and the other one is a robot. The assignment we have been given is to make the robot mimic the human. I want these two characters to face each other, but they both kind of merge, facing the same direction, when I press the play button. Can you please help me figure out the problem?

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