We continued on with the ‘standard’ walk cycle in class today following along with the teacher and completing the second blocking pass.
The new theory is that we are only focused on the lower half of the body and may not even get to the top half at all. That theory is starting to make sense – it forces you to think very thoroughly about the hips – the foundation of any walk cycle. It also seems a lot less daunting as you can hide and forget about all the controls apart from the hips (cog control in the case of package man) and the feet. In this ‘blocking pass two’ we got a bit more involved with the custom feet attributes like taps, rolls and twists – forcing us to think more precisely about the mechanics of step. Which part of the foot contacts the ground and when? We all ‘acted out’ our own particular walks and noticed the peculiarities, like for instance how my own walk is so lazy that I don’t lift my foot high enough off the ground to avoid dragging my heel. I have the worn shoes to prove it!
The other benefit of today’s class for me was a few simple but breakthrough time-saving techniques. They will seem simple for experienced animators but being so new to the graph editor, I am still learning methods to do things faster and more efficiently. This is really important when it comes to animating because it is such a repetitive process.
Anyway, here is a summary of 2 simple things I learned today –
• Copy and paste key values inside of the graph editor – a walk cycle is about symmetry. Once you have decided on the rotate X value you want for the back foot at frame 3, select the key and the value is displayed (circled below). Copy it, then select the other foot and paste it into the ‘mirrored’ position – in this case at frame 15.
• drag values together – once you have set up the basics of the cycle and you are now experimenting with values on a control, lets say the translate Y value for the hips, do it for all the mirrored positions at the same time! The Y position of the hips is the same at frame 0, frame 12 and frame 24 – you can easily see that without even thinking about it because they form a straight line in the graph editor. Shift select all 3, then shift-drag them up or down together to change the value. If you have the time slider positioned at one of these frames, you get instant feedback in the camera views. Then you are done, you don’t have to think “OK that looks good at frame 0, now I need to update the values at 12 and 24”. To illustrate this below, I have colour coded the values that can be adjusted together – the keys circled in pink can be adjusted as a group, same for the ones circles in green, cyan and red –
for homework, I progressed through blocking pass 2 on my own, more strut-like cycle.