XSI animator using Maya - Help!

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  02 February 2013
XSI animator using Maya - Help!

I'm a character animator and have been using XSI for a good 7 years now. I'm starting to look at Maya for animation but I'm really struggling with the animation workflow in Maya.

I'm not talking about any fancy rigs or simulation here, just select and move an object, create keys on the channels I need with auto key, and then adjust the keys in the graph editor but as fast and as efficiently as possible.

Is there anything in Maya similar to XSI's 'Marked Parameters'? If you translate an object then the 3 translation channels are 'marked' and they can get keyed. Switch to rotation and the rotation channels are marked. This works in conjunction with auto key so you can start animating and the keying system pretty much works in the background. If you just want a single channel auto keyed you can select that channel.

Looking at Maya though and auto key only seems to work on the single channel you've changed. If I want more than 1 channel keyed it seems that I have to manually select the channels I want keyed and then hit 'S' or select 'Key Selected' from a pulldown list. It seems to be a slower and clunkier workflow than XSI.

Whilst I have plenty of gripes about animating in XSI, going over to Maya seems to be a step backwards. I can't see how my productivity will be the same if I have to animate in Maya.

Do studios build their own keying systems for Maya? I understand that the SDK for Maya goes a lot deeper than in XSI so perhaps it's possible to build a decent modern auto key system?
  02 February 2013
One suggestion is to use two hotkeys - Shift+W to key translate channels, Shift+E to key rotates.
Having said that, I guess it's never bothered me really, when I'm blocking I tend to key all available channels so I just use the regular S hotkey. I like to know everything is keyed before switching to spline, but that's just my workflow of course.

  02 February 2013
go to Animate->Set Key (Options) and select Set keys on: Current manipulator handle.

with this option on, when you press the s hotkey, only the attributes that relate to the currently active handle (Trans, Rot, Scale) get keyframed (and it works with auto key, which i never use)
Hope this helps...
  02 February 2013
set key on current manipulation handle is the correct answer.

but also, there is a cultural difference. Because XSI works that way by default, normally you don't think much about publishing and hiding parameters for animation. In Maya you normally work a bit on your channel box. You would normally remove the parameters that are not meant to be keyed from the Channel Box, and just always key everything with the "S" key. This "locks down" the rig securely. For example, many types of controllers need to have only rotation parameters published.

If at the end of the day you have a lot of unnecessary keys that you don't like to deal with, you would delete these redundant keys with "Delete Static Channels". The exact same workflows are available in XSI since 5.1 of course if you chose use key using Keyable Parameters and the keying panel.
  02 February 2013
Thanks for the suggestions guys.

The Set Key on Current manipulator handle and All manipulator handles do what I want but only when hitting S, I can't get them to work with Auto Key. I think I might have just hit a limitation with Maya's auto key system - it's seems to be very very basic.

I've used auto key for years and having to hit the keyboard to set a key just feels like going back to the stone age! Heh, the funny thing is that I can sometimes spot an animator coming from a Maya background. They initially don't tend to have the graph editor open, they use key sets to stamp down animation across all channels and on all controllers when blocking, ...and they don't use auto key. Now I know why.

I do wonder if it's one of those software development catch 22's - folks don't use autokey 'cos it's crap, and the developers say 'why should we develop it when no one uses it'... ad infinitum.

But thanks again guys, I'll keep noodling away in Maya and see if I can get some sort of workflow I like.
  02 February 2013
you can also set key on selected channels in the options which is pretty useful...and dont forget with character sets you can kind of define it like xsi marked parameters
Scott Turner
  02 February 2013
Personally I use Autokey in Maya all the time, when I'm blocking though each time I move to a new pose I select all the controllers and hit S. Then I build the pose from there with Autokey on, knowing that things are already locked down and any changes I make will get keyed automatically. Works for me anyway


Last edited by Horganovski : 02 February 2013 at 11:25 PM.
  03 March 2013
I rarely hit "s" to set key on everything. But then i also used Softimage before i switched to Maya 1.0 and ive been using Maya ever since (along with motion builder too). To me hitting "s" can break the curves. Try inserting, rather than setting and you'll see the curves dont change their tangents when inserting. Also have you ever tried using breakdowns instead of keys. I also use auto key all the time and I've found it pretty solid once you get use to it. Try not to hit s, but try W & E. I have also found a few scripts which can help with keying on select axis which let you tick x,y or z. Also clever keys script seems pretty good, im not sure you'll get autokey to set a key unless the channel has changed value though. Autokey in Maya works well by only keying changes so it'll never key channels that haven't been updated... Which it sounds you are after. If you want to isolate channels, try locking out the ones you wish to remain untouched and then autokey.
  03 March 2013
If autokey followed the 'Set Key On' options I'd be a happy bunny, that gives me everything I'd need.

But it doesn't. Like you say, it only keys channels that have been updated which is frustrating to me. I'm genuinely surprised that autokey only keys adjusted channels rather than complete positions or rotations, hence my confusion about all this.

I've fired off a request to Autodesk asking them to update the autokey options, so we'll see; maybe I'll get something in Maya 2018 perhaps?

Thanks again for the suggestions.
  03 March 2013
yeah it would be good to have more flexibility with the types of autokey if its something available in xsi im sure they could get it to behave the same in Maya.

For now you could try this script

With this script you can set keys based on a tick box selection, alas it doesn't work with autokey, but you can quickly set, change selection and delete specific x,y,z keys though. Handy if you want to remove all z rotations for example with one click.
  03 March 2013
yeah just hitting s works fine...i usually do that myself...then afterwards if you want to be a minimalist you can delete all static channels to clean everything up
Scott Turner
  03 March 2013
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