Character Sets/Trax Editor Crash Course

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  02 February 2007
Character Sets/Trax Editor Crash Course

Okay, here's the current situation:

I'm doing my an animation piece for school and haven't animated in Maya in probably over a year - probably spent too much time modeling and getting all the technical stuff under my belt. ANYWAY, My animation is simple enough - a character walks across the stage and notices a coin on the ground. It's pretty much a glorified walk-cycle with a few moments of actual acting when he happens upon the coin. I was wondering if the trax editor could help me a prevent me from over-keying the crap out of everything. I understand vaguely WHAT a clip is.
Let's say, for contextual relevance, I have all my controllers keys to perform a walk cycle followed by a stall mid-stride. Now I need him to turn around, notice the coin and walk back to it and pick it up. Could I do that all "non-linearly" or do I have to keyframe the initial movement for which it can then be later used somewhere else in the animation?
I don't really know how to ask what I'm getting at, but hopefully one of you frame-heads can figure/help me out :P Thanks again!

  02 February 2007
If you had character sets in place I'm thinking you could animate a simple one-cycle walk and reuse that up to the point when he stops. At that point you'd have to bake keys and animate the rest of the animation piece. If you had character subsets for the lower body and upper body, or possibly left and right legs and arms, you could possibly fine tune how you reuse keyframes.

I've only had experience with reusing/multiplying generic animation such as walk/run cycles, and using trax as a convenience tool for transfer animation. Blending clips and procedural animation is something I haven't had much experience on, would be interested too at some other animator's insights on this.
...everything will be fine, as long as nothing goes wrong...
  02 February 2007
As it seems...

I've been talking to a lot of other people at school and they say they've never even gotten the clips to work the way they wanted to. I think it would be more practical to keyframe everything, and then edit individual shots in a video editing program. I still can't figure out the exact workflow or even a reason to use the trax editor, I just thought it might speed up or at least streamline my pipeline. Thanks for the re:

  02 February 2007
you could use trax for the walk cycle

in order to use trax you have to add all the controlls you are animating to a "trax character", then animate the walk cycle, then in the trax editor you can create a clip of this cycle and make it loop, change speed, etc. in 2 clicks. im leaving out all the step by step detail but thats the general workflow.

then after the walk cycle ends, as martin suggested, just start animating it. everything thats not 100% part of the cycle is easier to animate without involving trax. i do this sort of thing all the time. if trax starts causing bugs as it often does you can always bake in the animation to keys and fix them, but for shots with a lot of characters walking it can save time to get it roughed in. i only ever use trax for cycles or actions that will be repeated in many shots though, and to transfer animations between rigs or scenes. for animation unique to a shot or a character that will only be in one scene its kinda pointless.

although it seems to promise being able to blend animations together from many layers, that always makes huge bugs for me, i just use trax for simple loops and clips, never more than one layer of trax clips at a time.

its also easier to manage trax if the motion of the character is not part of the trax clip. in other words animate walking on a treadmill, then move the character from another controll node thats outside the trax clip. youll have to make sure the feet stay in synch but its easier than the alternative..

Last edited by yenvalmar : 02 February 2007 at 08:33 AM.
  02 February 2007
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