MAYA 4 Walking a Tightrope


I am using Maya 4 to animate a human character walking along a tightrope.
I have been trying to use expressions to drive the deformation of the tightrope (polygon cylinder, joints and IK Spline handle, clusters). That is to say, the characters feet make the wire bend and sag.
I have encountered many problems with the characters feet sliding along the Z axis. Or the feet popping into place since I used constrain geometry to bind the feet to the wire when in the down-step.
I’ve been using Maya for about a month and if anybody has some ideas on how to accomplish the tightrope being controlled by the characters animation, it would be much appreciated. I know I could manually keyframe the wire to match the characters feet, but that seems a little archaic. I’d reaally like to see the process automated so the main focus could be giving a convincing character performance.
Thanks for you time and suggestions!



Well Folks,

It appears nobody had an answer to my tightrope question with regards to expressions so I went in and animated the wire with keyframes to match the characters weight-shifts. I ran out of time as the assignment was due last week.

Heres a link if you want to take a peek at it. You’ll need the DivX plugin to view it. Crits are welcome.

Seeya around.



Very nice job!!

It’s good to see IK-Joe animated!! :bounce:




Thanks Goosh. Actually, animating Joe was pretty easy thanks to a great rig. :wink:

And for that I thank you and DML ( for the model.

I’m animating another of Daniel’s models for my next assignment. His name is Ciceto and the assignment calls for more character acting, rather than the technical challenges posed from the rope.

Perhaps I can post that animation as well. I would love to have some crits from you and the others on this forum. Only way to get better!!!



Sure… bring them in here… I’ll love to take a look at it.

I know Ciceto… he is a cool char… I have it in Maya too… I was going to rig him and add some facials, etc… but I got sidetracked :frowning:

I really like the tightrope… it’s pretty technically difficult to achieve and you’ve done a great job.

How did you animate his weight (since you don’t really have a solid place to fix your feet)



Hi Goosh,

What I did for the animation was use some guidlines so I knew where to place his feet.
I was deforming the wire with bones, IK Spline handle and clusters. The clusters where constrained to locators on Joes feet and the weights were animated to be on, off or weighted to both feet depending on whether Joe was walking or standing still.
I knew that I wanted the rope to dip the lowest in the middle, and have more tension at the ends.
I created three nurbs splines to use as guides. I pulled the middle CVs of each spline down to represent the “path” that IK Joe would walk. The middle spline was the path which the rope would be at when still. I then adjusted the other two splines to be above and below the middle spline. The lower spline would represent where the rope would be at it’s lowest (when Joe stepped and shifted his center of mass) while the upper spline represented the recoil of the rope as it tried to get back to its normal position.
By using these guides, I kept track of Joe’s feet position throughout his walk. Then I tried to overlap the weight of his body to follow behind his feet. So his feet and body would go down to the lowest guide together, the feet would come up, body continues down, feet back down, body starts up, etc…
The rest of the animation was just moving his hips, shoulders, etc to give the illusion he was struggling with balance.
Once I was happy with that, I matched the real rope to the lowest position of his feet. That was the solution provided to me by my instructor. I originaly wanted to deform the rope using expressions with which I had limited success. Hence the posted question on this forum.
I hope that made sense…it seems kind of garbled now that I look at what I wrote!



Pretty cool…

complicated, but it’s a complicated shot… you did a great job



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