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Setting the Poses

In this section, you apply your knowledge of how The Jerk moves to set him in poses that match the planning poses.

Exercise 15.1 Setting the Poses to Match the Planning Poses

Begin setting the poses by adjusting the controllers explored earlier.

Load the scene JerkRiggedBase.mb from the CD-ROM.

If you have a traveling shot, the first step is to begin with the blocking. That is, your character should be placed at the position indicated by your scale drawing at the time your character is supposed to be there. The character need not be posed yet, but the timing of the gross movement between marks is set.

It is often useful to have the character facing the right direction at each mark. This process is a little different from the one used next, but it's very similar to the one used later, when we address the motion.

For stationary shots, such as this one, in which minimal traveling will take place, the character can be animated nearly in place. Imagine that we placed The Jerk in the scene where he will be close to the center of his action. We can move him later into the final scene by merging this animation with the final scene. We will use some stand-ins from the main scene to get a reference for our actions.

We will use a simple box to stand in for the cars on The Jerk's left and right. We can assume that our production assistants or low-level animators responsible for blocking put these stand-ins in the right place so that we can proceed, but in the real world, mistakes happen. It is a good idea to make sure that the stand-ins are current with the scene before starting the animation process.

Move in the Perspective window to get a good three-quarter view of The Jerk from the front right (The Jerk's left) and get a full shot. A full shot is one in which you can see the whole body of the character or subject. This shot should match your planned camera angle and focus.

One of Lasseter's principles of computer animation is animate to the camera. Although this has several corollaries, the first and most important is that you should have clear in your mind where the camera needs to be in this shot. In the real world, someone in the art department, or perhaps the cinematographer, will do this. In your own production, you will do this.

Maya lets you create a camera for just such a purpose. You create a camera from which the scene will be rendered. You need to worry only about what the camera sees, nothing else. If the camera does not see the action you are creating, the action is lost. For the animator, the only thing of concern is what this camera sees.


You should use only one camera to define the direction of the pose and the action. This is the camera that will be critical to the staging of poses and business. Business is a term that dates back to vaudeville and refers to the actions that an actor takes when performing some larger action. For instance, Humphrey Bogart did a facial tick to show that he was annoyed. You can use the perspective camera to move about the scene and adjust things, but the camera to which you will animate must stay locked down in its position.

Create a Render Camera by opening the Outliner, copying the perspective camera (using the Crtl+d keys), and renaming it. You can rename the new duplicate camera by selecting it in the Outliner and renaming it Render Camera.

Now that you have your Render Camera in place, you can select the transformations (translate and rotate, at least) on the left of the Channel Box. Then right-click to reveal the expanded menu. You will notice an entry below called Lock Selected. This prevents you from inadvertently moving the Render Camera and losing its position.

Check your camera view. To view the scene from the Render Camera, simply select the Panels menu on the viewport: Panels, Perspective, Render Camera, or Panels, Perspective, Perspective to return to perspective mode. Thus, you can move the character with the perspective view and return to the unadulterated Render Camera when you want.

Whatever adjustments you make to the character's poses, always check the result in the Render Camera. The heads-up display shows which camera you are looking through by listing the name at the bottom of the viewport. Make sure your poses and actions will look good in the Render Camera and that you will be animating to the camera.

Set the Render Globals to point to the new Render Camera by choosing Window, Rendering Editors, Render Globals. In the dialog box, make sure Image File Output is expanded. Toward the bottom is a field called Camera. You can select the Render Camera that you just created from the pull-down menu.



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