Character Animation and Walk Cycles

My final project for my animation class this term was to create a 30 second walk cycle for a character.

My initial thought for this project was to do an octopus. Knowing I had other projects on my plate this semester, including a full dome animation for a planetarium, my animation instructor at Washington State University-Vancouver, Brenda Grell, told me to simplify. I couldn’t think of anything simpler than a sphere, so I gave a sphere arms, legs and eyes. I chose to use as simple as shapes as possible to reduce my work load. The most complex modelling was the hands and feet, though they are really just a set of boxes.

The modelling, rigging, animation, and rendering were all done in Maya 2013. I used Maya’s physical sun and sky setting to create very nice shadows and lighting. A word to the wise, if you use the sun and sky shader, turn down the Gamma settings on the lens shader to 1.00 after you add the sun. This will prevent your scene from becoming washed out. After rendering my scene as a series of .IFF images, I took them into After Effects and rendered them down into the final movie. Sound effects and music came from soundcloud.com and freesound.org. The music track was put together in Audacity.

Although 30 seconds isn’t a very long time, I thought that I had the opportunity to tell a story while showing the character’s walk cycle. I decided my little character was a visitor from another planet. I had a UFO model sitting around, so I added it in the background and used Maya’s sculpt mode to create the crash site. The ground is a simple dirt texture, made tileable in GIMP, and repeated. The same image, desaturated, serves as the bump map. The second character is exactly the same as the first, including animations, with a different color on him. I liked the idea of a conflict centering around being upstaged.

I hope you enjoy “Greetings.”

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