Graph Editor Fundamentals

Maya: Animation Basics

Overview

Maya’s Graph editor is the most popular animation tool used to animate today’s most prominent movies and games; it allows you to control animation in a much more precise and visual way. The editor is a must know tool for the professional animator. Learning the functions on this page will give you that extra edge while animating.


Scroll down for one hour of free video tutorials covering Maya’s Graph Editor in detail.

 

Why This Page?

For many artists, the graph editor reminds them of high school math. And in animation schools, it’s often skipped over. Everyone loves to focus on the fun ideas like poses, action, acting, and timing! But a solid understanding of the Graph Editor can improve your animation more than an acting class while learning.

This page is designed to have you learn the Graph Editor quickly and so that you can come back and skim back over the page in the future as your animation progresses. The editor is easy to understand, the buttons aren’t hard to learn, but it can be overwhelming to memorize all of the functions.

 

Jurassic Park: A Quick History Lesson

Jurassic Park was the first film that demonstrated the potential of 3d animation in comparison to the other techniques of the day, for example, stop motion. Steven Spielberg commented that stop-motion at that time looked “jerky.” There is a five-minute section of the documentary “The Making of Jurassic Park” (13 mins to 20 mins) that shows how CG animation won the FX film battle to dominate movies and TV. Unfortunately, YouTube has removed this video, but if you can find it, it’s a great history lesson in animation.

3d can accurately track motion over time, and that gives it a clear advantage compared to more traditional mediums; it’s a reason why 3d animation has become so dominant in today’s media.

 

Why Is The Graph Editor Important?

Computer animation records the motion of an object over time. The graph editor visualizes this motion in the form of curves that can be interpreted by animators. Though it does take some practice, this control gives the 3d animator extra power to perfect their scenes.

The Graph Editor is handy for solving motion problems. It helps identify and fix kinks that cause jerkiness; it can tweak and make changes to multiple keys at once. There are hundreds of uses for how it can help improve the speed and quality of your animation.

 

About This Page

This page covers the fundamentals of Maya’s Graph Editor. We demonstrated most videos with a simple cube. But don’t worry complexity comes from these simple concepts. In future pages you’ll see how to apply these concepts to more complex scenarios.

At first, the editor may seem confusing or irrelevant, but stick with it, in time it’ll become a liberating tool.


 

Hotkeys and C3dC Prefs

This page is taught from the Preferences/Tools/Hotkeys that are designed for animators to speed up workflow. All default hotkeys are the notes as well, along with menu items. The C3dC hotkeys can be downloaded with any purchase on this site.

 

C3dC Site Subscription

If you’re not already on the C3dC Site Subscription you can subscribe here .

If you’d prefer to download the videos rather than stream there’s other purchase options in the shop .

 

Topics Covered

The main topics on this page are as follows…

Basic navigation
Moving Keys
Adding And Removing Keys
Scaling Key Methods
Copying And Pasting Keys
The Shelf Icons
All tangent Types Explained
Weighted Vs. Non-Weighted Curves
Breaking And Freeing Tangent Weights
Curve Management Display and Pinning
Cycling Curves
Snapping
Euler Filter For Gimbal Issues
Baking Keys On Every Frame For Export
Handy Hotkeys

 

Managing Animation Expectations

Without practical application, it may be confusing to understand why the Graph Editor is so powerful. If you are a beginner, our suggestion is to use the tool as much as possible. After animating for a few months, come back to this page, and these concepts will make more sense.

It may take time before you’ll feel comfortable. Many new animators experience a disappointment in their first animation attempts; this is especially common if you’ve already mastered other specialties. It’s unfair to disqualify yourself as a lousy animator when you’ve hardly done any animation!! Animation can take years to learn properly. It is a relatively easy skill to learn, but if you’d like to achieve mastery it can take a lot of practice!

These classes are recommended before watching this page…

Animation Fundamentals
Animation Pose Workflow
Run Cycle Class One

 

2017/2018 Note

We recorded this page in Maya 2016. In Maya 2017/18 The Graph Editor icons and background look has changed, fortunately, the changes are mostly cosmetic, and all the functionality remains the same.

This page is scheduled to be updated once Maya 2019 arrives.

1. Introduction (6:42 mins)

Here are the first videos to get you started in the Graph Editor.

To open the Graph Editor use the icons in the left toolbar (not in 2017/18). You can also use the spacebar hotbox by going to the top quadrant then left, or you can open a floating window under…

Graph Editor (7)
Windows > Animation Editors > Graph Editor

To navigate, use the same alt mouse combinations as you use in the regular viewport. Zooming on one axis is done with the following combination…

Zoom One Axis = Alt + Shift (hold) Right Click (directional drag)

More detail in the videos below…

VIDEO 1.1 : INTRODUCTION TO THIS CLASS (1:07 mins)

No. Video Points
1. Open Graph Editor (0:00)
2. Later Classes (0:10)
3. Students Miss (0:20)
4. Concepts/Covers (0:27)
Information
A quick introduction to this class.
VIDEO 1.2 : OPENING THE GRAPH EDITOR (38 sec)

No. Video Points
1. Open Graph Icon (0:10)
2. Change Camera (0:13)
3. Graph Two Views (0:16)
4. Hotbox Graph Layout (0:28)
Information
Opening the graph editor is easy. Click on the icon in the left toolbox, fourth and second icons from the bottom.

Also not mentioned in this video is the floating window…

Graph Editor (7)
Windows > Animation Editors > Graph Editor

The hotbox also has a quick way of bringing up the perps/graph layout.

Many people have a preference to keep the Graph Editor floating on a second monitor. My preference is always to embed it below the main camera, usually the shot camera, that way the mouse tends to move less. I’ll usually pop out a floating persp window on the second monitor. But these are all up to the individual animator and also dependant on shot requirements.

Command Menu/Description Hotkey
Graph Editor Opens the Graph Editor as floating window
Windows > Animation Editors > Graph Editor
7 (C3dC)
None (default)
VIDEO 1.3 : WHY THE GRAPH EDITOR IS IMPORTANT IN ANIMATION (2:21 mins)

No. Video Points
1. Why The Graph Is Important (0:00)
2. Set Key Translate (0:10)
3. Key Curve/Tangents (0:40)
4. Adjust Values (0:55)
5. Change Frame Rate (1:03)
6. Speeding Up Gravity (1:23)
7. Motion Trail (1:50)
Information
A quick simple video showing how handling curves and tangents can be advantageous in animation.
Command Menu/Description Hotkey
Set Key Translate Keys translate values at current time
Animation > Key > Set Key On Translate
shft w (C3dC)
shft w (default)
Preferences Window Opens the Preferences And Settings window. Icon in bottom right (cog man running)
Windows > Settings/Preferences > Preferences
alt 6 (C3dC)
None (default)
Play/Pause Tap to turn Playback on or off, hold for longer than 5 frames for release stop function
alt v (C3dC)
alt v (default)
Make Animation Hold Adds a motion trail on the selected object
Animation Menu > Visualize > Create Editable Motion Trail
None (C3dC)
None (default)
VIDEO 1.4 : NAVIGATING THE GRAPH EDITOR (2:36 mins)

No. Video Points
1. Set Keys (0:00)
2. Pan Zoom (0:10)
3. Zoom One Axis (0:38)
4. Frame Selected (0:58)
5. Framing Icons (1:25)
6. Current Time Mismatch (2:12)
7. Graph Time Scrub (2:18)
Information
Navigating in the Graph Editor is easy and much the same as navigating in the viewport.

Camera Dolly (Alt Rgt Mse)
Camera Track (Alt Mdl Mse)
Zoom One Axis Graph (Alt Shft Rgt Mse)

The main navigational trick is the Zoom One Axis Graph (Alt Shft Rgt Mse) be sure to click drag in the direction you wish to zoom. Frame Selected (f) is also a good key to get familiar with.

Command Menu/Description Hotkey
Set Key All Keys all attributes, even if channel box selection
Animation > Key > Set Key
shft s (C3dC)
s (default)
Camera Track Click drag hold, also works in other non cam windows
Display Menu > View > Camera Tools > Track Tool
Alt Mdl Mse (C3dC)
Alt Mdl Mouse (default)
Camera Dolly Click drag hold, also works in other non cam windows
Display Menu > View > Camera Tools > Dolly Tool
Alt Rgt Mse (C3dC)
Alt Rgt Mse (default)
Zoom One Axis Graph Click drag hold, move mouse on the axis you want to zoom. Context sensitive.
Alt Shft Rgt Mse (C3dC)
Alt Shft Rgt Mse (default)
Frame Selected Frames the selected object in the viewport. Also works in other windows, graph, node etc
Viewport Menu > View frame Selected
f (C3dC)
f (default)
Time Dragger Hold the key and then left click and drag in a viewport or in the graph editor to scrub though time. Also works with middle click drag.
v (C3dC)
k (default)
2. Moving Creating and Deleting Keys (5:35 mins)

Moving, creating and deleting keys is easy.

To move keys…

– Enter Move Tool (w) select keys or curves and middle click drag.

To create keys…

– Common shortcuts Set Key (Also Channel Box) , Set Key All , Set Key Translate etc.
Insert Key (i) icon then select a curve and middle click drag can also Insert Key (i): Insert Key
– Graph Editor > Keys > Add Key Tool (middle click)

To delete keys

– select a key or curve and hit delete

VIDEO 2.1 : MOVING KEYFRAMES IN THE GRAPH EDITOR (1:51 mins)

No. Video Points
1. Selecting Keys (0:00)
2. Move Keyframe (0:20)
3. Hold Shift Tip (0:35)
4. Move Up Axis (1:00)
5. Snap Keys (1:15)
Information
This video goes through the basic move modes and selection of keys.

It’s a good habit to click drag box selections. Move Tool (w) enters the move mode. Move Key One Axis Graph (w shift clk mdl drag) will move and constrain to one axis.

Be sure to have the time snap on otherwise keys will be on frames with decimal places like 64.56. Keys should usually be on whole numbers (integers) 64 or 65.

Command Menu/Description Hotkey
Move Tool or with left mouse button for Move Tool marking menu
Icon in toolbox, double click for options
w (C3dC)
w (default)
Move Key One Axis Graph Moves a key on one axis in the Graph Editor
w shift clk mdl drag (C3dC)
w shift clk mdl drag (default)
VIDEO 2.2 : MOVING KEYFRAMES NUMERICALLY (1:38 mins)

No. Video Points
1. Move Frame Numerically (0:00)
2. Code Move Trick (0:26)
3. Move Value Numerically (0:50)
Information
Simple video showing how to move modes numerically using the Graph Tool bar numerical slots.

Important to remember the Maya trick of typing in a simple addition code into those fields like

+=10

This will move the selected curves by adding 10 units to every key.

Another hotkey not mentioned in this video is Snap Key Retain (ctl alt a), this will move all selected keys to start at the current time. Good to use this one too.

Command Menu/Description Hotkey
Snap Key Retain Moves selected keys to current time in Graph Editor, retains spacing
ctl alt a (C3dC)
None (default)
VIDEO 2.3 : DELETING AND CREATING KEYS (2:06 mins)

No. Video Points
1. Delete Keys (0:00)
2. Delete Hotkey Timeline (0:08)
3. Setting Keys (0:20)
4. Insert Hotkey (0:33)
5. Add Key Tool (1:35)
Information
Quick video on setting and deleting keys.

Set Key Hotkeys…

Set Key (Also Channel Box) (s)
Set Key All (shft s)
Set Key Rotate (shft e)
Set Key Translate (shft w)
Set Key Scale (shft r)
Insert Key (i)

Delete Keys…

Delete (delete)
Delete Current Frame (shift v)

Not shown in this video is the difference between Set Key (Also Channel Box) (s) and Set Key All (shft s).

Set Key (Also Channel Box) (s) (C3dC Prefs) Keys channel box if selected (not Maya default)
Set Key All (shft s) (C3dC Prefs) Ignores channel box selection, always keys all

Command Menu/Description Hotkey
Delete Will delete selection, object or component, or node, key etc
Edit > Delete
delete (C3dC)
delete (default)
Delete Current Frame Deletes keyframes at current time, or in a red timeslider selection
shift v (C3dC)
None (default)
Set Key (Also Channel Box) s in C3dC also works in channel box
Animation > Key > Set Key
s (C3dC)
s (default)
Set Key All Keys all attributes, even if channel box selection
Animation > Key > Set Key
shft s (C3dC)
s (default)
Set Key Rotate Keys rotate values at current time
Animation > Key > Set Key On Rotate
shft e (C3dC)
shft e (default)
Set Key Translate Keys translate values at current time
Animation > Key > Set Key On Translate
shft w (C3dC)
shft w (default)
Set Key Scale Keys scale values at current time
Animation > Key > Set Key On Scale
shft r (C3dC)
shft r (default)
Insert Key For Graph Editor (press and release)
i (C3dC)
i (default)
3. Scaling Keys In The Graph Editor (6:03 mins)

There are many ways to scale keys. You can use scaling to re-time your animation.

1. Enter Scale Tool (r) select keys and middle click drag, hold shift to constrain to one axis.
2. Lattice Deform Keys (Shelf Icon)
3. Region Tool (Shelf Icon)
4. Retime Tool (shelf Icon)
5. Numeric Scale: Graph Editor > Edit > Scale (options)
6. Numeric Retime: C3dC Shelf > Keys (right click) > Retime With Percentage or FPS
7. Multi Key Scaler: C3dC Shelf > Keys (right click) > Scale Keys Center Window

See the videos for detailed information on each method.

VIDEO 3.1 : SCALE KEYFRAME HOTKEY (54 sec)

No. Video Points
1. Scale Keys (0:20)
2. Mouse Direction (0:40)
Information
Simple video showing how to scale keys using Scale Keys Graph (r mdle clck drag)
Command Menu/Description Hotkey
Scale Tool or with left mouse button for Scale Tool marking menu
Icon in toolbox, double click for options
r (C3dC)
r (default)
Scale Keys Graph Scales keys around the click point, enter scale mode then middle click drag in a direction. Context sensitive.
r mdle clck drag (C3dC)
r mdle clck drag (default)
VIDEO 3.2 : OTHER SCALE TYPES (2:34 mins)

No. Video Points
1. Numeric Scale (0:00)
2. Region Tool (0:55)
3. Lattice Tool (1:18)
4. Retime Tool (1:58)
Information
More ways of Scaling Keys in the Graph Editor, Numeric Scale, Region Tool, Lattice Tool, and the Retime. It’s good to be familiar with these tools as they can all come in handy in different scenarios.
Command Menu/Description Hotkey
Numeric Scale Numeric Scale Window for scaling keys with numeric values.
Graph Editor > Edit > Scale
None (C3dC)
None (default)
Select With left mouse button for Selection Mask marking menu
Icon in toolbox, double click for options
q (C3dC)
q (default)
VIDEO 3.3 : NUMERICAL RETIME SCRIPT (1:16 mins)

No. Video Points
1. Numerical Retime (0:00)
2. Numerical Retime FPS (0:55)
Information
This video covers the numerical retime scripts. One for percentage and the other for fps. These are handy when moving backwards and forwards between an editing package. Often it’s handy to be able to retime in an editing package then apply the numerical retime back in Maya. Use these scripts to do that from the C3dC Shelf
VIDEO 3.4 : MULTI KEY SCALE FROM CENTER SCRIPT (1:19 mins)

No. Video Points
1. Creating Noise (0:00)
2. Scale Issues (0:43)
3. Scale Keys Center (1:05)
Information
A handy key scaling clip that scales from the center of each curve. Great for scaling noise among other things. This script is found under the key menu in the

C3dC Shelf > Keys (icon) > (right click) > Scale Keys From Center.

Script By David Peers

4. Copying And Pasting Keyframes (2:51 mins)

To copy and paste keys use ctl c and ctl v.

Copy Key (ctl c)
Paste Key (ctl v)

If you’re on OSX, you can also use command c and command v.

Find these tools in the menu…

Graph Editor > Edit > Copy
Graph Editor > Edit > Paste (options)

In the paste options, you can change between “insert” and “merge” modes. You can paste in multiples, and there are other options too.

See the following video for more detailed information.

VIDEO 4.1 : COPY AND PASTE KEYS (2:51 mins)

No. Video Points
1. Stepped Paste (0:15)
2. Hardcoded Copy/Paste (0:49)
3. Paste Options (1:34)
Information
Quick video about copying and pasting keys in the graph editor. Couple of notes that are worth remembering.

1. The C3dC paste hotkey Paste Key (ctl v) is hardcoded to merge while pasting.
2. The Default Maya Paste mode is like a stepped paste, or paste connect.

The Paste Key Options Window Graph Editor > Edit > Paste (Options), is a great window for pasting in different scenarios.

Command Menu/Description Hotkey
Copy Key Note the default hotkey performs differently. See video.
ctl c (C3dC)
ctl c (default)
Paste Key Note the default hotkey performs differently. See video.
ctl v (C3dC)
ctl v (default)
Paste Key Options Window Options Window For Pasting
Graph Editor > Edit > Paste (Options)
None (C3dC)
None (default)
5. The Toolbar Icons: The First Toolbar Icons (2:39 mins)

This section demonstrates the first icons in the Graph Editor’s shelf.

You’ll see Insert Key (i) again, and various move/scale tools, lattice, region and re-time.

Learn how to use the value boxes for moving keys numerically. We also cover the different “framing” modes too.

VIDEO 5.1 : THE FIRST TOOLBAR ICONS (1:40 mins)

No. Video Points
1. Move Key Tool (0:00)
2. Insert Key Tool (0:57)
3. Region Tool (1:15)
4. Retime Tool (1:22)
Information
The first icons in the Graph Editor Shelf/Toolbar. Most of these we’ve already touched on.

– Move Key tool lets you move individual keys around quickly.
– Insert we’ve covered already but it’ll let you insert keys without affecting the curve.
– The Region tool is a quick scale method as explained in the Scale video
– The Retime tool is a tool for retiming animation as explained in the Scale video

Command Menu/Description Hotkey
Select With left mouse button for Selection Mask marking menu
Icon in toolbox, double click for options
q (C3dC)
q (default)
Move Tool or with left mouse button for Move Tool marking menu
Icon in toolbox, double click for options
w (C3dC)
w (default)
Insert Key For Graph Editor (press and release)
i (C3dC)
i (default)
VIDEO 5.2 : TOOLBAR KEY VALUE BOXES AND FRAME MODES (59 sec)

No. Video Points
1. Frame Input (0:00)
2. Value Input (0:15)
3. Check Values (0:20)
4. Frame All (0:30)
5. Frame Range Slider (0:35)
6. Center Time (0:42)
Information
Some more Graph Editor Toolbar icons covered here, most we’ve already covered. Frame and Value inputs and don’t forget the code trick that will move all keys additively…

Highlight the number then type a simple equation… +=10

The frame time icons are all easy though it’s often easier to just use the hotkey Frame Selected (f).

6. Tangent Types (9:56 mins)

In this section, you can learn about Maya’s tangent types. These are all easy to learn, and they all have slightly different uses.

Tangents affect the behavior of curves between keys so change the motion over many keyframes.

The main tangent modes are…

– Auto
– Spline
– Linear
– Stepped

“Plateau” and “Clamped” are variations of “Auto” tangents. And then there are some hidden tangent types “Fixed” and “Stepped Next” under…

Graph Editor > Tangents

You can also set the default tangent types in the Preferences Window…

Preferences Window > Settings > Animation > Tangents

VIDEO 6.1 : TANGENTS INTRODUCTION (1:09 mins)

No. Video Points
1. Tangent Types (0:00)
2. Main Tangent Types (0:40)
Information
A quick introduction into tangents explaining the main tangent types and also the tangent types less commonly used.
Command Menu/Description Hotkey
Zoo Tangent Works Marking menu covering all tangent types in Maya and lots of extra aniamtion graph editor functionality.
A Zoo Tools Tool
a (hold) (C3dC)
None (default)
VIDEO 6.2 : SPLINE TANGENT TYPE (1:16 mins)

No. Video Points
1. Spline Tangents (0:00)
2. The Tangent Result (0:20)
3. End Tangents (0:45)
Information
Spline tangents angle the tangent of a key as the direction from the previous key to the next key.

When a key is on the end or beginning of a curve the tangent will point directly to the next/previous key.

This tangent type is great when we don’t want objects to stop between keys, the motion will be smooth and floaty.

Command Menu/Description Hotkey
Zoo Tangent Works Marking menu covering all tangent types in Maya and lots of extra aniamtion graph editor functionality.
A Zoo Tools Tool
a (hold) (C3dC)
None (default)
VIDEO 6.3 : LINEAR, STEPPED AND FLAT TANGENTS (2:19 mins)

No. Video Points
1. Linear Tangents (0:00)
2. Stepped Tangents (0:15)
3. Stepped Next Tangents (1:00)
4. Enable Stepped Preview (1:15)
5. Flat Tangents (1:40)
Information
Here we’ll discuss some more tangent types…

– Linear: Breaks the tangent and points each end to the next, straight lines/jerky
– Stepped: Removes any transitions, object will jump to the next position on the frame
– Stepped Next: Like stepped but in the reverse direction
– Flat: All tangent handles will be horizotal, no matter what the previous/next frames are doing

Command Menu/Description Hotkey
Zoo Tangent Works Marking menu covering all tangent types in Maya and lots of extra aniamtion graph editor functionality.
A Zoo Tools Tool
a (hold) (C3dC)
None (default)
VIDEO 6.4 : AUTO TANGENT TYPE (1:20 mins)

No. Video Points
1. Auto Tangent (0:00)
2. Changing Tangent Type (0:13)
3. Splining End Keys (1:00)
Information
Auto tangents will automatically flatten tangents while previous/next keys are similar/same values.

When the keys on either side are different, the tangent will blend into spline mode.

End keys will always be flat.

Command Menu/Description Hotkey
Zoo Tangent Works Marking menu covering all tangent types in Maya and lots of extra aniamtion graph editor functionality.
A Zoo Tools Tool
a (hold) (C3dC)
None (default)
VIDEO 6.5 : CLAMPED TANGENTS (1:10 mins)

No. Video Points
1. Clamped Tangents (0:00)
2. Jerky behaviour (0:20)
3. Auto Tangent Comparison (0:25)
4. Clamp Advantages (1:00)
Information
Clamped Tangents are similar to Auto.

The rule here is if the next/previous keys are identical then it’ll flatten the tangents. If not then the tangents will be set to spline.

Command Menu/Description Hotkey
Zoo Tangent Works Marking menu covering all tangent types in Maya and lots of extra aniamtion graph editor functionality.
A Zoo Tools Tool
a (hold) (C3dC)
None (default)
VIDEO 6.6 : PLATEAU TANGENTS AND SUMMARY (1:38 mins)

No. Video Points
1. Plateau Tangents (0:00)
2. Plateau/Auto Comparison (0:20)
3. Conclusion (1:15)
Information
Plateau Tangents are virtually identical to Auto Tangents, only the Plateau Tangents have a little more range so the flat tangents will stay flat even if the next/previous keys aren’t exactly at the same value.

The transition from flat to smooth happens immediately, like a quick snap and not a blend (see video). This is similar to Auto Tangent.

Command Menu/Description Hotkey
Zoo Tangent Works Marking menu covering all tangent types in Maya and lots of extra aniamtion graph editor functionality.
A Zoo Tools Tool
a (hold) (C3dC)
None (default)
VIDEO 6.7 : FIXED TANGENTS AND SETTING DEFAULT TANGENTS (1:04 mins)

No. Video Points
1. Select Tangents Tip (0:00)
2. Move Tangents Tip (0:10)
3. Fixed Tangent Type (0:20)
4. Change Default Tangents(0:39)
Information
The Fixed Tangent Type locks the tangents so they don’t automatically change as we move keys.

A couple of tips here about selecting tangents and manually changing them too.

– It’s common to draw a box to select tangents
– Use middle click after selecting to alter the tangent manually

Default tangents can also be changed in Preferences Window (alt 6).

Command Menu/Description Hotkey
Preferences Window Opens the Preferences And Settings window. Icon in bottom right (cog man running)
Windows > Settings/Preferences > Preferences
alt 6 (C3dC)
None (default)
Zoo Tangent Works Marking menu covering all tangent types in Maya and lots of extra aniamtion graph editor functionality.
A Zoo Tools Tool
a (hold) (C3dC)
None (default)
7. Break And Free Tangent Weights (3:32 mins)

You can obtain full control over your curves by breaking and freeing tangent weights.

To break a tangent, select a key and click the break tangents icon. Now you can tweak each side individually. To return to other tangent modes click on the regular tangent shelf icons.

Freeing tangent weights give you the ability to make your tangents longer or shorter.

You can only free tangents when you set the curve type to ‘Weighted’ mode. So switch to that curve type first…

Weighted Tangents : Graph Editor > Curves > Weighted Tangents

Then select the keys you want to free and click the “free tangent weight” icon.

The default ‘Non-Weighted’ curve type is best in most situations, but fussy animators can change Maya to default to the “Weighted” type with…

Preferences Window : Windows > Settings/Preferences > Preferences

VIDEO 7.1 : BREAK TANGENTS AND FREE TANGENTS (3:32 mins)

No. Video Points
1. Extra Tangent Icons (0:00)
2. Break Tangents (0:10)
3. Adjust Tangents (0:20)
4. Unify/Join Tangents (0:29)
5. Reset Tangents (0:35)
6. Free Tangent Fail(1:00)
7. Preferences Tangent Type (1:15)
8. Weighted Tangents (1:28)
9. Weighted Downsides (1:40)
10. Free Tangent Weights (2:00)
11. Full Tangent Control (2:30)
12. Lock Reset (2:50)
13. Shift Tip (3:10)
Information
Maya offers total control over tweaking the angle and length of each side of the tangents. There’s a couple of important things to remember.

The main point is that there’s two different curve algorythms in Maya. The default tangent type “Non Weighted Tangents” doesn’t allow us to weight tangents (or lengthen/shorten).

This video explains all the details and a few tricks that will give you full control over the tangents in Maya’s Graph Editor.

Command Menu/Description Hotkey
Weighted Tangents Changes the curve type to weighted so tangents can be scaled.
Graph Editor > Curves > Weighted Tangents
None (C3dC)
None (default)
Non Weighted Tangents Changes the curve type to non weighted so tangents can’t be scaled.
Graph Editor > Curves > Non Weighted Tangents
None (C3dC)
None (default)
Preferences Window Opens the Preferences And Settings window. Icon in bottom right (cog man running)
Windows > Settings/Preferences > Preferences
alt 6 (C3dC)
None (default)
8. Pinning Animation Curves (2:43 mins)

In this section learn about pinning animation curves in Maya; this will keep your animation curves visible even after you’ve deselected an object. Click the pin icons to pin the curves, they will remain visible even after you’ve deselected an object.

The autoload icon stops Maya from auto switching the display to the currently selected object.

VIDEO 8.1 : AUTOLOAD GRAPH EDITOR (2:03 mins)

No. Video Points
1. Default Load Mode (0:00)
2. Load Off (0:18)
3. Load Selection (0:35)
Information
The Load Icons allow you to edit the graph of objects that aren’t currently selected. Simple icons, not commonly used but handy in specific situations.
VIDEO 8.2 : PINNING ANIMATION CURVES (40 sec)

No. Video Points
1. Pin Curves (0:00)
2. Keeps Curves (0:05)
3. Pin Channel (0:25)
Information
Pin curves are good for comparing object’s curves without having to fish through many curves. A filtering method too.
Command Menu/Description Hotkey
Pin Channel Pins all selected attributes in graph editor.
Graph Editor > Curves > Pin Channel
None (C3dC)
None (default)
Unpin Channel Unpins all selected attributes in graph editor.
Graph Editor > Curves > Unpin Channel
None (C3dC)
None (default)
9. Curve Management And Display Modes (3:59 mins)

Snapshot curves are useful for comparing animation. In this section, you’ll see how to use buffer curves to create these snapshots. They’re a little like a bookmark that we can return to at any time.

You can also display the curves in a variety of ways such as normalizing from -1 to 1 which allows you see all the curves at once in the same vertical scale.

VIDEO 9.1 : BUFFER CURVE SNAPSHOT: SNAPSHOT ANIMATION CURVES (1:11 mins)

No. Video Points
1. Buffer Curves (0:10)
2. Show Buffer Curves (0:15)
3. Swap Buffer Curve (0:25)
4. Rebuffer Curve (0:55)
Information
Buffer curves are a little like bookmarking but for animation curves. You can save the curves to a version and then compare at anytime without needing undo. This mode only gives two states so you can only have one backup curve at a time.
Command Menu/Description Hotkey
Show Buffer Curves Shows the Buffer Curves in the Graph Editor
Graph Editor > View > Show Buffer Curves
None (C3dC)
None (default)
VIDEO 9.2 : NORMALIZING AND STACKING CURVES (2:48 mins)

No. Video Points
1. Trans vs Rot Values (0:20)
2. Enable Normalize Curves (0:35)
3. 1 – 0 Range (0:40)
4. Disable Normalize Mode (1:10)
5. Renormalize Curves (1:35)
6. Frame Select Method (2:10)
7. Channel Box Filter (2:17)
8. Stacked Curve Display (2:25)
Information
A few ways of displaying curves here. The normalize mode displays the curve displays from a 0 -1 range, no matter how large the values.

The stacked curve display will stack curves so that none overlap, this is similar to the dope sheet only more in a curve view.

Command Menu/Description Hotkey
Frame Selected Frames the selected object in the viewport. Also works in other windows, graph, node etc
Viewport Menu > View frame Selected
f (C3dC)
f (default)
10. Cycling Animation In The Graph Editor (2:24 mins)

Cycling curves will help you to repeat animations such as run cycles.

Press the shelf icons to cycle your animation.

To disable the cycles and for other cycle types, use the menus…

Graph Editor Menu > Curves > Pre (and Post Infinity To) > Constant

Infinity curves will show you how the cycle is behaving. You can find the infinity curve display under

Graph Editor Menu > View > Infinity

For advanced cycling, there are a few cycle types to understand. Other cycle types include “Linear,” curves continue straight from their current path, and “Oscillate” where the animation will loop backwards and forwards. “Constant” is the default curve setting and keeps the object still after the last keyframe.

VIDEO 10.1 : CYCLE CURVE MODES (2:24 mins)

No. Video Points
1. Create Keys (0:00)
2. Cycle Icons (0:18)
3. Pre Infinity Cycle (0:25)
4. Post Infinity Cycle (0:30)
5. Cycle With Offset (0:49)
6. Linear Curve Mode (1:30)
7. Constant Curve Mode (1:45)
8. Oscilate Curve Mode (1:48)
9. Turning Cycle Off (2:13)
Information
This video explores all the cycle modes.

To cycle the animation curves you can use the C3dC Hotkey Cycle Infinity Hotkey (alt o). Or we can use the Graph Editor’s toolbar icons.

Also remember that you can display infinity time (the dotted line) with Cycle Animation Curve : Graph Editor > View > Infinity.

And there’s more modes in the Menus like Linear Animation Curve : Graph Editor > Curves > Pre/Post Infinity > Linear and Cycle Animation Curve : Graph Editor > Curves > Pre/Post Infinity > Constant.

Command Menu/Description Hotkey
Snap Key Retain Moves selected keys to current time in Graph Editor, retains spacing
ctl alt a (C3dC)
None (default)
Cycle Animation Curve Cycles Animation Curves (pre/post)
Graph Editor > Curves > Pre/Post Infinity > Cycle
None (C3dC)
None (default)
Cycle Offset Animation Curve Cycles Animation Curves With Offset(pre/post)
Graph Editor > Curves > Pre/Post Infinity > Cycle with Offset
None (C3dC)
None (default)
Cycle Oscilate Animation Curve Cycles Animation Curves by oscilating backwards and forwards (pre/post)
Graph Editor > Curves > Pre/Post Infinity > Oscilate
None (C3dC)
None (default)
Linear Animation Curve Sets Animation Curves to keep going in a linear direction (pre/post)
Graph Editor > Curves > Pre/Post Infinity > Linear
None (C3dC)
None (default)
Cycle Animation Curve Animation Curves stay put in infinity range (pre/post)
Graph Editor > Curves > Pre/Post Infinity > Constant
None (C3dC)
None (default)
Cycle Animation Curve Shows the infinity range for Graph Curves, before and after the anim curves stop (pre/post)
Graph Editor > View > Infinity
None (C3dC)
None (default)
Cycle Infinity Hotkey In graph editor cycles infinity selected curves for both pre and post modes
alt o (C3dC)
None (default)
11. Snap In The Graph Editor (2:44 mins)

Learn to use snapping in the graph editor in this section.

Time-snap is usually “On” by default in the shelf. The value-snap value defaults to “Off”.

Keys usually should be on exact frame numbers, as you will only ever see the whole frames in your animation. Snapping to time will also allow you to update the keyframes easily.

Time snap can become more difficult while scaling as you’ll often want to keep animation with same relative spacing. But after scaling, you can snap to the closest frame with the global setting…

Graph Editor Menu > Edit > Snap

It’s rare to need to value snap for attributes (the up and down axis), but the option’s also there if you need it.

VIDEO 11.1 : SNAP SHELF ICONS (1:46 mins)

No. Video Points
1. Snap To Integer Time (0:00)
2. Snap Off (0:18)
3. Why Time Snap (0:34)
4. Scale Snap Issues (0:55)
5. Snap To Frame Old (1:06)
6. Snap Menu Item (1:14)
Information
Snap is handy in the Graph Editor for Time Snap. This should be on by default and it’s best to leave it at the default.

There are times when keys will go off whole numbers (integers) in such cases we can snap them back with Key Snap Menu : Graph Editor > Edit > Snap

Command Menu/Description Hotkey
Key Snap Menu Snaps all selected keys to closest whole numbers (integer) in time.
Graph Editor > Edit > Snap
None (C3dC)
None (default)
VIDEO 11.2 : MOVE LOCK AND DOPE-SHEET AND ANIMATION MIXER ICONS (58 sec)

No. Video Points
1. Unconstrained Drag (0:00)
2. Dope Sheet (0:18)
3. Animation Mixer (0:38)
Information
The last icons on the Graph Editor Toolbar here.

Unconstrained drag will limit the move tool to time only by default, not value. Hold shift for value drag, this is useful if you don’t like hold shift with the context sensitive style.

The last two icons are for opening the Dope-sheet and Animation Mixer.

12. Euler Filter And Baking (2:51 mins)

Learn about a couple of handy graph editor features in this section. You can find those in the menus…

1. Euler Filter
2. Baking (Plotting) Keys

The Euler Filter will help you get out of unwanted flipping issues regarding Euler and gimbal problems.

While the Euler filter isn’t a global gimbal fix, it can solve many flipping issues in regards to gimbal. The Euler filter will try to find the shortest path between keys and resolve some problems.

The Baking feature will bake keys to every frame which is great for exporting to other programs like a game engine. Or it can also be handy in many advanced animation workflows too.

VIDEO 12.1 : EULER FILTER (1:45 mins)

No. Video Points
1. Set Keys (0:00)
2. Rotation Issues(0:15)
3. Euler Filter Fix (0:53)
Information
The Euler Filter is an important menu item in the graph that will fix big rotation issues. These are usually related to curves rotating much more than we’d expect. 180 degrees on two axis or 360 on a single curve.

The filter will reset the curve values so that the object never rolls more than it should.

This will fail when objects are really supposed to rotate more than 360 degrees so be careful.

It also solves major Gimbal/Euler rotation errors, and not all gimbal issues are fixed with this tool. Gimbal is a large area that deserves it’s own page to explain all the issues and fixes but this one is a good one to try when your rotations are flipping more than you’d ordinarily expect.

Command Menu/Description Hotkey
Euler Filter Fixes extreme problems with Gimbal/Euler rotations by setting rotation between keys to the smallest values (less than 306) whilst maintaining key rotations in the viewport.
Graph Editor > Curves > Euler Filter
None (C3dC)
None (default)
VIDEO 12.2 : BAKING KEY FRAMES (1:06 mins)

No. Video Points
1. Graph Bake Channel (0:00)
2. Bake Channel Options (0:23)
3. Bake Shelf Button (0:36)
4. Key Menu Bake (0:45)
Information
Quick video covering some baking options which usually puts a key on every frame.

While baking keys it’s often easiest to use the shelf icon in the Animation Shelf (not graph editor). But in the graph editor we’ve the menu item Bake Channel Graph (no hotkey): Graph Editor > Curves > Bake Channel. Select the attributes in the channel box and run this menu item to bake keys.

We can also bake keys using the menu item Bake Keys (no hotkey). This is the window with most options. It can be found in two locations.

Animation Menu > Key > Bake Animation
or
Edit > Keys > Bake Simulation

Command Menu/Description Hotkey
Bake Channel Graph Bakes animation curves on every frame or as per the options, based on channel box selection.
Graph Editor > Curves > Bake Channel
None (C3dC)
None (default)
Bake Keys Menu item that bakes animation curves based on settings in the window.
Animation Menu > Key > Bake Animation
or
Edit > Keys > Bake Simulation
None (C3dC)
None (default)
13. Extra Hotkeys: Make Hold, Move Snap and Zoo Tangent Works (3:22 mins)

In this section see three hotkeys that will help you to speed your workflow.

1. Make Hold
2. Move Snap
3. Zoo tangent Works

The make hold hotkey (alt a) (also covered in the ‘Selection Set and Pose Workflow Page’) allows you to change two keys instantly for pose-to-pose animation. These keys make the area between keys flat or static.

The move snap hotkey (ctl alt a) will move the selected keys so that the first frame of the selection moves to the current time. This hotkey is super handy and a little addictive once you get used to it.

Zoo Tangent Works has a lot of features regarding animation and function curves. It can change tangent types without being in the Graph Editor with extra functionality. It also has a lot of other features like tighten tangents and graph filters, setting default tangent types and more.

VIDEO 13.1 : HOTKEYS: MAKE HOLD AND SNAP MOVE (1:45 mins)

No. Video Points
1. Snap All Keys Time (0:00)
2. Make Hold Hotkey (0:30)
3. Make Hold Info (0:50)
4. Selection Based (1:27)
Information
A couple of C3dC hotkeys explained in this video. Great to know.

Snap Key Retain (ctl alt a) will snap keys to current time whilst retaining the spacing between keyframes.

Make Animation Hold (alt a) is great for pose to pose blocking. See more on the Zoo Anim Workflow page.

Command Menu/Description Hotkey
Snap Key Retain Moves selected keys to current time in Graph Editor, retains spacing
ctl alt a (C3dC)
None (default)
Make Animation Hold Changes two keys to match. The keys either side of current time or the current and next key. Both keys will match causing the object to be still in animation.
See video for more functionality.
alt a (C3dC)
None (default)
VIDEO 13.2 : HOTKEY: ZOO TANGENT WORKS (1:37 mins)

No. Video Points
1. Zoo Tangent Works (0:00)
2. Set Tangents (0:05)
3. Tighten Tangents (0:47)
4. Graph Filters (1:10)
Information
Zoo Tangent Works (a (hold)) is a Zoo Tools hotkey with lots of tangent curve related functionality.

The most useful settings are quick access to all tangent types, and while this works based on selection in the Graph Editor you don’t need to be in the Graph Editor. This marking menu works in the timeline as well and if you’re not on a frame it will work backwards in the timeline to find the last.

The default tangent type is flat if you simply tap the hotkey without activating the marking menu.

Other functionality includes tools like Tighten Tangents and Graph Filters. A great hotkey to explore here for pro animators.

Command Menu/Description Hotkey
Zoo Tangent Works Marking menu covering all tangent types in Maya and lots of extra aniamtion graph editor functionality.
A Zoo Tools Tool
a (hold) (C3dC)
None (default)
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Course: Maya Generalist Int