Why did computer animation become so mainstream? Well the Graph Editor has a big role to play. And what better editor to learn than Maya’s used to animate todays biggest movies and games.
The value of function curves shouldn’t be under estimated. If you’re looking to be a pro cg animator you must use function curves.
Learn from one hour of free video tutorials covering the editor in detail. (Scroll down for videos)
Why This Page?
Teaching at numerous schools I noticed myself always skipping over Graph Editor. My students were mostly expected to just ‘figure it out’ because of the limited class time. Unfortunately the students missed out and I’ve found it to be a real missing for most people learning animation today.
So this page has been created for you to quickly learn the functionality of Graph Editor easily. The Graph Editor isn’t a difficult tool, all the buttons make a lot of sense and aren’t difficult to learn.
This is also for lecturers/teachers who like myself would rather focus on critiquing/reviewing and iterating students animation with feedback. The courses on Create 3d Charcaters are designed to be more like a video tutorial guide/text book. There’s no substitute for direct interactive feedback on your animation from a mentor/instructor. Feel free to spread this around and use it as a reference in schools. Let us know if you’d like more of this material in your educational facility. And a big thanks to those already using it!
Jurassic Park: A Quick History Lesson
Jurassic Park was the first film that properly demonstrated the potential of CG animation in comparison to other techniques of the day like stop motion. The problem with stop motion as Steven Spielberg put it was that the motion was “jerky”. Here’s a five minute section of the documentary “The Making of Jurassic Park” that details why CG was chosen (13 mins to 20 mins).
Much respect should be given to Stop Motion and CG still hasn’t conquered other advantages like realism and appeal. However CG animation is clearly advantageous when it comes to controling movement as it can be edited/iterated and improved easily. We’ll see more in the tutes below.
Why Is The Graph Editor Important?
Computer animation perfectly records motion of objects over time. It helps you to control and visually correct motion. The graph editor’s lovely for fixing kinks and issues that cause jerky animation and you can also use it to tweak/change multiple keys at the same time or to visualise what’s happening in your scene regarding time and movement. There’s hundreds of uses that will help you improve your animation with quality and speed.
We’ll cover the fundamentals. Most videos are demonstrated with the humble cube. Make no mistake though great complexity comes from simple tools. In later classes we’ll can apply these concepts in more complex scenarios.
You may feel that the Graph Editor’s overly abstract. With time the graph editor is far more liberating than students first realise.
The heart of your ability to control motion is here on this page. The Graph Editor in Maya is responsible for the majority of animation you see in todays biggest feature film/TV and games. It allows you to deal with ‘issues of jerkiness’ and control the motion not possible in other mediums.
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. A $10 one month subscription will allow you to download the prefs and use the sites resources.
The main topics on this page are as follows…
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
Euler Filter For Gimbal Issues
Baking Keys On Every Frame For Export
Managing Animation Expectations
Without practical application this page may lack some clarity. It’s best to use the Graph as much as possible and come back to this page to further understand it in context.
It may take time before you’ll feel comfortable. Many new animators experience a disappointment that their animation isn’t what they’d hoped especially in the early months after mastering other specialities. The curves will probably only complicate this.
I hear comments from students like “I suck at animation”. This usually comes from students who’ve drawn or being modelling for years. It’s unfair to disqualify yourself as a bad animator when you’ve hardly done any animation!!
Be sure to see the other pages Animation Fundamentals which is class one and Animation Pose Workflow which needs no Graph Editor knowledge. The editor’s awesome but we need to build our knowledge properly. The 3 part Run Cycle Class goes through the Graph’s application for 2 more hours Run Cycle parts 2 and 3 .
This is a time based art form which isn’t particularly intuitive and doesn’t have similar areas to borrow experience. Animation’s messy! It takes roughly 2 years of constant practice to reach a professional jnr level. And that’s animating every day. Be patient, good things take time! The ability to bring characters and creatures to life is fantastically rewarding.
Last of all fear not, animation’s heavily craft based. That means there’s a lot of standard concepts that can radically improve the quality of your animation. This information hasn’t always been easy to find but times are changing!
C3dC Site Subscription
If you’re not already on the C3dC Site Subscription , sign up! Only $10 per month gives you access all the material on this site including the Preferences/Tools/Hotkeys and rigs . And we’ll be constantly adding new classes.
You can cancel at any time and still view the site and download items for the full month. The membership is automated by you and gives instant access.
If you’d like to download the videos rather than stream there’s other purchase options in the shop . If you’re a university or school please email us.