The Graph Editor in Maya is the animator’s tool of choice for animating big-budget movies and games. Its accuracy and broad range of features make it a vital resource for animators in the industry.
Despite its significance, some artists may find the editor daunting and, therefore, tend to overlook it.
This page will help you breakdown each of the various components of Maya’s graph editor illustrating how it functions using simple examples.
Scroll down for one hour of free video tutorials covering Maya’s Graph Editor in detail.
Jurassic Park: A Quick History Lesson
The film Jurassic Park was the pioneer in showcasing the potential of 3D animation in visual effect as compared to other techniques such as stop motion.
Steven Spielberg remarked that stop-motion animation appeared “jerky” during that era.
“The Making of Jurassic Park” documentary (below) recorded the moment the transition occurred from stop motion to CG animation, highlighting how the latter emerged victorious in the FX film battle, dominating movies and TV.
The Making of Jurassic Park
It was the ability of 3D animation to accurately track motion over time and smooth out the kinks that gave CG an edge over more traditional mediums.
About This Page
This page explains the fundamental aspects of Maya’s Graph Editor, using easy-to-understand cube examples.
But don’t be alarmed, as complexity emerges from these simple concepts. In the upcoming pages, we will illustrate how to utilize these concepts in more complicated situations.
Initially, the editor may appear perplexing or unimportant, but persist with it, and eventually, it will become a tool for liberation!
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 hotkeys can be downloaded with Site Subscription on this site.
If you’re not already on the C3dC Site Subscription you can subscribe here .
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
A lot of new animators are left feeling frustrated with their initial attempts at animation, particularly if they have already honed other skills.
It’s unreasonable to dismiss yourself as a terrible animator when you’ve barely started animating! Learning animation takes years of practice. Although it is a relatively simple skill to learn, achieving mastery requires significant effort and dedication.
We recommend taking these classes before reviewing this page:
Animation Pose Workflow
Run Cycle Class One
This page was recorded using Maya 2016. If you’re using newer versions of Maya you’ll notice changes to the Graph Editor icons and background. Thankfully, these are mostly superficial changes, and the core functionality remains the same.