So you want to be a 3D Computer Animator and you just don’t have the techniques down yet. Perhaps you tried it and didn’t have your own Animation Methods that could help you create that smooth flowing Pixar quality animation. Most people think you have to be “gifted” or you’re “born with it!” The reality is that this is a lie!
I was certainly not born with animation talent or did it any better when I started. 3D Character Animation is one of those arts where you need a tutor or a mentor to help guide you. You need to learn simple principles and methods that can quickly help you get started.
Animation is basically about timing and poses. You get a 3D character with controls (called a rig) and you use those controls to create a pose. You move the character forward and you repose him. You move him again and you do another pose. You click play and you watch how the poses and the timing (speed) is working together. This is what a 3D character animator does.
If you look at the timeline on this image you’ll see red lines (keyframes) all throughout the timeline. All of these keyframes represent a pose on the screen. We have 21 red lines (keyframes), which means, we have 21 different poses on the Pixar Lamp character. If I were to click on play, we would see the motion of the lamp come to life. So you might be asking yourself, “how can I keep track of all of the controls on a character when a rig has so many?” That’s a good question. How do you know which controls to record or keyframe to set a pose?
TIP 1 – I like to set a keyframe on ALL of the character’s controls. This makes it clean and organized when setting keyframes. You don’t want to set keyframes on a couple of controls then later you set keyframes on other controls. You’ll end up confused and next thing you’ll know you’ll have keyframes all over the timeline. I’ll say it again, you want to set keyframes on ALL of the character’s controls. How exactly can you keyframe all without having to click on all of the controls individually every time you want to set your poses? Here’s my secret on setting keyframes when I animate.
1) Select ALL of the controls of your character (legs, knees, hips, chest, arms, neck, head).
2) Once you have everything selected go to CREATE>SETS>QUICK SELECTION SET
3) Give this selection a name like, allBody
4) Click on ADD TO SHELF
This will create a button for you and will add it to the top of your shelf. Next time you want to select ALL of your character’s controls, you’ll just press this button and BOOM! All of the controls will instantly get selected. Then you can press the “s” on your keyboard to set a keyframe on all of the controls.
There you have it! A tool that I use in a professional studio when working on games and film is now on your hands. If you want to know more about my tips and secrets when I animate check out my Animation Methods book full of information about how to animate, how to get into games and movies, how to create your demo reel, how to use the software for animation, and much more.
I also teach other secrets on my YouTube Channel where you can see tutorials.