3D Animation using maya

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Published Date:03-08-2017
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Using www.itbookshub.comCha p t e r 1 Getting Oriented FOCUS AND APPROACH OF THIS BOOK This is a hands-on book and the chapters have a very prescriptive flavor. Section I uses an incremental, example-driven approach that illustrates the core concepts of 3D modeling, animation, and rendering. Then in Section II we gather up the concepts we have learned and put them together in a series of focused charts. e b Th ook covers the principles of 3D animation. Our vehicle for doing this is Autodesk Maya, arguably the most popular and powerful general-purpose 3D modeling, animation, and rendering application that is available for purchase by the general public. As of the time of this writing, students can download it for free at: http://students.autodesk.com. (This is the full version of Maya, but it cannot be used commercially.) We take brief looks at other modeling, animation, and rendering applications. This book does not cover the myriad of technical and worko fl w issues that arise with large-scale team projects; rather, it is directed at people who are building small, animated projects on their own or in a small team environment. Character modeling is given only very brief attention. This book is intended as a one-semester text for beginners with no experience with 3D modeling or animation. It targets the many computer-centric professions that demand solid “literacy” knowledge of 3D modeling and animation. These include a broad spectrum of disciplines, including engineering, advertising, desktop and Web applicati -on develop ment, film, architecture, and product design. It is important to keep in mind, though, that Maya is not an engineering tool, and so this book does not cover computer-aided design (CAD); for that, a more appropriate tool to learn is Autodesk AutoCAD or SolidWorks. Within the context of single person or small team projects, the focus of the book is on worko fl w within Maya and not on the worko fl w of a complete animated video project, which invariably demands several other applications besides Maya. Brief attention is given to the other applications that are necessary to complete a project; in particular, we look at the use of image editing applications and how they can be used to prepare textures for animated models, as this is a crucial step that ae ff cts the animator’s worko fl w within Maya. We give less attention to audio editing and video editing, focusing mostly on how a 12 ◾ 3D Animation for the Raw Beginner Using Maya soundtrack can be imported into Maya for the purpose of timing the movement in a scene. This way, when the soundtrack is integrated with the video image track in a video editor, the visual and audio tracks of the video will be properly synched. Finally, we do not delve deeply into the mathematics inside Maya in this book. We do, however, provide intuitive descriptions of the mathematics and physics that underlies applications like Maya. Often these discussions are generalized and do not fo-cus specifi cally on what is going on inside Maya. In sum, we step through concrete Maya-based examples, as well as focus on the generic concepts that underlie the building of animated projects; and throughout, we give intuitive explanations of just what goes on inside an application like Autodesk Maya. A Necessarily Nonlinear Approach to Learning 3D Animation One of the greatest challenges in learning 3D animation is that it is far from a linear process. e a Th nimator does not move in a single thread through the various capabilities provided by Maya, first modeling, then adding materials and textures to the surfaces of models, then inserting lights that will make models visible, then animating models, then adding cameras so they can be used as rendering perspectives, and then rendering the frames (at perhaps thirty per second) that make up the animation. Indeed, because of the extreme interdependencies between the capabilities provided by Maya, the overall process is highly iterative. The subtle, complex interaction of light and mate- rials/textures/color in itself is enough to fill countless hours of experimentation - . So, if the pro cess of creating an animated project were viewed as a tree, with major branches labeled for the various processes of modeling, textures and materials, lights, cameras, and rendering, the animator would move laterally back and forth, and up and down, on these major branches. In the examples presented this iterative approach will be taken. Small but complete examples will be created from the start. It is oe ft n necessary to put materials on models, add light, and then render them in the early stages of modeling, so the nascent models can be properly judged. Further, this book is intended for beginners, and it takes a lot of experience to b -e able to accu rately imagine what a model will look like when it is placed under lights and is rendered. Finally, there is another major reason for not using a strictly hierarchical approach to learning to do 3D animation: it would repeatedly dump too much out-of-con -text knowl edge on the reader—and little of it would stick. Perhaps the Most Important Principle In order to make the discussions concrete the book is focused heavily on May -a, but intui tive observations that go beyond Maya and get at the heart of 3D modeling and animation will be presented. Perhaps the most important principle of 3D modeling and animation for the beginner to keep in mind is this: If you build the various aspects of your animated project with your overall goals for that project in mind, you can avoid a lot of mistakes and thus minimize unnecessary painstaking iteration. Above all else, careful planning is the best way to create models that are easy to put materials on, and then to animate and render. I-t also simpli e fi s the task of adapting models to other scenes and projects. This means that even as you www.itbookshub.comGetting Oriented ◾ 3 begin to create the basic scenes and models for a project, you will already be thinking about materials, lights, textures, animation, and rendering. Planning is key. 3DBYBUZZ.COM On the Web site http://3DbyBuzz.com the reader will find a series of videos that for the most part follow the step-by-step tutorials in this book. The videos range from about eight minutes to about twenty-two minutes in length. They are, however, missing much of the conceptual material that appears in this book; they focus on “how-to-use-Maya,” and contain only brief intuitive explanations about why we are performing each step. Please note that the videos were not professionally made and were only m -eant for stu dents in the author’s animation classes. Also, they were made with various versions of Maya, including 2012, 2013, and 2014. Autodesk pulled most of its support of a modeling technique called subdivision out of Maya 2014, and so a few of the videos will only work with Maya 2013 and 2012. This book should be current up to Maya 2014, and in several places, I have indicated things that have changed or been added to Maya 2015. Importantly, the vast majority of the changes in Maya 2015 consist of adding specialized, powerful capabilities and do not impact the content of this book, which is introductory in nature. If you go to http://3DbyBuzz. com, you will find a discussion on some of the changes that have been made in Maya 2015. WHAT MAYA DOES AND DOES NOT DO It’s worth focusing briefly on the exact scope of Maya. Here’s whan t i ott d doo : Ma es ya is not a video editor and it is not an audio editor. Maya allows one to model objects (like spaceships, chickens, skyscrapers, a - nd wash ing machines). It allows one to place those objects in scenes by putting them i - nto hierar chies, and then creating models out of these hierarchies. Materials and textures can then be added. Lights must be added, which is necessary because nothing can be seen if there is no light bouncing off those materials and textures. Models can be animated in Maya. And cameras can be placed in scenes; cameras within Maya are used to render animated scenes into a series of pixel-based images that can then be used to create a video with your favorite video editor. Maya can also be used to simulate natural forces like wind and gravity. It can be used to create natural-looking clothing, hair, and fur. It provides facilities for modeling such things as fire, smoke, and water by using particle dynamics. Objects can be made soft or rigid, and can collide with each other. Particles can collide with objects and with each other. Maya has even more capabilities, and so this book covers a lot of ground but always with the focus of presenting the key concepts and Maya capabilities that will get you started quickly. A video editing program must be used to generate video from single images and to edit, cut, and paste video clips. A sound editor must be used to create the soundtrack, although a quick solution for the beginner is to use prerecorded sound, like a continuous piece of music. And generally, a raster image editor is needed to prep textures for objects. 4 ◾ 3D Animation for the Raw Beginner Using Maya The examples in this book are engineered to require only very basic knowledge of these other media applications. The reader will focus almost entirely on using Maya itself. THE SPECIAL NEEDS OF GAMING One last point: Maya is not a gaming engine and cannot be used to create interactive video games. Indeed, Maya is designed to create detailed, realistic models, rather than quickly rendered, angular models. The two renderers in Maya that we will use in this book are also not suitable for most game-based rendering tasks. This book does not cover interactive 3D graphics. But it is common for game designers to create models in Maya and then import them into their favorite gaming engine to create interactive animated games. One of the main challenges is to produce models that have as few polygon faces as possible in order to reduce the number of calculations that have to be performed to simulate the ee ff cts of light on those models. Often, game designers will use a low polygon count version of a given model when it is to be rendered from a distance and a high polygon count version of that model when it is to be rendered up close. WORKFLOW WITHIN AND AROUND MAYA What follows is an overview of Maya and how it is used to create 3D animated projects, along with the roles that are played by other applications in the larger 3D worko fl w. It might be best to read it quickly if you are just beginning to use this book, and then come back and look at this overview more carefully as you move through the book and work with the various tools inside Maya. e Th re are times when an animator might prefer to perform tasks in other applications, even when these tasks can be done with Maya alone. One of the most common complaints about Maya is that it is too complicated because it oe ff rs so much. Some artists have been moving much of their preliminary modeling to other applications that might be simpler to use or that oe ff r die ff rent ways of creating models. Then, they import their models into Maya to continue crafting them, putting materials on them, and animating and rendering them. Other Applications Commonly Used by Animators e Th re are certain ee ff cts that can be added to a scene with Maya or later in one’s worko fl w by using a special ee ff cts video editor and/or compositing application. Such applications include Apple Motion, Adobe After Ee ff cts, and Autodesk Smoke. But in this book as much as possible will be done with Maya. The Big Picture As previously noted, the process of creating an animated project is extremely iterative. e Th re is no single way to represent the overall worko fl w of producing a final video. So Figure 1.1 is a bit arbitrary, but it delineates a worko fl w that can be used as a template when creating simple projects. In Figure 1.1, there is a box in the center of the diagram. It represents the tasks that can be done with Maya alone. Outside of the box are a number of applications and tasks that Getting Oriented ◾ 5 FIGURE 1.1 (See p. CI-1 of Color Insert) Overview of animation worko fl w. either must be added to the worko fl w or are optional. The diagram also includes media applications that are reasonably cost-ee ff ctive for small-scale projects. 1. Storyboarding e Th tasks in the worko fl w are in numbered boxes. 1 represents the preliminary phase, which consists of making rough drawings of the scenes that comprise the video. It is essential to have some sort of story or message in mind. Even if the final video is only a minute long, it should have a beginning and an end. Having a middle is a good idea, too. A rocket taking o, r ff eleas- ing its boosters, and then disappearing into the sky? An egg rocking back and forth, then a chick leg breaking through the shell, then the chick popping out and making its first squeak?6 ◾ 3D Animation for the Raw Beginner Using Maya Maya and many of its competitors use a live action, movie-making metaph- or. In par ticular, rendering is done from the perspectives of cameras. So, you might want to break your story down into a series of scenes and within scenes create a series of rough drawings. One approach is to create an image that details the initial view of every rendering camera of every scene you plan on creating. You could draw them with any vector application or by hand. You might want to draw, in some detail, a preliminary version of your ma - in char acter or model. You might well end up pulling this reference image into Maya as an aid for modeling. This technique will be discussed later. A good, free drawing program is Autodesk SketchBook Express, which is available for both Mac and Windows machines. You can also paint with this program. If you have never drawn before, a good way to create a drawing is top-down. If you are drawing a couch, start with a box, using light strokes. e Th n incrementally add the curves to the sofa, using slightly heavier strokes. Each object needs to take up the right a - mount of terri tory in the overall drawing, and as you add to the drawing, each object must be in the proper visual relationship with objects that are already in the scene. You might want to roughly sketch all the objects as boxes, and then incrementally add the curves that each object needs. And remember that you are drawing in 2-space. Some objects will be partially hidden. That t fi s right in with 3D modeling, because ultimately, the renderer will do the same thing by not rendering hidden parts of a scene as it turns the 3D scene into a 2D image. Also, when you are drawing “organic” objects, such as plants or critters, it’s good to think in terms of smooth curves that do not jerk back and forth. If you are drawing the curves of a car or a human, be smooth, and don’t use any more curves than you absolutely need. This will make it easier to later model these curves with Maya. (And yes, a car is in many ways an organic object.) 2. Maya Follow the arrow from phase 1 to phase 2. It’s all about Maya. The details of this box will be discussed shortly; for now, we see that there are two basic roles that outside applications have. They can supply input to Maya or they can work with what comes out of Maya. Importing into Maya In particular, consider the four purple boxes at the top of Figure 1.1. e Th re are a few types of applications that are often used to take on some of the modeling chores. Some animators prefer applications that have the feel of crafting a model almost as if it were clay; these include Pixologic’s ZBrush and Autodesk Mudbox. These applications are commonly used for crafting organic characters. e Th re are also basic modeling applications that are simpler to learn and use than Maya. Nevercenter’s Silo 3D is a clean, elegant subdivision modeler. SketchUp is extr -emely popu lar and is used heavily to create polygon models of human-made, angular thin -gs like build ings and furniture. Another one is FormZ’s Bonzai. But again, we will do all our modeling in this book with Maya. Poser is sometimes used to create bipeds and quadrupeds for importing into Maya. A popular program is Daz Studio; its human models are very detailed and lifelike. Daz Studio characters can be carefully individualized via the many (and easy to use) controls Getting Oriented ◾ 7 available in the Daz Studio interface. Poser comes with a lot of canned content, and there is a lot of material for it available for sale on the Web. Daz content, for the most part, has to be purchased on their site and does not come free, but on average, Daz content is excellent and surprisingly cheap as well. Also, Poser can use most Daz models. I discourage the use of these programs in introductory 3D classes; it’s a much better idea to learn to build your own characters, even if they are very simple. Or better yet, start out with an interior or exterior architectural project and not with the daunting task of creating lifelike people. But tucking a human next to a towering building makes it clear that this is no ordinary hut. By the way, Daz 3D also sells a relatively inexpensive, fullblown model ing, texturing, animating, and rendering application called Carrara. Vue and Terragen are two programs that can be used to quickly create outdoor, natural environments. There are a lot of premade, animated environments available for Vue but not much available for Terragen. Terragen is less powerful than Vue and the interface is rather unintuitive; but it is much cheaper. Before deciding to use an application to create material to import into Maya, it is critical that you test that part of your worko fl w and make sure you can cleanly move a model from the given application into Maya. This can be tricky. There are two popular ways of doing this. Sometimes you’ll find a plug-in for Maya; they exist for Poser and Vue, in particular, so that you can call these programs from within Maya. Or, you can explicitly export and import. This second option can produce varying results. OBJ is a common 3D modeling standard and has been around a long time, but it is best for moving only wireframes and textures. Autodesk’s FBX is much newer and can move complete, animated models intact, but the results can be highly imperfect. Finally, note the purple box with the word TEXTURE PREP in it. It is dic ffi ul-t to pro duce complex textures with Maya alone, and a good, inexpensive application that runs on a Mac is Pixelmator. Photoshop Elements is much cheaper than the Pro version of Photoshop and yet it is very powerful. One other technique is to use drawings or photographs as reference images. Ma - ny mod elers start with hand-drawn sketches. Importing from Maya into Maya Unless your scene is very simple, you will most likely use multiple scene files to create a single integrated scene for rendering purposes. Perhaps the environment (such as the interior of a room or a downtown street) will be built in one Maya scene. Then other scenes will be used to create props, like sofas and streetlights. You can save Maya files as .ma (for Maya ASCII) files or .mb (for Maya binary). A c - riti cal difference is that Maya ASCII files consist of code in text form, while Maya binary files are not readable as text. Some animators use .mb as their primary file format because sometimes binary files open more quickly but use .ma files as periodic backups. .mb files, if they become corrupted, are almost impossible to fix, but .ma files can be edited. You would need to know Maya’s scripting language or get help from someone who does. As a long-term recovery mechanism, when you make models that you might use in the future as props for other Maya projects you can keep .ma versions of them, so that when you go back to them months or years later, they can be fixed if they have been damaged.8 ◾ 3D Animation for the Raw Beginner Using Maya It’s also a good idea to “build in the large” by modeling individual scenes, props, and characters close up to make sure that if you end up rendering them just a tad closer than you thought you would, they will still look good. Do not let the need to rescale an object when you import it stop you from modeling it in the best fashion you can. But do avoid having to rescale a model upward so much that previously unseen details suddenly loom large. By the way, Maya allows one to assign precise units to models to avoid imprecise rescaling. But this is beyond the scope of this book. 3. Soundtracks e Th re are two general classes of audio applications: (1) basic sound or “wave” editors, and (2) digital audio workstations (DAWs). DAWs are far more sophisticated and are used by musicians and sound engineers to blend multiple tracks, to program software instruments (as plug-ins to DAWs), and to inject special sound ee ff cts into music and soundtracks (also via plug-ins to DAWs). Wave editors are sometimes limited to two tracks, which is all that is needed for a basic Maya project. e Th y are geared toward editing and combining audio segments. Many audio editors support the same kind of plug-ins used in DAWs, and in particular, plug-ins that can clean sound are used frequently. Names to look for are iZotope and Wave Arts. The two most popular formats for plug-ins are VST (Virtual Studio Technology) and AU (Audio Units). Steinberg invented the VST standard. Steinberg produces a nice sound editor called WaveLab, and there is a reasonably cheap low-end version of this editor. Apple introduced the AU standard. Maya can be used to sync sound with animation in Maya; this will be discussed later in the book. But the soundtrack must be created and edited outside Maya. I often t - ell my stu dents to let the sound drive the animation, so you don’t get caught up in making detailed edits of soundtrack segments. Sometimes it’s best to just find a nice piece of music and time the action in your video to coincide to rises in amplitude in the sound (something that wave editors display visually). Audacity is the best deal out there in free audio editing software. It is quite powerful and relatively easy to learn. It runs on Windows and Apple machines. Amadeus is a Mac application that is reasonably cheap and very nice. DSP Quattro is a full-b -lown profes sional editor but is surprisingly cheap given what it does. WavePad is very basic but easy to use and does not cost much. Note: When you import your sound into Maya for timing with your animation, it must be in either AIF or WAV format. Also, if you are looking for special ee ff cts sounds (like a gun going off) to insert into your soundtrack, try audiomicro.com. One of the nicest things about Audacity is that it has a native tool that can be used to clean sound of background noise. Since those of us doing super-low-budget animation projects cannot ao ff rd high-end microphones or professional sound studios, this can be an extremely valuable tool. Vendors of sound wave editors invariably make available at least one VST or AU plug-in with this capability but usually you have to pay extra for them. To use a typical sound cleaning plug-in, place a microphone in a position to record your voice, a door closing, or whatever other sound you are capturing. But before you begin Getting Oriented ◾ 9 recording the sound you want, you record silence—which of course is not really silence. It is likely filled with rumbling sounds from a furnace or A/C, or the hum of computer fans, and so on. Then after you make the recording of your voice or sound ee ff ct, you tell the wave editor to take the sounds that are in the “silence” fragment and to rem - ove the back ground noise in it from your entire recording. 4. Video Maya renders images, not entire video segments. The images must be turned into v- ideo seg ments by a video editor. The soundtrack must be also imported into a video editor, so that the video editor can export a video with the sound properly synched. Within the video editor you are likely to also cut and paste various video segments rendered at die ff rent times. Generally, you will want to use thirty frames per second when you render in Maya. You might need to change settings inside your video editor to match, so that it generates a video that uses the exact same frame rate as that used by Maya to generate individual images. If you try to make movements in a scene look faster by speeding up the frame rate within the video editor, your action will not look faster—it will look bad. The same is true for trying to slow action by having the video editor use individual images at a slower rate than they were generated within Maya. You should adjust the speed of your animation in Maya; get the timing right before you render individual images. Do not try to shortcut the process by changing the timing of your animation with the video editor—unless you are a pro and you really know what you are doing. Adobe Premiere Elements is much cheaper than the Pro version of Premiere, and, like Photoshop Elements, it is very powerful. Another alternative is Lightworks; at the time of this writing, there is a Windows version with the planned release of a Mac version soon. Lightworks comes in a free and a paid (but inexpensive) version. One caveat: I have had multiple students tell me that it has an idiosyncratic interface. 5. Deploying Your Video e l Th ast phase in the worko fl w diagram is deployment. You may simply want to burn a DVD with your video on it or upload it to Vimeo.com. There are a number of DVD b - urn ing applications out there; Roxio and Nero make popular commercial applications. There are also a lot of free applications for burning both playable and data discs. Inside Maya e b Th lue ovals in the Maya box in Figure 1.1 represent the three core stages of creating an animated video: modeling, animating, and rendering. e i Th nstruction in the circle is a reminder to create named versions of your .mb or .ma files frequently. Putting an integer in the name is best, so that you know the order in which they were made. This will facilitate going back to the latest correct version when you decide your model has become a mess, and this will happen with virtually all of your initial attempts to build anything nontrivial. e b Th lack “test render” ovals are a reminder to test the interaction of your models, lights, and materials. All the black ovals are meant to underscore the relationship between 10 ◾ 3D Animation for the Raw Beginner Using Maya materials and lighting, and the fact that we do not truly know what something will look like until we do a test render. Nothing can be seen until light hits the surfaces of your models. e p Th urple ovals describe three items that are particularly critical during the animation and rendering phases. Dynamics is a powerful form of modeling and animation that can radically increase render time. Also, rendering is done from the perspective of cameras, and cameras can themselves be animated. It has already been mentioned that audio and movement must be synched in Maya before being imported into your video editor. Other Application Needs Finally, you might find that your various applications conflict when it comes to m - edia for mats. So you might need a video format converter, an audio format converter, and/or an image converter. Be careful with audio and video converters. You need to check their output; sometimes these applications produce terrible results. I tend to use products made by Xilisoft. WORKING WITH PREFAB CONTENT Although the focus of this book will be on a “do-it-yourself from the ground up” approach to learning how to create, animate, and render 3D scenes, many animators use a class of applications that were once considered only for “hobbyists” but have been s- lowly emerg ing as tools suitable for professionals. They provide canned content that can be tailored and greatly abbreviate the time needed to put an animated scene together. As mentioned earlier, Poser and Daz 3D are the two most prominent vendors of inexpensive character content (and to a lesser extent, indoor/outdoor scene content), but there are a signic fi ant number of online stores that are not associated with any specic a fi pplication and sell only content. THE CABANA OF COOL CONCEPTS Since the book is organized around a series of tutorials, the reader will have the satisfaction of starting to build models quickly and seeing what they look like when they are rendered. Simple but complete Maya models will be built from the get-go. The tutorials will also return to various models and scenes and add to them. e Th re is another reason for proceeding in this example-driven way. Given the breadth and depth of the knowledge needed to learn 3D animation skills, it simply is not tractable to learn its basic concepts in a purely abstract setting. It is also true that the massiveness of the Maya interface needs to be introduced gradually. e t Th utorials will specify precisely how to perform a wide array of tasks in Maya, and they will almost always explain why the tasks are being performed. Basic concepts will be explored in more depth as new material is presented. It is necessary to develop a top-down view of the 3D animation world to eventually go beyond what is covered in this book. And so, in Chapter 16, the concepts that have been covered in the first fifteen chapters will be pulled together. A metaphor of a giant cabana is used to view this collected, organized body of concepts. Since reading abstract material— when the concepts they cover have already been seen in action—is a lot less painstaking Getting Oriented ◾ 11 than following the detailed tutorials step by step, the cabana will be viewed as a relaxing place we can go to at the end of the book. e c Th ontents of the cabana should really be independent of any particular animation application. However, realistically, it is impossible to avoid a bias toward the way things are done with Maya; otherwise, the knowledge would be too abstract to absorb. Luckily, Maya is the industrial standard of the 3D world, and most of its competitors view the 3D world similarly to how Maya views it. THE SMALL SUBSET APPROACH TO LEARNING 3D ANIMATION Although Maya and its competitors are highly complex programs that take many years to learn, complete projects can be created with just a small subset of Maya’s capabilities. In two of the charts in Chapter 17, suggested collections of core tools are presented. Every Animation App Is Unique Every 3D application has its unique capabilities and its own user interface idiosyncrasies. It’s not a good idea to attack a new application by trying to find a way to get it to do exactly what you have done in an application with which you are already familiar. You have to be willing to invest the time in learning the unique aspects of a new application. Sometimes it is as simple as a given application supporting die ff rent kinds of lights or materials. Sometimes the die ff rence is more fundamental and you need to be deliberately unbiased, so that you get the most out of every application you use. HOW TO USE THIS BOOK e t Th utorial-driven organization of Chapters 3 through 15 is well suited to stu -dents work ing inside or outside the classroom. It is strongly advised that students do not simply read these examples. Rather, students should be using Maya to follow the tutorials. There is something about the hand and eye aspects of using a complex application that can only be learned while doing. However, small mistakes on the part of the student, a minor change in the Maya preferences, or a small change to the Maya interface introduced by a new release of the application can completely stall a student. Rather than spinning one’s wheels and getting frustrated when this happens, students should move on to the next example. To the instructor: I have often stepped through these tutorials with my students in class. I teach in a laboratory setting where every student has a computer running Maya right in front of them. Students should be encouraged to install the free version of Maya and bring their machines to class. e Th top-down coverage of major topics presented in Chapter 16 should give th- e instruc tor all that is needed to engineer a classroom experience that is a solid b-lend of exam ple-driven and conceptual material. I recommend that the instructor who is not highly experienced in using an application like Maya start by reading Chapter 16. Finally, as students go through the book mimicking the tutorials they should not feel they have to necessarily produce work of high artistic quality; getting through the examples with reasonable success is the only aim. Skill comes later, with repetition and patience. Incrementally, students will learn how to use Maya’s tools in creative ways.12 ◾ 3D Animation for the Raw Beginner Using Maya PREREQUISITES This book is for anyone who wants to learn 3D animation. Students do not need a background in computer science, media arts, or mathematics. There is a minor use of scripting in Chapter 11 using the “Maya Embedded Language” (MEL). Even students who have never seen programming code before should be able to easily understand this material. CONTENTS OF THIS BOOK A quick overview of what is covered in each chapter follows. Although many of the terms will be unfamiliar to the new animator, the descriptions should help with using the book for guidance later. Section I In Chapter 2, the overall process of creating an animated project is introduced. We also examine the complex user interface of Maya as well as the basic types of 3D mo - deling sup ported in Maya: polygon and NURBS. The three critical operations of translate, scale, and rotate are introduced. e b Th asics of modeling, important terminology, and rendering are the main topics of Chapter 3. Students get started with the basics of NURBS and polygon model- ing by build ing a glass bowl with NURBS, a hand with an index finger using polygon geometry, and a simple cactus using NURBS modeling. The need to add detail very carefully to a model is discussed. The process of rendering using raytracing, the two primary renderers available within Maya, and ways to enhance lighting, the importance of rooting objects in scenes by using shadows are all covered in Chapter 3, as well. We take a quick look at sculpting 3D models in Maya. In Chapter 4, the focus is on further exploring the basics of NURBS and poly -gon model ing. First, a critical aspect of 3D modeling and animation is introduced: using hierarchies to control the unie fi d movement of complex models. To illustrate this, the glass bowl gets some sorbet added to it and a walking cow cocks his baseball cap to the side. Then polygon modeling is explored in more detail by building a mailbox. The use of polygon modeling to create 3D writing is illustrated with our cow. After this a detailed polygon e - xample con sisting of building a Moai statue is presented. We also look at a critical issue for polygon modelers: ways to make an angular polygon model smooth. A handful of tools that can be used to clean up small problems with emerging models are covered. Finally, NURBS modeling is used to build the beginnings of a breadbox. As we go through these tutorials, we will begin to look at the task of putting materials on models. Chapter 5 focuses largely on placing materials on models and on the various sorts of lights supported in Maya. First, we varnish a wood table. Then we look at lights in Maya and the two main ways in which Maya lights can cast shadows. After this, we construct a street and sidewalk scene out of cement and blacktop; we use this example to look at creating 3D objects using Maya’s painting tool. Then we turn t - o the criti cal concept of prepping textures: we use an outside image editor to create a layered texture; after this, we take a quick look at the native capability within Maya to create www.itbookshub.comGetting Oriented ◾ 13 layered textures. We look at a major distinction in Maya, and that is the difference between projection textures and normal textures. Then we tile a texture for our cactus. We create two stairs using NURBS modeling, connect the two stairs to the vertical face between them and carpet them. We show one way to ensure that an object’s texture does not slip away from the object when it is moved. Finally, we build a simple ice rink out of multiple layers of polygon geometry so that we can experiment with creating a texture that looks like ice. Particle dynamics and particle emitters are introduced in Chapter 6. As we do this, we build complete models and put textures on them, and animate some of our models. We start with a simple rocket and use a ramp shader to color the hardware particles that make up the rocket exhaust. We create a box of cold cereal and pour the Trix into a bowl to study software particles. Then we turn to the powerful capability of turning a polygon object into a dynamics ee ff ct as a way of creating cloth. To illustrate this, we make a Colorado flag flap in the wind—wind made by Maya. We wrap up Chapter 6 by returning to hardware particles to create a rainstorm. Animating models is the main topic of Chapter 7. First, a can of Spam flies along a motion path and glides into the mailbox built in Chapter 5. The important top-ic of key framing the action in a scene is covered; to illustrate this a camera is animated and we ride along as it follows a meandering river. e Th n we look at Maya’s graph editor and create a simple movement cycle; we use the graph editor to iteratively repeat the cycle. Last, the topic of animating models by using skeletons is introduced; we build a simple leg and look at the two main ways to animate a skeleton. We distinguish between forward kinematics (FK) and inverse kinematics (IK). Chapter 8 discusses some tools that can be used for both modeling and anima - tion pur poses by shattering the surface of an egg, and then using a blend shape to morph a tiny bird leg as a chick tries to break its way out. e Th n, we look at an alternate way to surface an object. Rather than using a material or a texture, we put Maya fur on the h-ead of a char acter, add some Maya hair, then make use of Maya’s ability to animate hair and to transfer this movement to the fur. After this, we examine another technique that spans b- oth model ing and animation by using a bend deformer to roll up the cover of a swimming pool. We wrap up by using three die ff rent deformers: one to twist a piece of wood, another to squash a ball, and a third to damage our mailbox. Chapter 9 returns to materials, and in particular, how to work with a texture (our cactus texture) without the seams between the tiles being too obvious. We look at h - ow a seam lessly tileable texture can be created by using Maya’s painting tool. Three die ff rent ways of modeling a glass bottle will be compared. Next, we build a scene with a fluid pouring from a glass bottle into a drinking glass, and then we render it in a way that creates a sort of 2D ee ff ct. Last, there is a return to the street scene from Chapter 6 to add some nighttime fog, along with a pair of approaching headlights, built by making objects emit lig -ht—a power ful way of introducing light into a scene. Chapter 10 is dedicated mostly to a single example scene. We construct a closet, paint it white, and give it frosted glass doors. Moving the pivot point of a door to enable its proper movement is discussed, and we examine the notion of a bounding box and how every object 14 ◾ 3D Animation for the Raw Beginner Using Maya in 3-space has one. We look at one of the key operations that an animator uses w - hile build ing a model: how to add detailed geometry. Then, we return to the topic of making cloth by creating a shirt and placing it on a hanger inside the closet. To make sure it hangs properly, constraints are used to bind the shirt to the hanger, the hanger is turned int -o a passive col lider, and gravity is used to pull the shirt downward. We create a camera for the closet scene and use an aim constraint to keep the camera focused on the closet, even as the camera moves. A simple soundtrack of the doors closing is synced to the motion of the doors. The important topic of generating multiple frames by using Maya’s batch rendering capabilities is discussed. We return briey t fl o the graph editor in Maya to tailor the motion of one of the closet’s doors. fcheck, Maya’s utility for quickly creating test videos, is prese -nted. The link ing of lights to specic o fi bjects in a scene is discussed. The three-light paradigm inspired by the way film crews place lights while recording live action is presented. Chapter 11 returns to animation, in particular, to the complex topic of c -reating skel etons to drive the movement of a living creature, as well as ways to both enable and limit the movement of an IK skeleton. A second major animation topic is introduced: collisions between rigid and/or soft objects. Specic fi ally, a full human skeleton is generated and put inside a simple biped; we learn to use IK handles and ee ff ctors to move the skeleton in a natural way. An anime character from the Daz Studio application is bound to this skeleton. This character serves as a vehicle for learning how to insert solid objects under the skin of a character so that its limbs will bend naturally. A few other techniques for a - nimating skel etons are examined, including the use of an aim constraint so that a character will follow a moving object, pinning and unpinning the feet of a character, and using Maya’s sticky construct to limit the movement of a limb. e Th n we turn to the animation of rigid objects by animating a bowling ball and a few pins. The Moai from Chapter 4 is resurrected and the process of making it turn transparent is animated. Maya’s scripting language, MEL, is used to animate the knobs on our closet door, create randomly flashing lights, and stretch a ball while it moves under the inu fl ence of gravity. Some aspects of MEL are b -riefly con sidered. We wrap up by using cloth to animate the movement of water. Chapter 12 looks at some techniques for creating materials and placing th - em on mod els. Students create a cow and make it look 2D by using a specialized material provided by Maya. Some grat ffi i is spray-painted on a brick wall. Next, we make our last visit to the street scene from Chapter 5 to build a daytime horizon and sky, and then render it with what is arguably the better of two raytracing renderers in Maya—mental ray. We examine a powerful tool for speeding up the rendering process by baking a material on an object. We end by making our own, homemade, sky dome. Chapter 13 focuses on the UV Texture Editor in Maya—a powerful facilit -y for recast ing the grid on the surface of an object so that it can be properly textured. We go back to the doorknobs from Chapter 11 and improve the material on the knobs by using the UV Texture Editor. Then we look at a few special ways that Maya can help animators improve the placement of materials. In Chapter 14, the common problem of using multiple applications in a single worko fl w is examined, in particular, how to exploit plug-ins to support the use of other applications while working in Maya. These applications include ones that create natural terrains, create Getting Oriented ◾ 15 3D characters, and sculpt organic models. And we look at the more limited sc- ulpting capa bilities of Maya. We also look at the use of second-party renderers via plug-i -ns. We exam ine the common need to minimize the number of polynomials on the surface of a polygon object so that it can be rendered quickly. In Chapter 15, we look at a handful of special topics involving lights and materials. e Th se include ambient occlusion, global illumination and final gathering, caust- ics, irradi ance, using light to color glass, anisotropy, the penumbra and dropoff of a light, depth map and raytrace shadows, altering the resolution of shadows, and the mental ray sun and sky. Section II Chapter 16 covers the construction of the cabana, reuse as a tool for more - quickly con structing scenes, the need for reference images, modeling and texturing with animation in mind, and the use of prefab content, in particular, characters. Also discussed is motion capture data for animating humans. Chapter 17 contains a series of concise charts that distills the concepts and terms that we have studied in this book. A MOTIVATIONAL EXAMPLE To get started, we will look at a simple but fully fleshed out scene. The construction of this scene is fully within the abilities of anyone who has studied this book. The goal is to get an intuitive feel for what makes up a 3D scene. In the last chapter, we will return to the scene and discuss how to build it. In Figure 1.2, we see what appears to be a poolside scene. Our eyes do not immediately go to the water, though. They focus on the large, boxy structure, with its shiny gold arches. We also quickly see the pattern in the blue material that makes up the front wall of the structure. We see pillars. Maybe we see the water next. Then we notice the contents of the structure: there are people in the scene. We take in the larger scene, the tiled ground, FIGURE 1.2 (See p. CI-2 of Color Insert) The cabana with gold metallic arches.16 ◾ 3D Animation for the Raw Beginner Using Maya the brick wall, the palm trees, and the sky beyond. Maybe we do not consciously realize that the coloring of the sky gives us the feel of warmth, and the apparent an - gle of the sun light makes us think of sunset—the people are probably not there at sunrise. We see that the people are dressed casually. We might even notice that the girl is wearing a dress with a fatigue pattern on it. The other two characters are taller and might have gray hair. It all makes sense. But unless we grew up on the Atlantic coast or have a habit of vacationing in fancy resorts, we have never seen a cabana. We have heard of them, of course. But if that’s what this is, it’s a bit over the top. It’s huge and ostentatious. It certainly does not provide these people with privacy, but it does give them shade. They are probably on vacation. This cabana could indeed belong to a resort. The accompanying hotel is probably vast and ornate. Let’s break this down. 1. First, it is a complete scene. An “environment,” as animators might call it, with an architectural model serving as the focus of the scene. It is fleshed out. This i - s impor tant. What we are seeing is complete and very visual. The scene makes a strong impression on us. It’s vibrant. 2. e s Th tructure is exotic. But the scene as a whole fits into our understanding of the world around us. It is grounded in reality but has its own unique look and feel. 3. e Th re appears to be only one source of light—the sun. It seems to be low in the sky, and, ignoring the overall context of the scene, this suggests that the sun is just now rising or setting. The tall shadows of the two characters in the left half of the cabana also indicate that the sun is low in the sky. But on closer examination, t- here is some thing odd about the lighting in the scene. The overall scene is cast in soft shadows, but there are pronounced shadows of the man and child on the interior wall of the cabana. Why are they there? Without these shadows, the people in the cabana would appear to be floating in air. A tough choice has been made: a modest secondary light source has been introduced to enhance the shadows inside the cabana. e Th size of the rendering might make it dic ffi ult to detect this, but the table and chairs and the woman are also casting shadows created by this secondary light. 4. e r Th ee fl ctions of the gold arches and furniture are bright, and they add a l - ittle maj esty to the scene. All in all, the lights, shadows, and ree fl ctions give us a strong sense of depth. Also, the shadows don’t blur together; we can tell exactly what object is creating each shadow. 5. We may wonder how the cabana is supported. e Th modeler has tried to suggest that it is structurally sound by showing us the internal wood walls and support beams. 6. e p Th atterned material seems to be cloth. The cloth has some smooth curves where it comes down below the golden arches. This is fitting with our cabana concept. But the four corners of its roof are awfully sharp for something made out of cloth and held up with wood slats.Getting Oriented ◾ 17 7. e Th scene is very pristine. We assume it was built the day before yesterday and these folks are the first guests to ever check into the luxury resort hotel. That’s okay if we are going for a certain dramatic look and not trying to be too realistic. W - e could con sider adding a bit of what animators call a “grunge” look, by dirtying up the tiles and the brick wall. The carpet inside the cabana must need nonstop maintenance, since it is exposed to the elements. 8. e Th placement of humans in the scene gives us an immediate, intuitive feel for just how large this structure is. Everything seems in proportion, including the potted plants, wall, and gate. 9. e s Th cene has some character to it. It tells a story. This could be a family on vacation in an exotic locale. So, that’s our analysis. It highlights some of the things we need to keep in mind as we build animated scenes with Maya. Because this is an introductory book, we w-ill be focus ing on smaller parts of scenes, things that make up individual models, such as metal tables and pieces of clothing. But we will return to the cabana at the end of this book. Before we continue, there are a few other things worth noting about the cabana scene: 1. e c Th abana’s cloth is a dark color, so that the whitish pillars will stand out against the cloth. 2. e p Th eople are variations of stock characters from the Daz site, so we don’t get any modeling credit for them. But nothing is wrong with plugging in pref -ab compo nents, as long as they fit in style and nature in the environment in which we place them. e Th palm trees, potted plants, chairs, and table are also canned items from the Daz site. Most of them have had their textures changed, but they are a -ctual geom etry, not just images. 3. e g Th eometry of this scene is actually simple. It is easy to model, and we’ll realize this soon enough as we begin to look at 3D modeling. 4. e Th brick wall is just an image on a flat plane. It would not render nicely if we got close to it; but as something in the background, it is realistic enough. Likewise, the pillars have little sculpted or etched “geometry” to them, but there is an image pattern projected on them to give them a classical look. In general, what makes the scene are the “materials” in it, and some of them are quite detailed. There is a critical trade-o, ff though: using image textures (as materials on objects) to create the illu-sion of geom etry is in general a quick thing to do. But a much more realistic ee ff ct can be obtained by creating true, detailed geometry. 5. e w Th ater is not geometry, either, and is simply two layered images. The one on top has a ripple painted on it and is very transparent. The bottom one has an almost-neon green color that shows through the upper, transparent layer. A casual observer might not guess at how this was done; the critical point is that this water is not animated.18 ◾ 3D Animation for the Raw Beginner Using Maya FIGURE 1.3 (See p. CI-2 of Color Insert) The cabana with stone arches. (e c Th abana with yellow arches appears on the cover.) 6. Look at Figure 1.3. The only change is that the golden arches are now stone. Apparently, the artist is a sort of inverse alchemist. But more seriously, we see that in - deed, materi als are everything when it comes to recognizing the nature of things we see in a scene. e e Th xact same geometric object can easily be made to look like gold or stone. ART AND ENGINEERING 3D animation sits at the crossroads of art and engineering. It demands tha-t the anima tor have strong analytic skills. Objects must be carefully built, oriented, and animated in 3-space with respect to the scene and to other objects in a scene. Some aspects of animation are best done with scripting code, and a strong intuitive sense of physics is needed in order to provide natural looking movement, deformation and collisions of objects, and particle emission and collision. In comparison to 2D animation, where the primary required skill is drawing, some forms of 3D modeling, such as constructing the exterior and interior of buildings, call for talents closer to CAD than free-form drawing. But even t -hough 3D ani mation has a strong engineering aspect to it, you’ll also have to develop your own voice as an animation artist. Above all else, you must keep in mind that you are trying to convey a message, whether your video is one minute long or three hours long. Something must transpire between the first and the last frame. It is also true that applications like Maya are used to make single-frame ren - derings with out any animation, and even then, there is a message. You might create a model of a modern kitchen with the goal of making it look so real and so inviting that the viewer must have it. A FINAL NOTE Don’t worry about the massiveness of Maya. A primary goal of this book is to carefully carve out a slice of Maya so that you can quickly get started making complete animated projects.I 19