Animation Archive

Keeping all your previous animation works in an archive will add efficiency to all your animation projects. These archives can then be called upon when needed, potentially saving you days of work.

Because we have built character sets into our characters (see Chapter 15), we can use these to export the animation data and import other animations onto the Kila and Grae characters. We do this using the Trax Editor.

The Trax Editor is a fantastic tool for manipulating existing animations. Each animation is stored as a clip, which can then be imported onto a character to create whole sequences of animation. You can even manipulate the timing, blend animations, and work on top of each clip to add improvements to the existing animation.

As you can see in Figure 16.39, the Trax Editor has been dramatically improved in the transition from Maya 5 to Maya 6. In this section we will focus more on the Maya 6 version because it is the most current, but most of the basic principles remain the same for both versions.

Figure 16.39. The Maya 5 Trax Editor (left) and the improved Maya 6 version (right)

Now that we have the walk cycle completed, we can create a clip. This takes all the animation data associated with the selected character set(s) and places it into a single node. This node can then be worked on or even exported as a separate file to be used on a separate character. Note, however, that you must be using the full version of Maya to export a clip; the Personal Learning Edition does not support this feature.

Let's first look at creating and exporting a clip.


Open the Trax Editor by going to Window > Animation Editors > Trax Editor.


First select the character set by going to Character > Select Character Set Node > Kila_CS. (If you are using Maya 5, the character sets in the scene will already be loaded into the Trax Editor.)


Load the character set into the Trax Editor by clicking on the Load Selected Character button (this is the seventh button from the left on the Trax Editor toolbar).

The Trax Editor will now have the current character active; it should look like Figure 16.39. Notice that the subsets are also brought into the Editor.


There are two ways to create a clip. The first and quickest way is to click on the Create Clip button, which is the first one on the toolbar. This will create a clip for each character set (the main set and both subsets) using the current settings.

If you want to configure the settings before you create the clip, however, go to the Create > Clip and open the options (Figure 16.40).

Figure 16.40. Options for creating a clip


In the options, call the clip KilaWalk, specify that the Time Range will be dictated by the Animation Curve, and make sure to enable Include Subcharacters in Clip. Click on Apply, and three new clips will be created (Figure 16.41).

Figure 16.41. Three clips are created, one for each character set.


It's a good idea to rename each of these clips to match the animation it storessimply double-click the clip's name in the Trax Editor. For example, rename KilaWalk1 to KilaWalk_LB for the lower body animation. If this clip is exported later, people will be able to tell what it is.


To now export all the clips together, select the main KilaWalk clip by clicking directly on it in the Trax Editor; then select File > Export Clip in the Trax Editor. Because you selected the main character set to export from, all three clips will be exported and stored.

With the animation safely stored, you can now import it back onto your character. To do this, simply select the character onto which you want to import the clips, and go to File > Import Clip to Characters.

We have barely scratched the surface of what is a very powerful tool in Maya, but by delving deeper into the Trax Editor we might find ourselves in a whole different book. If you intend to do a lot of animation work, I recommend you spend some time with the Trax Editor to see what it has to offer.

    Game Character Development with Maya
    Game Character Development with Maya
    ISBN: 073571438X
    EAN: 2147483647
    Year: 2004
    Pages: 169
    Authors: Antony Ward

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