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.
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.