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Modifying Gestures

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Daniel Tan
Modifying Gestures
on Oct 24, 2009 at 9:06:13 am

Hi guys,

I need help on using maya.

im doing a project on editing charactor gesture. currently im using an "pointing gesture" as an example for testing of my algorithm in MAYA.

i start with skeleton without animation script. I specify rotations for every joint to get a few keyframes. then I baked everything. So now my job is to edit the curves in the graph editor to introduce in charactor traits into the skeleton, making it more feminine something like that. But I noticed all the coordinates of one link is wrt its previous link and since all joints of human body are not translational but rotational, the translational xyz coordinates are all constant.. how can i get the curves of one link's coordinates wrt to a base frame. lets say shoulder joint is the base frame, i wanna get the curve of wrist in the base frame.

can anyone help me out on this.. coz i dont really know how to use maya!

or if u have heard of other techniques on editing charactor gestures, plz do let me know.. i need to do research on them :) thanks a lot.

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Peter Greenstone
Re: Modifying Gestures
on Oct 25, 2009 at 7:18:17 pm

I've been animating with Maya since its first release but I have to say I have no idea what you are talking about. Are you trying to do something using scripts to animate rather than regular keyframe animating? wrt? links? Base Frame? Specifying rotations? Maybe I'm misunderstanding what you're trying to do but your terminology is not familiar to me and it sounds far more complex than animating a pointing gesture and refining it in the graph editor normally would be.

Are you using IK or FK? What sort of rig are you working with?

Why are you baking out the animation? That will result in animation curves that are too densely keyed to work with when modifying an animation; I mean you can edit it but it makes it much more difficult, and I don't know why you would need to bake anything.

If I can better understand what you are actually trying to do and what you are asking I'll try to help you out. I know Maya can be pretty overwhelming when you are just starting to learn it.

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Daniel Tan
Re: Modifying Gestures
on Oct 26, 2009 at 4:37:43 am

wow Peter,
hey, thanks a lot for taking much effort in trying to get what i said.. shame on me :P
okie, i try to make my point clearer here.
1. My project is about designing gestures for virtual characters
2. however, im not required to create gestures by myself, i only need to modify/edit existing gesture animation files such as FBX file.
3. since all imported FBX files into maya have their animations in every single frame, like what u said, so no choice that i hve to do watever i can to work on it.

so, the above 3 points are what im supposed to do. But:
1. right now i can not find a FBX file i wanted ( a pointing gesture with a skeleton)
2. So managed to get a skeleton from a friend and try to create a pointing gesture on my own.
3. I used to IK for the whole arm, and then i specify each joint on the hand to obtain a pointing handshape. and its animated using keyframes
4. In order to make it like FBX file, so i baked the whole animations.
5. now my job is to edit the baked curves in the graph editor.

Hope u can understand me now :((( really appreciate your effort so much. thanks from singapore :)

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Peter Greenstone
Re: Modifying Gestures
on Oct 26, 2009 at 3:15:49 pm

Thanks for explaining more.
Is this a school project that requires you to modify baked animations as an exercise? If so, then I can understand. Otherwise, I don't know why you would bake the animations before modifying them.

But if you really must work with animations that have been all baked out to every frame and you want to know the best way to work with those to make changes to the motion then I may have some tips to help. This is probably similar to what one has to do when modifying motion capture data (I've never worked with motion capture personally). You can go into the graph editor and simplify the curves to make them more friendly to edit. In the Graph Editor's menu select Curves/Simplify Curves (option box). With the animation curves selected try applying the Simplify using different options until you find something that works well for you. You may get some odd results here and there but it should make it a little easier to work with. You may have to manually remove excessive keyframes and make a lot of corrections to keep the curves on their proper path.

You can also modify the animation curves using the lattice tool in the graph editor. See the four icons in the upper left corner of your graph editor? The 4th one is the Lattice Key Deformer and it will let you bend the animation curve in a similar way that the main lattice tool can deform geometry. This may be a good option for you.

That said, this is not a preferred way to make animations for anything unless you have no other choice. It is best to create your own animations and work with the original keyframes when editing and modifying. Maybe someone here who has good experience working with motion capture can give you much better tips for working with dense animation curves.

I hope that helps.

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