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Free Autodesk Maya Tutorials: Animation Tutorials

Keyframing or How can I make a Box jump?

If you are animating something, regardless if it is a character for a movie or a mesh for a computer game or anything else you usually use key frame animation. I will explain how to do that by using the simple example of a cube jumping over a wall.

First, we need of course our scene, in this case the cube and the wall.

The second thing we go is arrange our time slider to a appropriate length, I chose 300 frames, you may do however you like. Now you need to make sure that one of the first frames (it would be best is it actually was frame nr. 1, but it works anyway no matter what frame you begin with).

Now, select the object you want to animate, in this case the little box, and press the [S]-key. By doing that you are telling your computer that he is supposed to remember this position for the selected object at this frame, you are placing a so called keyframe. If you look closely at your time slider you notice a small red line on frame 1, indicating a keyframe there (I moved the selected frame so that the line is better visible).

Now, chose frame 20, move the cube right in front of the wall. If you hit the playback-button, you will see the box move in the first 20 frames and then suddenly stop . If it dowsn?t move you have not placed your keyframes (did you hit the [S]-Button?) correctly.

Now, let?s create a key frame at frame 40 where the box is on the other side of the wall already.

If you playback now, you will see the cube go straight through the wall, but this is not what we want at all ;-)

Go to frame 30. The cube should be right in the wall now. Just move the cube up until it is well over the wall and hit [S]. you have now placed a key frame in between two existing key frames. Maya automatically calculates the new route for you, and all you have to do now is hit ?Playback?.

And viola, your key frame animation is complete! Congratulations!

Although this may seem simple and the result may now be spectacular, this is basically the way movies like ?Ice Age? and ?Finding Nemo? were made! The best way to become really familiar with key framing is trying a lot of stuff. Why don?t you try rotating the cube or maybe even shrinking it? Basically all attributes can be key framed, even colors!

One last thing: It is easy to forget hitting the [S]-key and it is always annoying to notice that all your work is gone just because you forgot to key frame. There is a way to activate auto-keframing. Just click the key symbol right next to the time slider. If it has got a red background it is active, if not it is not? But be careful: All actions are going to be key framed, so make sure you only move the objects you want to move and at the right time! Good look trying!

Added: 2008-01-15 by Lollylan

Do you have a question about one of the tutorials or are stuck somewhere? Feel free to contact me. I am always glad to be able to help!

Latest update

28.11.2010: An all new videotutorial is up and running (3 parts so far): The Domino Effect (Dynamics) 2