Animatie technieken

From TOI-Pedia


Maya is a high end animation software which is used for generation of advanced computer animations for games, film and television. However the possibility to apply the functionality of animation in the design process was recognized early on by several architects. By adding the 4th dimension to the design process new concepts of design could be developed and implemented. A new architectural language was developed where complex relations where translated into geometry in the context of time. The animation tools available in Maya provide the designer not only the means to explore new design concepts but also give the designer a powerful tool for generate complex surfaces. In the following explanation we will look at the option of using two main methods of applying animation techniques for geometry generation. The animated snapshot and animated sweep.

Animation Basics

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At the bottom of the interface we can find the time line and the play buttons for the animation. Beneath the time line where the keys will be visible as red lines we find the range slider. The range slider works as a zooming tool of the time line. If the animation has 2000 frames it becomes impossible to accurately define where a key is placed and where other keys are. The range slider lets the user to select a part of the time line and zoom in on it. The slider can be moved and extended by moving the centre or the outer boxes of the slider.



The total amount of frames can be set by manually defining the first and last frame in the outer boxes. The slider range can be set by manually defining the range through typing in the min and max frame. The current frame is defined next to the timeline.


To change the current frame:

  • the current frame number can be typed in
  • clicking the mouse on the time line and drag it.


At the bottom right of the interface we find the time line controls. They control the playback of the timeline or the movement of the active frame. It is possible to snap in both directions to keys which are defined on the time line. This makes it easier to access the keys for adjustment.

How does it work

The concept is simple. Animating an object is changing the object over time. There are two components in an animation:

  • Time. Position in time when an object changes. This position is defined by a key
  • Changing the object. Changing the attributes of an object.

Not all the attributes of an object can be animated. Many attributes of an object which can be animated can be accessed through the channelbox. This means that not only the rotation, scale or transform attributes can be animated but also, for example, the radius of a cylinder.


Key framing

The technique for defining change through time in Maya is called Key framing. With Key framing we, for example, define the position of one object at one point in time by assigning it a key and a changed position in another point in time and define a key again. The intermediate steps of displacement during the time difference is then calculated by the computer. This negates the need to define the position of an object during every time frame.


This automatic calculation of intermediate steps of the frames is the functionality which can be useful in generating complex geometry. One could define one shape in time and change the shape at a different time and the computer will automatically define the intermediate shapes.

To set a Key

There are several methods of setting a key. Important is to set always a Key at the first frame This will define the shape and position of an object at the beginning of the animation.

Set a key:

  • Select the correct frame
  • Select the object or objects
  • Select the channels which will be animated in the channelbox
  • Right click in the channel box
  • Select – Key selected


To automatically set a key:

  • Select the correct frame
  • Select the object or objects
  • Select the channels which will be animated in the channelbox
  • Right click in the channel box
  • Select – Key selected
  • Activate the automatic key ( key icon) in the bottom right of the interface
  • This option only works on channels which already have a key set.
  • The next alterations of the object will be automatically keyed.

To delete keys:

  • Select the object
  • Select the channels which keys have to be deleted
  • Right click in the channel box
  • Select – break connection
  • All keys will be deleted of the selected channels


To delete a single key:

  • Select the object
  • Use the key snap option of the time line controls
  • When the correct key is selected -_right click and select delete.


Change a key

There are two possibilities to change a key and thereby the animation.

The first one is to re-key the animation:

  • Select the object
  • Snap to the correct key with the use of the keysnap option in the time line control
  • Alter the object
  • Select the changed attributes in the channel box
  • Right click en select key selected

Graph Editor

The second option is the use of the Graph Editor.

The Graph Editor gives a visual feedback of the animated properties of an object. It is the main menu for editing keys and fine tuning animations. The animation is represented as a graph of the animated value. In the horizontal direction time is defined and vertically the value of the animated channel. The Keys are represented by dots and the intermediate frames by the curve. Both can be changed. This gives us access to the value of the animated channel but also to the value of the intermediate frames. The navigation and use of tools are similar to navigating a viewport and transforming an object.

Animation 9.jpg

How to use the graph editor

  • Open the graph editor – Window- Animation Editors – Graph editor
  • Select the object
  • In the graph editor the animated channels appear
  • The graph of the animation is not always visible because the graph is only partially visible– press crtl a to zoom all
  • Select a key by using the select tool in the toolbox and drag a window around the key
  • Select the move tool in the toolbox and move the key
  • If the key is moved vertically the value of the channel changes
  • If the key is moved horizontally the position of the key in time will change.

Animation 10.jpg

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