Animation (Maya)

From TOI-Pedia


Maya offers various options to create animations. This page covers basic animation techniques that are useful for architectural application.

Maya is however often used to create character animations. As this is a extensive topic by itself, it is discussed in the Character Animation pages.

When animating in Maya we use the Animation menu set:


This page covers keyframe animation, the use of the Graph Editor and motion path animation in Maya.


Keys allow you to define the basic transformation attributes (translation, rotation and scale) of an object in time. So they allow you to create motion in your scene.

Keys have three properties:

  1. the attribute they key (eg: the Y Translation of pSphere1)
  2. the value of that attribute (eg: 12.4)
  3. the timevalue (eg: frame 4)

They can be set in a number of ways.

  • You can RMB-click one or more channels in your channelbox and choose Key Selected
  • You can press s on you keyboard to key all (keyable) attributes at once.

If you set a number of keys at various frames (time), changing the values of any of the attributes for each key, you should have a very basic animation. Maya will automatically interpolate the values for the frames between two keys.

Deleting Keys

You can delete set keys by setting your time slider to the frame you want to delete the key in. The RMB-click your time line and choose delete. This will delete all keys for the selected objects in that frame. Alternatively you can delete keys using the Graph Editor.

The Graph Editor

You can open the Graph Editor through Window > Animation Editors > Graph Editor.

Maya Graph Editor.jpg

The Graph Editor will show you a graph representation of the key animation of the selected objects. The horizontal axis shows the time, the vertical shows the value(s). The left hand side shows the attributes of the objects you've selected that have keys. By default the Graph Editor shows the animation curves for all attributes, but you can choose which curves to be displayed, by selecting specific attributes there.

Sometimes the scale of either the vertical or horizontal axis (or both) is not suitable to see your animation curves properly. In that case you can use View > Frame Selection (f on your keyboard). The Graph Editor will nicely zoom in on the curves for the selected objects.

You can move keys around by selecting them (dragging a window works best), selecting your Move-tool and MMB-drag them to the desired location.

Each key has tangent handles that control the steepness of the animation curve. After you've selected a key, you can select one side of the handle and MMB-drag it to adjust the tangent.

You may want to break the tangent at a key to allow a sharp change of the animation curve. Select the key(s) and choose Keys > Break Tangents.

The Tangents menu allows you to change the type of interpolation curve that Maya uses between keys.


Copying keys

Motion Path

A motion path allows you to animate an object along a curve. Select the object to be animated and then shift-select (add to selection) the curve that will be the motion path.

Make sure you've set your menuset to Animation and the choose Animate > Motion Paths > Attach to Motion Path (Option Box):

Maya-Attach to Motion Path.jpg

You can set the start- and endframe for the animation.

The Front-axis controls which side of the object will face 'forward' when the object travels along the motion path.

To have more control over the objects orientation, it is recommended to group the object(s) and animate the group along the motion path.

Animated Snapshot

You can use any animation, plain key or motionpath to create an animated snapshot. Maya will take a snapshot of the object(s) that is animated at a certain frame interval, placing copies of the object(s) at that position.

Select the object that is attached to the motionpath and choose Animate > Create Animation Snapshot

Maya AnimatedSnapshot Options.jpg

Animated Sweep

You can convert a animated curve into a surface using the Animation Sweep option.

Select a curve that is animated and choose Animate > Create Anitmated Sweep

Maya AnimatedSweep Options.jpg

Overview of Maya topics

Maya main index

Personal tools