3: Body Mechanics and Staging

  • Homework Crits.  

  • Q&A on ASK reading up to page 84.

  • Staging

"A pose or action should clearly communicate to the audience the attitude, mood, reaction or idea of the character as it relates to the story and continuity of the story line. The effective use of long, medium, or close up shots, as well as camera angles also helps in telling the story. There is a limited amount of time in a film, so each sequence, scene and frame of film must relate to the overall story. Do not confuse the audience with too many actions at once. Use one action clearly stated to get the idea across, unless you are animating a scene that is to depict clutter and confusion. Staging directs the audience's attention to the story or idea being told. Care must be taken in background design so it isn't obscuring the animation or competing with it due to excess detail behind the animation. Background and animation should work together as a pictorial unit in a scene." -Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston.

  • Camera Techinques: 

Angle, View, Focal Length, Silhouettes, Readability.  See MediaKnowAll as well as The Grammar of Television and Film for further info. 

  • Composition:  

The Rule of Thirds.

  • Breakdowns:

See Keith Lango's "Life after Pose to Pose" tutorial and"breakdowns can be such a Drag" Again for more info.

  • Dynamic Parenting: 

Also known as space switching.  See John DoubleStein's mel script JTDdynParentUI.mel and check out djx's walkthrough. This is based on the tools written by Hamish McKenziebut works axactly the same.  Check out my Tutorial on "grabbing and releasing objects the easy way."

  • Constraints:  

Point, Orient, Aim, Parent, Tangent, and Geometry.

  • Props:

1 handed prop animate the hand. 2 handed prop animate the prop. 2 handed prop demo.

  • Handy Scripts: 

Justin Barrett's tweenMachine.mel, Oleg Alexander's oaSmoothKeys.mel, and oaGammaKeys.mel.  To install a mel script drop it in "my documents/maya/2009/scripts."  Usually to run a mel script type the name of the script in the command line without the .mel extension.

  • Maya Silhouette Trick: 

Press 7 with no lights in the scene to check out your characters silhouette!

  • Graph Editor: 

insert key vs add key, interpolation types (spline, linear, stepped), break tangents.

  • Inverse Kinematics vs Forward Kinematics: 

See this Spline Doctors post for more details.


  • Heavy and Light bouncing ball in one scene. 75-150 frames. Deliver Quicktime movie

  • Revisit Push, Pull, or Lift. 150-200 frames. Deliver quicktime Movie

  • 3 more poses delivered in a 3 frame quicktime movie 

  • Read to page 128 in ASK.