15-465 and 60-414 Assignments

Turning in assignments

Turn in all assignments on the class vimeo site.

Assignment 1: Animating in Maya

Grading Criteria:

In Maya help these paths will be useful

Additional paths in Maya help that apply to this lesson for more advanced users:

Lynda Tutorials:

For this project you will have to render your files out and create a movie. Below are instructions for rendering so that your images will play back correctly. When you are looking at your files be sure to have the playback set to '30fps realtime', rather than 'play every frame', while working on your animation. Otherwise your animations will end up playing back too fast.

To render frames:

1) Go to the "Render Global Settings" Window (Window->Rendering Editors->Render Globals)

2) Go to the "Image File Output" tab (should be open already) and verify/Change the following settings:

File Name Prefix: (not set; using filename)
Frame/Animation Ext: name.###.ext
Image Format: We suggest jpg.

Frame Padding should be set as follows:

If you have 1-9 frames in your animation - Frame Padding = 1
If you have 10-99 frames in your animation - Frame Padding = 2
If you have 100-999 frames in your animation - Frame Padding = 3
If you have 1000-9999 frames in your animation - Frame Padding = 4 (etc.)

3) Go to the "Resolution" tab (should be open already) and goto the "Presets" pulldown and select "1280x720" (HD720).

4) Set any other settings, such as quality, etc. Then goto the "Rendering" menu set and select Render->Batch Render.

5) Test your frames as a movie to make sure that you are happy with the speed of your animation.

6) Then create a movie from your frames and upload it to vimeo for viewing in class using the instructions presented in class.

Assignment 1: Technical Assignment

You will be able to choose one of the following topics. You will create a short animation using the assigned technology. You will present the animation in class during the crit. Come prepared to describe how you used the technology for your animated sequence. Make an effort to fully exercise the technology so that you develop a good understanding of what is possible, what is not possible and what is easy/hard with this technology so that you can convey that information to the class during the crit.

Grading Criteria:


Each student will pitch a story. You will need to create 5-10 essential storyboard images. You may use any software (or pencil and paper) to create them. The first image should be a title card and include the name of the person who made it. Create a two minute animation of your story board with pacing appropriate for your pitch (rehearse your pitch to check the timing). Upload your animation to vimeo in the storyboard channel. Come to class prepared to pitch your story.

Grading Criteria:

After the initial pitch storyboards will be narrowed and students will be partnered to develop the ideas further.

Revised Storyboard:

One member of your team is responsible for uploading the revised storyboard to Vimeo. It should be a two minute video with timing that works for your pitch. Both team members should participate in the pitch.

Assignment 2: Modeling in Maya

Create a fully articulated character model of your own design and animate it using a rigged skeleton with IK/RK controllers. Output to a movie on Vimeo. Your character should convey personality through its gait in 150 to 300 frames.

For assistance the LEARNING AUTODESK MAYA text book has tutorials:
for building skeletons and skinning pp 229 - 259
for animating using IK and trax editor pp. 275 -331

For assistance from online tutorials:
Go to Maya help
In the Search box type "Walking"
Animation, Character Setup, and Deformers
43. Examples: Working with full body IK

There are three examples in this exercise for humanlike body movement

Lynda Tutorials:
Modeling Cartoon Characters in Maya Character Rigging in Maya Animating Cartoon Characters in Maya Working with HumanIK Rigs in Maya
Character Animation Fundamentals with Maya with George Maestri

Grading Criteria:

same as Assignment 1 with the following additions

Assignment 2: Technical Assignment

You will be assigned a second topic from the list provided for Assignment 1 Technical Assignment.

Assignment 3: Technical Element

Create a short animation (150-300 frames) that focuses on a technical element from those listed in Assignment 1: Technical Assignment. The teams should discuss each individual's choice for this assignment and use this as an opportunity to test out potential methods for creating a technical element for your animation project.

Grading Criteria: same as Assignment 1: Technical Assignment.


The animatic should be done entirely within Maya (no hand drawn scenes or video). It should block out all of the scenes and give you a fairly precise sense of the timing of the piece. You can create the animatic by moving unrigged preliminary versions of your models (blocky characters) and coarsely animating the key actions. Choose the camera angles and animate the camera moves that you expect to have appear in the final piece. Put in cubes or other simple shapes to represent the static elements of the scene. Make sure that the characters move at approximately the right pace so that the timing of the piece is realistic. For example, you might not animate a walking cycle but make sure that your character slides along the ground at a reasonable walking pace. If sound is critical you should have at least an initial soundtrack to use as an editing reference. Your animatic should become a "living document" where you add in scenes and characters as they reach a more complete state for each critique during the rest of the semester.

The animatic video should be uploaded by a member of your group to the animatic Vimeo channel.

Grading Criteria:

"Making Of" video:

Each team will put together a "Making Of" video for their project that will serve as an archival record of your progress. At a minimum, the video should include: The "Making Of" video must be turned in on Vimeo channel at the final crit.

Final Project:

The final projects will incorporate technical elements. We will collect ideas for elements of the animations that might be enhanced in this way throughout the semester. Here is a preliminary list:

Final Crit:

The final videos (both the animation and the "Making Of" video) must be uploaded to the Vimeo channel in advance of the Final Crit. Use a high quality and common codec such as H264 Each student should also independently send the instructors an email with a list of what each member of the team contributed to the project (including their own contribution).

Setting Things Up

You should be able to log into the machines in either CFA or Gates with your andrew ID.

The keys are different under linux than under windows. You can fix some of these problems by following the instructions here:

go to help/library menu in maya
click installing/linux
go to User notes
go to Linux desktop configuration
follow the instructions from there

Disk Space

We expect you to use box to store your files and to coordinate among your team members. You must render to the hard drive on the Windows machines, the default render is set to your andrew user account. You must also move the files off of the hard drive before you log out, they will not stay on the hard drive after logout. You can render to /tmp on the linux boxes. Those are periodically deleted so do NOT leave your frames there long term.

Jessica Hodgins