Friday, 11 March 2016

How to "Bake Your Curves" in Maya

Not that kind of baking
What do 3D animators mean by “baking curves”? Baking curves in Maya is a way of creating keyframes on every frame, so that you can then go in and edit the individual keyframes, and adjust the performance of your animation. 

Let’s say - for example - that you have created a 13 frame run cycle with our old friend Monty - the green pea with legs. Turn on your infinity curves, and set your timeline to 100 frames, and your character will keep running for the full 100 frames, because Maya's infinity curves will keep the character running for an infinitely long time.

But let’s say we want to add a performance to the end of the shot. Perhaps Monty stops and sees an old friend. Or falls down a manhole. Or has to dodge a falling object. We can’t do this because the infinity curves are turned on. If we change the run cycle, it will change every single step, which we don’t want. So, what should we do?

What we have to do is bake out our curves - so that we have editable keyframes on every frame, or on every other frame. Then, we can adjust the keyframes at the end of the shot, and add a performance. To see how it is done, watch the video above.

How to bake your keys
To bake your keys, select all the curves you want to bake in the Graph Editor. Then go to edit/keys/bake simulation/options box.  In the window, go to edit/reset. Now it’s a bit of a pain to have keyframes on every single frame so, under sample, set this to two. This will set keys on every second keyframe, which is a lot easier to edit later. Now press Bake. You will now have key frames on every frame.

Cleaning up
Now let's turn off our infinity curves. Select all the curves and keyframes in your Graph Editor, and go to curves/pre-infinity/constant. And also curves/post-infinity/constant. You have now turned off your infinity curves.

Add a performance
Now you can adjust your key frames in the Graph Editor. You have moved beyond the basic run cycle, and you can now adjust your key frames, and create whatever performance you have in mind.

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