Friday, 6 November 2020

Why Walk Cycles Need Sine Waves

Sine wave in Maya's Graph Editor
Animators like sine waves. Not because we are good at maths (it was my worst subject at school) but because in 3D animation, a sine wave typically shows that your animation is smooth and flowing, without bumps or mistakes.

A sine wave

Walk Cycles
Sine Waves are especially important when you are animation a walk cycle. This is because in a cycle, the motion should be broadly symmetrical - else it will likely feel as if the character is limping. Each step should be like the other step, and this means that the curves should be smooth and flowing.

Sine wave
A sine wave is a curve describing a smooth periodic oscillation, a continuous wave. In Maya, in the Graph Editor, animators can show how a curve will flow over time by turning on Infinity Curves, and then making sure that the curve is smooth and flowing, as in the example above. 

If you are animating a walk cycle, and you can see bumps and tics in the animation, then most likely you need to check your animation curves in the Graph Editor, and ensure that most (but not all) of your curves look more or less like the example above. 

More on the Graph Editor
For more information on the Graph Editor, and how to use it, follow these links:

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