7. Spline: Body (no facial or lip sync)
A lot of people fear spline because everything goes terribly mushy and soft and it seems like all your hard work disappears. If this is happening to you, then you probably have not done enough work in all the previous steps I mentioned. You basically haven't thought of what your character is doing, down to the last little arc. It's crazy how precise this industry is, but that is the truth. YOU HAVE TO KNOW WHAT YOUR CHARACTER IS DOING. You're not going to make any groundbreaking discoveries in your spline.
Here are a few ways of easing the pains:
1.I usually will spline like this: Key Pose, Breakdown, Key pose.
So if I have my first key pose on frame 1, my breakdown on frame 5 and my second key pose on frame 13 I will select those keys and flatten the tangents (and the rest of my shot is still in stepped mode). This should be
one movement, and that is how I think about it, as simple as possible.
2.I will also set my timeline to only show me 1-13, so I can just focus on this one move.
3. I hop into my graph editor and I go through all my controls, to turn handles on the tangents and make sure my line are flowing through. (I go through these in this order: hips, torso, head, finger tip, toes, heels,elbows, knees)
So I would grab my key pose 1, breakdown and my key pose 2 and I would just select Translate X in the graph editor and look at those three dots, make sure they are flowing through. Then go through all the rest: Translate Y, Z, Rotate X, Y, Z.
***Here is the point especially in the Translate Y for the hips where I start adjusting my tangents (btw my tangents are set to "weighted tangsnts") to pull out tangents and make those v shapes with the linear button. This is how I set my character when he goes down, I want him to go down fast, so I will make key pose 1, translate y be a steep line down with the linear button. Then I would take the breakdown translate y and stretch out the bottom tangent between key pose1 and breakdown. Now I have my character coming down fast and easing in to his down position. So NOW we have timing, we are making decisions not letting maya do all the floaty animation.
Then I will do this for all the other controls Translate X, Y, Z, Rotate X, Y, Z and go through all my controls in these 3 poses. It's a lot of work, but that just the business we are in. If you follow this formula you will get good results, have interesting movement and most importantly telling maya what YOU want and NOT what maya wants :)
Here is the dad just going from his key pose to breakdown to key pose:
I go through and do all of the above just for the body. I COMPLETELY IGNORE THE FACE. (Set it to proxy so it won't distract you.
Then go down your timeline little by little move on to the next breakdown and key pose and repeat all the steps above. I usually take a break after each one, so that when I go to the next set I feel fresh and ready to give it a thorough pass.
4. Go through shot by shot until I have both characters bodies in a good place. Resist the temptation to work on the face, just focus on the body.
5. Then after this is done I go through and give the body a second spline pass. Because I will now have fresh eyes when I go back and see all sorts of floaty parts. So I go in and make sure there is overlap and offset keys, and make the ups and downs faster or slower, add the eases in. (I've already done this in the previous pass, but sometime your eye is not as fresh since you have to go through all your controls in the graph editor)
Here is shot 2 and 3 after going through all the steps:
Ok so that is the first part going through the body. In the next pose I jump into the facial. Everything is done in order to manage your time as efficiently as possible. You don't want to do facial and body, cause you might do something with the face that messes up the body, but then that facial doesn't make sense, so you have to go back and forth and you never polish and clean anything up.