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maya_dolly_instructions

maya_dolly_instructions

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05/09/2014

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***** This document and the associated Maya file (dolly.mb) are very technical, and
***** are meant for 3D Animators who direct in 3D.
***** By Per Holmes. \u00a92004-05 Hollywood Camera Work.
*****www.hollywoodcamerawork.us
3D DOLLY/CRANE
This Maya scene shows how to rig a dolly/crane in 3D to make 3D cameras behave more
like real-world cameras.
Loading:

1.) Dolly.mb is for Maya 5 and up.
2.) After loading, press 6 to view with shading.
3.) Play the timeline.
4.) Select Panels->Perspective->camera10Shape to view the move from camera\u2019s

perspective.
The dolly rig included in the file is the same as used in The Master Course in High-End
Blocking and Staging, so naturally most of the rigging is to accommodate geometry for

rendering purposes. This rig is merely meant as demonstration of a concept. For 3D filmmaking you may want to rig your own dolly/crane from scratch, since such a rig doesn\u2019t need any geometry and will be much simpler.

The idea behind this rig is that normal keyframed 3D cameras can often behave
erratically and be hard to control. Because 3D cameras can move so freely, 3D camera
work often gets the feeling of being \u201call over the place\u201d, and very often feels like 3D or
video game.

In order to give 3D camera work a cinematic feel, it can be useful to rig a virtual
dolly/crane in 3D to constrain the camera to the same physical parameters as physical
camera support equipment.

A normal dolly/crane consists of a base which can track left/right, and a boom arm placed
at a certain elevation which can rotate left/right and up/down. The camera is attached to
the end of the boom, and can pan/tilt/roll. Regardless of the specific camera support
equipment, this is the basic function of anything from a tiny tripod-dolly to a 100ft crane,
the only difference being the length of the boom.

Instead of animating the camera directly, we\u2019ll then set up a structure (with or without
geometry) with the following hierarchy:

1.) A container group that allows us to position and rotate the entire rig.
2.) A dolly base that can only move on one axis.
3.) An elevation point above the base that allows us to control how high the pivot of

the boom arm is positioned.
4.) A boom arm of any length attached to the elevation point.
5.) A camera attached to the end of the boom arm.

Our controls are then the following:

1.) Dolly left/right.
2.) Boom Pan and Tilt.
3.) Camera Pan, Tilt and Roll.

Camera Pan, Tilt and Roll can either be animated directly, or with an Aim Constraint. In
addition, we\u2019ll be able to change the length of the boom, and how high it\u2019s positioned,
but we wouldn\u2019t normally animate these parameters.

THE RIG IN THE MAYA FILE
The rig in \u201cdolly.mb\u201d is made of 3 objects:
Dolly10
- which contains all keyable attributes, and holds the entire rig.
Camera10
- which is the Maya camera.

CameraGreen - which is a green piece of geometry to show the position and orientation
of the Maya camera, and simply copies the Translate and Rotate XYZ
from the Maya camera. This object is not necessary, but very convenient.

Most of the objects in Dolly10, such as Wheels and Track, are geometry for display
purposes and are not important, so let\u2019s just cover the important objects:

1.) The Dolly10->Dolly object is the dolly base. Animating translateX slides the
dolly left and right. The child \u201cBase\u201d is the geometry to show the base and
wheels.

2.) Attached to Dolly10->Dolly->Base is a cylinder called \u201cVerticalPosition\u201d which
is there to determine how high above the base the boom arm is positioned.

3.) A locator \u201cBoomHeightLocator\u201d is parented to the cylinder at the end. We move that locator up and down by scaling the cylinder-geometry on the Y-axis, thereby changing the height of where the boom arm will be attached.

4.) The Boom arm itself is another cylinder which is Point Constrained to
\u201cBoomHeightLocator\u201d. The Boom object is placed within the Dolly10 hierarchy,
but since it\u2019s Point Constrained, it gets its translateXYZ from the absolute
position of \u201cBoomHeightLocator\u201d, and not the Dolly10 hierarchy.

5.) We change the length of the boom by scaling the boom cylinder on the X axis. 6.) We Pan and Tilt the boom by rotating the boom-cylinder on the Y and Z axis. 7.) At the end of the Boom geometry we\u2019ve attached another locator

\u201cCameraLocator\u201d.
8.) The Maya camera \u201ccamera10\u201d is Point Constrained to this locator.
9.) Pan, Tilt and Roll are controlled by animating camera10\u2019s rotateXYZ directly.

In order to make this easy to animate, we\u2019ve collected all attributes within the root of
Dolly10, which then remote control the various translates, rotates and scales within the
Dolly10 hierarchy and camera10:

boomPan, boomTilt
control rotateY and rotateZ of Dolly10->Boom.
cameraPan, cameraTilt
control rotateX and rotateY of camera10.
dollyMove
controls translateX of Dolly10->Dolly.
elevation
controls scaleY of Dolly10->Base->VerticalPosition.
length
controls scaleX of Dolly10->Boom.
FocalLength
copies Focal Length value to
camera10->camera10Shape->focalLength for convenience.
Visibility

Toggles visibility of Dolly10 hierarchy. CameraGreen copies this value so entire rig can be Shown/Hidden by changing Dolly10\u2019s visibility.

This makes it extremely easy to animate all camera functions from a central place. The
way this is set up, the Maya camera only gets its translate XYZ from the dolly hierarchy,

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