Maya Animation Layers

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Introduction

This assumes you know how to work with animation layers, this page is just how to use this plugin.

The only difference with Maya files saved using Animation Layers is you need the layers plugin to view the extra layers. If you don't, you only see the base layer key frames, the other frames will be lost if you re-save it. Also, before putting a layered animation into the game, you need to bake the keyframes into one layer. This puts a key frame on every frame, so the resulting file should not be considered a working copy anymore. Save the original with the layers.

Installation

NeoReel Download Page - this page tells you everything you need to install it.

Test it by opening the Layers editor. Window\General\Display Layer Editor. At the top of the Layer Editor, there is usually just "Display" and "Render" radio buttons, but if the animation layers plugin is active, you will see a third option - "Anim".

If this doesn't show up, then simply follow these one-time-only steps;

  • Open the script window - Window\General Editors\Script Editor
  • Type "neoreelLibrary -config" in the bottom pane and press CTRL+ENTER, the config pane comes up
  • Under Utilities, check nrToolbox
  • Under Animation, check nrLayers
  • Back in the script window, type "neoreelLibrary -refresh" in the bottom pane and press CTRL+ENTER
  • type "neoreelLibrary -load nrLayers" in the bottom pane and press CTRL+ENTER

That should get it going. If this is the case, then every time you start Maya and want to work with Layered Animation files, you need to open the script window and type "neoreelLibrary -load nrLayers", but that's a small price to pay to have animation layers in Maya.

Usage

  • Open the Layers editor. Window\General\Display Layer Editor.
  • Click the "Anim" radio button at the top of the Layer Editor.
  • In the menu on the Layer editor, you can click Layers\Create Empty Anim Layer. This is how you create your animation layers.
  • Go to the first frame and click Keys\Set Zero Key, this makes sure each layer starts with the body parts in the same position.

When you select an animation layer, the main animation timeline changes to only show the keyframes in that layer. Beyond that, Maya works exactly as it usually does - but now you have the control of layers.

When you are ready to export

  • First save this file somehwere as an original copy. Currently I'm saving to model_src\[modelName]\Maya_Layered
  • Click Layers\Bake Anim Layers. This puts a keyframe on every frame of the Base layer, effectively flattening the animation
  • Now save it as a different file and export it into the game. Remember this is not a working file anymore, to make changes you should go back to the original.