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1 Tutorials LightWave 3D Animation Basics: Constant Walk Cycle em Qua Jan 26, 2011 3:15 am


by Chuck "webfox" Fox

One problem with creating a walk cycle with a
stationary character and no groundplane is
that the feet are inconsistent when they come
to make contact with the floor of the scene
that they later encounter. Your walk cycle
looks good as your character floats in space,
but when it performs in the scene, even though
you have plotted out how far to move your character,
there is still slippage within the steps. Here
is how I have designed a visual aid for creating
a consistent walk cycle. Note that your character
will always be stationary with respect to the
parent null until you are ready, later, to
set it in motion. Do not move the parent null
or you will encounter problems.

At the begining of the walk
cycle, measure the distance from the tip of Toe1
to the tip of Toe2 on the X or Z axis depending
on which direction your character is walking.
Use parented nulls like a ruler or use the ruler
tool if necessary to properly gauge the distance.
From the end of toe1 to the end of toe2 is the
distance of one step. We'll call it "D" for distance.
(When you parent a null to the other - not parented
in place mind you - the distance of the child
null *is* the distance, so you don't have to
do any math by subtracting the location of the
child from the parent null. This makes an easy
tool, as does the ruler you can add in layout.
For me, this is what I've been doing and it's
not big dealio to use 2 nulls.)

Fig. 1 Two Nulls Used to
Determine the Length of the Stride.

In this case, D=951.92mm. I
was really shooting for one meter, but it looked
a little long in the stride for my uses, so I
shortened it. My character has an inconvenient
stride of 951.92 mm and 46 frames. It's no big
deal and we'll work with it. Normal tutorials
usually refer to 1 meter strides and 30 frame
walk cycles because it's convenient. I don't
have time to rebuild my scene right now. Maybe
later.... I am planning to rebuild all my tutorials
right after I'm finished reading the dictionary
cover to cover, building a boat in my basement,
and digging a moat around my home....( ie. Get
what you can from this. It'll be a bit of a wait.)
The reason my character is off from standard
examples is because he was carrying a heavy load
and moved more slowly because of it.

Note: Do NOT
measure from the heel of one foot to the toe
of the other or you will be adding the length
of the foot to the length of the stride and it
will throw you off.

Fig. 2 Another Angle

I used a red/green walk strip
object to help guide my foot strides by moving
the strip a set, repeating distance under the
character's feet. I made a box that was 1 meter
wide (x), .3 meters thick (y), and 951.92/4 mm
long (z) - or 237.98mm. The stride is 951.92mm,
so, divided by 4, this gives me an even 4 blocks
per stride... enough to visually support my analysis
of my animation while I check for heel or toe
slippage. This first block was red. I duplicated
it and set it next to the first and made the
new one green. Now I have a red and green block
that is half as long as the stride. I used the
array tool to create a long walkway for the character
rather than copying, pasting, and visually re-aligning
over and over.

Fig. 3 Cross Section of
the Walk Path in Modeler

This strip, when moved 951.92
mm on the Z axis every step gives me half the
distance of a walkcycle for my character. Obviously,
if your character has a 1 meter or 1000mm stride,
then one fourth of that will be a 250 mm block
instead of the 237mm block I had to use in my
scene. Just set the motion of the whole strip
object to repeat after the last keyframe and
keep the motion linear so that it's constant.
You will have a consistent, infinitely moving
walkway under your character that you can adjust
the stride against. It should look like the graph
in the motion below, but with 250 mm at keyframe
15 instead of 237mm at key 23 like I was using.

Fig. 4 The Motion Graph
of the moving walkpath.
(Click for larger image)

Built this way, you can see
when a toe or heel is not moving at the same
speed as the ground below it and will stand out
against the moving differently colored tiles
very nicely.

It will look like this when
the feet move at the same pace as the moving

Fig. 5 Perspective Animation
of Walk Path
(Click for video)

In any event, the ends of the
path may catch your eyes, but the green/red pattern
flows smoothly.

When you zoom in as in Fig.
6 , you can see that the ends won't catch your
eyes anymore and it appears to be a smooth, neverending,
moving path.

Fig. 6 Zoomed In
(Click for video)

This is all it takes to set
up a smoothly moving path to gauge your character's
feet/hooves/tentacles/whatever against.

If your feet don't move at the
same rate as the moving path, then the feet are
not constant and their motion has to be adjusted
so that they keep in alignment with the moving
path. Key every frame if you have to so that
the feet are constant, otherwise you'll get slippage.

Now, with everything but the
walk path visual aid parented to a universal
null, or if you want to be fancy, parent everything
to a child null of the universal null and label
it "Stride_Null" or something like that. In any
event, whichever you choose to move, the universal
null or the stride null, it will move your whole
rig the distance and velocity of the chosen null.
Say your stride is 1 meter. Then move your null
one meter along the axis of the character's walk
cycle. The Stride_Null moves along one axis,
(Z?), so, say, every 15 frames, you have one
step, then Z should be incremented by D, the
length of the stride (in my case, D was 951.92mm
- yours may be longer or shorter) , every 15
frames. In the motion graph, if you use "offset
repeat" as the post behavior for the null, it
will keep adding to itself and your character
will walk toward infinity without slipping its

(Be sure that your motion is
linear or you may get jerky speed.) If you find
that your feet are still sliding, then your stride
isn't consistent. Kill the stride null's behavior
and try editing your animation again against
the moving path.

Now you can drop your walk cycle
into any scene. Keep proper notes in case your
character doesn't walk an even meter with each

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