Tuesday, March 19, 2013

@Alan: Copy and paste keyframes from character in one Maya file to another

Hi Alan, I am looking for a simple, intuitive "copy and paste key-framing" method. I want to move one animation I currently have in a separate file, to my main Maya scene file where the same character and another animation resides. At first, some online guides recommended me simply working with the animImportExport.mll plug-in within Maya, yet this does not work and online threads detour a lot about using third-party scripts as workarounds. Alternatives to this included copy-and-pasting key-frames between files and Maya's clipboard is sure to remember these actions. This is a load of rubbish and causes a mess in the graph editor and all of the attributes are all over the place. Looking around further, a cleaner way is to create a character set and animation clips using the Maya Trax editor. I can export an animation clip from the source file and import the clip into the main file just fine. However, and now I want to re-activate the clip back onto the timeline to slot it in beside the original animation so the key-frames are visible. Of course, I cannot do this because any pre-existing key-frames on the timeline need to be deleted for the command to work:

// Error: line 0: Cannot make clip active while character has keys. Create clip for current character keys or remove keys. //

So I export the animation on the timeline to a second animation clip, lifting off all key-frames. This gets rid of the error message and I can activate the keys of one animation clip back to the timeline now with not a worry. Unfortunately, I can only activate one animation clip at a time (segment in Trax Editor turns purple to indicate being activated and keyframes unload to the timeline).

I have two clips. I need to merge them, so I can work on them simultaneously from the timeline and not from the Trax Editor. When I merge them, Maya bakes a key-frame for every frame and there are no smart bake/ cleanup options available in the Merge options box-menu. Is there a way to mix the clips down into the actual character, like enabling the keys for the clip, except permanently, and for both clips without excessive keyframes? Am I missing something obvious?

Would it be a plainly easier to work with the Trax Editor and separate files? (So that when I create the character dynamics, the animations in one main file are nicely affected by the changes).

This is so long-winded and I have not tackled with this part of the animation pipeline yet. I am hoping you can suggest a way of going about this/ advise on merging down and returning key-frames to the timeline. Or to simply use the Trax Editor to sort the clips into order. Thanks in advance.


  1. Hi Dayle

    I'm probably going to need to have a chat with you about this in person and with an example file. When will you be in next?

  2. I can sit in for the 11:30 tutorial this Friday, that'd be a great time if you're free.