Using the Maya Sequencer

Uploaded by MayaHowTos on 24.01.2011

The Maya Sequencer is a pre-visualization tool that allows you to set up and play back a sequence of shots.
In this lesson, we’ll use the sequencer to set up some dynamic shots for this car chase.
First, let’s get a sense of what our camera shots will be by looking at the provided storyboards.
These storyboards indicate the scene is composed of five shots.
Let’s go ahead and create five cameras, and name them camera 1 through 5.
Now go to the Panels > Saved Layouts > Persp/Camera Sequencer.
The sequencer appears beneath the scene with its own timeline, similar to the Trax Editor.
In this video we’ll be making the distinction between the "sequence" and the animation.
Let’s create our first shot by opening the Create Shot Options.
Set the Shot Camera to camera1.
Now let’s set up a reference image.
A reference image allows us to overlay our hand drawn storyboard images directly onto Maya so we can line up our shots.
Click the browse button and select our first storyboard image.
Let’s set the opacity on this image to about 0.5 so that we can see the scene underneath it.
The scene automatically switches to camera 1, but you may receive an error
that states your storyboard Image Type is set to Movie.
To fix this, select camera1 in the Outliner and navigate to the imagePlane tab in the Attribute Editor.
From here, set the Type to Image File. Also make sure the Use Image Sequence option is turned off.
The storyboard overlay appears over top of your scene.
Let’s also turn on the Film Gate and Gate Mask settings.
Now you can adjust the camera to match the storyboard.
You can scrub the animation time slider a bit so the getaway car appears
in the middle of the intersection just like the storyboard if it helps.
Now that we have the proper shot angle, let’s adjust the shot’s duration in the sequencer.
First turn off the image plane so we can get a better look at our shot.
In the Sequencer, a shot is represented by a blue track. If we scrub all the way to the end of this track,
we can see it’s a little too short. We want the shot to last until the cars are just outside the frame.
Judging from our animation time slider, this happens at about frame 100.
To extend the shot, move your cursor to the upper right side of the track, until it turns into a small knife.
Now drag to the right until the numbers both read 100.
Now if you scrub, the shot lasts the proper duration.
Let’s create our second shot. Like before, go to the Create Shot Options.
Set Shot Camera to Camera2.
Since we ended our last shot at frame 100 of the animation, set the Start time to 101,
and the End time to something like 200. The exact End time doesn’t matter as we’ll change this later.
Also, set the New Shot Placement to After Current Shot and select the first shot in the Sequencer so that it turns yellow.
This will automatically place our new shot after our first shot, rather than on a parallel track.
Set the image to our second storyboard file and then create the shot.
Now scrub the timeline to the new shot and line up the camera just like you did in the first one.
This shot is a little different from our first one since we want the camera to follow the police car as it
drives around the corner. To do this we’ll need to set up a constraint.
First switch back to the perspective camera and find camera2 in the scene.
Now select the police car and Shift + select the camera. Set a Parent Constraint and
be sure to turn on the Maintain Offset option.
Now if you switch back to camera2 and scrub through the animation timeline
you can see that the camera follows the police car.
Scrubbing through the Sequencer again, our second shot is a bit long.
We’d ideally like to jump to the next shot just as the fire truck pulls into view,
so let’s drag the duration down to frame 180.
Use what you’ve learned to set up shot3 and 4. Make sure to set the Camera, Start time,
Shot Placement, and Image appropriately.
As you can see, we’ve set the duration of shot3 from frame 181 to 220, and of shot4 from 221 to 235.
With shot4 completed, scrub through the entire sequence.
Uh oh, there’s a problem. In the storyboard, shot4 should capture the police car skidding into the air
and crashing into the fountain. But if we look at what we have here, the police car is
already resting in the fountain by the time we reach shot4.
In order to see the lead up to this, we’d have to pull this shot back to about frame 185.
But back at frame 185 we were looking at camera3.
This is where the independence between the sequence and the animation really comes into use.
If you’ve noticed, as we’ve dragged the shot durations, two numbers have been changing.
These two numbers actually represent two different things.
The top number represents the start or end frame in the animation, whereas the bottom number
represents the start or end frame in the sequence.
All our previous shots occurred sequentially in the animation and the sequence, so the numbers always matched up.
However, we can use this to make a shot that is consecutive in the sequence, but that actually overlaps in the animation.
First, click and drag the top left number of shot4. If we want to capture the skid,
we’ll need to bring this back to about frame 185.
Notice that when you do this, the shot jumps to a lower track. This is because the shots now overlap in the sequence.
To fix this, click the bottom left number representing the shot’s start time in the sequence,
and drag it to the right until it reads 221. This changes only its start time in the sequence, but not in the animation.
Once you’ve done this, drag the entire shot back up to the same track as the others
Now scrub through the sequence again. Keep an eye on the animation time slider.
As you can see, when the red line transitions from shot3 to shot4 the animation time slider jumps back.
Now you can clearly see the police car swerve and leap into the fountain.
To finish the scene, setup the fifth and final shot. You don’t have to do anything special with this one
since it falls in sequence like shots 1-3. Set it to end at frame 350.
Now your sequence is complete. You can playblast the entire sequence from the playblast menu
to see what it looks like rendered.