In Maya, there are a couple of ways that you can control the speed or velocity of objects in your animations. For example, you controlled the velocity of the approaching spaceship coming into the hangar bay by simply creating Keyframes at specific points in time. Specifically, you set the beginning of the animation at Frame 1 and the spacecraft touching down on the pad at frame 700. In real time at 24 frames per second, this is just slightly over 29 seconds.
The second method of animating the spacecraft was attaching the spacecraft to a curve that was used as an animation path. That, too, went from Frame 1 to Frame 700.
The next step in the process is to adjust the timing of the animation in order to give yourself more control over the speed of the spaceship as it comes into the hangar and lands. To accomplish this, you will use Maya’s Animation Graph Editor.
The Animation Graph Editor is a graphic interface that allows you to see the animation that has been applied to objects as both Keyframes and curves. This makes it easier to visualize not only the motion of a single object, but it can also help you evaluate the relative motion of many objects.
The primary function of the graph editor is to allow you to edit the animation function curves.
The curves are the connections between the Keyframes on animated parameters of objects in your scene. In the example of your spaceship, the curve represents the motion of the animated spaceship along the total length of the path. In order to adjust the velocity of the spaceship as it lands, you need to adjust the Keyframe itself. More specifically, you will need to adjust the Keyframe Tangent option in order to change the shape of your curve and alter the timing of the animation.
Next week we will be covering how to use the graph editor for Maya!