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  • Writer's picturejoshuamerck

Quick Tip - Importance of Rotation Orders

Updated: May 11, 2020

Rotation Orders are at the core of rigging and animation -- think arm gimbal lock, flipping cameras, and arbitrarily adjusting a head tilt with three fcurves instead of one!

Your goal is for your controllers' fcurves to make sense as you animate.  If the pelvis is going up and down, the fcurve should also go up and down.  If you want to tilt a head or camera, you should be able to do so with one fcurve -- not two or three.

Set your rotation manipulator to "gimbal" mode (maya) or "add" mode (xsi) to see an accurate visual of your rotation orders and start rotating!

Set axes in order of [Most Important to Least Important].  In your attribute editor (maya) or property box (xsi), reading your rot orders right to left will help you more easily set your axes order of rotation.  If you read [xyz] right to left, it will show you that Z is more important than Y, and Y more than X.  Always set your axes to work in order of most important to least important.  For example, with a camera or feet, you generally want to calculate the pan first, then tilt, then roll.

You may think, who cares?  Start animating and you will!  Spending more time at this stage will make it much quicker to make a simple change with a director on your back.

I learned this and many other tricks from an incredible mentor -- just passing it along.
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