To create a 5-20 second long animation in Maya involving two or more characters interacting.
My idea was inspired by the NBA All-Star weekend of February 19-20. The story involves two characters performing in a dunk competition. One character would lob the ball to connect with the other for an alley oop slam.
I have always been a fan of low polygon models like the ones used in games. They are blocky and lack realism, but cool nonetheless. I modeled my character using disparate meshes for the body, legs, feet, arms and head. With the exception of the head, all of these meshes began as a polygonal cube. Using mainly face extrusions, vertices translations and merging, and edge subdivisions, these blocks were turned into the appropriate body parts. Even though I like polygonal modeling, I decided to use a NURBS sphere for the head.
I created a simple humanoid skeleton for my characters. The skeleton was actually created even before I started modeling to give me a chance early on to fiddle around with creating animations. IK handles were created for each leg and arm.
Keyframing the animation was probably the longest and most tedious part. Largely because it took me sometime to figure out how to animate the passer initially holding the ball, and then throwing it, only the have it caught later by the dunker and then again thrown into the basket. A search through the Maya help files eventually showed that the use locators would make this possible. Once this part was figured out, keyframing went fairly smoothly, though slowly.
VirtualDub was used for post-production. The frames of the animation were rendered as individual images into a movie. I tracked down the NBA on NBC theme song from the web and added it into the movie as the background music.