I ran out of time, but here’s the final pass. It was a good exercise- there’s still rigging problems with both characters, but all stuff that can be worked out on a per shot basis, at this point- there’s a point where rigging becomes about diminishing returns, unless you’re working on a major production.
It’s still pretty rough, but here’s an attempt to animate with these freshly rigged characters. I usually hit a point where I can’t stand rigging any more and need to start playing, so I thought I’d test them out with this months 10 second club clip. 1 Week left on it and it’s at the point where it could be good, or get really mushy and unclear. Let’s hope for the former. I really struggled with the blue guy- I tried to find a balance of keeping the animation lively, but he really needs to be pretty well anchored. It makes me want to go back and look at that stunning animation of Runt of the Litter in Chicken Little. Say what you will about that film, but there’s some pretty incredible animation in it. I mean, animating what was 2 giant spheres, tiny legs, and tiny arms must have been hard!
Before I animate a character, I tend to sketch a bit just to get into the character. I don’t usually do much with the sketches other than use them as research, but it’s a good way to convey attitude and start to approach an animation.
I just found out a pretty cool trick. A lot of rigs have an issue with having attributes on controls that are floating off in space somewhere. A common thing is having your ik switch on the ik control, but sometimes you’d like to have it on your fk control so you don’t have to hunt it down.
ok..now here’s the nifty part…put your attribute and set driven key onto a shape node (grab a curve and arrow down once) – you can rewire the attribute over using the script AttrMan.mel if you’re doing this to an already rigged character.
Next, take the shape node(let’s call it bob), shift click the control you want to move it to and type in:
parent -add -s bob ;
repeat this same procedure on another control and now different controls control the exact same attribute. If you’re using maya 7, you can use this for visibility of various parts of the rig and in the channel box, make those controls ‘nonkeyable’. This will let you hide and unhide parts yet keep the ability to toggle in a convenient place.
Let me know if this made any sense. I’m not even sure if people are reading this thing.
(tip courtesy of sean nolan and matt aldridge. I can’t think this stuff up)
NOTE: we’ve had some issues with files corrupting upon reopening. The interim solution seems to be to NOT delete the original shape node on the object you parent add to, but hide it if necessary
And the rig is done enough for animation. I set it up in a modular enough fashion so I can keep editing it as I go, or even scrap the facial shapes and start over without losing animation. Seems like the combination of a basic facial ui with some clusters and lattices on a separate head are fast and easy to animate with.
Finally! Animation begins!
First test drive with the new crazy parallel blend shape system. It’s nice separating the rig, facial ui, and squash/stretch deformations into different parts- this is just a quick test to see how the basic controls are- the head has very few shapes hooked up right now, but i’ll probably set up some basic ones just to start playing. But the rig is 90% done and ready to play with. I’m trying to really push the deformations in this character and go very bold with the movment style – more to come as I keep piecing him together. Thanks to sean nolan for his rigging scripts and math node wizardry so this character can be scaled to any size while maintining the stretch. There’s an interesting post over at the spline doctors site that talks about volume and squash and stretch and how vital it is to maintain some sense of rigidity in the appropriate places, like the skull. I’m kinda of two minds about this, as movies like Madagascar do a great job of implementing the ‘smear frame’ into 3d. I’m a huge fan of Tex Avery and that era of animation, where drawing were really pushed and think that cg can really draw from that era. On the other hand, rubbery heads and models aren’t terribly appealing and can really distract, so I’m left with the rule of BE CAREFUL. With the advent of the new Disney style IK rigs that can actually get off model if the animator isn’t careful, it seems wise to just be aware of what your model is doing, and how long the eye has to linger on the frames in question. One of the best lessons I received from the Illusion of Life was to be bold. Push stuff farther than you think it needs to be. I’m asking these questions a lot in setting up this character because I’m trying to set it up for maximim flexiblity.
ok..the painful process of rigging has begun! I’m trying some new techniques with the goal of pushing the deformations while being as lazy as possible. I’m creating the facial targets in a separate file, and will build the ui into this file as well. This head and ui eventually get imported into the main rig file and applied as a blend shape to the head, so 40 blendshapes into one head that becomes a blendshape for the rigged head. The advantage is only flexibility- i can trash this head and redo it as much as I want without affecting animation or skinning. I’ve also added a head with lattices and clusters applied to it. all the geometry becomes a blend shape (that is always switched on) attached to the main head.
ok. kinda geeky here, but the end result is a character with 2 blendshapes that can be tweaked without complicating the main scene. I’m going to put in a blendshaped torso and use clusters and softmods to get soft elbows as well. I’m going to try to not go too crazy with the facial shapes, but add some on-face clusters using the hyperrealmeshparent.mel script. It’s not working too well thus far though, so feel free to pipe up if anyone has had some success with it!
My time is getting pretty limited these days, so I’m making a concerted effort to reshape a couple of old characters and get back to animating!
more to follow…