This is from my recent teachings of 3D Rigging and Rig Building.
What is rigging and rig building?
Rigging is the process of articulating movement for a 3D asset, creating controls and tools to be used by the animator for any asset, creating user interfaces within the software environment, and designing the deformation of the character to meet the aesthetic or believability of the project.
Rig building is the process of creating tools to support the development of new rigs and rig concepts, such as a tool to create viewport controllers usable by the animator. Due to the frequency of creating these controllers, we can develop a script to generate controls that has been prepped using the Principles of Rigging (drafting the principles), saving a huge amount of time. As well as a tool to edit keyable channels, limits of ranges, visibility, and more all from one tool; editing the whole rig.
The Rigging Disciplines
There are many disciplines within the job title Character Technical Director. Let’s unpack this a little. First, there’s the animator’s controls, which is a study of how the animator interacts with the character. In other words, you need to study the art of animation, and all the various aesthetics it entails. This leads us to the believe-ability of the character. We need to create the deformation of the character, and we do this with a thorough study of motion and bio-mechanics; even for cartoon characters, and the study of the human anatomy, muscles, fat, tendons, bone, etc., from the artist’s perspective and a medical perspective. Then there’s UX design. We are also, at some level of competency, user interface experience designers. The graphic user interface requires us to study of interactivity, which includes psychology and graphic design. In a way, we are game designers. The animator has to “play” the rig, and we would do well to study game design principles to better engage the people who use the rig. We may even need to go as far as engineering motion through the study of forces, apply mathematics (or find a mathematician) to create a dynamic and responsive rig; eg. environment responding to the rig, and the rig responding to the environment [from Raffaele – basics of Linear algebra, trigonometry, calculus (little bit), book – Mathematics for Computer Graphics by John Vince, book – Pre-calculus for Dummies]. Finally, we’re programmers, software engineers of a kind. We would do well to study programming principles , such as Pattern Design principle, Object-Oriented Programming, and Procedural principles. This requires us to know more than one language; eg. Maya MEL script, Python, PyMel, and C++ API. In conclusion, study everything.
- Bernard Haux – my hero. Disney
- Jason Schliefer – my “teacher”. WetaDigital and Dreamworks
- Raffaele Fragapane – a discerning rigger. Animal Logic. Really awesome!