Thursday, 19 July 2007

rigging checklist for animator friendly rigging

a lot of rigs are super cool and can do tons of things
but often even animators who rig forget about important little things that makes animating with a rig easier and streamlined - therefore help to produce more and better animation in the same time, and doesnt frustrate the animator.

gimbal lock rotation order
set the rotation order of the objects in a way that helps to prevent gimbal lock
and to make sense in terms of how axis get aligned (really think about that) (check jason schleifer dvd)
XYZ is the standard - if Y is used a lot then change it (the middle one is the dangerous one)
check my earlier post on that topic

pickwalk up and down ability on controls
maya has a nice "feature" that allows you to go up, down and sideways in hirarchies with the 4 arrow buttons.
enable that on the spline animation controls
so that i can pickwalk up and down on for example a tail with 6 controls

no redundant controls
two controls doing the same thing
resulting in two f curves describing the same motion

often found in hips area
3 controls very close to each other
main root - hip rotation - uper torso rotation
so this would be two controls affecting the uper torso rotation
doing pretty much the same thing
so the main hip controller should also be the root rotation of the upper spine - no need for an extra controller

or rotation of hands if they have a fk ik switch

controls should be visually unique and simple
it often happens that you cant really say which control is which when you have some weired view on the model (zoomed in view from the top right or something)
then you have 3 circles (rig controls) and you often grab the wrong one
so eyes can be eliptical - body like hands and legs and torso can be circles - left and right different color - ik orientation points (where the knee / elbow bends to) be a simple arrow or something
just to keep things really simple and obvious
3d sort of controls like boxes and spheres or 3d arrows arent really ideal because that would mean more lines that clutter up the view

rotations and values should make sense
if you rotate something forward - it should give you positive rotation values in the Graph Editor
if you rotate it backwards - it should give you negative values (check jason schleifer dvd)
custom parameters: a swivel foot that rotates the foot -180 to 180 should not have values from -1 to 1 - instead it should represent in the GE what the foot is doing therefore have values -180 to 180

its got to be fast - as fast as possible
check whats the fastest way to calculate things in your app (a rig is basicly just a big calculator)
nodes are faster than expressions in maya
expressions are faster than scops in xsi (i am not 100% shure but thats what people say)
calculating distance built in nodes/objects is faster than if you have to write code
segment the geometry for each skinbone and just parent it to it to have a proxy

think outside the box
a rendering node may be the thing that calculates what you need for your rig (rgb - xyz blend color node instead of blending between two constraints)
other useful maya nodes (invert)

to be expanded
please help to expand this list

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