Animators, we aim to make your life easier. The approach taken with designing rigs.
As much as a car would not go anywhere without its engine, gear and all its mechanical and electrical parts so a 3D character would not walk, run, jump, talk and act without its operating system, the animation rig. How’s that for a reference?
Expanding on that reference, when we joyfully skip to our nearby car dealer with a plan to get back with a new car, there are some key elements we would want that car to have, no matter the size, type, brand and price.
It should run properly and smoothly with no problems or glitches, it should take us from one point to another in the quickest and easiest way, it should be highly responsive, comfortable to sit in and intuitively easy to handle, it’ll be nice if it had some extra features that’ll make us smile when we drive it and make our life easier and it should look nice.
It’s not surprising that the car manufacturers invest a lot of their resources and ingenuity on making our cars be just like that. Appealing, lightweight and easy to use.
key elements of a rig
So now that we bought our new car and we’re heading to our studio enjoying the air conditioning and the music that comes out of our new stereo system, we arrive at the studio and in front of the computer we found ourselves wanting the same key elements to exist in the animation rigs that operate the characters so they won’t slow down our workflow, after all, we have deadlines to meet. From what I’ve experienced they mostly do not have them.
This is something I’ve encountered almost since the first day of my career in 3D animation, The battle for optimization.
The nature of the service I had to give which was pretty much maximum result in minimum time, I’m sure anyone can relate to that, had me pay close attention to this battle and enforced me to look out and find out ways to optimize my work and give quick responses and solutions, and as we all know things can get pretty heavy pretty fast in our line of work.
If you’re an animator who are not working on a mega feature animation production where you have more than enough time scheduled to get pampered on your shots, then you’re probably working on a low to mid budget type of production.
Not that I’m saying that mega productions will not make you work extremely hard but in smaller productions, oh boy, the deadlines are tight and your outcome should meet the standards of the client which are often not in sync with the time frame you’ve been given.
A rig that does not function properly will make your life miserable.
Sometimes it will put an entire sequence on hold and will make you and your team go on a bumpy ride, to say the least, reshuffling and reorganizing stuff in order to meet the deadline.
This type of things happens a lot in the animation TV series industry where you need to maximize results in minimum time and investment.
Now, I’m not going to bore you with details in this article but rather to try explaining the approach I’m using in the battle for optimization.
For that, let me go back to the car reference, not that I’m a big car expert, but I’ve learned one or two things about it and I like referencing stuff from other forms of craft because I think there are many principles that are similar and can be observed and applied in whatever it is you do.
In an attempt to swiftly examine the way a car is built, we can easily find that it is mainly designed to serve the driver. Besides the obvious of having a box on four wheels that goes, every element built in it is specifically designed and put there to meet the standards of the driver, Whether he is aware of them or not.
Forms, shapes, materials, sizes, volumes, orders and locations of all the parts moving and static, functionalities etc. and most importantly the relationships between them, are all there to perform in a highly efficient, comfortable and easy to operate way, so our ride will be as smooth and enjoyable as possible.
Use the same approach on an animation rig
The same approach, I believe, should be applied on an animation rig. And this is what we’re trying to accomplish every time we go on to build the next rig, out of the mindset of being a service to animators.
Being an animator myself and working closely with other animators in a TV series production, I’ve learned a lot about what will put a big smile on our faces when we work a rig, especially in this kind of an intensive environment.
From modeling to rigging to animation, each step is meant to be taken under thought and consideration in ways
that will compliment its fellow steps, so that at the end of the process we will get rigs that are optimized to the best performance while keeping all three values that we have found to be highly important to animators. Appealing, lightweight and easy to use.
Have fun animating with well built rigs
We want you to have fun animating with our rigs as much as you have fun driving your cars, well, when you tour the countryside not stuck in traffic obviously. That is our goal and we will continue to grow and develop in that direction.
If this makes any sense to you, then please know that it makes me happy because I’m known to be talking a lot of nonsense. 😉
And don’t forget to check our Maya rigs