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Rodney

Seeking some Rigging Perspective (ToaA:M)

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TaoA:M places a good deal (if not all) of Rigging into it's second section which concerns itself with Modeling (the other two sections being Animation and Technical Direction).

This certainly works for categorization purposes but I've long felt that rigging often falls in the realm of Tech Direction more than anything else.

This is partially I see that rigging can require a sizable investment in time and attention.

Perhaps I have been mistaken.

 

In considering how to best move forward with TaoA:M updates I'm wondering how best to approach the subject of Rigging especially with regard to it's relationship with Technical Direction.

 

Certainly, the basics of rigging belong in the realm of Modeling and likewise an Animator must understasnd the basics of rigging in order to use the skeleton/rigging that is supplied with a character/object. But where is the line drawn when a rig can be considered complex enough to require technical direction?

 

Perhaps I'm looking at this from the wrong vantage point to begin with?

 

The following makes immediate sense to me from a practical/learning perspective:

- Animation deals mostly with manipulating a rig and in communicating where something in the rigging needs additional attention

- Modeling includes all of the necessary functions to articulate the object/character. A finished/articulate model will incorporate a basic rigging setup to accomplish what is likely required when the model is animated (i.e. a clock model would require the second and minute hands to be manipulated)

-Technical Direction covers the perfecting of rigs for optimal use by Animators and Modelers. This covers features of an model that will are both seen and unseen (hair effects, programmed texturing, exporting to alternative formats, interactions between models, etc.)

 

It's this last area of interest (Techical Direction) where my attempt at categorization breaks down and I find myself revisiting the basics to refine my understanding.

 

Your thoughts?

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I view Modeling and Rigging as two separate activities, and yet each informs the other.

 

The expert character modelers understand the mechanisms of rigs and spline their models to exploit rig powers and avoid rig complexity.

 

For example, an elbow bend made of three spline rings is easier to rig than one with 10 spline rings, so we make our elbows with three spline rings if we can.

 

On the other hand, there is no three-spline solution for the accordion-like arms of the "Lost in Space" Robot. The shape dictates that some other boning strategy will have to be devised if it is to be rigged at all.

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I do like the distinction of Modeling and Rigging being separate activities that overlap.

This is not unlike the same overlaps we see with Animation and TDs... Animation and Modeling... Rigging and Animation... TDing and Rigging.

 

There are two constraints that I see the outside world trying to place on the process of rigging.

The first is that of automatic rigging, which we see becoming more popular with bipedal characters that are easier to fit with standardized rigs.

On the other end of the spectrum are the one off models that will always require a custom rig; those are the models whose function must be studied/understood before any rigging is generated.

 

TaoA:M treats rigging as complementary to Modeling in that it takes the desired function of a model into consideration.

The form of the model may be what appears on screen but it's that function that dictates the extent of it's proper shape and appearance, out of an otherwise indefinite number of options; limiting those options to those that will be most likely to produce good/useful animation. Ref the Flower Power tutorial that gets right to the point of putting just the right amount of rigging in place for a basic flower to be animated.

 

Then again, the matter of modeling versus rigging (as separate processes) is complicated just a little by the fact that rigging can be used to create models that would be otherwise be harder or near impossible to create. Some of this is hidden from the user (for instance, each model having a root bone assigned even before the user has added a bone to it). This does emphasize how using both Models and Rigging together in innovative ways can yield even greater benefits.

 

Somewhere on my harddrive I have an animated character that is rendered using bones only and at first glance it's a little hard to tell there isn't any mesh/spline/patch/geometry present.

Such a thing suggests further suggests that animation can be technically divorced from 'modeling' although it that case it is the user interface itself that is supplying the basic underlying geometry/pseudo-modeling.

 

As one of A:M strengths is Rigging I'm tempted to open up the book (that is TaoA:M) to delve more deeply into that area.

At times I've felt that some of our more talented frequenters of the forum felt that Rigging has never been given enough emphasis.

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SNIP...

 

As one of A:M strengths is Rigging I'm tempted to open up the book (that is TaoA:M) to delve more deeply into that area.

At times I've felt that some of our more talented frequenters of the forum felt that Rigging has never been given enough emphasis.

 

Hi Rodney.

 

I don't think that you should do that because rigging is an advanced topic and my understanding of TaoA:M is that it is meant to be an introduction to the basics of animation. I think that TaoA:M delivers the core animation concepts quickly and allows a new animator to build confidence in thier abilty to animate with fair results almost right away.

 

Knowing how to rig is not nescessary to work through TaoA:M. If you were to add in depth rigging concepts to TaoA:M I think that it could be disheartening for aspiring animators.

 

I do think that that more information on rigging should be presented but I think a better approach would be to have a separate volume for more advanced topics. A similar suggestion was made years ago here: mtpeak2's thoughts.

 

To add to that...

 

Rigging, along with other topics such as texture mapping, simulations, lighting etc (Edit: wait! I almost forgot hair!) could also be expounded on in a new volume. So, if someone learning with TaoA:M wants to learn more after working through the lessons, then they can go to the more advanced volume or TaoA:M.

 

What do you think about that?

Edited by Mechadelphia

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Thanks Mack, it's important to look before we leap.

New volumes are always waiting in the wings but we can only work with what we have available.

What I'm proposing is more in the -here and now-, more incrementally changing.

 

In planning to update TaoA:M there are many considerations. Here are a few:

 

1. We aren't Hash Inc so technically any update is unofficial.

This is why in the past I've leaned toward using the title 'The annotated Art of Animation:Master'; the term annotated indicating original information has been added to, updated, superseded and possibly removed.

 

2. There are resources yet to be fielded in the future that may make any shorter term updating of TaoA:M obsolete.

Documentation and demonstrations can always be massaged and improved but it's the nature of the beast that upon deployment the information is already out of date.

The only way I know to combat this is through continuous improvement.

 

3. An ideal update of the current TaoA:M would mostly consist of reformatting (to better utilize existing space) and to format for online viewing and of updating (cover and chapter) imagery.

There is little to no reason why TaoA:M can't have the same content each year but have updated artwork. In effect, My feel is that the PDF manual can take the place of what A:M Users once coveted; claiming the space on the cover of the A:M CD. The big difference being that there are many more slots for recognition of the state of the art in Animation:Master than the old CD. In addition to the cover there are approximately 20 places where TaoA:M can display artwork. My thought here is that all of the artwork from the previous edition of would be collected and placed on the back cover.

 

4. It would be up to the folks at Hash Inc to determine if the printed version of an updated TaoA:M replace the current book.

The thought here being that an updated PDF can be made available but would likely only be printed upon running out of current stock.

 

5. Most of any changes would not attempt to get more complex but would rather try to simplify concepts even further.

An example of this is that while rigging of characters is crucial to character animation there are a ton of rigging challenges that are just as useful. These interim projects can teach in a building block way the more intricate requirements of rigging more complex models. Examples would likely include rigging that covers the various joints, ball and socket, hinge, etc. All said, Rigging in and of itself will require it's own 'book'.

 

6. Where additional information is available the PDF/online version can provide links to that information.

There are a variety of resources available to A:M Users but those resources often go unnoticed. TaoA:M rightly should present the basics but it can suggest proven paths to tackle complex problems. The ideal link in that case would likely be to point the reader to the experts that frequent the Rigging and Relationships forum.

 

6. Thinks like the updating of TaoA:M are projects that are perfect for the A:M Community to tackle and if tackled periodically (annually?) each update can be minor in nature.

 

 

Having just now re-read my list, I'd say the first update to TaoA:M might just replace the imagery (and remove a little outdated information. (i.e. references to the CD).

I'll guess that just selecting the images for a new edition of TaoA:M would be a major event.

If we can complete that basic update the likelyhood of seeing a more extensive update later on is much greater. ;)

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If I were to teach a first lesson on rigging it would be how to create bones, how to assign CPs to bones and how to create the constraints for a basic rigging element, like an IK leg (to show that constraints make bones more manageable).

 

Basically it would be what is in my quickstart video on rigging.

 

 

I recall several years ago trying to recruit the Hash Fellows to update TAoA:M. That went nowhere. :rolleyes:

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Basically it would be what is in my quickstart video on rigging.

 

It hasn't been that long since I reviewed that video but it's already time for me to review it again. :)

 

 

I recall several years ago trying to recruit the Hash Fellows to update TAoA:M. That went nowhere. :rolleyes:

 

This will be an oversimplification but...

I'd say a primary reason there is little interest from the more experienced A:M Users is that... besides being busy with other projects... they've already been there.

I don't think it's unfair to ask, "What's in it for me?" or "Why should I set aside my current priorities for this new thing?"

 

I believe the answer to those questions is 'community'

Or put another way, I may not be interested in a specific project that is being investigated/fielded but I wish you well just the same.

 

 

It may be a video tutorial of yours Robert (perhaps the quickstart on modeling?) that demonstrates modeling of some simple objects and then challenges the modeler to recreate simple objects they see around them. Yes, you want to model a realistic human... but if you start with simpler models you'll find yourself mastering that goal even quicker.

 

We should note that the predecessor of TaoA:M did delve into rigging a few simple models and all of the technical stuff was handled first; the Animation section was relegated to the latter pages of the manual.

I am not suggesting a return to that old order because approaching Animation first is definitely the better way.

I always looking for insight to further refine that way :)

 

With regard to the Quickstart videos... that is surely one of the resources an updated TaoA:M should link to right out the gate.

 

It has been said that when undertaking a new project the first step is to inventory what is already known/available.

I fear that inventory alone will take decades. ;)

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With regard to the Quickstart videos... that is surely one of the resources an updated TaoA:M should link to right out the gate.

I really should finish those. Four done, four to go. :(

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I really should finish those. Four done, four to go. :(

 

There is never enough time. It's an animation-thing.

 

I don't say it enough... thank you for all that you have done and continue to do.. :)

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I really should finish those. Four done, four to go. :(

 

There is never enough time. It's an animation-thing.

 

I don't say it enough... thank you for all that you have done and continue to do.. :)

 

 

I'll second that, Rodney. Thanks, Robert!

 

This will be an oversimplification but...

I'd say a primary reason there is little interest from the more experienced A:M Users is that... besides being busy with other projects... they've already been there.

I don't think it's unfair to ask, "What's in it for me?" or "Why should I set aside my current priorities for this new thing?"

 

I believe the answer to those questions is 'community'

Or put another way, I may not be interested in a specific project that is being investigated/fielded but I wish you well just the same.

 

There are a lot of reasons...when I finally upgrade the under-powered laptop I'm currently using, I'll be able to get back to making video tutorials (hopefully, a few more months).

 

The last time I tried to upload a video tutorial to "AM Films", it never showed up...I tried a few times, several months apart. It may work now, it's been a while. My thinking is that that is where all of the video tutorials should reside.

 

 

I recall several years ago trying to recruit the Hash Fellows to update TAoA:M. That went nowhere. :rolleyes:

 

Everyone has their own ideas of how material should be presented...putting together a collection of the assorted individually produced tutorials might be the way to go.

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Or maybe it was about updating the reference manual... I'm beginning to think that was what I was asking.

 

That would have bene easier, just deleting obsolete features and adding in new ones.

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My thinking is that (A:M Films) is where all of the video tutorials should reside.

 

 

I would agree except that the setup for A:M Films has always...as in 'it always historically been'... problematic.

I'll guess this has something to do with the approval of submissions where the approval proved to be a major bottleneck.

 

Additionally, and this will sound like complaining... not meant to be... but the A:M Films site doesn't do justice to the content.

I'd say the first thing folks should see when they arrive on the site is a splash page where some cool imagery is shoved into their face.

 

I don't know what the answer is... heck I'm still formulating the question. ;)

 

 

Added: A:M Films worked great for awhile until the spammers figured out how to take advantage of the system.

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My thinking is that (A:M Films) is where all of the video tutorials should reside.

 

 

I would agree except that the setup for A:M Films has always...as in 'it always historically been'... problematic.

I'll guess this has something to do with the approval of submissions where the approval proved to be a major bottleneck.

 

Yes, just now, I couldn't even find A:M films easily. Would prefer them either on youtube or here in forum. However, when I eventually did find A:M films - some of my favorite tuts on simple rigging have been from Holmes Bryant (Homeslice)

 

Building Your first Rig part I

 

Building Your first rig part 2

 

Building simple hand gizmo part 1

 

Building simple hand gizmo part 2

 

And I might add: For me, rigging isn't fun or easy or simple. Too tedious, too tweaky-deaky, but a necessary evil

Edited by NancyGormezano

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I miss Holmes!

 

Those are great tutorials.

Thanks for bringing them back to our attention.

 

In addition to just being great rigging tutorials, there are two things he uses in his second video on rigging that I have seldom used: the Clear command and Lock IK.

I need to use those more often.

 

 

Added: That second video says it's been viewed 5742 times. That's a lot of learning!

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Regarding finding A:M Films (and other resources), I'll add a quick links area at the bottom of the forum.

Look for that in the next few days.

 

In the meantime I've added the A:M Films link back under the Animation:Master forum.

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I think a well-curated Youtube channel or two would serve us well.

 

 

And I might add: For me, rigging isn't fun or easy or simple. Too tedious, too tweaky-deaky, but a necessary evil

 

 

I notice that my quickstart video on texturing is about 4 minutes long but my quickstart video on rigging is 40 minutes long. :(

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I could easily see rigging taking up its very own 100 page volume. Putting together a skeleton was much easier after watching some tutorials, but point weighting seems to be a bit of a black art.

 

And I also vote for a YouTube channel.

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