Yes animators can switch 3d software after a bit of training but there is no way an animator can be proficient in Maya, 3dsmax, AND Blender, when I would highly recommend to gain software specific knowledge, especially if you work in a small production or at a studio with no animation production experience.
Back in 2014, I joined Doodle Productions for the production of “Messy the Monster” season 01.
The company came from Architecture 3d visualisation so we had to use 3dsmax when most animators were Maya users. It didn’t take too long for the animators to get acquainted with 3dsmax as we used regular Euler based rigs and not 3dsmax’s proprietary “Character studio” (“biped”).
One issue we faced though, was the fact that we only had one rigger so it was close to impossible to get additional features and after all, there is no way a character TD can anticipate all the needs of the animators. Most of the time, I wouldn’t even bother and added the missing features myself.
In the following shot, the prop had absolutely no rig. I went ahead and added a bend deformer to make the motion of the trumpet look a bit more smooth, and a “lattice” deformer to visually convey the sound of the trumpet.
On that show, “Messy”, the main character, had two fluffy ears and a massive tail with no dynamics. At a quota of 6 to 8 seconds a day in 3dsmax, most animators gave up on animating those appendages which looked very jarring. Instead, the most technically inclined animators started using a script to simulate dynamics as we felt it was a good compromise to soften the stiff pose to pose look.
The script helped massively but like most simulations, the result needed some additional work to art direct the result and get the tail to resolve in Messy’s question mark trademark posing.
6 years later, I am still mesmerized by the tail animation and if you are curious enough and browse other animators showreels, you will quickly see the difference with shots where no simulation was used.
Don’t forget to read this article about David Gibson’s fantastic use of deformers on the first opus of Sony’s “Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs”.
Thanks for reading.