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So you want to be a rigger huh? v.02

Posted on January 3, 2016 
Filed Under Animation, Education, Rigging | 7 Comments

[addons]
2018.10.01. v02.01 section 17 added relative to colourblindness

This is an updated version of a previous post I had written 5 years ago and that I think will still be very educational after having spent 5 more years in the industry.

If you want to become a rigger/character TD and even if you are already one, you might be interested to read the following notes, you will make animators’ life easier, allowing them to pull off better shots in the same amount of time or even quicker which will, in return, make the director and producers happy.

The same way it is important for a modeler to understand part of the rigging process, a rigger should also get a grasp of the animation workflow.

So how can you become a rigger that animators are happy to work with?

 

– Start with a good attitude, ask for feedback from the animators and embrace changes, be willing to discard that crazy automated function you thought would be really cool but animators find unusable when doing actual animation work. As Eamonn Butler put it when we visited Double Negative London in 2006, character TDs work for the animators, not the other way round.

Jack-Nicholson

 

Educate yourself and stay informed by reading rigging books and dvds, read blogs! Rigging Dojo is one of my favorite blogs, they keep posting remarquable interviews. Participate to public forums where you can interact with other professionals, check other rigs! Currently I am watching Josh Sobel tutorials, it is a set of tutorial where he explains how he made the adorable Kayla rig.  Watch showreels and even students showreels! There has been instances where Interns or fresh graduates we hired were more knowledgeable than staff who had been at the company for years.

Personally, I have learnt rigging through several dvds and those should be compulsory for anyone wanting to become a good character TD so here they are:

 

Jason Schleifer shhLIFE_header2_small
Jason Schleifer “Maya Fast animation rigs”. The DVD is well over 5 years old and only 1h20 but still is a must for someone who want to be liked by his peers. Interestingly enough I just checked and Jason is now offering his educational material on a donation basis so you can pay what you think is fair.

Jason Schleifer “Animator Friendly Rigging”. That set will take few hours to go through but exposes the most important rigging concepts

Fahrenheit DVDs. I actually started with those which was really hardcore but that was a very good learning experience. I am not sure those are still available.

 

Jason Osipa stop staring

Jason Osipa stop staring

Jason Osipa “Stop starring, facial modeling and animation done right”. A new edition just came out and I should probably get that one too. Jason goes in length about facial rigging and you should definitely spend some time understanding what he is talking about.

 

You have ordered them all? Okay so while waiting for them, I want to mention few things that irritate seasoned animators when using a new rig:

 

1. Slow rigs. Rigs speed is the hot topic of 2015. Disney, in a talk given at Siggraph this year said the following: Rig speed is of paramount importance to animation pipelines. Real-time performance provides immediate feedback to artists thereby increasing the number of possible iterations and ultimately leading to higher quality animation.” 

Dreamworks and Pixar had already understood it and realtime performance was one of goal they have achieved with the recent release of Premo and Presto, their respective animation software last year. On their footsteps, Autodesk finally unlocked the full potential of modern computers with the Parallel Rig Evaluation toolset in Maya 2016.  Maya users can now  troubleshoot slowdowns and calculate mesh deformation and some deformers using all the CPU AND GPU cores present on a system, speeding up dramatically the framerate in Maya’s viewport. Make sure you read this previous article I wrote http://www.olivier-ladeuix.com/blog/2015/11/26/maya-monday-maya-2016-parallel-rig-evaluation/

504_tid_Maya_2016_Parallel_Rig

– If you are stuck with Maya 2015 and below, the old school method of speeding up rig involves replacing all expressions with nodes and create low poly or proxy version for the animators to work with. When working on body mechanics, animators don’t need the facial blend shapes or corrective shapes to be activated and when working on facial performance, body corrective blend shapes don’t need to be activated either, just a proxy version of the body to get an idea of the overall motion.

Disney Feature artist Sergi Caballer seems to have a nice feature where the animators can quickly isolate part of the body to speed up the rig. (read this great interview with Sergi on the Rigging Dojo website)

 

2. Rotation orders.
This is probably my biggest pet peeve. When creating your rig, pay special attention to rotation orders and use smart rotation orders for the limbs. By default Maya uses the default XYZ order, meaning that Z is carrying all the other axis so you want to stay away from this as often it is not the desirable order. In the situation of the head for example, it means that as soon as the animator will rotate the head in Y, X and Z will start to line up causing a gimbal lock and making it difficult for the animators to work in the graph editor. Instead by using ZXY or XZY, the lateral rotation of the head would never line up with the forward rotation. Jason Schleifer spends a chapter on rotation orders in his DVDs so please refer to it.

Rotation-order

 

3. Consistent translation direction. (thanks Richie)
Animators need to be able to animate in the graph editor to troubleshoot problems or translate a character without using the global control  so make sure your translations are consistent. If Y means up for the IK foot, it should also mean up for the hips and IK hands, same for X and Z.

 

4. GUIs As I am editing this paragraph 5 years later, it looks like Dreamworks is agreeing with me on that one so go and read: “Premo, the Dreamworks animation software“.

Personally I don’t like GUIs. Maya’s viewport is already so cluttered that I can’t see the point of having to keep looking sideway at an additional window covering, at best, a quarter of my screen when, controls could just be where they belong, on the surface of the geometry and toggled with a hotkey. Most of the time an other quarter of the screen will be covered by the pose library leaving the user with hardly enough space for camera view, perspective view and graph editor.

Frozen GUI

I tried an interesting concept a while back with a rig where instead of hitting the usual nurbs controls, you select an invisible polygon encompassing the surface of the limb. Keith Lango posted a similar setup a while ago using Zootrigger, myself I just parent constraint the Nurbs control or the joint to an invisible proxy box instead.

This could prove complex when selecting facial controls though so, fast forward to 2015, I just realised that Nurbs controls AND Geometry can be easily toggled through a script so animators don’t need GUIs as often, as long as the controls are streamlined and don’t overlap each others too much obviously (see point 9). I perfected few toggle scripts and I will share them with you in few days.

Dreamworks_apollo

 

5. IF/FK switches WITH no-pop
It is obvious that animators need IK and FK for legs and hands but you should also consider a script that would allow the animators to switch very easily from IK to FK and reverse without going back to the T pose. Some people call this IK snap, IK match. A script was provided with the goold old Norman rig to do that kind of thing

IK-FK-switch

IK/FK switch buttons with no pop

 

6. Elbow and Knee lock. The animators should be able to lock an elbow to a table

 

7. Scaling Rigs should be scalable! Numerous time I ran into situations where we needed to scale the rigs and the rigs didn’t allow for this.

 

8. World orient/local orient switches for head, spine, arms …. Animators should be able to switch the alignment of the FK Head, neck, arms to the world or their parent by default and ideally a tool should allow to switch the parent space on the fly.

 

9. Bend bow and noddle arms. I am liking this a lot as it helps to make the rig look more organic or more cartoony in the case of noodel arms as seen below.

 

10. Cluttered viewports. Nurbs controls don’t need to cover the entire model, make them clean and simple, if possible make them invisible (cf GUI). A simple circle is more than enough for selecting controls, no need of an entire box shape especially for fingers or arms that will irremediably start overlapping and rendering impossible to select anything.

simplify-controls-and-visual-clutter
As a side note, when using circles for the fk spine, try to add an indentation at the front and back of the circle just to be able to quickly assess the offset of the spine controls. I normally take the center vertex of the nurbs circle and shift it up a bit then adjust the bezier curves like below.

Rig display simplification_Arms and Legs 02

Rotation-indicator

 

11. Non consistency in the control’s boolean channel. In boolean operations, 0 should mean “No” and 1 should mean “Yes”. ie Shoulder parent 0 should mean that the IK hand is not parented to the shoulder. You could actually do the opposite, but as long as it it consistent throughout the rig.

 

12. Set me free. Animators are artists and they might want to break an elbow, pull fingers to create smear frames, pull the lips much higher that reality would suggest in order to stylise the motion so don’t restrain the animators to what is anatomically possible, unless you want them to come up with really stiff animation.

 

13. Pole vector switches. Pole vector should be centered right in front of the knees or elbow, not closer to one or the other joint and they should have a switch to the world just so they don’t follow the orientation of the foot or IK hand at all time.

 

14. Automated overlap/bakeable simulation. Automated overlaps for secondary elements can add so much life to a rig without the animator to do much work. Think about little appendages like ears, tails, ponytails, little bit of clothing or foot straps in the case of the following Disney demo however, animators should ultimately be able to make changes to the automated result which is why the joints animation should be bakeable.

automatedOverlap

On “Messy goes to Okido”, I would first pose Messy’s tail in it’s trademark curled pose, then ran a script to simulate overlaps and would finally created a motion based on a blending of the two. This gave a life like feel that was still designed.

 

15. Autorigs/programming. In production nowadays, there isn’t much room for a TD to rig all the characters from scratch,by hand, which is why I don’t consider myself a real character TD. Instead, you might want to start automating the way you create rigs by using Mel or Python since that’s what the cool kids use those days.

When I worked at EA I had to work on several prototype games and autorigs are what offered us the ultra quick turnaround required. Rigging and skinning were so fast that we were able to start animating the same day instead of relying on weekly turnarounds. I have been a long time advocate of the AbAutorig so click the link below to see how autorigs work.

 

16. Pose and animation libraries. In production it is paramount for the rigs to be compatible with standard pose and animation library scripts like Kurt Rathjen’s Studio Library, Lionel Gallat’s PoseLib,  or the very user friendly Sal Pose Manager by Salwan Badra for 3dsmax. Pose libraries allow the animators to work with extremely complex rigs and stay “on model” which is very important when hiring junior staff and a time saver for senior animators. Believe it or not, I have worked in TV productions where the rigs weren’t compatible with those scripts and animators had to waste an incredible amount of time recreating some poses or animation from scratch and often this meant they didn’t bother.

Pose library
At AnimSquad which is often referred to as the Disney animation school since most teachers are Disney Animation Studios supervisors, we had a pose library that separated poses for when the character’s head was facing the camera, looking screen right or looking screen left as you normally use every single tertiary control to cheat the pose so it looks appealing from every angle.

 

17. Controllers colours and colour blindness. 1 in 10 men and 1 in 200 women are affected by colour blindness. For most, green is a difficult colour to see so refrain from using the red/green or green/yellow combination. Instead you should favour colours that are widely contrasting like red and blue for example. I know it looks pretty ugly in term of colour harmony but rigs primary goal is to be efficient, not pretty. If you don’t know if you are colour blind, test your sight here, personally I am moderate colourblind and can’t see half of the plates http://www.color-blindness.com/ishihara-38-plates-cvd-test/#prettyPhoto.

Colour blindness test

 

Alright, that’s it for now and as a treat for making it so far, check out some really cool rigging showreels and “making-of” videos to get an additional creative boost:






 

Related posts:
Pixar animation software part 1
Pixar animation software part 2
Premo, the Dreamworks animation software
Kaelou
Rob and Ron by Tumblehead
ESMA
World orient Head and shoulder
Norman World Align spine
Looney tunes shorts online

 

 

Have fun rigging!

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Have you ever been tempted to use…?

Posted on November 25, 2015 
Filed Under Animation, Education, Fun | Leave a Comment

I was watching this today and couldn’t resist highlighting the following. I could watch this in loop so I made this a loop! ;-)


More seriously, I am depicting the situation as being black or white at Disney when the reality is far more complex.

Some movies like Pirates of the Caribbean are well known to rely heavily on motion capture and Disney research has published several papers featuring attempts to replace keyframe animators. The following one is particularly chilling as they are trying to prove how human motion capture can even be used to animate Non-Humanoid Characters with Human Motion Data using Pixar’s Luxo as an example. If someone called this blasphemy I would probably agree…..

http://www.disneyresearch.com/project/animating-non-humanoid-characters-with-human-motion-data/

 

Absolutely-not

 

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Big Hero 6 Characters studies

Posted on October 22, 2014 
Filed Under Animation | Leave a Comment

I had to dust off this blog to post those really cool character studies for Disney’s latest movie Big Hero 6. Other than that I eventually moved back to London and am currently working on Okido, a fun kids TV show which I will feature very soon. London’s grass is so much greener! ;-)

Character walking into a room, what a better way to depict a character’s personality especially when done by Disney animators.

And in case you don’t know that one

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Premo, the Dreamworks animation software

Posted on July 19, 2014 
Filed Under Animation, Education | 4 Comments

Premo splahs screen

With the rise of companies like Disney, Blue Sky, Sony or Illumination Mac Guff relying entirely on the “off-the-shelf” Autodesk Maya which most animation students are familiar with, Dreamworks and Pixar had to revamp their ageing proprietary softwares to attract and retain talents. Presto for Pixar and Premo for Dreamworks seem to have now totally leapfrogged the commercial Autodesk offering by making the most of the numerous cores that current CPUs have made available for years, to the addition of on board GPUs.

Dreamworks_apollo_02
Dreamworks used to be really secretive about EMO, their home made animation software, but things are changing.

With the release of Dean DeBlois’ “How to train your dragon 2”, several videos and articles have emerged showcasing Dreamwork’s new Premo animation software running on the latest Apollo technology. The technology looks so ground breaking that the ASIFA offered Dreamworks an Ub Iwerks award at this years Annie awards.

Premo looks very fast and intuitive. Instead of having to keep a separate sizable GUI on the screen, the controls are right where you expect them to be and they magically appear when the cursor hovers over the actionable areas, signifying to the animator that the highlighted area can be animated, liberating a huge screen real estate compared to GUIs.

Additional controls like IK/FK switches I am guessing can still be accessed through the related spreadsheets when needed obviously.

This is very refreshing as the idea has been suggested for years by Keith Lango and I also relayed the information on this blog in 2010. (read the article here: You want to be a rigger huh!)

Premo also offers a dramatic speed improvement compared to Emo as animators don’t need to recalculate after each action and rig can also be played real time in the viewport without needing to use proxy models.

Don’t believe me? Watch the following videos!

Dreamworks_apollo.

Related articles:
Pixar animation software part 1
Pixar animation software part 2
You want to be a rigger huh?

External articles:
How DreamWorks reinvented animation software to make HTTYD2

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CGTarian Animation Half circle

Posted on February 26, 2014 
Filed Under Animation, Education | Leave a Comment

someone just pointed at a great series of videos posted by online school CGTarian. The videos feature a bunch of top Dreamworks animators (is Joe Bower at Disney or Dreamworks now?) discussing animation.

It has been a long time since I last heard a group of animators talk shop and it is really refreshing. Too bad they are not invited to comment on DVDs and Blurays anymore.

The series starts with the crucial “thumbs or no thumbs” and having Ted Ty comment makes it even more interesting.

CGTarian online school Youtube channel.

Related posts:
Tangled Joe Bowers thought process

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Frank and Ollie Documentary

Posted on January 12, 2013 
Filed Under Animation, Education | 1 Comment

If you still haven’t bought “the Illusion of Life” or the “Frank and Ollie” DVD I don’t think you can really call yourself an animator!

Frank and Ollie DVD

There is nothing I can do for you regarding the Bible of Animation but if you were put off by the “Frank and Ollie” DVD’s NTSC only format you are in luck, Youtube user Paul Stanton posted a more or less legal copy of that fantastic and hearwarming documentary on Disney’s legendary animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston.

If you are too cheap to buy the DVD, I highly recommend you to watch it before Disney’s legal department finds out.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5m7z1XUgdQ4

I will take this opportunity to mention the AWN hosted Frank and Ollie website, a website whose content was created by Frank and Ollie themselves in (cough) glorious Comic sans. The website contains a great amount of animation notes you need to keep reminding yourselves.

Frank and Ollie on AWN

And to finish, here is a quick introduction to the work of Frank and Ollie by Disney’s animator extraordinaire Glen Keane

via Pencil Tests Tumblr

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Bend Bows

Posted on January 3, 2013 
Filed Under Animation, Education | Leave a Comment

Sorry for not posting much those days. I have just started working on a feature here in Angouleme and I am also using the opportunity of finally having a stable job, or at least to live in a town with plenty of animation work to finally test for my Black Belt in Taekwondo after 15 years doing other forms of martial arts. Ah, the feature is called Minuscule, Valley of the Lost Ants by the way, it is a fun movie which was started on the back of a very successful TV Series of the same name and several TV specials. You can find some episodes on Youtube and a pretty nice teaser on the blog.

Enough rantings, let’s start this new year with some education material.

Pixar just released some really cool Monsters University screenshots on the Disneypixar tumblr page and I couldn’t help noticing a great example of Bend Bows.

Bend Bows are the controls you can normally find in a rig between the shoulders, elbow and wrist for the arms, or hips, knee and ankle for the legs. Here you can see how the artist made the most of those to soften Mike’s otherwise stiff looking arms by creating a nice rounded curvature of the arms that nicely echoes his head’s rounded features and also creates a very pleasing line of action.

Here is a draw over so you can clearly see those.


When animating, I wouldn’t recommend you to block those before the final pass of polish. These are just the icing on the cake or the extra paper cuts as Mike Makarewicz would say. You don’t want to exaggerate the bend bows too much either or you might end up going off model.

Monsters Inc is one of my favourite Pixar movies, I can’t wait to see the prequel and finally be able to buy the “Art of Book”. The original is now a collector you know !

By the way! I never got around to posting that Bobby Chiu’s interview of Mike. Clearly Bobby didn’t really know what animation specific question he could ask Mike but I am sure you will still get something out of it.

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Annie Awards nominations 2012

Posted on December 4, 2012 
Filed Under Animation, Character design | Leave a Comment

The ASIFA just released the list of nominations for the 2012 Annie Awards.

I will only mention the categories I am interested in, you can find the full list on Cartoon Brew

It is really bizarre Pixar’s Brave didn’t get a nomination for Character Design. To me it was the movie that, by far, featured the strongest Character Designs in 2012. I would really like to be enlightened about that decision.

Honoring excellence in the field of animation, Annie Awards will be presented in 30 categories including best animated feature, television production(s), television commercial, short subject, video game and student film, as well as the achievement and honorary awards. The 40th Annual Annie Awards will take place on February 2, 2013 at UCLA’s Royce Hall, in Los Angeles, California.

Entries submitted for consideration must be from productions that were released in the United States between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012. An exception will be made for animated short subjects, student films and television commercials that were not released in the United States. These may be considered for an Annie Award providing they were originally released during the award eligibility period.

Best Animated Feature

Brave — Disney
Frankenweenie – Disney
Hotel Transylvania — Sony Animation
ParaNorman — Laika
The Pirates: Band of Misfits — Aardman Animation/Sony Animation
The Rabbi’s Cat — Autochenille Production/GKids
Rise of The Guardians — DreamWorks Animation
Wreck-It Ralph — Disney

Best Animated Short Subject

Brad and Gary (Illumination/Universal)
Bydlo (NFB)
Eyes On The Stars (StoryCorps)
Goodnight Mr Foot (Sony Animation)
Kali The Little Vampire (NFB)
Paperman (Disney)
Maggie Simpson in The Longest Daycare (20th Century-Fox)
The Simpsons – Bill Plympton Couch Gag (20th Century-Fox)

Best Animated Television Production For Children

Adventure Time ‘Princess Cookie’ – Cartoon Network Studios
Dragons: Riders of Berk ‘How to Pick Your Dragon’ – DreamWorks Animation
LEGO Star Wars ‘The Empire Strikes Out’ – Threshold Animation Studios
Penguins of Madagascar ‘Action Reaction’ – Nickelodeon Animation Studios
SpongeBob SquarePants ‘It’s a SpongeBob Christmas!’ – Nickelodeon Animation Studios
The Amazing World of Gumball ‘The Job’ – Turner Broadcasting System Europe, Ltd.
The Fairly OddParents ‘Farm Pit’ – Nickelodeon Animation Studios
The Legend of Korra ‘Welcome to Republic City’/’A Leaf in the Wind’ – Nickelodeon Animation Studios

Animated Video Game

Borderlands 2 – Gearbox Software
Family Guy – Back to the Mutiverse – Heavy Iron Studios
Journey – Sony Computer Entertainment America
Skullgirls – Lab Zero Games

Best Student Film

Can We Be Happy Now – Tahnee Gehm
Defective Detective – Avner Geller & Steve Lewis
Head Over Heels – Timothy Reckart
I Am Tom Moody – Ainslie Henderson
Ladies Knight – Joseph Rothenberg
Origin – Jessica Poon
The Ballad of Poisonberry Pete – Karen Sullivan
Tule Lake – Michelle Ikemoto

Character Animation in a Feature Production

Dan Nguyen ‘Brave’ – Pixar Animation Studios
David Pate ‘Rise of the Guardians’ – DreamWorks Animation
Jaime Landes ‘Brave’ – Pixar Animation Studios Congrat Jaime and good luck!
Phillppe LeBrun ‘Rise of the Guardians’ – DreamWorks Animation
Pierre Perifel ‘Rise of the Guardians’ – DreamWorks Animation
Travis Hathaway ‘Brave’ – Pixar Animation Studios
Travis Knight “ParaNorman’ – Focus Features
Will Becher ‘The Pirates! Band of Misfits’ – Aardman Animations

Character Design in an Animated Feature Production

Bill Schwab, Lorelay Bove, Cory Loftis, Minkyu Lee ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ – Walt Disney Animation Studios
Carlos Grangel ‘Hotel Transylvania’ – Sony Pictures Animation
Carter Goodrich ‘Hotel Transylvania’ – Sony Pictures Animation
Craig Kellman ‘Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted’ – DreamWorks Animation
Heidi Smith ‘ParaNorman’ – Focus Features
Yarrow Cheney, Eric Guillon, Colin Stimpson ‘Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax’ – Illumination Entertainment

Directing in an Animated Feature Production

Genndy Tartakovsky ‘Hotel Transylvania’ – Sony Pictures Animation
Joann Sfar, Antoine Delesvaux ‘The Rabbi’s Cat – GKIDS
Remi Bezancon, Jean-Christophe Lie ‘Zarafa’ – GKIDS
Rich Moore ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ – Walt Disney Animation Studios
Sam Fell, Chris Butler ‘ParaNorman’ – Focus Features

Production Design in an Animated Feature Production

Kendal Cronkhite-Shaindlin, Shannon Jeffries, Lindsey Olivares, Kenard Pak ‘Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted’ – DreamWorks Animation
Marcello Vignali ‘Hotel Transylvania’ – Sony Pictures Animation
Nash Dunnigan, Arden Chen, Jon Townley, Kyle McNaughton ‘Ice Age: Continental Drift’ – Blue Sky Studios
Nelson Lowry, Ross Stewart, Pete Oswald, Ean McNamara, Trevor Dalmer ‘ParaNorman’ – Focus Features
Norman Garwood, Matt Berry ‘The Pirates! Band of Misfits’ – Aardman Animation
Patrick Hanenberger, Max Boas, Jayee Borcar, Woonyoung Jung, Perry Maple, Peter Maynez, Stan Seo, Felix Yoon ‘Rise of the Guardians’ – DreamWorks Animation
Rick Heintzich ‘Frankenweenie’ – The Walt Disney Studios
Steve Pilcher ‘Brave’ – Pixar Animation Studios

Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production

Emmanuela Cozzi ‘ParaNorman’ – Focus Features
Johanne Matte ‘Rise of the Guardians’ – DreamWorks Animation
Leo Matsuda ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ – Walt Disney Animation Studios
Lissa Treiman ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ – Walt Disney Animation Studios
Rob Koo ‘Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted’ – DreamWorks Animation

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Back from CTN part I

Posted on November 26, 2012 
Filed Under Animation, Education | 10 Comments

[disclosure: This blog post might be biased as Mike Makarewicz gave me a free Tshirt to thank me for supporting Animation Collaborative ;-) ]

So I am back from CTN-X. CTN 2012 was a great success this year again with some really good guests like Andreas Deja one more time and CTN first timer Glen Keane.

Some of the conferences were a bit too generic especially the ones hosted by people who didn’t know the guests very well but there were plenty of great ones that went into the nitty gritty part of the animation process.

Animation Collaborative had a one of a kind demo this year with their “4 different approaches to Acting : context and creativity with Michal Makarewicz, Victor Navone, Rob Thompson and Aaron Hartline“. For that presentation they used a pretty bland audio clip that sounded like a Brian Tracy unless it was a Napoleon Hill audio book, and they went on explaining their tought process for animating a character to that audio clip. Michal had to shorten his presentation unfortunately but the presentation was really interesting. Ah, Victor was the only representative of the Step Key workflow, all the others used the Spline method.

I also attended an other demo with Michal Makarewicz which was way more insightful than the title implied: “Animate a take like a pro”. I know Michal pretty well as I attended Animation Collaborative last year, had a pretty long chat with him at Siggraph few years ago and he was also featured on several Animation Mentor lectures. Mike is also known to be one of the fastest animators at Pixar so it is always very interesting to see him animating and this time, despite the issues he had with Maya and one TV dying on us (compatibility issue with the Cintiq we got told), his demo was great.

As the title implied, using a Norman mod that looked like Sulley from Monsters Inc, he showed us how he would animate a take, using as reference, the shot from the famous Chuck Jones tribute sequence were Sulley fears Boo is being crushed in the trash compactor.

I knew Mike was a “layer animator” but I didn’t know how much he relied on properly setup hotkeys and additional scripts. As he said, all the interactions with the keyboard should be very intuitive and rely on muscle memory instead of having to look down where you fingers are going everytime you want to do something.

As such and with great difficulties, he set up all his Maya hotkeys to be on the left side of the keyboard. “You don’t want to cross the keyboard” he commented. If you have been following this blog for a long time you know I share the same views and I posted several workflow tips on how to make Maya more animator friendly. [Having only recently used Maya 2011 and 2012 I have had to face some incredible issues with the new hotkeys interface and eventually found a fix which I will share it with you very soon, I hope this was fixed in Maya 2013]

His other tip and probably the core of his fast workflow is to work in spline and copy the graph editor curves from one channel to an other as often as possible and scale, mirror or offset the curve when needed.

In the demo for example, he took the Hips TY (translation of the hips in Y) and copied it to the shoulders after inverting and offsetting it. There was also some nifty graph editor value operation using the *=.25 expression which was an “ahah moment” for a big part of the crowd and a never seen, at least for me and a good chunk of the audience, lattice graph editor scaling script which he used to create some residual energy for the head Y rotation on the settle.

He also explained that we shouldn’t “mess with the math” in the graph editor and never create kinks or overshoots with the tangents (Mike uses weighted free tangents only) instead you want to flatten the tangents and play with their weight. Here is an example of what he would do for a bouncing ball.

Alright that will be it for today, ah just to finish, I went to see Wreck-it Ralph at Disney’s El Capitan theatre on Hollywood boulevard and it was very good. I was expecting something a bit commercial with all the pop culture references and product placements but there was a great surprise with a specific scene I don’t want to spoil for you. Let’s just say, there was some of the magic from Tangled in the form of some very hearful moments were we couldn’t help feeling for the characters.

Talkback :
My post already brought some questions so here are the answers.

What is this *=.25 thing?

In the Graph editor, it is possible to adjust the value of a selection of keys by entering some expressions in the Key stats box. Here is how it works (click to enlarge the pictures):





And by checking the Maya online documentation, I realised the Lattice key deformation tool he used is not a script but actually part of Maya. Here is where you will find it and by double clicking on it you will access more options

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Rich Moore “Wreck it Ralph” Talks at Google

Posted on November 12, 2012 
Filed Under Animation | Leave a Comment

I don’t like when people just post links to stuff without taking the time to write an introduction or some commentary but this is what I will do today ;-)

Hehe, actually I still have to write a little blurb as Google’s Doodler Creative Lead Ryan Germick is once again hosting a great interview with this time “Wreck it Ralph”‘s director Rich Moore.

I love Ryan’s interviews as he always does a lot of research before interviewing people and has a lot of great questions which he asks with a lot of humour.

“Wreck it Ralph” hasn’t opened yet in France but I will certainly see it next week after attending CTN. By the way, I am free if someone wants to invite me at Disney for a visit next week, even if it is just to lead me to the gift shop ;-)

Thanks Google, Ryan and obviously Rich Moore!

Related post:
Mark Andrews and the Google Doodle Team

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