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Norman world align FK spine

Posted on October 31, 2010 
Filed Under Animation, Education | 2 Comments

For those who would be interested, here is the Norman rig I am using.

The spine is in FK but as you will see, the spine controls are aligned to the world rather than their parent. This means that rotating the hips wont affect the rotation of the upper body. This seems a bit strange at first but this is proving really useful for walk cycles for examples as you dont need to counteranimate the upper body even after modifying the hips.

The file should open in Maya 2009 and up but also in older version provided you change the header.

One more thing you will notice is that the spine controls are transparent geometries instead of regular nurbs control. This makes the rig much cleaner and more user friendly.

It appears that I forgot to mention the constant use of a Xray hotkey with that kind of setup. Personally I use Alt+x to trigger Michael Comet’s Xray script (source “toggleXRay.mel”; toggleXRay();)

Download link

Related post:
So you want to be a rigger huh?

Lost in translation (layout refined)

Posted on October 26, 2010 
Filed Under Animation, Portfolio | 2 Comments

Here is a new layout pass with few camera changes and animation tweaks so the story is a bit clearer

Lost in translation (layout)

Posted on October 25, 2010 
Filed Under Animation | 2 Comments

Here is what I am working on at the moment.

Two characters shot with a healthy mix of high brow and pop culture :-)

La fete – polish (French audio)

Posted on October 21, 2010 
Filed Under Animation | Leave a Comment

Sorry for not replying to your emails guys but I have no internet at home at the moment so lunch time breaks are extremely short to do all my online business :-(

Since I am looking for work in France, I worked out it would be smart to use a french audio track for once.

For this piece I wanted to mainly focus on facial polish and lip sync and using a layered approach.

It is about 18 hours of work and I am sure this could be polished a bit more but I have become a bit blind to it. I will start a new two characters shot in the meantime and come back to this with fresh eyes.

The audio seem off by half a frame to one frame so if it bothers you, you can always download the avi version from Vimeo

[update] I just tweaked Bishop a bit, the video is exactly the same as above. Watching it with fresh eyes I realised that the mouth is a bit too poppy at the beginning and the lipsynch seems slightly off in places. I will revisit this in few days

La fête

Posted on October 20, 2010 
Filed Under Animation | 2 Comments

I have been working very hard on a new 8seconds shot for the French animation market. I should be done in 1 or 2 more days. Here is a still picture in the meantime. The acting is a bit over the top but that’s the kind of work I am looking for at the moment.

Chico Chica Boumba

Posted on October 12, 2010 
Filed Under Animation, Portfolio | 4 Comments

It is really annoying when for NDA reason your only showreel is a very old one that doesn’t reflect your current skills but it is even more annoying when you realise that you kept sending your old showreel despite the NDA being lifted month ago!

A year ago, I got to work on a really exciting pilot for a french TV series with a bunch of seriously talented artists. Chico Chica Boumba is a 52×3’30mins produced by Angouleme based studio “2minutes” and directed by “Intervalists” Cédric Babouche.

Working on that pilot was a bit of a shock at first, with all those squash and stretch, smeared frames, the style of animation was radically different from anything I had done before and the pace was so much faster but having some very experienced french TV animators working with me made the experience a lot easier. The show is very funny, the songs and voice over very catchy but more than anything it has that french visual flair I was hoping to be part of one day.

Without further due here is the pilot for Chico Chica Boumba, sorry I only have the french version. There has been a bit of editing on my shots and I will post the original ones later on.

Ah by the way, the first season is in full production and I am back in Angouleme to finish it.

Related post:
Back from Angouleme
Chico Chica Boumba teaser

Megamind Art of Book

Posted on October 11, 2010 
Filed Under Animation | Leave a Comment

Parkablog posted a great flip trough of Dreamworks Megamind’s Art of Book. If like me you intend to buy the book, do it through his Amazon links so he can get  a little commission for it.

Jason Martinsen showreel

Posted on October 11, 2010 
Filed Under Animation | Leave a Comment

I am doing a lot of research on broad animation style and found ex Blue Sky animator Jason Martinsen’s showreel which is featuring his great work on Dr Seuss’s based movie “Horton Hears a Who”.

With the Mayor, Vlad the vulture was one of my favorite characters in the movie and I am surprised so few people have seen that very entertaining movie.

I hope this is the style Mac Guff will go for in their next production “Lorax”.


Storyboards tutorials

Posted on October 11, 2010 
Filed Under Animation | 2 Comments

Look what I just found via Florian Satzinger, via Academy of Art Animation.

TV series storyboarding is different from feature but the author is still very good at explaining his thought process through video tutorials

CartoonSnap blog

and here is the playlist

so you want to be a rigger huh?

Posted on October 7, 2010 
Filed Under Animation, Education | 4 Comments

Keith Lango Zootrigger setup

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.

Well you can obviously start with a good attitude. Ask for feedback from the animators and be willing to discard that crazy automated function you created but animators find unusable.

Read rigging books and dvds, post on forums, check other rigs and even students showreels, talk to people. Personally I have learnt rigging through several dvds and those should be compulsory if you want to be a good rigger so here they are:

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.

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

Fahrenheit DVDs. I actually started with those which was really hardcore but that was a very good experience.

Jason Osipa “Stop starring, facial modeling and animation done right”. A third 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.

So you have ordered them all? okay while waiting for them I want to mention few things that irritate me when I use a new rig.

1. Slow rigs.
If your rigs are very slow, make sure it is not because you are using expressions where you could use nodes.
Create a low poly or proxy version the animators can work with otherwise.

1.Weired and default rotation axis.
Head and torso should have the Y rotation carry all the other axis, X should be carrying Z and Z the last one. Basically, the rotation order should be something like ZXY but certainly not the default XYZ (remember, you read the axis order starting from the end)
Jason Schleifer pays special attention to the rotation orders in his DVDs so take notes when watching them.

2. GUIs
Well, not everybody will agree with me but ….. I can’t stand GUIs. Maya viewport is so poorly designed that I can’ t see the point of adding an other window cluttering my screen real estate even more.
I will share with you one of my latest setup very soon. It is 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.

[update]GUI are not so bad when they are truely necessary. To drive complex or additive blend shapes for examples (ala Jason Osipa joystick) but certainly not for selecting the lower or upper arm.

3. 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

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

5. Scaling! The rig should be scalable!!!!

6. World orient head, spine, arms. I want them all or I want to be able to set this up using constraints

7. Bend bow and noddle arms. I am liking this more and more and should certainly investigate into that

8. cluttered vieworts. Nurbs controls don’t need to cover the entire model, make it clean and simple, if possible, make it invisible (cf GUI)

9. non consistency in the boolean channel control. 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.

10. Set me free. Animators are artists and they might want to break an elbow or pull fingers to stylise the motion so don’ restrain them to what is anatomically possible unless you want them to come up with really stiff animation.

Alright, that’s it for now and as a treat for reading such a long post, check out some really cool rigging showreels and making of

Related posts:
World orient Head and shoulder
Norman World Align spine

Alright, that should be enough for today. I will come back to this post an other day.

Have fun rigging!