Thursday, 27 February 2014

Pre-Production: Benjamin - Exploring the Rig

Hello Everyone,

The rigging process is something that a person tailors the more one does it. When we set out to find a better approach to rigging we tried tapping into numerous sources running google for everything possible. We thought it would be beneficial to demonstrate how hard we worked on trying new methods to rigging... There were quite a few avenues... but due to time we settled on what we knew already... Having said that we do have a better understanding thanks to these failed attempts.

There were many options to consider when we were considering our rigging options for Benjamin. Originally we thought that the puppet rig DVD by Carlo Sansonetti would be a great direction. It was of course through confusion and a lack of detailed understanding surrounding the rigging process that we decided to play it safe but not for a lack of trying out a number of methods.

"The Puppet Rig" and "the Skinned Character Rig" by Carlo Sansonetti.

Through following the puppet rig and its accompanying skinning DVD we noticed that there were many joints contained within the character. At the time this idea confused us as we have always worked in single joint rotations (when in fact the more joints you give a character the more flexible you are making the rig). It was this which more or less terrified us so we set the DVD aside and took a look at Alan's fabled "Ribbon Spine".

"The Alan Method" a.k.a. the Ribbon Spine (Stretchy Limbs).

From following the beginning of Alan's videos we were taken on a bit of a ride, creating the Ribbon spine then finding ways to apply it to the mesh eventually building the Skeleton from it. Things became confusing when we tried placing the ribbon in the place of joints as to give us stretchy forearms, etc. Again it was mainly due to our lack of understanding around what caused the ribbon to work. Setting the ribbon in between the shoulder and the forearm twisted it and moving the locators to more favourable locations made the ribbon distort. We were also not sure if we still needed a joint connection when we placed a ribbon in its place....At this point we figured it was too late in the day to be working in mediums which we didn't understand... it didn't stop there however.

"Cartoon Character Rig" by James Thompson (Stretchy Arms) a.k.a. "Rubber Hose Method".

At this point we had stumbled onto a video series (of 63 videos) that go over the entire process of rigging a cartoon character with flexible limbs. This began as an attempt to have the process of placing ribbons in the arms explained to us but as we got deeper we found ourselves making a really advanced IK/FK rig with multiple elbow joints utilizing plus divide nodes to balance rotation between joints. Fearing that time was soaking away we contacted Ethan Shilling to provide advise on the method which he informed us was known as "Rubber hose". From certain inconsistency between the joints and time constraints we scrapped the method half way through and just decided to go with what we knew would work.

"The Single Joint Method with Ribbon Spine" as provided by Mr. Postings.

It pained us to admit defeat after exploring so many amazing processes. The problem was there was just no way to know when a problem would hit and if it did what that solution would be. The ribbon method was a difficult concept to grasp on its own but applying it throughout a skeleton was just confusing at this stage. We were at least familiar with the single joint method as we have been doing it for the past few years now. Alan's accompanying videos on the CG Guru site were also very through rough but not so long that you soaked up days just listening to explanations... It took a big cold dash of water from Ethan that made us consider just going with what we could get done in time.. as much as we would have loved to bring a tonne of functionality to these characters.

Anyway these were the methods we explored in trying to expand our horizons into vast world of rigging. There was a lot of trial and error and ultimately it was a failure on our part... That being said we do understand it better then we did and there is no doubt that our understanding will improve as we do more of it.

Please check out any of these methods but don't take them lightly!

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