Once the character sculpt had gotten far enough along i began the rigging process using my proxy rig, which had be previously developed for pre-vis, to create my final character rig for the little girl character. Myself and Hannah Loughtridge had alot of back and forth during this early stage trying to get her shape to move and flow nice in 3D, the most problematic area was the lower jaw and chin area.
Above: shows the basic setup of the character rig structure
The character’s torso did not require a lot of special treatment as it would be a simple biped IK/FK rig with a triple layer system for the hands. One interesting area i was able to develop through my research into a few different spine rigging methods such as a divine spine as the ability to make the FK controls follow the IK spine without applying double transforms, as this was a previous annoyance for some of the animation team when moving a IK control the IK stayed unaffected.
the head and neck were developed the same why i had worked for my early tests allow for both rotation space switching of the entire head from the torso and also rotation switching from the neck and head to allow the head to be pulled forward and side to side will remaining level.
As mentioned before the hands have a triple layer setup, master finger control > single finger control > single joint FK control. This was implemented after the success i had with it last semester due to its practicality when animating. It is a easy and quick way to block out animations and add fine tweaks
For the global of the rig i decided to create a hierarchy of three controls to allow for maximum freedom for the animator. For example in the animation phase Hannah Loughridge was able to attach the top layer of the global to a curve to have the character follow along a motion path, she is then able to move the second or third layer of control in order to offset the character from the path while it still follows the direction. This effect is useful to have the character walk over bumps or adjust the height.
Above: the global layer system allowing for the character global to be shifted to rotate from the top or bottom or anywhere desired by the animator. Also allowing for motion path ability or parenting
As previously thought the main issue would be in developing solutions to issues brought about by her clothes and school bag.
For the bag i developed a system of joints driven by control curves. These joints and curves were placed into a specific hierarchy to allow for the bag to move and appear as if it had something inside it giving it weight. The main issue with the bag was getting it to follow the spine when twisting but then raise up the back, how a real bag shoulder, when she is bending over.
I came up with a solution to the above issue by developing a IK spline which is driven by a series of joints that are rotated around the spine. this information is then fed into the Spline rig to allow for a nice twist while still maintaining the curve of the spine bend.
Above: the bag and some of the prop rigging involved within the character
For the bag the props that were attached along with it also needed to be rigged to allow for convincing movement. The gun is a simple constraint rig allowing for a mechanical movement whereas the key rig is a IK spline Fk hybrid rig to give the animators complete freedom. For the gun a dual control had to be made to allow for the gun to be parented to the girls hand which a child control, which actually is the master of the gun geo, to allow for a offset to the girls hand if necessary.
One area i did not anticipate being a issue was the wellie boots. Due to the lose fit around the shin they would twist with the ankle and not have any counter twist like the leg itself. Although they still have to follow the shin bone when rotated in Y and Z so that it does not clip through the mesh. In order to achieve this i have to develop a system of IK handles and constraints in order to get the shoe to move as expected. As a lucky benefit i was able to turn this into a additional controller to allow for the offset of the top of the wellie and in turn allow for a wobble when making contact with the ground.
Above: Examples of the foot/shoe rig
This technique was then developed in order to allow for some overlapping action on the poncho collar. As well as having the offset control for the rim i also added a roll and pull joint around the edge to give more freedom to the animators as well as more believable results.
Above; Example of the poncho collar roll
In addition to the collar rig i have also created a dynamic joint rig for the bottom of the poncho which can be turned on and off. This allows the animators to turn the rig into manual and animate in full FK mode to achieve cloth motion or they can have it automated.
A late addition to the character which i had to deal with was the earphones. These were to be used in the credit scene and needed to follow the characters head during animation. This was attached to the character by using a wire deformer skinned to joints that are controlled by the rotation of the head. The joints also have offset controls in order to allow for any corrections required due to the automated rig following but also allow for some movement to be added. I had looked into creating a dynamic joint chain for this setup but it wasn’t practically due to the shape of the head and how it looked while moving.
my main area of development with this character was in the face. My main problem with previous films made on our course is that characters with more realistic humanoid style there faces are always very lifeless and uncanny valley like.
Due to my research into facial rigging and its impact on the viewer from my dissertation i spent a long time working on developing a system for the eye and brow control as they play a huge part in portraying life in the character.
For most of the facial expression the mesh is deformed by joints which are placed along motion paths these joints are then controlled by a tweak control to allow for small facial twitches and movements for the animation team.
Above: Showing the position of the facial curves which are used to attach the bind joints to
The motion path curves themselves are blend shaped to create a different range of expressions, these blend shapes are then driven through a expression.
Above: Example of the script used to drive the blend shapes seen on the right
Once the curve blend shapes are created i then create some corrective shapes in order to achieve a higher standard of deformation, these blend shapes also include combo shapes to fix weird shapes from appearing when a series of shapes are fired off together. The mouth shapes are entirely created through blend shapes and combo shapes.
Above: Example of combo shapes in action showing a smile and then a smile/open shape firing at the same time with a corrective Combo shape to fix unwanted deformations.
This section of the rig was made incredibly quick and easy due to my implementation of SHAPES plugin for Maya. This allows for a quick workflow when developing facial rigs and splitting the shape to left and right sides as well as creating combo shapes, sequence shapes and inbetweens. The plugin also allowed me to easily transfer blend shape nodes from model to model as well as transferring sculpts between software such as Zbrush.
Above: Right are examples of the facial shapes before Combos/Correctives. Left is after new shapes have been applied
For the jaw itself it has a double joint setup for both upper jaw and lower jaw to allow for a character to rest there chin and still rotate the head up from the base is required. Additional blend shapes were used to create a squash when the jaw is rotated upward and create nice deformations when the mouth is opened.
Above: SHAPES plugin user intereface showing my driver shapes and combo shapes.
The eyes and eyelids of the rig were a small issue that required a interesting work around. Due to the scale of eyes and there interesting shape i had to develop a system to allow for full control but have the lids slide over the eyeball rather than clip through.
Essentially i had to create a center in the center of the eye ball geo, i then created my joints on the each of the selected vertices. these are than aim constraint to a locator placed on the joint position. this allows for the joints to follow the position of the locator without moving from the eyeball.
From here i draw a curve matching the eye lid shape follow the joint position. this curve is then attached to the locators through a PointOnCurveInfo node to allow for any changed in the curve to affect the locator and in turn the joints follow. This curve is then what is used to create the smart blink. Through a series of blend shapes and wire deformer i was able to develop a nice effect.
I found a tutorial online which taught me some scripts to speed up the process by automating the joint setup and curve PointOnCurveInfoNode.
As previously stated in the presentations in class i wanted to bring a certain level of realism into the character rigs the pupils needed to have some life and not be so dead pan. This would also allow for some stylized animation. This was created through two blend shapes driven by a attribute on the control curves. the Blend shapes were created using edge slide tool in Maya maintaining the circumference of the sphere at all times.
Face Rig Overview
The final touches to the facial rig were elements such as lip rolls and puckers as well as adding a tongue and tooth rig to create more expression. The lids were also hooked up to the network controlling the ye aim to allow for a realistic lid movement upon eye rotation. These subtle elements are key in bringing life into the character especially during some of are idle animations.
throughout the project i have working on developing my python and Mel skills. a lot of the elements i have been working on are use for the rig itself in terms of controlling objects or creating specific setups. Most of the tools i have created which are used outside of the rig itself have been to speed up my own workflow in ways such as creating IK/FK switches and blends automatically or create things such as curves and have them orientated and in the same position as a selected object.
Although one tool i have created for the team is and IK/FK matching tool to allow for space matching between both functions of the arm. The reason i worked on developing this is to allow the animation team to be able to have an IK pose switch to FK without and popping or time consuming pose match up. This sped up scenes and allowed the animation to work a little easier.
Example of a section of the script
luckily there has been a rig in motion from quite early on within the project so any hiccups in my pipeline had been ironed out well before i got to the finalization point. The rig has been completed but my service on it has not ended as i have been on constant call to aid any issues regarding its performance. I have also been working on adding specific things that the animator requires through out there scenes.