Programming again

Picking up python, qt, maxscript, 3dsmax, and shotgun for the new job. The “Tab” for python is quite annoying to me as a beginner. Seeing lot of new stuff but not much to share yet.

Here is a great link about some nice maya rigs available: http://www.nelsonhurst.com/844/top-character-rigs-for-may-free-and-premium/.

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Soft IK and more

Packing up some maya stuff I done in the past few months and learning 3dsMax for the coming new job.

The soft IK feature is one of many rig features I wanna to implement many years ago. It’s like all other features, not super hard and you could get it once you’re willing to dedicate to figure out what the hell the logic is. I wonder that my method may not be the best and there must be some simpler one . . . https://vimeo.com/168185968

Recently I would recommend the 8 classes of Cartoony Facial Setup by Puppeteer Lounge. They show the use of wire deformer effectively which works well for general cartoony face. For very stylized or detailed cartoony face I might stick with the general joint based method.

And I found an informative post about some recent rigging techniques !
http://www.olivier-ladeuix.com/blog/2016/01/03/so-you-want-to-be-a-rigger-huh-version02/

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Maya Update

Finally there is a “flip” blendshape function in Maya 2016 ext2. Before that I have to create a flipped mesh first, and then assign the extracted to the blendshape target. This is the only reason I’m switching to ext2 so far. Their sculpt brushes are weirdly slow so I’m sticking with Shape 3.0‘s Brush tool and looking forward to the support of latest version. The new pose space deformer is confusing to me and the lack of shape extraction means my tools are still valuable !

Responding to the maya camera to AE shake test I did before, I’m sure it works. This is a handy workflow that you could have the shake quick in playblast and still be adjustable in post. Closeup and distant layers may need different amount of shaking to look right.

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Corrective Fix Setup

It’s more difficult than expected.

  • Fix shape creation
    I’m using maya 2016 blendshape editor’s new “edit” feature. Suprisingly it doesn’t work for all types of blendshape node, which mean I have to prepare a parallel blendshape for fix shape creation.
  • Delta shape extraction
    I’m using the script extractDeltas by Brave Rabbit with minor modification. It does half of the job. Assigning delta shape manually could be very tedious too. I have to automate it too so that the user wont’t see any delta shape.
  • Pose Space Deformer as shape target driver
    An easier way is to use the method of locator driver with pointConstraint as in the character Ray. It works well with small rotation angle not bigger than 90. But I prefer a general solution with possible angle from 0 to 180, which work from elbow to any other parts. Thus I’m implementing one based on the texture-based PSD method by Harry Houghton. I still can’t avoid the euler rotation problem since PSD has to follow in some areas like wrist twisting. They could be solved in specific ways, either by aimConstraint or direct connection.

By the way, the Shape plugin by Brave Rabbit probably do all the work mentioned above. Anyway it’s very close. Automating the opposite side and implementing reusing features would take the final little extra thought.

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Maya camera shake

Recently i discover the shake attribute under the camera shape node https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AS1PJlcHAE.

In the old days cheating in AE was enough. But it comes up right in time since my aerial shots on hands need plenty of shaking. An easy shaking control in 3d might be better. I use them with expression and custom attributes for keyable magnitude and frequency. To send the shake to 3ds Max my first idea was to bring the shake back to 3d. The shakeHorizontal and shakeVertical values are transferred to tx, ty of an extra locator on top the camera.

The result look fine in general, but not when object goes very far or close. The shake is constant in 2d but not with perspective. Thus I’m thinking about the other method, putting the shake into AE.

I did a quick test and it seems to work. Copy the baked shakeHorizontal and shakeVertical keys of original camera to tx ty of a dummy camera. It should be a locator actually but AE recognizes keys on camera only. Export the dummy camera as .ma and import into AE. Create a null object / solid layer, use expression to get the keys and scale it up about 100 times. Parent any comp to this layer to get the shake.

Not 100% sure but i will tell if it really works.

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Skin Weighting

Skin weighting is always another tedious process I’m trying to speed up. I tried the new Delta Mush in Maya 2016 but there is no way to transfer the weight from the deformer to skinCluster. People are writing their own plugin to do that https://vimeo.com/106647863

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Better Skinning

Webber Huang shows a great tool and workflow in the video https://vimeo.com/130998850. I installed it but sadly it doesn’t work for my character with ribbon limbs setup.

Recently I’m using the smoothSkinClusterWeight plugin by Brave Rabbit, which already help speeding up smoothing a lot. Hopefully I could use it some day. Skinning is a not a fun task always.

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Last Job

I was in charge of all the body and facial rigging for the TV commercial https://vimeo.com/155358802. Lots of corrective fixes were missing. The ribbon limbs were buggy. Some helper joints didn’t work as expected and no way for quick finger gesturing . . .  Now I’m finishing a better rig, hopefully before the start of the next job.

Recently I would recommend the free rig, Ray from cgTarian http://www.cgtarian.com/ray, which has great appeal on the face and clean technical setup.

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Animation Test

https://vimeo.com/155542878 This is just the basic body rigging. Good deformation and facial setup are my next goals.

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Animating fingers

Most of the hand setup use attributes with SetDrivenKey to do auto curling and useful gestures like fist, spread and relax … But they sit on top of normal FK controls, which mean I have to check and avoid counter animation from time to time.

My approach is to set up FK fingers only and use sliders instead of attributes. E.g. a curling sliders is scripted for each finger to drive the corresponding 3 finger segment sliders. So both the FK controls and “sliders” are controlling the same rx ry rz of the FK controls. Yeah ! No extra keys and less distraction.

FingersSliders

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