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5TEF
12-01-2003, 09:32 PM
hi all !


does a good book exist about Expression and LW ?:rolleyes:

( use of expressions in character animation and rigging...)


or maybe good tutorial ?

thanks !

:)

CIM
12-01-2003, 09:44 PM
You actually shouldn't use expressions when doing character animation. Since expressions calculate on a per frame basis, they will considerably slow down your scene when animating.

5TEF
12-01-2003, 09:46 PM
slow down on rendering time ?

but expressions are so useful for good setup !

:shrug:

Remi
12-01-2003, 09:48 PM
not saying expressions aren't good but why can't you make good anims/setups without them....just curious:shrug:

CIM
12-01-2003, 10:08 PM
Originally posted by 5TEF
slow down on rendering time ?

but expressions are so useful for good setup !

:shrug:

I didn't say rendering time!

SplineGod
12-01-2003, 10:53 PM
5TEF,
I dont like to use too many expressions when rigging. CIMs point is that every expression you add will make the rig more and more sluggish. A good rig has little to do with the expressions on it but more about what it needs to be able to do. A good rig can be enhanced by the use of some expressions. It really depends on what your rig must be able to do. Most of the time the types of expressions that you might common use would be muscle bones or opening/closing fingers. Theres a few other things as well.
Once Im certain any muscle type expressions work I will usually turn them off termporarily to speed up the rig.

fwtep
12-02-2003, 01:20 AM
Originally posted by CIM
You actually shouldn't use expressions when doing character animation. Since expressions calculate on a per frame basis, they will considerably slow down your scene when animating. LightWave 8 might work a little better; anyone here know? It's totally possible to have expressions not slow down a program. I've got 274 expressions in the character scene I'm doing now in messiah and it's still 100% realtime, both in manipulating the scene and playback (30fps in this case). I'm sure most people wouldn't need that many expressions of course, but it IS possible to have software than can handle it.

After all, what good is a good expressions editor/creator if you can't actually use expressions in your scene?

Fred

Sil3
12-02-2003, 02:11 AM
Originally posted by fwtep
...but it IS possible to have software than can handle it.

Fred

We already have, and it´s availabe to purchase since 1999 :applause:

Sil3
12-02-2003, 02:14 AM
Originally posted by CIM
You actually shouldn't use expressions when doing character animation. Since expressions calculate on a per frame basis, they will considerably slow down your scene when animating.

Perhaps in the majority of current C.A. softwares yes, but there also "others" out there that dont even glitch with 200 + expressions and more than one character in scene :bounce:

And if they do, they also have something similar to Maya´s playblast :p

SplineGod
12-02-2003, 02:29 AM
5TEF,
What are you doing or interested in doing that you feel you need expressions? There are literally thousands of things that could be done to a character using expressions. :)

EWolf
12-02-2003, 02:48 AM
Originally posted by SplineGod
There are literally thousands of things that could be done to a character using expressions. :)
Just not in realtime, in Lightwave. :scream:

Hey, Larry, you're a beta guy, have expressions been speeded up in LW8? I can't imagnine that's a "trade secret."

EW

SplineGod
12-02-2003, 03:18 AM
Originally posted by EWolf
Just not in realtime, in Lightwave. :scream:

Hey, Larry, you're a beta guy, have expressions been speeded up in LW8? I can't imagnine that's a "trade secret."

EW

Most of the stuff Ive had to do with characters and expressions Ive been able to do in realtime.

Honestly? I dont know whats been sped up in LW8 or not.
That would be a good William question though. :)

EWolf
12-02-2003, 04:03 AM
Help, I'm confused! Is it:Originally posted by SplineGod
"Most of the stuff Ive had to do with characters and expressions Ive been able to do in realtime."
Or is it Originally posted by SplineGod
"I dont like to use too many expressions when rigging. CIMs point is that every expression you add will make the rig more and more sluggish," (and) "I will usually turn them off while animating to speed up the rig."

Which is it? Also, just so I can get a better idea, I remember reading that you worked at Foundation Imaging (cool! :) ), but what character animating do you do now, other than training? The current expressions stuff in Lightwve wasn't there when you were at Foundation, so unfortunately that doesnt help. I'm just trying to gauge where you're coming from on this issue, because I see conflicting info fromseveral people.

EW

SplineGod
12-02-2003, 04:35 AM
Originally posted by EWolf
Help, I'm confused! Is it:
Or is it

Which is it? Also, just so I can get a better idea, I remember reading that you worked at Foundation Imaging (cool! :) ), but what character animating do you do now, other than training? The current expressions stuff in Lightwve wasn't there when you were at Foundation, so unfortunately that doesnt help. I'm just trying to gauge where you're coming from on this issue, because I see conflicting info fromseveral people.

EW
Whats confusing?
I didnt say "never used" I said "dont like to use too many"
I also said MOST of the stuff Ive had to with characters and expressions Ive been able to do in realtime. MOST would mean the majority of the time but not all of the time. In the case where expressions may slow down a rigs level of interactivity its simple to temporarily disable expressions not essential to actually animating.

Yes I did work for Foundation Imaging. Ive done and continue to do character animation other then just training. Theres plenty of freelance work out there. I just finished a pilot/short film for Turner Classic Movies. That was 7 minutes of character animation.
Im working on projects and continue to work on others as well.
Youre mistaken about the current expression stuff. I was working at Foundation before and during the introduction of the current expression system in LW7. I was working there when we were using LW5.7, 6.0, 6.5 and 7.0. Foundation was a beta site so we were using versions of LW before it was available to the general public. Ive used LWs expressions since as long as theyve been around and in production.

I havent seen really much in the way of conflicting info really. Everyone is going to comment on this based on their own experiences. Ive been rigging in LW since rigging was possible. Ive done it for video game companies, on TV and Film projects. Ive rigged for large groups of animators and for small groups. Ive rigged when time was available to do it properly and Ive had to do it by the seat of my pants. Ive rigged for use with motion capture and hand keyed animations. Ive rigged and animated for my own projects. Thats where Im coming from. :)

kretin
12-02-2003, 05:13 AM
does a good book exist about Expression and LW ?:rolleyes:

( use of expressions in character animation and rigging...)

My character creation book (that I'm writing atm) deals with expressions that are useful in character rigging, and some that aren't so useful but that some people like to include.

There are very few rigs that I make these days that don't have any expressions. I find them very useful for certain controls. If used sensibly, any slow down (if any) is unnoticable. In my experience it's when expressions are asked to do too much that it starts to slow down a rig, and in these cases they are usually taking too much control away from the animator.

Also different types and implementations of expressions have different effects on the speed. You can't say that "all" expressions will slow down a rig, it's like saying that "all" characters should animate in real time, which is an impossible ask since there is no limit on the number of polygons in a character.

SplineGod
12-02-2003, 05:32 AM
Originally posted by 5TEF
hi all !


does a good book exist about Expression and LW ?:rolleyes:

( use of expressions in character animation and rigging...)


or maybe good tutorial ?

thanks !

:)

Jonnys (Kretin) book should be pretty good. Theres probably going to be some of that in Wordwares new Tips and Tricks book as well. I also cover expressions in my Tour CDs as well as in the rigging portion of my character course. :)

Facial Deluxe
12-02-2003, 05:56 AM
I used a dozen of expressions on a character, including both MusclesBones and Smartskins, and didn't notice any slowdown.

I've heard though, that ACS4 which is (for what I've heard) full of expressions (which sounds logical when you create stuff that has to suit anybody), does slowdown.<----This is not a critic :love:

Perhaps, LW is not the best software to do CA, but if you don't work like a pig it allows to go far enough....

5TEF
12-02-2003, 07:38 AM
i'm not a "god expression" !
but i notice that a lot of good Wavers use expression on character rigging...
( i saw a lot of expression in some good tutorial ( www.digiwonk.com , for exemple )

i need to understand, the use of expressions. :)

i made a good setup for my character ( i think ! ) , based on the digiwonk tutorial.

but , it's not very easy to work with this rig...maybe i must customize it with expression ?
( i saw a good tutorial , with terrific expressions ( very very long !!!! ) on the newtek website )

what are the most useful expression in a character rigging ?

do you enter limit rotation for bones ?
( i don't enter them, and it's a "veritable catastrophe" to animate my character ! )

For fingers, i think sliders are the best...

in conclusion, i want to make a good rigging, and to understand expressions....



Larry, have got good CD on animation and expression ??


Facial : i think i will contact you by mail, and in french ! :)

Kretin : pleaasssseeee hurry up for your book !!! i want to buy it !
( same think for the leigh's book ! )

hey, gods of LW, I want to learn :) !


:thumbsup:

SplineGod
12-02-2003, 08:08 AM
Originally posted by 5TEF

i'm not a "god expression" !
but i notice that a lot of good Wavers use expression on character rigging...
( i saw a lot of expression in some good tutorial ( www.digiwonk.com , for exemple )

You dont need to be a god of expressions to have a good solid rig. You need to have a good basic understand of what the requirements are for a good rig. Once you understand that then the technical part will make more sense. Rigging is not about expressions or IK but what a good rig should be capable of doing.
I go thru all that in my Rigging CD. I dont just send you the CD and leave you on your own. I have a support forum which is very active. I do help you thru the more difficult spots. :)

i need to understand, the use of expressions. :)

Expressions can be very simple and dont normally require an advanced degree. Most of the time the math is very simple.

i made a good setup for my character ( i think ! ) , based on the digiwonk tutorial.

but , it's not very easy to work with this rig...maybe i must customize it with expression ?
( i saw a good tutorial , with terrific expressions ( very very long !!!! ) on the newtek website )
In my opinion a rig that misbehaves without the use of expressions isnt a good rig. I havent seen the one you described but most good rigs Ive seen have minimal expressions and are very stable.

what are the most useful expression in a character rigging ?

do you enter limit rotation for bones ?
( i don't enter them, and it's a "veritable catastrophe" to animate my character ! )

For fingers, i think sliders are the best...

in conclusion, i want to make a good rigging, and to understand expressions....
Probably the most common Ive seen are finger controls using sliders and muscle bones. I dont like using sliders to control fingers. It takes long to set up and it does limit what you can do. I prefer to use selection sets which are easy to set up and use and can be created as you go. I also rarely use rotational limits for bones. Again if the bones and IK are properly set up theyre rarely needed.

Larry, have got good CD on animation and expression ??
Both Tour CDs cover expressions in general. My Character Rigging CD is about 15 hours. You can see a list of what it covers HERE (http://www.3dtrainingonline.com/professionalcharacterseries.htm)

5TEF
12-02-2003, 11:21 AM
thanks very much for all your tips and reply Larry !

a good solution for fingers bones, is to use the "Follower" plugin, intead of sliders...

and follower ( great plugin ! ) can be used too, for spines, neck and head bones !

i'm very surprise that you don't use rotation limit for bones !

i must have problem in my character setup...

i have too, a very strange pb with a weight maps, and a finger bone..

all is OK , but the finger bone refuse to use the weight map !

http://st3f.free.fr/temp/bug_2.jpg http://st3f.free.fr/temp/bug1.jpg http://st3f.free.fr/temp/ik.jpg http://st3f.free.fr/temp/ik2.jpg

froggyplat
12-02-2003, 02:59 PM
splinegod is speaking a lot of truth there..! the more i played with expressions on IK (they are still great for fingers) the less i liked losing control..they are nice toys, but i wouldn't use them for anything beyond a quick walk cycle...and probably not even then:)

you can build in a lot of layers of control if you use expressions for automated placement...manual overrides, control objects on top of your heirarchy and such. but, then you are in a situation where you are animating two things: your rig and the expression overrides...so why not skip all that and just animate your rig to begin with?

however, expression animation can be very useful for other (non-organic) kinds of characters and objects in your scenes, so it is definitely worth checking them out. it looks like v8 is going to have some nice new capabilities for building expressions (check out the new screen grabs).

5TEF
12-02-2003, 07:47 PM
you're right ! :)

and thanks for your great video tutorial...
:thumbsup:
it help me a lot to understand and make a good setup...
even if i've not understand all subtilities...

:(

LittleFenris
12-02-2003, 08:36 PM
froggyplat,

wow, those videos are awesome. I haven't gotten to watch them all, but I watched the first 2 so far. I can't believe you put up 4 hours of tutorials for free, thats just awesome. From what I've watched so far, these will be very helpful. :buttrock:

SplineGod
12-02-2003, 08:41 PM
Originally posted by 5TEF
thanks very much for all your tips and reply Larry !
a good solution for fingers bones, is to use the "Follower" plugin, intead of sliders...
and follower ( great plugin ! ) can be used too, for spines, neck and head bones !
i'm very surprise that you don't use rotation limit for bones !
i must have problem in my character setup...
i have too, a very strange pb with a weight maps, and a finger bone..
all is OK , but the finger bone refuse to use the weight map !

For my own rigs i dont use follower or expressions on fingers, spines, neck etc if I can avoid it. Did you know that you can select several bones that are part of a heirarchy and if you rotate one of them they ALL rotate additively? Thats why I prefer selection sets because it takes a fraction of the time to set them up which allows me to start animating much more quickly rather then spend a great deal of time setting up something that decreases the amount of control I have. Once you set expression or follow on a bone you lose individual control over it unless you add yet a nother layer of controls that is crazy.

I rarely have to use rotational limits on bones. If you have your bones properly oriented IK behave beautifully.

I typically set my bone falloff to ^128. I also make sure part of my model like legs or fingers arent very close to other parts. I also slightly prebend the model so the bones also end up being prebent. This helps the IK solver know which way joints are supposed to bend. Keeping the body parts a little bit away from each other helps keep cross influence from bones to a minimum so I dont have to use weight maps most of the time or at the very worse I use very few weight maps. I NEVER use a weight map per bone.

I have used expressions to help automate the animation of a character. Usually I do that if the characters are off in the background or Im under very tight time constraints. I have used autocentering functions to help me rough out a characters movements. I may either have a secondary controller to allow me to override the autocenting or I bake the motion, filter the keys and then tweak it that way. I dont typically do it this way but it ca help to quickly block out your animation. :)

froggyplat
12-02-2003, 09:26 PM
one thing to keep in mind too about using follower for fingers is that fingers don't exactly work as additive rotation in humans...the second joint bends first, then the third, and those two pull the first joint into a curl.

you can actually set this up with automation too in LW, but I never found it to be that practical.

VWTornado: np! i enjoyed making them...it's still pretty basic info..and there are certainly better rigs (and videos) out there, but it will get you from A to B in a reasonable amount of time.

LittleFenris
12-02-2003, 09:51 PM
SplineGod, how are you using selection sets to select chains of bones? I'm looking in the manual and the only selection sets I see are point selection sets. Can you enlighten me as to how to do that, that sounds likea fast way to select things like fingers to open and close them. :buttrock:

SplineGod
12-02-2003, 10:28 PM
Originally posted by VWTornado
SplineGod, how are you using selection sets to select chains of bones? I'm looking in the manual and the only selection sets I see are point selection sets. Can you enlighten me as to how to do that, that sounds likea fast way to select things like fingers to open and close them. :buttrock:

You can have point selection sets in modeler.
In layout you have Favorite sets you can create in the scene editor and you have Favorite sets in the graph editor for various channels.

The nice thing about selection sets is that you can create them on the fly and in any order in seconds.

You could, for example have a selection set for just the 2nd and 3rd joints of all the finger bones in one hand and then a set for just the first joints of all the fingers so they can be opened and closed in the right order.

LittleFenris
12-02-2003, 10:33 PM
How do I make these selection sets in Layout? That sounds like it could speed up animating quite a bit since I won't have to select each bone in every finger every time I have to open or close my characters hands (which he will be doing a lot since he's a Samurai).

SplineGod
12-02-2003, 10:54 PM
You select the items and in the scene editor you create a favorite set. :)

kretin
12-02-2003, 11:07 PM
a good solution for fingers bones, is to use the "Follower" plugin, intead of sliders...

and follower ( great plugin ! ) can be used too, for spines, neck and head bones !

i'm very surprise that you don't use rotation limit for bones !

Follower isn't the best solution, in that it doesn't allow you to adjust the item manually. You'll find it's much easier just to select all the items you're using Follower on and then do your rotation... that way you still have individual control over the items too. Fingers and spines can rotate in non-uniform ways, and using follower doesn't allow that, so you're really limiting your rig by using it.

I usually use rotational limits for bones. I find when creating rigs for use by other/multiple animators that it's necessary to create limits so the animators can't stuff it up :p But on my own rigs I tend to only use limits if the joint isn't doing what it's posed to without them.


i have too, a very strange pb with a weight maps, and a finger bone..

all is OK , but the finger bone refuse to use the weight map !

Looks like you're missing some points in the weight map...

kretin
12-02-2003, 11:21 PM
but , it's not very easy to work with this rig...maybe i must customize it with expression ?
( i saw a good tutorial , with terrific expressions ( very very long !!!! ) on the newtek website )

what are the most useful expression in a character rigging ?

I agree with Larry, if the rig isn't working correctly without expressions I doubt using expressions will fix it. The basics of character rigging should be easily accomplished without using expressions. The only place you want to use expressions is to do specific advanced rigging tasks or automated motion.

The most used expression I use in character rigs is the muscle (or stretchy) bone. The other expressions I use vary greatly depending on the needs of the character or rig.

One recent example is the frog characters I created. When their legs were bent as much as they needed to be, the calf was intersecting the thigh. The easiest solution was to create a bone at the calf, to squash the calf when the leg bent. This is a case where automation is useful, cause you don't wanna have to move and stretch that bone every time you bend the legs, so I used a "maprange" expression to tie the movement and scale of the calf bone to the rotation of the legs, so it starts moving/stretching when the calf reaches a certain rotation and hits its maximum movement/stretch at another rotation. The expression looks like this:

clamp( ( mapRange( Object.LegLower01_L.rot(Time).p, -160, -130, 0.007, 0.02) ) , 0.007 , 0.02 )

So what expressions you use in a character rig are totally up to the needs of that character and that rig to perform specific tasks.

3DDave
12-02-2003, 11:55 PM
Expressions to control the targeting of a characters eyes are very useful to the animator.

kretin
12-03-2003, 12:07 AM
Why wouldn't you just use LW's inbuilt targeting function? Targeting using expressions is way more difficult...

angus1965
12-03-2003, 12:49 AM
Originally posted by 5TEF
hi all !


does a good book exist about Expression and LW ?:rolleyes:

( use of expressions in character animation and rigging...)


or maybe good tutorial ?

thanks !

:)

The use of expressions to generate animation is best avoided. I have not seen a good rig that employed expressions to generate an animation and/or parts of animation.

However, expressions used for articulation and control are a completely different beast.

A single example: IK/FK switching can only be achieved using expressions.

I have seen some very elegant rigs that use a lot of expressions. When implemented correctly the enhance an animators ability to bring a character to life.

SplineGod
12-03-2003, 02:10 AM
Originally posted by kretin

I usually use rotational limits for bones. I find when creating rigs for use by other/multiple animators that it's necessary to create limits so the animators can't stuff it up :p But on my own rigs I tend to only use limits if the joint isn't doing what it's posed to without them.


Again this is one of those things that could potentially go either way...Ive rigged for other animators before where I tried to anticipate things like rotational contstraints for them. Many times they didnt like it.
On the other hand Ive seen "animators" who will say something like 'but I can bend the elbow the wrong way'. My reply is "well dont do that". :)

In general the more experience the animator the less controls or constraints theyve wanted. What I typically shoot for is maximum posability and stability with a minimum amount of fancy controllers.

Its important to not get caught up in creating cool, fancy rigs. Its ok if you find it use for yourself but I had nothing but headaches trying to educate animators on how to use all the cool features and still have many come back not getting it. :)

Again, this is just from my experience with doing this.

Julez4001
12-03-2003, 02:32 AM
When I character animate in LW only, I use favorite sets, leg only IK and the rotate uniformly multiple selects for fingers and spine.
This is the extent of my lw rigs that i ise and I rarely need more...course these jobs are very basic and not really "high" maintence and forc emyself to plan out the animation without using arm Ik and such.

But when I custom rig for myself, I use messiah.

Since musclebones is a feature thats not a problem,
my common expressions are IK_FK blending for the arms
shoulder rolls, forarm twisting, and linking some muscle bones to the spherize effect. Thats about 18 expressions (the IK_FK require a sep line for each bone in the IK chain).

Plus if the character is more detail liek a robe or a cape, then I wind up using more so for very stylized characters, I use expression but when in LW, I ctaer the shortcomings and adapt.

Looks LW8 have some kool stuff but I hope they optimize the puppy! I would like to something near Kretin's Spawn quality during the demos instead of the 400-900 poly pigs and bug eyed girl.

Kretin, you should give messiah a try...
Seeing how u maximize LW, u would be awesome in messiah

SplineGod
12-03-2003, 03:20 AM
5TEF,
Anothing thing I wanted to mention is that Im assuming you want to learn to rig so you can animate. Focus on getting a good rig that you can simply just animate with. :)

kretin
12-03-2003, 04:06 AM
Kretin, you should give messiah a try...
Seeing how u maximize LW, u would be awesome in messiah
Most of my software purchases are justified by job requirements.... so if I get a job using Messiah I'll happily use it, otherwise I'm afraid it has to go on the list with all the other software I'd love to play with but can't justify the cost of :( ... unless I come across a barrier in my personal projects that requires something new...

froggyplat
12-03-2003, 04:20 AM
speaking of which, i just got my copy of motionbuilder 5 in the mail today....:beer:

much fun to be had in the coming days!

angus1965
12-03-2003, 03:39 PM
Originally posted by SplineGod
Again this is one of those things that could potentially go either way...Ive rigged for other animators before where I tried to anticipate things like rotational contstraints for them. Many times they didnt like it.
On the other hand Ive seen "animators" who will say something like 'but I can bend the elbow the wrong way'. My reply is "well dont do that". :)

In general the more experience the animator the less controls or constraints theyve wanted. What I typically shoot for is maximum posability and stability with a minimum amount of fancy controllers.

Its important to not get caught up in creating cool, fancy rigs. Its ok if you find it use for yourself but I had nothing but headaches trying to educate animators on how to use all the cool features and still have many come back not getting it. :)

Again, this is just from my experience with doing this.

Our animators and riggers must be really inept, because the rigs created here have tons of controls. The eblows don't go all wonky either.

Julez4001
12-03-2003, 03:48 PM
angus1965 - what software are you using?

Lightwave 8 LOOKS kool but i really wish someone put some specs out. charcter with poly count on a what kinda machine with how many expressions and how many IK chains

PROTON?

This would make an upgrade for me!
Ni matter how they add a dopesheet (if u don't have keyTrak already) or whatever matter unless u get some speed needs.

KRETIN -- I am a big fan of your work.
Someone gotta get you a copy of Messiah, thats for dang sure!
I guess the demo is not enough since u cant save.
maybe they should ollow Maya lead with a unprofessional save mode.

angus1965
12-03-2003, 04:25 PM
Originally posted by Julez4001
angus1965 - what software are you using?

Lightwave 8 LOOKS kool but i really wish someone put some specs out. charcter with poly count on a what kinda machine with how many expressions and how many IK chains

PROTON?

This would make an upgrade for me!
Ni matter how they add a dopesheet (if u don't have keyTrak already) or whatever matter unless u get some speed needs.

KRETIN -- I am a big fan of your work.
Someone gotta get you a copy of Messiah, thats for dang sure!
I guess the demo is not enough since u cant save.
maybe they should ollow Maya lead with a unprofessional save mode.

All character related animation is handled using Maya. However, this is a bit immaterial. The theory still applies.

SplineGod
12-03-2003, 06:48 PM
Originally posted by angus1965
Our animators and riggers must be really inept, because the rigs created here have tons of controls. The eblows don't go all wonky either.

Randy, I think its great that you know so many people who do something you dont do. Maybe you could learn something about it yourself and post something actual useful on the subject instead of the subtley veiled insults or sarcasm. It is getting a bit old and is pretty unprofessional. Thanks for understanding. :)

5TEF
12-03-2003, 06:58 PM
thanks Larry... :)

i actually try to remove weight maps on my character to "see", if i can animate without them...


Kretin -> thanks for your tips about expression.... actually, i think expression could be a good way to resolve the elbow and shoulder pb.

LittleFenris
12-03-2003, 07:05 PM
SplineGod, i don't see why you are against weight maps? They seem like a fairly quick, easy way to get bones to effect the correct geometry and keep them from effecting things you don't want them to. Every character ive ever tossed some bones into end up getting parts pulled around by bones nowhere near them (like lower parts of the head being pulled around by the upper arm bones and stuff like that), but with weight maps, that never happens. Keeping parts far enough apart to keep this from happening might be fairly easy on a realistic human character, but when you do cartoons like me, you never know how close body parts might end up (thus my seeming need for weight maps all the time). :)

SplineGod
12-03-2003, 07:09 PM
Originally posted by 5TEF
thanks Larry... :)

i actually try to remove weight maps on my character to "see", if i can animate without them...

Keep in mind 5TEF that you dont need them to be able to animate. You are looking at two different things:
1. The animation aspect
2. The deformation aspect

You can animate a standin character that is very low resolution or a model that is broken up into smaller parts. This is pretty standard practice so that the feedback from your rig is fast.

Getting good deformations isnt really part of animating but is related to it. I find it easier to worry about both separately.
You can create animation with the low rez character then adjust things like weight maps (if you need them) endomorphs, muscle bones etc. later.

I usually check deformations on my rig before I start animating so I can make sure that at least the basic deformations are good. Once you are sure that your animation is good then you can look at things like softbody effects on the characters skin and cloth dynamics for clothing.

A good workflow is important. :)

SplineGod
12-03-2003, 07:20 PM
Originally posted by VWTornado
SplineGod, i don't see why you are against weight maps? They seem like a fairly quick, easy way to get bones to effect the correct geometry and keep them from effecting things you don't want them to. Every character ive ever tossed some bones into end up getting parts pulled around by bones nowhere near them (like lower parts of the head being pulled around by the upper arm bones and stuff like that), but with weight maps, that never happens. Keeping parts far enough apart to keep this from happening might be fairly easy on a realistic human character, but when you do cartoons like me, you never know how close body parts might end up (thus my seeming need for weight maps all the time). :)

Im not against weight maps at all. I dont use them until after Ive corrected the problems you mentioned by adding a few hold bones first. Its much faster then going back and forth trying to tune bones and weight maps.

When I add bones I then check out basic deformations first. If I see that the armpit is collapsing when I rotate the arm down I simply add in a rib bone. That usually fixes it. Bones have other settings that can be tweaked immediately while the character is in a pose so I can make sure deformations look the best they can. I already know the character looks fine in the rest state.

The way you know how close body parts are is to look at your model. Modeling IS a part of rigging. Fingers can be splayed or posed further apart and bones used to bring them back to a more neutral pose. Ive modeled and rigged lots of stuff that isnt human proportions and its always the same process for me.

Lightwave bones are somewhat unique in that when you turn them on they work. They are more like special lattice deformers. You can orient them in all sorts of ways. You dont HAVE to use weight maps.

If I find that a reasonable amount of hold bones dont work then I resort to weight maps and then I keep them dead simple. I think its important to have a good understanding of things like bones and how they work to maximise their potential :)

LittleFenris
12-03-2003, 07:27 PM
Can you show me what you mean by rib bones? how do i get them to hold things like the sides or whatever from collapsing? That sounds interesting, since you could then use them to deform the model a bit more if need be in realtime. I don't think any of my characters will really need that much control, but you never know. :)

SplineGod
12-03-2003, 07:35 PM
Originally posted by VWTornado
Can you show me what you mean by rib bones? how do i get them to hold things like the sides or whatever from collapsing? That sounds interesting, since you could then use them to deform the model a bit more if need be in realtime. I don't think any of my characters will really need that much control, but you never know. :)

Hey VW, Ill copy and paste my response from another thread.
If you look along the spine you see bones sticking straight out to the sides. Those are examples of "rib" type hold bones. You can even make them do things as you said by using muscle bone type expressions or Cycler to have them help actively with some deformations.

I think the acid test for the shoulder area is if the character can touch his hand to the top of this head without it collapsing like a wet towel. If you understand how bones work and have your edge loops set up properly you can get very good deformations without the use of weight maps or endomorphs. Theres no magic iinvolved except a little understanding of the two things I just mentioned. I dont resort to using weight maps or endomorphs unless I absolutely have to. Heres an example of some bones I threw into this character from scratch in just a few minutes. All deformations are bones only with no weight maps or endomorphs. From here IF I need them I can add them.
http://www.splinegod.com/examples/shoulder_test.jpg

angus1965
12-03-2003, 09:22 PM
Originally posted by SplineGod
Randy, I think its great that you know so many people who do something you dont do. Maybe you could learn something about it yourself and post something actual useful on the subject instead of the subtley veiled insults or sarcasm. It is getting a bit old and is pretty unprofessional. Thanks for understanding. :)

Actually, I do know quite a bit about the subject.

I have modeled, rigged, and animated a few characters in Maya.

The most important thing is the use of the rig. If one has to fight the rig to get your character to react the way you feel it should then you are fighting the software and not your ability. If you are fighting the software, then you're spend time and energy where it is not needed. Not to mention the frustration that is involved. Me? I would rather fight my ability - because then I am learning.

Having a rig that has an elbow that moves in the wrong direction or pops was an example you chose to cite. I merely pointed out, that in my experience (yes, experience - not observation or only speaking to people) as well working in a high level production environment, is an indication that there is a problem with the rig. "Don't do that" is not an option. I am sorry if this offends you. I also commented on your choice of choosing to put animator in quotes. This tells me that anyone who expresses this opinion in not an animator. Which I think is incorrect.

As a supervisor on a multi-million dollar project I can assure you the words, "well don't do that" will not be spoken by anyone on our team.

I am sorry you are unable to take a little criticism about your comments Larry.

I am not even going to address the professionalism comment.

SplineGod
12-03-2003, 09:55 PM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by angus1965
Actually, I do know quite a bit about the subject.
I have modeled, rigged, and animated a few characters in Maya.
Then say so right up front instead of "I know people that rig"
Site your own experience.

The most important thing is the use of the rig. If one has to fight the rig to get your character to react the way you feel it should then you are fighting the software and not your ability. If you are fighting the software, then you're spend time and energy where it is not needed. Not to mention the frustration that is involved. Me? I would rather fight my ability - because then I am learning.

I believe I stated this earlier already.In fact I state it all the time when it concerns rigging. A good rig wont fight the animator. Thats a pretty universal concept in any application. Im not interested in getting a rig to react but to act exactly the way I want when I want.

Having a rig that has an elbow that moves in the wrong direction or pops was an example you chose to cite. I merely pointed out, that in my experience (yes, experience - not observation or only speaking to people) as well working in a high level production environment, is an indication that there is a problem with the rig. "Don't do that" is not an option. I am sorry if this offends you. I also commented on your choice of choosing to put animator in quotes. This tells me that anyone who expresses this opinion in not an animator. Which I think is incorrect.
As a supervisor on a multi-million dollar project I can assure you the words, "well don't do that" will not be spoken by anyone on our team.
An elbow or ANY joint should be able to move in ANY way that animator determines is necessary including the "wrong" way. The riggers job is not to determine what the animator can or cannot do with a rig. The rigger will set up a rig that is absolutely poseable and stable when posed and between poses.
A rigger will also set things up the way the animator is most comfortable with. Bending an elbow beyond what would be considered "normal" is the animators perogative. Having elbows "popping" unexpectedly is simply a bad rig.
No Randy, saying something is not an option doesnt offend me. Youre unprofessional comments, sarcasm and thinly veiled insults in this thread and others are offensive. You like to repeatedly point out things like you work on "high level production projects" or "multimillion dollar project". If thats the case then ACT the part. Also, there is absolutely NO way to determine how someone will animate anything. Part of a supervisors job is to tell someone "Dont do that" when they do something wrong. The job is to insure that things arent done wrong. If this isnt the case what are you supervising? Ive worked on multimillion dollar projects and have supevised on them as well. In fact other people on these forums have too. The difference is everyone else seems to be able to behave themselves.

I am sorry you are unable to take a little criticism about your comments Larry.
I am not even going to address the professionalism comment.

I take criticism just fine Randy especially with the spirit it was intended. As far as the the unprofessionalism you should address it. Go back and reread many of your other posts on other threads.

Statements like "Our animators and riggers must be really inept, because the rigs created here have tons of controls. The eblows don't go all wonky either." ARE useless. Its amazing that the most of the others around here who dont work on high level projects and dont supervise multimillion dollar projects can figure out simple things like this.

angus1965
12-03-2003, 10:28 PM
Then say so right up front instead of "I know people that rig"
Site your own experience.

I have not stated in this thread that "I know people that rig."


I believe I stated this earlier already.In fact I state it all the time when it concerns rigging. A good rig wont fight the animator. Thats a pretty universal concept in any application. Im not interested in getting a rig to react but to act exactly the way I want when I want.

I guess we agree on something. Although how fighting a rig could probably be an issue.


An elbow or ANY joint should be able to move in ANY way that animator determines is necessary including the "wrong" way. The riggers job is not to determine what the animator can or cannot do with a rig. The rigger will set up a rig that is absolutely poseable and stable when posed and between poses.
A rigger will also set things up the way the animator is most comfortable with. Bending an elbow beyond what would be considered "normal" is the animators perogative. Having elbows "popping" unexpectedly is simply a bad rig.

An example. Giving an elbow the ability bend the wrong direction is one thing. Making it so that when the animator is trying to animate and having is move in the wrong direction and having the animator complain tells me there is an issue at hand. Upon review if it is because the animator is trying to animate in a traditional fashion and the joint is not cooperating - then there is a problem with the rig. If it is needed to operate in a non-traditional manner then there should be control in place to allow this - as well as to prevent it.

To state that there is absolutely no way to know how someone will animate something is, in my opinion, incorrect.

SplineGod
12-03-2003, 11:04 PM
An example. Giving an elbow the ability bend the wrong direction is one thing. Making it so that when the animator is trying to animate and having is move in the wrong direction and having the animator complain tells me there is an issue at hand. Upon review if it is because the animator is trying to animate in a traditional fashion and the joint is not cooperating - then there is a problem with the rig. If it is needed to operate in a non-traditional manner then there should be control in place to allow this - as well as to prevent it.

To state that there is absolutely no way to know how someone will animate something is, in my opinion, incorrect.

Precisely what Ive been saying:
Good rig = Does exactly what animator wants and stays put.
Bad rig = Doesnt unexpected things, usually what animator doesnt want.

I dont know of any way to know exactly how anyone is going to animate until they do. Thats why they have supervisors, to make sure that mistakes are corrected, things done right etc.

I guess animating in a traditional fashion means different things to different people. I intepret it as timing ,acting, ease in, ease out...in short the basic 12 principles of animation.
Animating a 3D rig is more akin to stop motion puppetry or muppetry (is that a word?). The same basic traditional animation principles apply to both. Only the mechanics are different.

A traditional cel animator could just as easily "break" the elbow as an animator working in 3D. I dont think a cel animator would like to work with a pencil that came with built in constraints. It only limits them. A cel animator would know not to draw a joint broken unless the storyboards called for it even though the medium they are working in would ALLOW them to draw it any way they pleased. Why should 3D be any different? An animator who couldnt figure out that a joint shouldnt be bent the wrong way UNLESS the storyboards call for it probably shouldnt be animating. Again, the rigger shouldnt presuppose that a joint will never be broken or bent beyond a particular amount.

Again, as I said, any joint that goes out of whack on its own or a rig that forces the animator to constantly repose parts when they move other parts or does strange things in between poses is a bad rig. Popping joints for a 3D animator would be as bad as a stop motion armature with a loose joint or a pencil that constantly breaks on the cel animator.

kretin
12-04-2003, 12:22 AM
Randy, Larry, if you guys don't behave I'm gonna turn this car around right now!!!

C'mon guys, I'm getting sick of your arguments hijacking people's legitimate threads. If you wanna duke it out in public, start your own thread, otherwise please keep it private.

Oh yeah, and while I'm OT, Julez thanks :)

I think alot more people would experiment with and learn from the Messiah demo if it could save. I'd certainly love to play with Messiah at some point, but if a demo doesn't allow saving I rarely try it. Surely they can disable the exporters, so you can't do anything with the animation you create other than load it back up into the Messiah demo?

SplineGod
12-04-2003, 01:22 AM
Originally posted by kretin

C'mon guys, I'm getting sick of your arguments hijacking people's legitimate threads. If you wanna duke it out in public, start your own thread, otherwise please keep it private.


Believe me Im as tired of it as you are. I think the thread was doing quite well until it somehow took that wrong turn.

5TEF,
I apologize if I hijacked your thread but I also hope I was able to actually offer some useful information or answered your question. :)

5TEF
12-04-2003, 11:07 AM
no problem, Larry :)

Karmacop
12-04-2003, 01:47 PM
I think Larry brings up a good issue though, do you put in constraints, making it possibly easier and faster to animate, or do you leave them out, giving the animator more flexability but bringing in the possibility that the animation could look wrong? Personally I like not having constraints, as it lets me do what I want, and I trust myself not to do any crazy motions :p

Jonathan
12-04-2003, 06:57 PM
Well here goes....... breathe in!.....

I think expressions are highly underrated in C.A. Coming to messiah, I was forced to intergrate more expressions into my rigs. Although you can use Messiah without expressions, the program truely shines with the inclusion of them as they are variably liked to other features such as scripting, and other expressions. Then there are things like take the motion you already have and randomizing it within limits to add elements of realism to your animation and make walk cycles a bit less cyclic.

Muscle bones is now done with the simple push of a button however you still need the expression to scale the amount of movement for the target of the muscle bone. Most expressions I use are scaling as a matter of fact. Scaling how much the chest pects, dorsals rotate and stretch when the collar bone is rotated. Having to go in and animate each and every little bit is quite the handfull.

Also about using sliders for fingers:

Scaling sliders can give you more flexibility with fingers give you the ability to adjust the slider left and right instead of just left to right which is so common. An addition slider to set sort of a bias for the middle and distal phalanges makes short work of fingers give more control for eccenctric finger positions. Granted this makes twenty sliders for fingers alone it's a simple matter of creating armatures and turning off the ones you're not using at the time. Lightwave, this would not be a problem either since sliders can be maximized and minimized. This is something I use in M:A and lightwave would make short work of the technique as well.

3DDave
12-04-2003, 07:32 PM
Hopefully Lightwave 8 will bring us real bone tools like Maya, Softimage, XSI, Messiah and Animation Master have HAD for a while. This will make it faster and easier to experiment with different bone setups.

SplineGod
12-04-2003, 08:49 PM
Originally posted by Karmacop
I think Larry brings up a good issue though, do you put in constraints, making it possibly easier and faster to animate, or do you leave them out, giving the animator more flexability but bringing in the possibility that the animation could look wrong? Personally I like not having constraints, as it lets me do what I want, and I trust myself not to do any crazy motions :p

I prefer to allow the animator more flexibility. No matter what you do or how you rig theres ALWAYS the possibility that somebody could do something wrong. That is unavoidable. With that in mind you either have to trust the people on your team that they know how to animate or replace them with people who do. Of course if youre working alone it hard to fire yourself. ;)

LittleFenris
12-04-2003, 08:53 PM
Originally posted by 3DDave
Hopefully Lightwave 8 will bring us real bone tools like Maya, Softimage, XSI, Messiah and Animation Master have HAD for a while. This will make it faster and easier to experiment with different bone setups.

Like Lightwave probably doesn't have features that all the others still dont have? :rolleyes: Every app has its strengths and weaknesses...NO app has absolutely everything you want or need in it...they evolve and become better with time.

JasonOsipa
12-04-2003, 09:04 PM
Originally posted by SplineGod
...theres ALWAYS the possibility that somebody could do something wrong. That is unavoidable. With that in mind you either have to trust the people on your team that they know how to animate ...

In this vein I tend to make the "line in the sand" of rigging follow this rule:

Do I WANT to animate this manually ALL the time?

If no, I rig it up to be dependent on something else in the chain.

There are many, and I mean many many many places where rigging and expressions are the best way to go in place of leaving it to the animator (Eg. proper twist through the arm vs. making it two-three bones someone must animate themselves). At the end of the day if you parent it all clever-like and don't crutch the rig on those extra bells and whistles, but instead "sibling" them in; you can always just blow the expressions and constraints away or deactivate them. If they do the best job of the tedious stuff without breaking 95% of the time, that's more valuable than taking it away for the 5% that you want explicit control. EVERY GREAT RIG HAS EJECT SWITCHES! HEEYA!

My 2 pesos.

SplineGod
12-04-2003, 09:14 PM
Hey Jonathan,
I completely agree that expression can and should be used in many cases. I use them when it makes sense to. Ive learned to do things in stages and separate parts of the animation process.
I try and keep the animation process separate from the deformation process. Muscle bones, endomorphs (other then lipsync), and other deformation enhancing expressions arent really a part of the basic animation process and in fact when they are active can greatly slow down the animation process.
I try and turn that stuff off while animating and turn them back on when I want to do a deformation spot check.

On ocassion Ive used the autocentering expressions on a character just to help me BLOCK out an animation quickly. Usually I will either bake the autocentering part and disable the expression or have some way to override the autocentering part.

Ive also had situations where Ive had to almost totally animate something procedurally (almost completely rely on expressions).
Usually thats happened when time is a factor, things are in the background or theres LOTS of them.

For myself personally Im not a big fan of sliders because theyre too inflexible and take too long to set up. I prefer selection sets.
For a large group of animators I probably would set up the character with sliders so that there is a standard way of doing things. Again it would depend on the situation.

3DDave,
You can definately count on that and then some. :)

SplineGod
12-04-2003, 09:20 PM
Originally posted by JasonOsipa
In this vein I tend to make the "line in the sand" of rigging follow this rule:

Do I WANT to animate this manually ALL the time?

If no, I rig it up to be dependent on something else in the chain.



I tend to agree. When I want to automate something AND still have the personal animated touch I use Cycler or Cyclist. They allow me to animate something by hand and then have it automatically executed by tying it to a channel of another item rather then simply creating a 1:1 dependency with an expression.

hrgiger
12-04-2003, 09:20 PM
I think expressions definately have their place in character animation. Do you need them? Not necessarily. But I think whatever makes the job easier for the animator isn't a bad thing. The shoulder joint is a good example. Very few people get a good looking shoulder movement (that I've seen anyway) and in reality, there is a definate repeatable series of movements that the scapula and clavicle go through when the arm is raised. When you raise the arm, the clavicle and scapula do the same thing every single time. This is a case screaming for automation. Sure, I could hand animate them, but why would I if I didn't have to. Centering expressions are good for walks but you have to have the ability to turn them off during an animation, unless all your character does is walk around in circles all day. You just have to decide what is slowing your down and what is speeding up your workflow. The best expression in the world to automate bone movements isn't much good if it slows down your interface to a crawl.

Larry, you're not getting very good deformations around the elbows on your example. Have you thought of using weight maps?

That was a joke...:p

3DDave
12-04-2003, 09:55 PM
Originally posted by VWTornado
Like Lightwave probably doesn't have features that all the others still dont have? :rolleyes: Every app has its strengths and weaknesses...NO app has absolutely everything you want or need in it...they evolve and become better with time.

Agreed!

All I am saying is it's about time for real tools to create and edit bones in Lightwave [Layout].

SplineGod
12-04-2003, 11:00 PM
Originally posted by 3DDave
Agreed!

All I am saying is it's about time for real tools to create and edit bones in Lightwave [Layout].

Definately! Its always been possible to create/draw bones in layout. The editing part was the kicker. There are ways to rig where its not hard to reuse rigs between characters but its never been obvious. Skelegons were a good idea with a poor implementation IMO. Drawing skelegons is easy but afer that its a pain to know which viewport to draw them in, how to properly adjust bank handles and then dealing with the pivot editing tools in layout.

The new bone setup tools are awesome. I really like the ability to easy edit bones in layout with them, mirror, rename and copy heirarchies. You can save and reuse whole rigs and parts of rigs.
You can scale or rescale whole rigs or parts of rigs. This is a huge step because it simply doesnt just deal with editing joints and orientation but making rigs or parts of rigs reuseable as easy as surface presets.

Im including as much of this information as I can into my portion of wordwares new Tips and Tricks book as well as my onlne courses and CDs. :)

I still have a video demo of the old ortho bone setup tools on my site. What is coming out in LW8 is WAY beyond that. :)

Facial Deluxe
12-05-2003, 05:30 AM
I never use sliders, sliders for fingers for example, because IMHO a finger never bend at a value of 1/3 of the 3 bones rotation. It's too limited. I've never find it boring to select each finger bone.

I avoid expressions as much as I can as well. Except for deforming mesh purpose. Because IMHO, animating a biped cannot be repeatitive. Animation is a sequence of unbalanced movements. The previous unbalanced pose give birth to the next pose. For a walk cycle for example, you never have twice the same pose.
So don't tell me about auto centering the pelvis.... :wise:

SplineGod
12-05-2003, 05:47 AM
Originally posted by Facial Deluxe
For a walk cycle for example, you never have twice the same pose.
So don't tell me about auto centering the pelvis.... :wise:

Thats very true. What I was referring to was using autocentering to help BLOCK OUT or rough out the animation. Once I get the animation roughed out I can then bake the autocentering animation, remove the expression and then fine tune the animation so the character is off balance at the proper places. Some have called walking nothing more then controlled falling. Walking cant occur unless the character is off balance.

Facial Deluxe
12-05-2003, 05:56 AM
Originally posted by SplineGod
Thats very true. What I was referring to was using autocentering to help BLOCK OUT or rough out the animation. Once I get the animation roughed out I can then bake the autocentering animation, remove the expression and then fine tune the animation so the character is off balance at the proper places. Some have called walking nothing more then controlled falling. Walking cant occur unless the character is off balance.
I see :)
Due to the "Small size" of the animations I do, I never had to plan animation as you described, as it seems to often happen in big studios.
I start animating from frame 0, until next pose.

Thanx for the explanation, makes sense :thumbsup:

SplineGod
12-05-2003, 05:59 AM
Usually I do animate from pose to pose but sometimes Ill animate straight forward and this can work well for roughing it out quickly. :)

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