View Full Version : Rig & Reel Review???

01 January 2005, 02:41 AM
Hey everyone. I just finished my reel with a little update of the new character I'm working on and thought I'd like to get some feedback on it all.

The reel can be found at: (

And the rig can be downloaded from:

The rig has only been bound to the joint skeleton, so I still have to come up with some blendshapes and clusters and such to control some of the deformations, but you can basically see how all the controls are operating and all of that. Some fixes I still have yet to implement on the rig are adding controls for the direction of the elbow/knee while using the IK system, and changing the neck to head joint system... The head's pivot point is a bit off and I have to change that. So yeah... Bear in mind this is just a rough skinning version still.

I have a new version of the skin me and my partner have been working on that I'll be binding to this completely finished set up in a day or two.

At any rate, this character is getting to be fun to animate. I still haven't skinned his legs very well either, but yeah... The tail controls are fun to use, and the S_Curve option on the left and right tail fins give it this flappy kind of motion which is real easy to animate. Also there's an all fin control on the back to pose all of the fins there, and you can go in and fine tune each one individually as well. He's got a belly controller that will allow you to animate his belly flopping around also. The foot controls have quite a bit of control, and I was thinking of adding and extra "Ball Pivot" control on there, to make the foot twist from the ball joint on the ground.

Oh, and the layers: Joints is, well, the joints, controls are the control curves... Some of them are actually joints, so if you turn off the joints layer, you'll sometimes be turning off the control curves as well, so sometimes it's usually to just turn off show joints for each viewport you're using. Polyskin is the bound skin, and Influences are low poly stand in geometry objects to animate on slower computers, so yah yah. The other couple of layers, don't mind. :)

Anyways, any feed back is greatly encouraged, thanks!

01 January 2005, 04:10 AM
Suggestions for the reel:

Cut the time down by about half. Every do's and dont's I've seen for demo reels says 2-2.5 mins max. Make sure your camera is focused on what you are trying to demonstrate...for example, when you were displaying your elephant's facial rig you had the whole elephant in view even though there wasn't anything moving but the face. If you have time you might try to tighten up some of the animations as well, since I don't think most of them really show off your rigs potential. You might try finding a better compression for it also since for 80 megs you should have been able to display the reel at full size.

Suggestion for your rig: You might try optimising the scene size to save some of your bandwidth.

I did like the control curves you set up for the rig. I didn't play around with it much, but all of the controls seemed intuitive and easy to grab.

Links to some demo reels discussions you might be interested in: (the second post lists 20 do's and don'ts)

01 January 2005, 05:59 AM
Hmm, I've heard 3 - 4 mins was good, and I was prettyyy close to getting a job at Sony Imageworks, they brought me in for the interview and everyone liked me, they just don't have time to train me right now, but their page suggests under five minutes even. At any rate, any ideas of what sections to cut out would be appreciated as well.

And yeah, the animations are way rough, more just to show the rigs in motion, as I'm not intending on applying for any animator jobs. And dayumb, I tried every which way just to get the file down to that size. Any suggestions on how to save/compress it? I'd heard DivX should work the best, but the quality was absolutely horribleeee.

Thanks for the feedback!

01 January 2005, 06:12 PM
Hey man, good lookin rig.
There's some good things goin on in there. I think the rig is working pretty well, so the suggestion I have would be to continue organizing it and cleaning it up.
in another thread you asked about keying visibility. As I started posing this character the controls got pretty cluttered pretty quickly, so being able to turn them off and on would be great. Try making a control that sits above his head, or below the root or something, and then give it a bunch of boolean attributes like "Left Arm Visibility" and "Fin Visiblity." Then just make a direct connection between that attribute and all the corresponding controllers, and then you have a central place to go for all your visiblity needs.
Another thing you could do is hook the visibility of the IK and FK controls to the IK/FK switch, so that when you are in IK mode you don't see the FK controls (you can't move them anyway) and vice-versa. Then, you could get rid of the color on the CNTL_CRVs layer, and go into the attribute editor and give the shapes their own color in the Attribute editor: Select a transform or a shape, Attribute Editor>Display>Drawing Overrides>Enable Overrides. Then scrub the color index slider, and you can give different colors to right, left, arm leg, whatever you want, so that the animator can tell everything apart better.

By and large I think the skinning looks really good, but theres some weirdness with the clavicle, and the fins on the back could probably use some more falloff.

Clean up that outliner! You've got a bunch of empty nodes, some unnamed stuff....the stuff that is organized looks pretty good, though. Some times you'll be asked to bring a scene file to an interview, and they're going to want to see everything nice and shiny.

One more suggestion that I'd make for future rigs is to give them a little bit more control. I think most animators are going to want a couple joints accesable in the spine, scales unlocked for squashing and stretching, and to have translates unlocked for things like jaws.

But good work!

01 January 2005, 06:25 PM
Ooo, good points, especially with the IK/FK visibility. I was wondering about that myself... Thinking about doing something like that, I had some questions on parts, but now I think I could figure it out pretty easy.

And yeah, like I said, the weighting is just a rough run, as the finalled model won't be ready until Sunday, so I'll have to start re-weighting that one all over again, no sense in getting this one all perfect when i'm just going to have to redo the whole thing in a few more days.

Ohh, and yeah, I've been going off of the hypergraph for my whole scene layout, I haven't been checking the outliner at all, but I'll do that and clean that up as well, thanks!

And yeahhh, the guy I'm working with also recommended having a seperate lower back, and rib cage area of the spine control just the last time we met. I thought it would kind of be over complicating the controls and I wasn't sure if it really needed it, but maybe I'll look into that a bit more. Thanks again.

01 January 2005, 11:04 PM
Some of the skinning looks like it was starting to get pretty far along.
By the way, for weighting the high rez: if the new model is even roughly the same as the low rez one check out "Transfer skin weights." If you skin it to all the same joints it might save you a lot of work.

01 January 2005, 12:33 AM
Hey nice looking rig, everything that Morganism said and more :

. I was not able to find the COG/root control to move the character around!!!
. A little more control over the spine would be nice, u just have one back control now. Look into IK/FK spline for the back, u would benifit a lot for the chartacters hips just cause the chatacter is a big hevy guy.
. transfer all the finger controls to one attribute, i was not able to select all the controls and slide em together.
. Could not find the ik elbow control
. the pivot point and the orientation of the neck control is in the wrong place.
. Don't lock the x rotations for the fins, it adds so much in animation to get that extra twist.
. Orientation of the fk leg controls are also worng, and there is no control for the fk ankle.

Again, this is a great looking rig and excellent wt painting, just clean it up a bit more, add a little more control and it'll be a solid rig.
I did a quick optimize scene size and it dropped down to 14MB.


01 January 2005, 12:58 AM
Hey man...just finished watching the reel and got a few crits overall on it...

try to cut the file size down a bit...80MB is just MASSIVE and for a reel of that length...try cutting it below 30 (I'd suggest 35-40 as your cap).
definitely cut out the explanation parts of the reel...they really don't do much and they're on the screen for a really long period of time.
show some more deformation on the first character...just moving his arms around and stretching him out like that doesn't do a lot...make him do extreme movements or some cool animation stuff and REALLY push the character...studios want to see a rig that is bulletproof at nearly anything.
the clavicle region on that first character needs a bit more fall-off on it...the geo stretches out of place when he leans back, a little bit of fall-off in that region and some smoothing of weights should fix that up :)
tail looks cool but again, try to put it into a working animation to show it off...having it just sort of flop around can show it's initial purpose but doesn't go much farther into extremes with the setup.
the foot setup is cool, I definitely like it. Maybe try showing it off in some deformation tests as well, character walking, pivoting on the foot or just standing there rolling on it's heels and sides of the foot like it's bored.
the female elephant...ok, this one needs some work...There really isn't a very BIG visible difference in the deformations between the original skin, influence objects and then the clusters as well...that pinch at the very top is the first thing that just jumps out at me and because it plays three times it just makes it even more evident. The work has to be rock solid and your BEST stuff to really get into the shops.
the final version looks good of the female elephant...again, some more movements such as bending and flexing in the torso, twisting the head more or even putting it into a cool 360 run on the spot kind of thing would work well.
ear controls are a cool setup, but how are they controlled? Do you have to actually select them on-screen as the curves and weed through selecting the mesh and/or joints? Deformations are very cool, just the methodology behind it would be cool to see as well.
again, same sort of thing with the do they work? where are they stored? what drives them? what is their range? Just one of those things people look for or would want to know in production.
automated movement...this one is a touchy one, some animators love it, others will poop in your coffee for this setup it seems to look and function good (another angle or multiple angles would be good with some more animation than just stand-still). My question is, does it have a blend on/off?
final animation needs just a few little tweaks with some minor popping in the legs there (REALLY far stretch on that last step!).
only other thing is I'd say to cut that reel down below 3 minutes...I know some studios say 3-5 but man, you don't want to end up as someone who gets their reel put on fast-forward the whole way through, especially as a rigger.

I know the list seems like a alot or like I was picking at tons of little things, but having seem quite a few reels and having done many myself, you gotta watch for the tiniest little things. You never know when someone may turn and go "hey! did you just see that? Rewind that back..oooh, the leg pinched really bad in there". Suddenly the person watching your reel or the group of people are now picking up on the little things and noticing them more than paying attention to the bigger picture.

I'm not sure if you have anymore characters or stuff done, but definitely add a really broad range of stuff to the reel if you can...lots of variety that shows you can really rig anything. There's tons of people out there who can place bones and slap IK on a rig, set yourself apart from those people and take it a step farther :)


01 January 2005, 01:15 AM
Yeah definitely make it shorter. while its good to show off your rig, I don't think a prospective hirer will want to see absolutely every component or capability this elephant has. Also add some music :)

01 January 2005, 10:39 AM
If you have the capacity, I think a good idea for a rigging reel is to do a screengrab. Record yourself moving some stuff around, scrubbing attributes, etc.

01 January 2005, 11:34 AM
Hey guys... First off, sincerely THANKS to everyone who took some time out to check out the rig and/or video and gave some feedback on them. It's coming along nicely. I just pretty much finished up the final poly/subD skin tonight with my partner, onto UV layout and the texturing for him, and just doing some minor tweaks to the rig and reweighting for me...

Morganism: Thanks for the tip on transferring the skin weights, I've heard a bit about this but have yet to really check into it and try it out myself. I'm assuming you're referring to a buildt in Maya command and not a script, right? The only thing I'm worried about is that we've added some detail and taken some away in our newest skin version... Anyone know if it's possible to transfer skin weights between two modells like that??? Any help is appreciated, but I'll probably try it out in the next day or two myself as well.

Modi: The COG control... It's that big huge circle shape around the entire rig. ;) I have it marked "allControl" I believe. I'm thinking that's where I might put the visiblity attributes for the arm, leg, etc. controls, like someone else suggested earlier. And yeah, I decided after my partner and you guys all recommending more back control, that I'd add a second control. Using the one now for the 2 lower back joints, and a second control for those spine joints that would have the rib cage coming off of them. That, and yah, I mentioned in the original post the head pivot was off, so that, along with the neck, will be getting updated once I remove the current skin from it all. Same thing with the elbow/knee direction control for when IK is engaged. OH!...

And does anyone have any tips... I'd like to make the foot control still follow the ankle joint when FK is engaged, anyone know how to do this??? It's really bugging me and I'm not sure how to go about using it when the IK is turned off to still control the toes and all of that.

Ah, and also I'll be redoing the thigh->shin->ankle joints... the ankle pivot point is a little off, so I'd like to fix that. Ooo, and yah, I'll be redoing the top two fin joints/controls as well, to accommodate X-rotation. The pivot point is just off now, so don't want anyone using those controls if it's just gonna give f'ed up deformations. Oh, and I'm about to remove those excess transform nodes and such right now, and I'll try optimizing the scene, thanks for the tips Modi!

01 January 2005, 11:52 AM
And M.E.L.... Thanks a TON! Really long involved and nit picky crits like your's are what I welcome most of all:

Any tips on getting the file size of the vid down when exporting a movie from Premiere Pro 1.5??? Like I said, I struggled just getting it down to this size. Any codec you'd recommend for compression or whatever???

Yeah, I'll push the new character into more extreme poses once I've set up blend shape fixes or whatever method to clean up some of the individual muscle deforms. Right now it still isn't that tight, so didn't push it too far. It was just nice finally seeing it all moving for the first time, which is what those renders are. I'll look at cutting back the time of the explanations. Most of them I tried to time with how long they'd take to read out to myself, but I've also been told that it helped to make the whole thing very clear, so I'll see.

And yeah, I'll definently show off the foot control once I get the weighting on the legs worked out. It's really ugly in the thigh area, so I didn't really want to show that area deforming (like for the heel2toe roll control) at all quite yet. Needs lots of fixing. Oh, and yeah, I think I probably will cut out that triple cut scene with the clusters and all. I just really liked it because I made a whole script for outputting and inputting animation onto the controls and it was REALLY COOL, figuring out how to render out so I could make a triple panel of the whole thing. I guess looking at it, I was more stoked about all the work outside of what was actually going on. Lol.

Oh, and yah, it should be a good idea to put what is driving the influence blend shapes, the techs at sony asked me about that as well. I thought it might be to technical mumbo jumbo, but apparently maybe not. Side story: I got to meet with a senior level Sony guy with his Ph.D in math, who was character supervisor on Shrek and Polar Express... Way f'in stokededness on my part and sit down and talk with him and 4 other TD's from Sony for like an hour and a half, that was killer also.)

And yeah, I know... Automated movement and some animators shriek. I just thought it would be nice to show off that I know how to do it. And I really tried to make those movements as non-intrusive as possible. Like the walk test... I don't think I had to set more than a couple of keys (for exaggeration) on the shoulders or the hips controls... The automated movement really helped. It is also possible to key or counter key against this movement. Anyhoot, I think I will tie the walk cycle into the automated movement set-up, thanks for the idear. And lastly, I just figured if they wanted it without automated movement (Like I needed to turn it off when he rears up on his haunches in the backflip scene, and for when he turns upside down.), you can just go into the expression editor and delete the expressions... Is there a way to be able to turn those off by creating an attribute on a control that you might know about???

Ah, and someone I know showed me a website for software that can record screengrabs from your monitor, like as you're manipulating the rig... Only it was a few hundred dollars and so I was thinking maybe I can just record from the S-Video out on my VCR, and then import that into Premier. Anyone have any experience with this???

At any rate, I'll post up a new version of the rig once I've redone the skinning and more or less finalled the remaining control bugs and updates. For anyone else who has the time, I'd appreciate you listing a few things for me to help me figure out what part of the vid is working and what parts aren't. If you could please post:

1. 3 Things you think that aren't working and should be redone/dropped altogether.
2. 3 Things you think that might stand out or that are working well in the vid.

Thanks. :)

01 January 2005, 04:50 PM
Hey man,

Try using MPEG4 codec with Quicktime (i just import my uncompressed AVI's into Quicktime and then export at a medium quality 720x486 MOV file using the MPEG4 codec). This usually keeps my file sizes down below the 40mb marker.

For your screen grab stuff, use Camtasia, I think it has a 30 day trial still!

Look forward to seeing your new stuff :)


02 February 2005, 01:57 AM
Hey, yeahhh... Camtasia was the name of it. I actually fell into some change, so I might just go out and purchase it, it would be a nice investment in the long run at the very least. I'm thinking of getting that and another Wacom tablet. (I spilled an ice tea drink on my last one and it stopped working. Booooo.) :( That, and maybe one other proggie, but I'm not terribly sure what. Decisions, decisions...

Ohhhh, and yeah, I'll try openning the stuff in quicktime as well. I just went through and optimized the maya file and that is a LOT smaller now. Got it down from 32K to 5K... Niceeee. I'll post the updated smaller file to the web for anyone else who wants to download it so you don't have to wait as long.

OH! Anddd... I went over to Venice last Thursday to drop off a reel with Blur Studios, and I heard back from them today! They too noted that they were looking for someone with more production experience, but he said that my reel looked pretty good and that with them expanding and such now there might possibly be a position for me, he has to wait and see how all the tapes he's getting in look though still, as they're getting a lot of them in. But woo hoo, that'd be fun if something could be worked out!

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