Human ik for keyframing?

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Old 02 February 2013   #1
Human ik for keyframing?

Hi guys

Apologies, this is a pretty basic question, but it seems so basic that I can't find an answer for it...

Is the Human IK system suitable for keyframing from scratch, by hand?

Reason I ask is that, I like the look of human ik but the tutorials I've found, so far, all seem to be geared towards using it with mocap data. So is it recommended that you us a custom rig or some other system within maya for hand animation?

I realise that there might be a lot of personal preference involved here so I'm really just worried that I'm going to hit a wall with the system or anyone thinks that using HumanIK other than for mocap data is a bad idea because xyz...

Showreel 2011
Old 02 February 2013   #2
I think HIK is indeed most useful for Mocap retargeting. The rig works like the Motionbuilder rig, which can also be used as animation rig, but the animation workflow is different than using a standard rig. I use HIK to retarget mocap animations, and bake them to a custom maya rig, for further animation work.
I think the vast mayority of maya animators is used to standard rigs of which many can be downloaded for free. But im curious myself, if peoples use HIK for keyframing, and how it works out for them.
Old 02 February 2013   #3
Hi, thanks for the reply.

I've been playing with it and it seems pretty excellent, so I can't see an obvious reason why using it to keyframe from would be a problem.
Showreel 2011
Old 02 February 2013   #4
There is no reason why you can't animate directly using it without mocap - i have many times.

Often in some mocap productions, there are moves that were missed or couldn't be recorded and they will need to be animated by hand on the HIK Control Rig. Sometimes these are simple things like transitions between poses, other times its full body mechanics. The HIK comes from the Control Rig system which is core to Motionbuilder hence it's mainly used for mocap editing as this is its real strength from getting all that data onto a character and for the character to behave within human limits.

Motionbuilder used to be called FiLMBOX back in the day and it was the popular way to retarget batches of data to different skeletons, quickly make edits and plot it down to the skeleton. Now all that is coming into the Maya toolset so you are getting a fully working character rig for free with its own GUI that can interop with Motionbuilder should you want to. Also whether its hand key or mocap, you can still retaget the animation to a different character once you have characterised them. So it has a lot of power should you want to retarget your hand keyed animation at a later date.

The working method is probably a little different to normal work flow but once you understand what to key and what to pin you are good to go.

A lot of games companies are switching to use only motionbuilder or a combination of both, even for hand animating creatures. So there are a lot of people already that just hand key with the HIK rig. Its just a rig at the end of the day.
Old 02 February 2013   #5
I was thinking about this very question today and am finding this thread interesting. I've used custom rigs for a while now and generally like their workflow. However, I'm seeing HIK rigs used/discussed more and am interested in adding the HIK workflow to my tool set.

Autodesk has a few free HIK rigs available for their Gwen and Dave's contest ( I've downloaded the Maya scene files and the characers look great; but I'm unsure of the best way to pose these rigs. For example, how do I go about foot plants? Are there foot roll/toe roll attributes available on an HIK rig?

Thanks for starting this thread; and thanks for any replies.

Old 02 February 2013   #6
The technical thing behind HIK is that keying a single joint will automatically key all the joints in the rig. So it could make the scene file heavy.
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Old 02 February 2013   #7
Originally Posted by shinyprem: Hi,
The technical thing behind HIK is that keying a single joint will automatically key all the joints in the rig. So it could make the scene file heavy.

Hmm that's interesting. So for keyframing it seems geared towards pose to pose animation. That would be fine for me because that's the way I like to work anyway, but I think you always need to some straight ahead passes which would get a bit difficult to work with if you had to key a whole pose.

I guess you could use layers.
Showreel 2011
Old 02 February 2013   #8
Its not entirely true that it keys all the joints every time you key. It has essentially two rigs, an FK and IK. So it does indeed key both FK and the IK rig, but joints are left unkeyed, so if you turn off the control rig, you have the original skeleton pose/animation untouched. Its only if you chose to plot the control rig back to skeleton will you get keys on the joints. But yes you have to be careful with your keying. You can key only body parts so for instance switch to body mode, move the arm and it will key only the parts of the rig for the arm. You can also key just the selected controller but you have to be more expert to work in this mode.

The reason it keys both FK and IK rig is so that when you switch between them there is no pop and you can blend the reach value over time.
Its very powerful once you get used to it.
Regarding foot roll, normally you can turn on floor contact, so when the foot hits the floor it will react to it by bending the toe for you when it contacts the floor.
Old 03 March 2013   #9

Unbelievable, I've only been using it for five minutes and I've broken it already!

I'm trying to set the skeleton up and every time I press undo it snaps most of the bones back to their original positions and, even worse, it does the same when I save. I've tried pressing "save edits" but it doesn't seem to help.

Am I doing something wrong or is this to be expected?
Showreel 2011

Last edited by tmcthree : 03 March 2013 at 04:58 AM.
Old 03 March 2013   #10
Not sure what is causing that. I can edit and undo OK.

From my experience, and limited knowledge there is no way to edit the bones with Mirror and you have to do that by deleting half and then Mirror joints. Then reassign them to complete the definition.

Also regarding the keframing. I do find keying animation in MB to be something to get used to.

But as mentioned, there are different modes. If you use Full Body all the time you'll get into trouble. Body Parts has to be used for IK chains. Then the item mode can also be used for the FK bones to go in a tweak things you don't have access to with the CR, such as individual spine or finger bones. Or you can edit FK bones that are otherwise driven by IK controllers. But for me so far I have not been able to get it to edit individual IK controlers. However you can also access and edit the FK bones in Body part mode. The difference here is probably the keys that are set.

Pinning is used in conjunction with the IK Blend controls. Something I need to experiment with more.

Thing to keep in mind is that it creates rotational animation on the FK bones at the same time as IK when you key the IK controllers. So you can key in IK and see the arch in FK as the result. To see the IK linear move the IK T slider to 1.

It is really a nice concept in that you can animate in IK and FK on the fly. I think it just takes getting use to.
Old 03 March 2013   #11
I'm just starting to experiment with HIK myself, so I've been searching for some material online. I came across this video where the author states that during the set-up process, he is not worried about using undo because he is using the extended edition of Maya 2013. Sounds like there is (or was) a bug in Maya's HIK setup. He does offer a work around using the "save edits" feature.

Hope that helps.

Old 03 March 2013   #12
Interesting, I am using 2013 extended for what it is worth which may explain why I am not having an issue.
Old 03 March 2013   #13
Yeah I've had a reply on another youtube video along the same lines.

"It is indeed a bug. Nasty one too. Basically in 2013 while you're working on the skeleton make sure the definition tab is active instead of the skeleton tab in the HIK character controls. That will allow you do undo, reload the scene, etc. Before you go back to the skeleton tab make sure you go to the blue icon in HIK controls and choose Edit-Skeleton-Save Edits or all of your changes will be lost. Weak, but at least there's a workaround..."
Showreel 2011
Old 03 March 2013   #14
Tisk tisk tisk, I am afraid to say I have been finding ----- so many bugs in MotionBuilder too. It is not really acceptable. Been in touch with my AD rep over this as well and have reported to AD about it. I mean just purely and simply not acceptable. I just bought into my entertainment suite. And I have to say Softimage is so much more stable. (which I have been using up to this point) This is really like a land mine of bugs over here in the Mobu Maya pipeline that looks like such a good solution. Which it is, but these bugs are just the type that only beta software should have. Really. To me it is just not acceptable at all.
Old 04 April 2013   #15
Lynda has a tutorial series just for maya humanik

Lynda has a tutorial series just for maya humanik that sums up our issues with easy to use workflows,check it out.
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