What do you look for in an auto rigger?

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Old 08 August 2012   #1
What do you look for in an auto rigger?

I thought about putting this post in the scripting forum, but I would probably get better feedback here. I was told that my demo reel needed more rigging things in it and more advanced tools using MEL and/or Python so I decided to write an auto rigger. I'd like for it to be pretty robust and user friendly.

What are somethings that you'd absolutely want to see an auto rigger do? What features do you love/hate in other auto riggers that you've come across? Your input is really valuable and I appreciate it.

Thanks!
 
Old 08 August 2012   #2
It should be flexible and modular. Not every character in every shot has the same requirements. A rig that can do absolutely everything maybe justified in one shot and over-kill in another.

Some rigging systems lock you into a certain type of rig. Usually they give you options, but there is still a tendency to have a set way of building the rig and its underlying functionality. You may not be able to change the way the auto-clavicle works, for example. You may be able to say you want it or dont want it, but not how the aim-constraints or other dependencies are configured.

A better approach is a rigging system that provides an open framework for constructing a rig from "primitives". This makes your rigging system both flexible and extendable. Various versions of rig primitives, legs, arms, tails, fingers etc. can be built to satisfy different requirements, and kept in a library. The framework would define as few rules as possible as to how the primitives need to be built, allowing the td freedom to add or leave out functionality however they decide. Primitives are like black-boxes that have certain attributes exposed to the rigging script so that they can be configured by the auto-rig script or UI. The auto rig script lets you build a rig from your choice of primitives and lets you configure and nominate how they should be connected to each other. If you want to connect a hand to the end of the tail you can do it. If you want to write a new leg primitive that has two knee joints that work in tandem, you can do that too. You can switch to a simple fk-only arm for a shot where the ik would not have been used.

David
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Old 08 August 2012   #3
maybe you find some interesting topics in this post:
Open Source Rigging System! Opinions?
 
Old 08 August 2012   #4
look at all of the auto rigs available for download and consolidate the best features into one rigging system. Also, you can try figuring out an auto rigging system for robot characters where the usual ik setups are not technically sufficient to get accurate rotation deformations.
 
Old 08 August 2012   #5
This may be totally off base here, but maybe an auto-rigger might not be the best use of your time. Unless you really want to do character rigging. It's just that I feel like the old "auto-rigger-demo-on-td-reel" is really hard to do in a way that stands out. And, unless you are really a solid rigger and have a ton of time, you probably won't really use your auto-rigger after you spend all that time working on it.

So, for discussions sake, why not merge your mad cloth sim skills with your rigging skills and develop a cloth rigger of sorts. Look at your current cloth workflow and see how you could simplify working with nCloth. I just finished a big nCloth job and I saved a ton of time just by writing a script that created cloth/constraint/rigids with useful names and shape names besides the standard nRidgid1, nCloth13, ouputCloth53. This was nothing major, we didn't have time to dev any real tools but, I know a few people who would get really excited about seeing a system developed that would make interacting with all those cloth nodes easier.
Maybe a script that creates a master control for common cloth, constraint and collider attributes. Currently the order of default attributes displayed in the channel box are ridiculous. A sweet little iconTextButton Gui that creates cool helpful controls or collision objects and parents them to existing stuff with offset controls might be the thing that makes your reel stand out...and you might even want to use the tool after you are done with it!
Also, you made a playblast tool that could a zygote of a cloth cache manager tool. Just the beginnings of an idea here...based solely on what I have seen of your work and a deep desire to help.

So, that's what I got...hope it isn't taken the wrong way.
Best
~Ben
 
Old 09 September 2012   #6
AB_AutoRig + Mecanim + Character Studio?
Character Studio allows me to import mocap data from several formats to Max..... Maya has....
 
Old 09 September 2012   #7
Originally Posted by refract: AB_AutoRig + Mecanim + Character Studio?
Character Studio allows me to import mocap data from several formats to Max..... Maya has....


not sure where you are heading with that. but maya has a pretty solid mocap connection with motion builder.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11OsSeue9Ko

and regarding autorigging, may i recommend taking a look at mayas FBIK setup, its pretty nice, I personally have written some custom rigging solutions that use some of the FBIK autorigging framework that is already present in maya, such as setting bone types, etc.

im not even sure that we really need any more autorigging tools, i think improving and streamlining existing tools would be a better idea.
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Old 09 September 2012   #8
I haven't tried that Motionbuilder connection yet Stooch. I'll see what it has to offer. But do I still have to switch back and forth between Maya and Motionbuilder to see what I'm doing?.. or do you import the scene into Motionbuilder? (I'd like to see the mocap directly in Maya and modify it from there)
I know (filmbox)Motionbuilder should take most mocap formats.
 
Old 09 September 2012   #9
Thanks for your responses everyone! I like rigging. I'm not the best rigger in the world, but I really enjoy it. I want to be a character FX TD and simulate hair and cloth forever and ever, but most employers seem to want me to be able to rig too and I have NO rigs on my reel to show.

I figured that making an auto-rigger would show off some rigging and scripting abilities of mine, but it makes a lot more sense to create a cloth setup script or something. I've become so used to doing everything manually, meanwhile I create simple tools for other people all the time. I really could automate so much of what I do. I'll definitely start planning and putting ideas together for that. Hopefully it will be reel worthy.

Your replies have really helped me focus on what I need to do. I still want to make a simple auto rigger (oxymoron? lol), but I'll keep my hair and cloth stuff in the foreground and I'll try to do a 'cloth rigger' or something.

Thanks again!
 
Old 10 October 2012   #10
Rock it out!
I think you could merge the two interests in lots of ways and show off some solid rigging tools as well as you command of nDynamics.
Hows about an "Auto-create-lo-res-character-body-collider-with-offset-controls-erator"? Or, for a slightly less blow your mind start, a cuff and collar shaper auto control maker? I am just riffing here...I haven't done full character cloth garments. But it seems like a direction with lots of options for useful and unique tools.
Good luck!
~Ben
 
Old 10 October 2012   #11
Originally Posted by PozestStar: most employers seem to want me to be able to rig too and I have NO rigs on my reel to show.


Then you should focus on this.

It doesn't need to be the end all or be all of auto rigging scripts. This will take forever and continues to evolve based on current needs. Larger studios will have tools they will want you to use but every studio who needs character rigging should want it to be scripted and demonstrating the ability to do this is essential regardless of the types of rigs you'll end up creating.
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Old 10 October 2012   #12
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