Animanium probably has the best workflow I’ve ever used in an animation package… however, it’s almost too simple and somewhat limited and the pinning system is still a bit funky compared to say Motion Builder. Because of this I’ve found MB to be my tool of choice for most humanoid character animation. The pinning is solid and the character controls, timeline and animation control panel are pretty much all you need to crank out quality work really fast. Combine that with a nice pose system that can work on the whole body or parts, including mirror poses.
I pretty much only animate with the IK rig in MB because it gives you absolute control over your character at every joint. Combine that with the floor constraints and you can crank poses out incredibly fast because you don’t have to worry about keeping your feet aligned to the floor or whether you are in IK or FK mode.
I’m not a big fan of IK/FK switching in general, especially after using MB, which doesn’t really need it with the way it’s IK rig is setup. It makes switching seem like a hassle comparatively, even though you have full access to this feature too anyway if you like. I definitely prefer Animaniums posing over IK/FK too. Not having to think about blending and just focussing on the pose with simple translate/rotate on the fly kicks butt. Floor constraints and improvements to the pinning/locking would really make me consider purchasing that app, despite it being over priced and lacking in other basic features.
messiah does most of this stuff too now though, with the added advantage of being easier to work with when building custom rigs… though I still find it to be more work than MB for human stuff and I’d like to see this change, as I really enjoy messiah’s interface.
XSI 4 has a pin constraint now too (not sure if it was in earlier versions as I’m a new user as of version 4). From what I’ve seen of it, it’s pretty solid.
One other thing I really use a lot in MB, and enjoyed in LW with Keytrak, or max with CS is animation layers. These are a powerful way to modify animation quickly to produce a wide variety of animation from a single source, including tweaking mocap painlessly. I would love to see layers in Messiah ASAP.
I’d love to see messiah evolve towards more powerful, workflow enhancing features like pin and floor constraints that don’t require any setup work on the animator/rigger’s part. This is all part of Motion Builder’s charm and essentially what Animanium is trying to achieve. I’d also like to see the auto rig tools opened up more to the user so that we can create and store our own rigs and rig parts for future reuse. This is where XSI is going with it’s character sdk and something I’m anxious to dig into, not to mention its large library of different constraint types.