Hello to all the Riggers, Creature TDs, Char TDs, Tech Animators, and all other smart, creative or interested folks:
[Erick Miller](http://www.linkedin.com/in/erickmiller)here, you might know me from authoring a bunch of the [HyperReal](http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=hyper-realistic+creature+creation&x=0&y=0) books, DVDs and MasterClasses, or maybe from talks I've given on character work in like Spiderman3, or Surf's Up ([click here](http://portal.acm.org/author_page.cfm?id=81335494902&coll=GUIDE&dl=GUIDE&trk=0&CFID=76047164&CFTOKEN=46087211)for a couple Siggraph talks). Anyways, doesn't matter as much who I am, as why I'm writing this post! Well, I'm a big fan of the [Open Source initiative](http://www.opensource.org/) spearheaded by universities, research groups, and cool companies like [Google](http://code.google.com/opensource/), etc. - it's a brilliant way to advance a community to build something much better than any of us ever could on our own. For years now, I've been thinking about building and releasing a completely Open Source, fully extensible character rigging system (for Maya). Something built from the ground up, that can grow to full maturity through contributions of new rig-parts and scripts contributed by our vast and talented rigging community. A modular rigging framework that is easy, extensible and compatible - both simple to use as a creative end-user, but also easy to extend by adding new reusable parts and rig-types if you're on the technical side. So any smart rigger could easily extend it with new awesome rig-parts (like some cool new "ikHand" for finger crawling or something) without having to build an entirely rig, you could just make that part by starting from the existing hand part, and re-use it forever. Then, anyone who uses the open source tool, and builds a new useful part, would contribute the updates they make back to the open source project, for all of the rest of the rigging community to benefit! Now might just be the time and chance to create this system. There's a certain set of circumstances right now that might allow us to make this a reality. I've even made the first move. I registered the domain OpenRigger.com -- but before I even begin think about getting us started on coding this thing, I want to put my finger on the pulse of this community and hear your thoughts. I'd want to build something that would not only make pro-level rigs good enough to use on any production, but would allow younger TDs to learn and more experienced TDs to contribute new rig-part scripts - something, ultimately, everyone could use! Something that would cover both Anim/Ctrl Rig, Skinning, Facial, Mocap (any new rig layer, like "rag-doll" or "full-body-ik"). Something you could drop mocap into just as easily as you could hand animate it w/ squash and stretch. A script based rigging architecture that's logical, TD approved, and with fast rigs that Animators will love to use. Something that would clearly work for vfx and animated feature production and also would work out of the box with game exporters like Unreal, or other middle-ware being used in the recent emergence of incredibly impressive high-quality next-gen console game characters. The whole idea here is production usable, customizable, high quality rigging automation framework that everyone can use, and many can contribute new rig parts to. Unfortunately, I've written or seen thousands upon thousands of lines of reusable modular character and animation tools, ideas, work-flows, scripts, functions, plug-ins and nodes over the years. Of course this is a good thing, but it also makes me biased towards immediately thinking of certain ideas. I'm sure some of this domain knowledge clouding up my brain will influence my decisions in a good way, but I am quite eager to hear your ideas first even more. I'm thinking the full scope of OpenRigger's freely available code-base would start at rigging and end somewhere in animation tools to include: * A Modular Open Scripted Rigging Framework (probably based in Python w/ lots of MEL) * Set of decent predefined templated "parts" (like "hand", "foot", etc) and rig assets (like "biped") -- these would define the standards other parts would be built similar to * Lots of reusable MEL libs, Python and C++ Utilities, Nodes, etc, used for all types of rigging * A series of useful Anim tools or utils that work well with the rigs (anim mirror, anim save, etc) * Possibly some extra pose tools, motion related tools, or mocap and animation/keyframe related tools that aren't specifically tied to the rig parts, but still useful and cool
We also have the less likely chance to converge, over time, on a rigging standard, that could mean compatible animation between studios, across industries, on all characters! But that’s a far-more lofty goal, so I’m not concerned about right now at all right now…
Now, there's only one thing left. Don't want to allocate the extra effort involved in building this thing unless I really think you -- the strong, awesome and powerful global rigging community would benefit, use and contribute new parts or rig-types you build within the rigging framework as you need them for production, so the rest of the community could have access to so many new and cool diverse rigged parts. This is where you all come in. I want to hear your thoughts. Your dreams. Your excitement. Even confused, jaded or fearful comments if you feel so inclined. Please let your voice and ideas be heard!