Monday, November 28, 2011

Rigging and mel scripting.

The past week I’ve been immersing myself in mel scripting, and rigging Vikky inside of Maya. I’ve done basic rigs for characters before inside of Max, but this is my first time, doing full-production rigging in Maya. The concepts and principles are similar to Max, but there are probably some tools inside of Maya that I have yet to discover. From what I’ve read Maya 2011/2012 has a lot of rigging improvements for character production.  
With Max, I would typically use a biped, or the CAT system, and it worked, but I never really got into the fine tuning of things.

However, being that Duke vs. the Dead is an animation, I figure it’s best to take the extra steps and really make the rig as robust as possible.  This includes all fun stuff like reverse foot locks, inverse kinematic and forward kinematic switching, spline averaging, deformation controls, etc.

Here is the start of Vikky's custom rig,
sided by a scripting window and the outliner.
Without a doubt it’s a long and tedious process, but hopefully it’ll be worth it. Right now, I’d consider myself about half way through, and already I’ve spent 40 hours on it. One of the reason’s I think it’s taking so long is because I’m also learning mel script, which is awesome; it’s powerful and can do a lot of stuff quickly, but it takes a while to learn.

I was toying with the idea of committing all the commands and flags to memory, but as I thought about it, I figured I’ll just pick up the ones I need as I go. I don’t really consider myself a programmer, and don’t ever care to. I’m excited to see what my custom production rig will do for my character.

As an alternative to the hours spend on setting up all these controls, I also happened to stumble onto a site called The site is pretty awesome, basically you upload your character and Mixamo will auto-rig it for you, for a small cost. They also sell different movement cycles like walking, running, shooting, tons of stuff, you name it, they have it.

To be honest I was skeptical when I saw it, I didn’t think they’d be able rig something properly, with an auto-rigger but I was wrong. I uploaded Vikky, and 5 minutes later I had a rigged model. I was kinda blown away. My only complaint, (and it’s not really a complaint at all) is that the animation looks kinda stockish. It’s like something you would find in a videogame; which is fine, but just not applicable to my situation. However if I’m ever working on a video game for a client, then I’ll definitely be back to use their services. Their customer support was fantastic; I was emailed by a real person, asking how I liked the site/services. So, if you are into rigging, you should definitely check them out.

Here's a video of Vikky with the autorig from Mixamo: