A lot has already been said and shown regarding the art of The Ottoman short(http://www.the-ottoman.com/blog/). Concept art, models, textures, all have been shown and discussed, but nothing regarding the rigging action that has been going on throughout this short. I hope to do a series of posts discussing our rigging pipeline, in an effort to perhaps be of use for other groups or studios using CINEMA 4D and wanting to tackle some deep character work.

A little bit about my role with the project. I joined…shit I don’t really even remember, 2009 sometime if I recall correctly. I was just beginning Animation Mentor. I had met Dimos through a beta team, and since he’s a mentor at AM, we got in contact. This lead to me making some previs rigs that would make me cringe if I looked at them now. As time went on, I had a lot more time to work on the project and others, so I was given more things to do. Previs rigs lead to previs mech rigs which lead to the production rigs, which lead to the face rigs, which leads us to where we are now. I’ve done the vast majority of rigging on this project. As such, I want to share some of our pipeline.


With four characters to rig, that sounds pretty light by some standards. All four characters are more or less the same. Bipeds, five fingers, no toes, yadda yadda yadda. This meant they would all be very similar. More or less the same apart from some minor things. The Ottoman has a jacket that needs controls, the Son needs one, the Scorpion Driver has a goatee, the wife has dreadlocks. So they can all be based off the same rig with some minor differences between them on top of the base biped.

Now, when I began working on the production rigs, this was around R12, and was already taking way too long. I had to build four separate rigs, all based on more or less the same rig. I had slaved over the Ottoman rig. Getting it good and the sign off from Animators. It took a long time. And eventually, once that one rig was done, I blasted through the other 3 characters. When I say blasted, I mean I just locked myself in a room in a weekend, worked like all day on a character and rushed through them to get them done. Sounded good at the time…

screen-shot-2012-06-17-at-104821-pm Yeah, great, now, repeat all this 4 more times, by hand, that’s a good workflow aye? Nearly 2000 objects is hard to display.

Here’s the problem with this. Since all the rigs are based on the same thing. That means, when you find a bug in one, you got a good shot at a bug in the other ones. Then that means if you fix a bug in one, you gotta fix it in all other ones. Ontop of that, you have to make sure you built each one each properly, and you have to have some sort of solid system to maintain each bug, and be able to track it. Such a system, I sure as hell did not have.

r13And then Release 13 came out. And the world rejoiced.

But, then Release 13 came out. And with it, the character object. And while it wasn’t at all a surprise to me(since I was a beta tester, and had devoted nearly 2 years of work into that system) I knew that it was going to help solve these problems. What this system allows me to do, is make one template. This one template can be reused on each rig. This solves the biggest problems: 1. It’s easy as pie to rig each character. What took me a full day non stop going balls to the wall rigging(this is excluding weight painting mind you), has been condensed down to like 10 minutes. That’s insane in it of itself. 2. If there’s a bug in the rig, I fix it once in the template, and then it’s done. It can be propagated down to each rig. There’s an update feature in the Character Object. This was huge. It was huge for me, it was huge for this project, and it’s huge for any potential studio wanting to do character work. Make one template, reuse the hell out of it. This is standard are most studios.

For the Ottoman, we started with the Advanced Biped, which I made. However, it’s not as simple as that. We changed bits of business here, the hands are completely redone, there’s components for jackets and stuff, as well as a Face rig. So everything is much better, but things are still not perfect. But I set out to try to remedy that.

But that will wait til next time…

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