Posts Tagged “Sebastien Florand”

Life has been busy. Last week, MAXON announced CINEMA 4D Release 13. It’s probably the best version of CINEMA I’ve ever been a part of, and I have been a part of it since R8. It’s also the most involved I’ve been in a beta really. There’s just a great bunch of tools out there, the Physical Render makes some really sexy renders, as does the new SSS shader. There’s a bunch of stuff, but since I don’t render, it doesn’t appeal to me. But MAXON made a shit ton of improvements to both Character rigging and Character Animation.

For character animation they’ve implemented a lot of little things, F-Curve updating in the viewport as you adjust it, local axis manipulation(ie selecting all the joints of a finger, and rotating to make it curl), as well as locking or even limiting axes while animating(so you can only rotate on Y, or only move and not rotate an object).

For rigging, they gave you the Character Object and Component tag, which I have been a part of since…gosh a while ago. The system is, in my opinion the most flexible system out there. Others may prove me wrong, someone mentioned Biped and CAT in Max and the CDK in XSI, the former 2 i believe are not as flexible but again, I might be wrong and if I am, please lemme know with some examples, but hold your thoughts til the end of this, please.

This system is those two objects i mentioned above. Well, one object, one tag. Basically you have a template file stored in your library. This can either be one that came with the app that you shouldn’t touch, or a custom one you create yourself. In this template file you use the Component tag to define and control everything.

The Character Object then reads these template files, and based on the Component tag setting allows you to create “components”. The Components represent elements of your rig, spine, legs, arms, hands, etc. The Component tag dictates when and where a component can be created. So you can go nuts and make it possible to add arms to your head, or make it more restrictive so it behaves more naturally, it’s really up to the template designer(me I prefer the latter the majority of the time).

windowHere you can see the Object Manager showing the Character Object as well as 2 components that have been built. The Attributes Manager below lists the template as well as components that can be created.

Once you’ve built your components, you then can then switch to Adjust mode, which will simplify your viewport to these circles that are handles. You can just click and drag to move the handles to match the appropriate parts of your mesh.

window-1On the left is the rig when you switch to adjust mode. The right shows the rig adjusted to the character

Then, you switch to the Bind tab, drop the objects you want to be bound, and because the Component tag has it all set up, it knows which joints to weight, so if you are using something like an IK/FK Blend with 3 chains, it knows which chain to bind properly, because the template designer set it up. The Adjusting is really quite insane, that it knows how to handle such complicated setups. The rig in the pictures for instance uses IK/FK Blend for Arms, Spine, and Legs, as well as a Bendy/Rubber Hose type setup for the arms and Legs, SplineIK for the Spine, FK Arm orientation(ie to follow the collar or remain independent), Head Orientation(follow the Head or Neck), footroll and all sorts of stuff. To adjust before you’d have to disable tags, remove goals in some instances, find all the joints move them all, make sure they all match, put the goals back in, and turn expressions back on. For such a process to be simplifies to those simple circles is mind blowing, and when I switch out of Adjust mode, the rig is correct and ready to go!

This is all, like I said, handled by the Component tag, which is a complex beast. Making your own template takes time, it takes patience, and some know how. But it’s also fairly intuitive. Tabs, are pretty well named to know what things do(for the most part). You have control over where things get inserted(Insertion Tab) what elements from the template get included when a component is created(Include), what joints get bound(Bind), and setting up your Adjustment rules so the rig can be adjusted properly(Adjustments).

But like I said, I think the true power of this system is its flexibility. Yeah it can make just about any rig you want(It comes with bipeds, quadrupeds, bird rig, fish rig, etc.) but you can make your own rigs. I have a face rig I have been working on in my spare time for instance.

Big deal, so do other systems right? Yes, they do, and like those other systems, if the template is set up properly you can mix and match these templates to create a mythical creature of some kind. If you want a good example of this check out Chris Korns 2011 Siggraph video. His lobster creature is badass.

The nice thing is as I make changes to templates, they update, much like an Xref would(those are new too by the way). For example, The Ottoman project, I’ve been making a template for us to use on it. The idea being, we have 1 template I have to adjust, and all of our main characters would be updated when I make changes. In terms of rigging, I honestly don’t plan on NOT using this. I am now looking at making sure I am always trying to use this system, because I think it is amazing, and for people who have wanted to do Character animation but struggle learning Rigging, this helps tremendously. I lowers the learning curve to just needing to know how to do weight painting, which while a time consuming and sometimes difficult to get looking good, is not a tough thing to understand HOW to do it as opposed to like setting up proper forearm twists and up vectors and all that stuff that I’ve been learning over the last 4 years….you lucky bastards…you’re welcome. ;)

But this system isn’t limited to just characters and or rigs which is why I think it’s incredibly powerful. Using the same objects(Component Tag and Character Object) I can create lots of custom presets. For instance I can easily set it up so I have buildings for components, so I can quickly make a city, or trees, or pipe systems. Check out this Pipeworks example video. Note the custom icons to make it look real professional ;)

With the Component Tag having python it just opens possibilities. I could script an entire rig so it doesnt have anything in the template file except the code. I don’t even have to use multiple components, I could do a 1 click rig button that will make the whole rig both sides(did I mention it does all the mirroring for me?)

I just see so many possibilities with this system, not just as an autorigger which it does a damn fine job of, but also as a method for creating preset rigs and elements for other developers. For instance, Nick Campbell could port his HDR Light Kit over to use this system, I could make a library of Trees, that you can pick the ones you want. I just see this versatile thing being like an open canvas that I’ve already begun exploring ways to create more things like the pipeworks example.

This is my favorite feature of R13, and there’s A LOT for me to love in it. You’ll find out more in other posts I’m sure, but I just wanted to share about this, because I’ve been working on it for a couple of years now, and because something I created with this system comes with the new release, I’m like a proud papa. Expect some tutorials covering those two objects once R13 is out on Cineversity.

For an excellent list of some of the new smaller features that might go under the radar, I suggest checking out Sebastien Florand’s blog:

For some Video demos of the new tools check out Siggraph rewind videos below. The ones pertaining to what I’m talking about are Sebastien Florand, Chris Broeska, and Chris Korn. Click the Videos tab to the left of where it says Chat:

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