Inside The Record Box – 005

I haven’t done this is a while, so I’ve decided to pick a mix which I’ve been listening a lot lately. Enjoy!


A little, big update…

Well It’s been awhile since I posted on my blog, so it was time give some attention and a new look to my blog.

So what’s new?

Well the ‘Headless’ project has been getting some attention from 3D people in the our year, which they’re working modelling some asset. The main character, the head and the body, are nearly finished, with only a couple more tweaks before it’s signed off and handed to myself for rigging.

Apart from overseeing the character models for rigging purpose, I’ve been working with Rhys Harvey (Director of Headless) to understand how will the characters move and how flexible the characters going to be but also understanding the technical constrains. The conclusion of our discussion is to have the ability of the stretchy cartoon character alike for the characters and providing physics animation for the small details like hair, paper, etc. This will insure animators will focus on the characters motions and bring the characters to life. Also the short animation film will have no dialog, so the facial expressions on the rig will have top-notch!

So for the past month since the pitches were over and done with, I’ve spent my time on testing and researching facial rigging, physics and rigging tool set.

Facial Rigging

As I’ve never really actually rig a full character with a full facial rig before, I’ve been learning some tutorials online and researching how to implement this system into the ‘Head’ character. From my research and tests, I’ve managed to rig a head with a lot of expressions being available for the animator…. well I didn’t manage to finish of the controls because of how long it was taking to go through each set driven key (SDK) from the left side of the face to the right side….and there was 58 joints from the left side…

This instance made me think of looking into writing a script to copy SDK’s from one side and mirror them onto the other side by using a clean naming conventions. This is still in development but I’ve managed to copy the controls with has SDK’s to a new driver and driven but not mirror the SDK animation. I found this really useful blog post by Chrisevans3D, which Rigging Dojo share on Twitter, helped me understand what was going on behind the curtain of Maya and O my! What a spaghetti mess Maya makes!  Recommend anyone rigging to give this blog post a read!

I’m going to try and get the MEL script working before I come to rigging the head, as this will save a lot of time. Currently the planned joints for the ‘Head’ character will have around 158 joints (104 facial joints). Here’s a preview screenshot of the head and facial joints placements.



I know physics is a pain in the back side and processing time will take way too long for the production, even tho we have new shining computers in the studio now. 🙂 So the other way of doing this is using hair follicle with a nurbs curve, which will be attached to a serials of joints. Even though this works greats for what the characters need, I’m thinking of adding controls for a safe guard on these joints, that will allow to go in and adjust any keys to tidy up the animation.

Tool sets

As I’ve mention above, I’m currently writing a script to copy SDK’s and a mirroring the animation curve node. So far I’ve manage to copy the animationCurve nodes, rename and plug into the new driver and driven. Just need to work out and add to the script to mirror the animation curves. A friendly UI is non-exist at the moment but will the script will be refined to accommodate this.

In other Mel script development, I’ve nearly finish an auto IK/FK setup script for the legs and arms for a biped rig. Yet again UI has not been made, which will be added to the script…..

and that’s it!

Now I’m going to have a drink for writing a massive blog post.


Projects in motions

Phew! The pitches are over and time to crack on but which projects when through?

Here is a list of the projects that are currently in production:

Bottle – 2D Animation (Jordan Allnutt)

Headless – 3D animation (Rhys Harvey & Toby Ellis)

The Illusion of Chaos – Projection Experimental Animation (Lydia Pourmand)

Revenant – 3D animtion/concept for a game (Lokki Rayne)

Rabbit Lyfe – 2D animation (Zoe Wakefield)

The Reel – 3D animation (Ben Wardle, Oliver Bromley & Matteo Veglia)

Claws for Concern -2D animation (Harry Bayfield)

Distance – Stop Motion (Sammy-Jo Tawn)

The Bird – 2D animation (Vicky Keaveney & Hannah Geach)

Long Way Down – 2D animation (Carl Longhurst)

Leap and Cottongrass – Stop Motion (Paris Washington)

Unfortunately not all the projects went through and were drop, apart from ‘With the Cloud’ by Jack Madeley, which he withdrew and now working with Harry on ‘Claws for Concern’ project.

For myself, I wanted to focus and specialise rigging, animation and MEL scripting in Maya. So I’m currently lead rigger and animator for ‘Headless’ and will be rigging a character for a scene on ‘The Reel’.

I’ll be updating my progress, share thoughts and process during my time on the projects.