Meet The Rigging Team – Anomalia: Keith Lango “Poutnik”

Meet the character TDs behind Keith Lango’s “Poutnik”

anomRigKeithLango

 

Once more  Rigging Dojo partnered up with Anomalia! Together we put a small group of rigging students into a unique remote production environment. The goal for the Riggers was to create animation rigs for the “ANOMALIA 2014 Cartoon Animation Production”, led by our friend Keith Lango.

Our special 8-week course was called  “Anomalia: Cartoon Rigging for production”.

“It was one of my first contacts of that magnitude with scripted rigs and I have learned incredibly much from Jeff (in terms of concepts and organizing these tasks) as well as from my fellow students in the course.
The tools we created and the skills I have learned during the course I have used in every single project I did since then. ”

Rigging for this short film had a very interesting mandate from Keith – fast, simple, intuitive rigs. Anyone that has tried to simplify something that has grown overly complex will realize this isn’t easy to do. The team took on the challenge and succeed.  Jeff Brodsky led the class and acted as Mentor and Lead for the team. He did a fantastic job balancing teaching with the production goals of getting the rigs ready for the animation students in Keith’s class.

jeffBrodsky

Here are some notes and guidelines from Keith on how he wanted the rigs.

  • Keep it simple and intuitive for the animator. we don’t need a million controls and options when unnecessary.
  • Get some core features (limbs, spine hands and feet) in there but don’t worry about bells and whistles for this first round.
  • We need bendy / spline arms on these guys
  • Keep the silhouette on these guys smooth (hips knees elbows etc..) like Gumby 🙂
  • Put some decent deformations in there but don’t spend too much time on deformations during this initial prototype round

Fast iteration of the rigs was key. The course was focused on how to meet production deadlines with a small budget and timeline. Artistic choices and animation needs drove the requirements for the rigging. This meant that the students had to exercise restraint on making complex setups and they had to make sure they had a solid foundation and a fast rig first. The other unique challenge was that there were lots of similar characters but they were all diffrent enough to require a new rig.

Jeff had the students each explore ideas for how to rig the characters, reviewing and helping narrow down the best methods to use. The students worked up ideas, submitted tests and through feedback from Jeff and Keith got the rig features locked in and then went to work scripting and automating the build of it so they could finish up all the characters efficiently.

Deformations were a challenge because of the simplified polygon meshes that had to stay hard-edged. Also, the meshes would not be smoothed because of the cartoon line effect for the final render. After a bit of exploring how the deformations showed up in the cartoon rendered look they got the skinning working well. In production the final output has to be taken into account and it is easy to forget that when working on a character for a demo reel with out a real production requirement.

Another character challenge that the team had to rig by hand was this giant crab creature. The scripted system built for the other characters couldn’t be used on a creature and it was decided it wasn’t worth spending the production time on trying to make a “do everything” auto rig. Reality of budget production is it has to get done on time with out extra money or time to spend on making a perfect system. Learning and knowing how to rig without the automated system is still an important task that is missing from many students we meet.

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Here are our excellent students that took on the challenge of learning and rigging for the short film.

Duncan Rudd :

My name is Duncan Rudd. I’ve been working as a 3d Generalist since 2003 but, in recent years, I’ve leaned more heavily towards character animation and, in particular, the technical challenges of character rigging and scripting. I’m currently living in Manchester, England and working as a freelance animator / rigger.
The Anomalia course with Jeff was great. I really enjoyed being part of a team and helping to figure out solutions to the unique challenges that Keith’s film demanded. I’ve since used an adapted version of the mini rigging api that we developed to build other characters as well – hopefully I’ll be able to use it again for the short film I’m currently working on in my free time.
If anyone want to see examples of my work, there are a few videos here:

 https://vimeo.com/user2166963/videos

 

Richard Maegaki:

Hello! Richard here. Born in ’86, always loved video games when growing up and found the tools to bring life to my passion in CG animation. Not quite an artist and not quite a programmer, turns out what I had most fun in doing was rigging and character setup, so that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 8 years. And even though I am a slow learner, yes, the passion is still there! 🙂

Rigging Dojo’s course was a real humbling experience. With Jeff’s help and with all I learned from my colleagues, I then understood that all these years of experience I had were just the beginning of my rigging journey.

Rigging samples: http://riggerman.co

 

Julian Oberbeck:

Hey everyone, my Name is Julian Oberbeck and I am a 3d technical (character) artist. I have been involved with animation, games / vfx, since about 2010 when I started first studying animation & game design. I did not start off with the intention of going into rigging and rather stumbled into it a bit when I had the feeling that I can improve my animation skills by understanding the rigs I was working with. During that time I realized how much I enjoy working on characters and single assets rather than shots. I think of rigging as a connection point between a lot of other steps and that the kind of low level knowledge about how 3d works which you can gain from rigging is applicable to any step of 3d content creation. 
Since back then I have worked on quite a few projects, lots of student shortfilms, games and tv series and a feature film.

The course with Jeff was amazing. 
I already knew Jeff from a video he posted on his vimeo account about his approach to variable fk rigs which I thought was pretty neat and tried to write an auto-rigger for. That was my first a bit bigger python project back then so when I found out about the class I more or less spontaneously decided to join immediately.
During the class we spent some time in the beginning prototyping different rigs / rig features and then creating a system for deploying it with all the characters from the movie. It was one of my first contacts of that magnitude with scripted rigs and I have learned incredibly much from Jeff (in terms of concepts and organizing these tasks) as well as from my fellow students in the course.
The tools we created and the skills I have learned during the course I have used in every single project I did since then.

Lately I have been interesting a lot in rigging for games and realtime applications. A few weeks ago I finished a project for the oculus rift in which I did not only rigging but a lot of other tasks as well developing my skills again more towards a generalist direction.
Currently I am worked on my diploma in technical direction at the Filmacademy Baden-Württemberg (where I pretty surely would not be without the knowledge from the Rigging Dojo course).

Here is my current but already a bit outdated showreel:
https://vimeo.com/93100841

 

Karumbaiah K G:

Hey guys! My name is Karumbaiah KG. Started my career in 2010 after my bachelor’s degree in Animation. Started at a small company in South India by doing Rigging and Animation and moved on to dynamic rig creation and simulation of clothes, hair, feathers, fur and other props for feature films, ride films and TV series as I like both the artistic and technical sides of animation. I am working towards being a Creature TD in the future.

The Anomalia course, helped me immensely. My classmates were on an entirely different level when we reached the scripting stage. To be honest, it was a bit overwhelming at the time as I was a was a complete beginner at scripting. It really made me work harder. I have learned a whole lot of new things about workflow techniques and most importantly, collaborating as a team with my super talented coursemates from all over the world.

I am currently working for a company in Tokyo as a Character FX artist(known as Karum-san here :D) mainly creating dynamic rigs and simulations for semi-realistic and cartoony characters as the projects require. Also play a small part in UI tool creations. It’s a great experience so far and I doubt I would have had the confidence to take bigger risks, if not for my participation in this course and of course help from Rigging Dojo mentors!

 

 

About Anomalia:

The Anomalia training program is the non-profit organization that is put together for European students every year. It is part of a summer marathon of animation courses hosting expert instructors from top studios such as Pixar, Valve and Aardman Animations. They have specific courses (rigging, animation, story telling, etc), where students go to a small town in the Czech Republic for 2 weeks and learn face to face.

Our rigging dojo “Advanced Cartoon Rigging” course was focused on giving the students a good representation of rigging for a production and teaching the fundamentals of cartoon rigging, all while producing production-ready rigs that were used at Anomalia on their short film.

 

p.s. This wouldn’t have happened without the Man! Keith Lango- go follow him on Twitter.

 

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