Custom studio training: Volition “Agents of Mayhem”

Max to MotionBuilder

We are very excited to see the great work from Volition on “Agents of Mayhem”coming out of GDC.  Rigging Dojo was hired to provide custom training for the animators on MotionBuilder as part of our custom studio training support service, allowing them to transition to the software and work efficiently.



The team was able to work through around 100 animations per character across 12 playable characters, 10 enemy troopers, 7 unique npc, bosses and male female pedestrians, all in MotionBuilder with 8 animators who on past projects were previously working in Max/Biped.

We also got to help place one of our awesome alumnus Evan Cox in a TD job at the studio. For “Agents of Mayhem” Evan did a cool face rig and has been part of the MotionBuilder support TDs, building on our training and allowing the animators to create the huge amount of detailed and diverse animation they had for the game.

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Check out the slides from from the 2017 GDC vault that Mike Jungbluth gave on the animation process. Great tips on MotionCapture as a base for stylistic animation and how to push the poses for best end results and adjusting timing to make the base mocap have more impact and work best for their style of game play.

Session NameAnimating an Agent of Mayhem
Speaker(s)Michael Jungbluth
Company Name(s)Volition
Track / FormatDesign
OverviewTo tackle the unique challenge of animating 12 playable characters in an open world game, the animation team on \’Agents of Mayhem\’ had to embrace thinking in systems not individual assets. This approach lead to universal character charts, full body procedural transitions, a reactive mood facial system, embracing outsourcing and how best to leverage style. This talk will go in depth on every aspect of the animation process, from art, tech and design, to show our approach on how to create and animate an appealing character in a more holistic manner.


Evan did a great talk for us you can get here that covers some of his earlier tool work, training with us at Rigging Dojo and getting his first job in the industry and (keeping it 🙂

3December A.I.R : Evan Cox (Volition) Getting your foot in the industry door

from Rigging Dojo Episode 7 of 21

Alumni Evan Cox, now a Tech artist at Volition game studio. He will cover topics like Education and getting a first industry job, and some of his tools: Splashboard & Auto Face Rig The Generators.
Presenter Evan Cox
Bio Associate Technical Animator with Deep Silver Volition. 2013 graduate from Michigan State University with a BA in Game Design and Development. Rigging Dojo alumni.
Topic(s) Getting your foot in the industry door
Description Evan explains his process for learning his craft then applying it to get a job in the game industry
Brief Outline 8:25 – Why Is This Relevant?
10:35 – Educational Aspect
30:31 – Scripting Projects
Automated Facial Rigging System
Google Image Search
49:19 – Look to Those Above You
54:39 – Transitioning to a Work Environment
1:02:10 – Glad I Did – Wish I Had
1:10:18 – Q&A


Further learning:

Need to learn MotionBuilder or is your studio growing and needing to have full custom support for your TDs or production?

Check out our MotionBuilder Rigging to Re-targeting workshop.

Buy the class here

Artist in Residence Video on updated descriptions and video notes

We have been continuing to update the video on demand AIR (Artist In residence) interview video with descriptions and time marked video notes.

Rigging Dojo Artist in Residence ( A.I.R ) “A la Carte” Replay Store from Rigging Dojo on Vimeo.

Title     Breathing Life into Zombies

Date    July 30, 2014

Length    1:25:58

Presenter    Sterling Reames

Bio    Principal Animator at Bit Fry Game Studios.  Also worked as the Senior Animator at Proletariat animating the living, the dead and the living dead in World Zombination.

Topic(s)    Behind the scene view of rigging World Zombination characters

Description    Discusses what it took to get the characters rigged and animated for the game + free World Zombination character rigs.

Brief Outline         2:36 – Day-to-Day Work

5:56 – Referencing and Changing Rig

8:55 – Rendering Process

20:33 – Creating the Look and Movement

  • Maps
  • How to Add to Rig System
  • Weights
  • Rigging Experiments
  • Lots of Controls

1:03:31 – Other Tools Needed?

1:15:44 – What’s Next?


Title     Simple Solutions To Complex Problems

Date    August 21, 2014

Length    1:42:18

Presenter    James Direen

Bio    Senior Rigging Artist at Reel FX Creative Studios.  Recent works include Rock Dog, The Book Of Life, Free Birds and Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem 3D.

Topic(s)    How to find a balance to overthinking a solution

Description    Shows how the three steps to working through a problem were used for The Book of Life characters.

Brief Outline         2:43 – Overview

7:10 – Analyzing the Issue

8:40 – Eyelids Rig Example

21:08 – Designing the Solution

27:11 – Arm Rig Example

47:19 – Script Node for IK/FK System

52:45 – Working Through Production

54:40 – Refactoring and Reusability Concepts

1:00:59 – Radial Angle Driver Example

1:22:11 – Q & A


Title     Day of the Dead Treats

Date    October 31, 2014

Length    1:27:17

Presenter    Josh Carey

Bio    Co-founder of Rigging Dojo and Head of Rigging at Reel FX Creative Studios.  Recent work includes Rock Dog, The Book of Life and Free Birds.

Topic(s)    Techniques used for The Book of Life characters

Description    Discusses how custom plug-ins and surface projections were used for the characters in The Book of Life as well as other rig examples

Brief Outline         1:21 – Sausage Lips

24:11 – Chuy Controls

38:52 – Commercial Project

49:18 – Looney Tunes Smears

51:32 – Happy Rig

58:58 – Ribbon Example

1:01:10 – Q&A


Title     First Steps

Date    December 3, 2014

Length    1:35:17

Presenter    Evan Cox

Bio    Associate Technical Animator with Deep Silver Volition.  2013 graduate from Michigan State University with a BA in Game Design and Development.  Rigging Dojo alumni.

Topic(s)    Getting your foot in the industry door

Description    Evan explains his process for learning his craft then applying it to get a job in the game industry

Brief Outline         8:25 – Why Is This Relevant?

10:35 – Educational Aspect

30:31 – Scripting Projects

  • Automated Facial Rigging System
  • Google Image Search

49:19 – Look to Those Above You

54:39 – Transitioning to a Work Environment

1:02:10 – Glad I Did – Wish I Had

1:10:18 – Q&A


Title     Matt’s TD Toolkit

Date    December 12, 2014

Length    50:22

Presenter    Matthew Kapfhammer

Bio    Pipeline Architect with Neoglyphic Entertainment.  Also worked as Motion Capture Pipeline Developer at Weta Digital.  Recent work includes Furious 7, the Hobbit trilogy, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Man of Steel and the Avengers.

Topic(s)    Using third-party tools and programming concepts for writing code

Description    An overview of the various areas of a pipeline and the different tools needed to make the workflow process easier

Brief Outline         2:18 – General Work Concepts

13:00 – Software Type Tools

22:34 – Making Sure Code Works

33:50 – Versions and Source Control

36:59 – Resources and Further Reading

38:48 – Q&A

Title     Triangle Vision for Problem Solving

Date    February 26, 2015

Length    1:25:05

Presenter    Robbert-Jan Brems

Bio    Co-creator of Xoliul Shader and Technical Artist at Eidos-Montreal.  Recent work includes the stealth video game Thief.

Topic(s)    How to divide and conquer any problem you want to solve

Description    Methodology for breaking down problems into different components to find new solutions

Brief Outline         5:36 – Building Blocks

16:51 – The Process

25:52 – Learn Something New Every Day Tool Example

40:35 – Feedback Tool Example

50:51 – Q & A


Title     Well-Behaved QT UIs in Maya

Date    April 8, 2015

Length    1:12:11

Presenter    John Hood

Bio    Pipeline Supervisor for Sony Pictures Imageworks.  Recent work includes Pixels, Hotel Transylvania and Edge of Tomorrow.   Currently working on The Angry Birds Movie.

Topic(s)    Tips for creating UIs with QT and PySide

Description    Covers concepts for creating UIs in Maya that behave correctly

Brief Outline         2:39 – Getting Started

8:54 – Core Class Structure

25:50 – The Business End of Things

56:31 – Why QStandardItemModel


Title     Fast Rigs

Date    July 29, 2015

Length    2:00:24

Presenter    Raffaele Fragapane

Bio    Rigging Supervisor for the film VFX division of Animal Logic.  Recent work includes Walking with Dinosaurs 3D.

Topic(s)    Tips for resolving performance related issues

Description    Understanding performance fundamentals in order to evaluate and improve how fast a rig is processed

Brief Outline         2:30 – Graph Theory

  • Directed Acyclic Graph (DAG)
  • Dependency Graph
  • Push – Pull – Hybrid

50:17 – How Threading Works

1:13:09 – Running Parallel Evaluation

1:30:22 – Q & A


Title     Python for Production Or – How Not to Screw Everyone

Date    September 2, 2015

Length    1:22:21

Presenter    John Hood

Bio    Pipeline Supervisor for Sony Pictures Imageworks.  Recent work includes Pixels, Hotel Transylvania and Edge of Tomorrow.   Currently working on The Angry Birds Movie.

Topic(s)    Tips and tricks for creating Python scripts for production

Description    Introductory tutorial on ways to organize scripts for maximum amount of reuse and extensibility

Brief Outline         3:43 – What It’s Not

8:20 – Marriage of Programming and Down and Dirty Coding

10:23 – Key Concept – Model/View Architecture

  • Library
  • UI – Entry Points
  • Testing

28:54 – Example


Title     Getting Organized and Keeping It Simple

Date    October

Length    1:31:47

Presenter    Jeff Brodsky

Bio    Character Technical Director at Disney Feature Animation.  Recent works include Big Hero 6, Epic, Ice Age: Continental Drift and Rio.

Topic(s)    Ways to simplify and organize a rig

Description    Discusses Rigging Dojo’s short film rigging course, Big Hero 6 spine rigging and organizing a rig

Brief Outline         0:57 – Rigging for Cartoon Production Class

6:25 – Using GitHub for Revisions

11:53 – Character Framework

38:04 – Organizing the Rig

47:32 – dRig System

54:35 – New Big Hero Spine Rig

1:02:34 – What to Show on Demo Reels

1:10:57 – Q&A


Title     UX for Rigs and Tools

Date    June

Length    45:18

Presenter    Chad Moore

Bio    A veteran technical artist, animator, manager and director specializing in character animation for games and game cinematics.  Co-founder of Rigging Dojo and Senior Technical Project Manager at Mad*Pow.



Brief Outline         2:50 – UX Overview

7:43 – Examples

  • Turbine Toolbar
  • Tactic
  • Env Switcher

23:27 – How to Get Started

23:50 – Recommended Reading

24:51 – Deciding UX Changes for a Rig

33:27 – Axure Mockup

39:11 – Let’s Build Something!

Title     Rig Feedback and Deformation Review

Date    Unknown

Length    1:11:56

Presenter    Brad Clark

Bio    Co-founder of, character art and technology consultant working with next generation rigging and animation software projects and technical software support for Motus Digital.

Topic(s)        Feedback and deformation review of student rig created by Aaron


Description    Covers joint placement and deformation setup and provides tips and advice on skinning and deformations

Brief Outline         1:51 – Model and Joint Issues

41:53 – Deformation Corrections

56:39 – Final Thoughts

Autodesk Maya 2017 update 3 – can’t miss features

Can’t miss features in Maya 2017 update 3


Autodesk has pushed a sizeable update to 2017 in several areas. We are going to point out the ones that stand out for animators and character Tds. We are excited to see some of the updates show up as there are a few nice built-in features that would have required external tools or custom plugins. Check it out, we posted our features you should know and also posted a few examples and parts of the documentation to make it easier to understand and get moving with.

Top features Rigging:

  • Dash Scripting

    Animators check out Dash scripting in the Channel Box example:

    ts(number)Time offset any keyframes for the selected attributes by ‘number’ of frames.

    Dash Scripting is a new form of fully customizable scripting has been added to the Channel Box. To use it, select one or more attributes and then Alt + right-click them to display an in-line editor, then input a command. For more information, see Dash scripting.

  • Updated deformerWeights commands (thanks to Chris Evans and his post that got it started)

    The examples for the deformerWeights Python/MEL commands in the Maya Technical Documentation have been updated for clarity and expanded to provide more detail. For example, you can now copy and paste the command examples into the Script Editor.

# Export weights with connectivity information, and then import with bilinear mapping.
# This provides a way to transfer weights between meshes with different topologies.
cmds.deformerWeights ("testWeights.xml", ex=True, vc=True, deformer="skinCluster1")
cmds.deformerWeights ("testWeights.xml", im=True, method="bilinear", deformer="skinCluster1")

  • New and improved Defomers and tools (Game TDs pay attention)

    • New Delta Mush attributes
      A new Distance Weight attribute lets you account for the distance between vertices when calculating the “mush”.A new GPU version which has shown a speed up from 2 – 4x over the new CPU version in limited testing.Inward and Outward constraints retain the contour of the deformed mesh shape just before the delta mush deformer. Use this when working with a displacement set to a low value, but it also provides good results in other cases.
    • Tension Deformer
      A new Tension deformer lets you simulate surface tension without squashing and stretching the surface too much. It uses the connectivity between the mesh vertices to preserve the (relative) lengths between them.

      Vertices manipulated without and with Tension deformer effect

    • Bake Deformers (bake down your DeltaMush for your game engine)
      Bake Deformer lets you export complex rigs to applications that have limited deformer support, as well as being a quick trick for determining default character bind weights.You can currently only open this tool through the Maya Command Line using the BakeDeformerTool command.
    • Bake Deformer Tool
    • Bake deformers on a character
    • Autodesk Alternatives if you can’t update yet

Top features Animation (Rigging Dojo assist):

  • Mocap editing? Enhanced Timecode support
    Maya’s new 64-bit tick rate lets you display and input timecode format throughout Maya, including in MEL and Python commands in the Script Editor.
    New,Import Playback Options section where you can choose to use the imported file’s frame rate, override it with the scene frame rate, or combine the scene and imported frame rate.
  • Sync Timeline Display

    When on, synchronizes your selections in the Channel Box to the Time Slider so that the Time Slider displays only keys for those selected channels. When you set a keyframe only channels selected in the Channel Box are keyed. If nothing is selected in the Channel Box, the Time Slider displays keys for selected objects as usual.

  • Animation Layers in the Time Editor (Now Clip Layers)
    Time Editor Animation Layers have been renamed Clip Layers in the documentation to differentiate between them (Time Editor animation clip layers) and the Animation layers used in the Animation Layer Editor. Animation Layers are not supported in the Time Editor as they create conflicts.
  • MotionBuilder Anim UI coming to Maya Updated Playback Options
    A new area, Playback options has been added including a Frame Rate menu that lets you set the scene frame rate

    A Loop button has also been added to the Playback options with three states so you can toggle the scene animation between three looping states:

    • Loop
    • Repeat once
    • Oscillate (forward/reverse)


Here are the full links to each area to continue reading about all the  updates.

What’s New in API

For information regarding new API features in Maya 2017 Update 3, see at’s New in API in Maya Update 3.

*Disclosure we are on Beta and also independent consultants for Autodesk

2017 CGMonks cgmToolbox How-To

Josh Burton at CGMonks has created a new set of  How-to videos covering the updates and use of their cgmToolbox tools.
These are a great set of tools that combine many separately used tools from other TDs as well as custom written ones from Josh and team.

After install of course, the one video to watch if you are an animator, or if your animator wants to use this (Tds) is the Quick Prop rig with cgmLocinator.

More videos coming with a great timeline quick select bake update as well.

If you want to learn from Josh and get deeper in to coding Meta Data rigs or learn from a Mentored class on the Morphy Rig 2.0 and open source development you can start with our onDemand video course “Introduction to MetaData with CG Monks”.



Video: Installing cgmToolbox 2017


Video: cgmMarkingMenu – {Installation}

Video: cgmMarkingMenu – {snap}

Video: cgmMarkingMenu – {Intro to Raycasting}

Video: cgmMarkingMenu – {Anim Mode}

Video: cgmLocinator – {Introduction}

Video: Use demo: cgmLocinator – {Simple prop tracking}


Get to know: Gio Coutinho – Rooster Teeth Productions character TD

We have been talking with Gio for a few months after Brad met her at his visit to Rooster Teeth and seeing her first rigging video, where she did an excellent job in quickly and clearly presenting the technique. She has since created a great series of videos for Autodesk Learning that cover a solid groundwork of foundation rigging techniques and tools in Autodesk Maya.

Here we are happy to share her work and some information about her with you all as a character TD you should know.

Gio Coutinho is a rigging artist at Rooster Teeth Productions. She’s done a variety of rigging work for the web series RWBY, RWBY Chibi and Red vs. Blue, and has also shared some of her rigging techniques and helpful tips on multiple Autodesk video tutorials.
Gio first got into rigging while attending the Savannah College of Art and Design for a degree in animation. Her introductory class on the subject gave her a fascination with the combination of technical and aesthetic art.
From the classroom, she moved to online resources (including the Rigging Dojo!) to expand her knowledge, which she put to practice on multiple student films and games produced at SCAD. The experience acquired through these projects led her to Rooster Teeth, where she’s made extensive rigging contributions, some of which she has shared with the public in the form of tutorials.
The tutorials showcase the Ruby rig used in the Rooster Teeth series RWBY to teach rigging tips and techniques in Maya, including information on blendshapes, rivets, skinning and set driven keys. They were all developed and recorded by Gio to share some of the rigging knowledge she has obtained as a rigging artist, and display how she has used that knowledge to make high quality rigs at Rooster Teeth.


Videos shared from

Rooster Teeth Tutorial #1: Using Blend Shape for the ‘Breeze Effect’

Rooster Teeth Tutorial #2: Using Pose Space Deformers and Set Driven Keys for Easier Animation

Rooster Teeth Tutorial #3: Skinning Tips For Better Rigs

Rooster Teeth Tutorial #4: Skin Fingers Evenly in Maya

Rooster Teeth Tutorial #5: Using Rivets To Enhance Rigs

Rooster Teeth Tutorial #6: Corrective Blendshapes

You can find Gio on twitter @giofcoutinho

And subscribe to her YouTube channel here where you can find her first tutorials that first got our attention.