(Rigging Tips and Tricks : Rigging Beautiful Eyes by Marco Giordano)
It is that time of year here in Austin Texas that the sun starts to shine and many people head to the local swimming pool or to Barton Springs for a cold refreshing swim in its spring fed waters. At Rigging Dojo it also means ice coffee and the search for something to do indoors by late afternoon. We can’t give you the springs or coffee here but we do hope you find this guest post and tutorial on rigging flexible cartoon eyes both refreshing and cool, while you hide from the heat of summer.
Marco has created a great 3 part tutorial series for us, on a way he has used to rig up eyes in Maya. The rig is flexible and can be expanded upon to make a very expressive and transferable rig. He is also showing of some never before images from his custom rigging tools and images from his more recent rigging work. If you have seen the iAnimate dog rig, Marco created it and has done some other outstanding work (read to the end for the sneak peek)
I currently work in the industry as a senior character TD in film . When I was little I was completely amazed by “Jurassic Park” . When I was told the dinosaurs were made with computer graphics, I promised myself that one day I was going to learn how to do that.
When I started high-school,, I quickly realized that what I was learning was not going to allow me to do a job that would make me happy, so I started learning computer graphics after school. At the beginning I was learning just a base in every field, but then I decided to be an animator, and that I never was going to do rigging or programming because I really did not like that.
It is funny to see how that quickly changed, I decided to do Animation Mentor, but at that time, that school required a high-school diploma so I had to wait. Meanwhile, I started doing some rigging because I wanted to fix some rigs or make them able to perform what I wanted to animate, and that is how it started.
From there on I started learning only rigging and programming. When I was in my 4th year of high-school I started doing freelance at night and school during the day.
It was a hard time juggling both, but nothing made me more happy then following my passion. As soon as I graduated I got hired to work for a tv series and that is how my career started.
During my studies and my career I had the luck to meet so many great people willing to share their knowledge. I would like to thank two of my mentors because without them I would not be where I am now! The first one is Edoardo Pili, an amazing rigger, brilliant mind always coming up with good ideas and deep knowledge of his work. The second one is Alan Stanzione, the best programmer I ever met, he took me under his wing and taught me so much about programming and Maya API.
The thing that I love about rigging is that there are countless ways to build something, often during production when I get a task, and it isn’t crunch-time, I have some time to sit there and study the problem and prototype, or explore different ways to do stuff, being able to write plugins also extends a lot of this freedom.
I decided to start releasing my code, tools and tutorials for a couple of reasons. First of all I learned so much from the whole community that it just feels really good to give something back and it also helped me so much to avoid people from giving me quick judgment based on my age, rather than on what I am capable of, and it is actually pretty cool when older colleagues veterans of this industry come to my desk after watching my tutorials and ask some extra questions about that topic.
In some studios, production even gave us the opportunity to organize internal courses about many different topics , that was super cool because everyone was able to learn so much from each other.
About the Maya eye-rig tutorial, I first got in touch to this kind of technique (object attached to curves or surfaces) from my mentor Edoardo Pili, and later also Alessandro Boschian Pest did some great developing on this field.
This kind of setup allows you to take the eyelid from the regular blinking to a whole new level of expressions where a skilled animator can use that to create extreme and effective expressions.
Rigging Tips and Tricks : Rigging Beautiful Eyes by Marco Giordano
Here is a sneak peek at Marcos autorig tool, this has never been showed in public before.
For this autorig I created first of all an object oriented python wrap around Maya cmds and api (kinda like pymel) that allowed me way more efficient programming.
I wrote from scratch a “node editor” in pyqt that allowed me to create piece of rig as nodes instance and combine them, however, I wanted, like a puzzle and then in the end build the final rig , load all deformers , shape controls etc… and much much more but, I just wanted to give you and idea of what the screens show here.