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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


Hello from abroad!

Hey folks! Josh here from Rigging Dojo, writing to you from Viborg, Denmark.  I am out here teaching rigging to the 2nd year CG students at the Animation Workshop for 3 weeks along with a good friend and assistant teacher, Kasper Larsson. I wanted to take the time to give you some thoughts as I take myself back to the basics of learning rigging and attempting to explain it to a fresh set of eyes.

Image result for animation workshop logo

And let me tell you… It’s not that easy.  My maya muscle memory (read that as muscle memory… not maya muscle…) is stamped into my fingers and brain.  I still use some marking menus that existed back in 2014 and before, and have been changed/removed since then; but on every install and new version of maya, I re-implement my go-to hacks, override scripts, and marking menus.  Doing a rigging demo without your “stuff” is painful! But guess what?  I get to re-learn Maya a little bit because of that, and that’s a good thing.  It’s also a good teaching tool to show the mind of a rigger/tech artist/wizard.  “Oh, I’ve used a tool to do this for 10 years… um, let’s see if I can figure this out ‘by hand'”.  Boom!


It’s another reminder that we never stop learning.  15 or so years of doing this, and I’m still learning stuff.  I learn from the students I teach, the teachers I teach with, Chad, Brad, and other mentors, and everyone back at Brazen (my new job!) too.  And as Maya gets another upgrade this year, we will all have to learn a bit more on how to do things the “new” way, see if the ‘old’ is still effective and efficient, and adjust accordingly.


Here’s a few topics that I want to highlight for those that are learning rigging for the first time… dig into these through the many resources online, including our own courses!


  • Understand Joint Orients
  • Naming, Naming, Naming
  • Understand hierarchies and relationships between objects and nodes
  • Dig into the Maya Docs!!
  • Don’t be afraid of scripting, it is not hard to learn and will save you so much time in the future
  • Use anatomy reference.  Also look up Hippydrome.
  • Download a free rig, check out Morpheus 2.0.
  • Know what animators need – try animating!
  • The concept of a “spine” rig can be used everywhere!

…And for those that are a little more seasoned (or maybe new to 2017 and beyond) –


  • Explore the shape editor.  No more messing with cvShapeInverter or *insert your own custom plugin here*
  • Blendshape nodes have had an overhaul and a much needed cleanup!
  • The Pose Interpolator is interesting and i’m still learning it’s nuances. It’s like a built-in RBF node / pose driver
  • Workspaces are neat, and the UI enhancements (everything draggable/tab-able) are great.  Totally (finally) customize your interface based on what your workflow
  • Shrinkwrap has been there for a few versions now, and if you haven’t used it – try it.  It’s quite useful
  • I’ve got to bring up the shape editor again. Editing shapes, creating shapes, adding inbetweens… it’s all very seamless and editable right on your skinned mesh
  • If you are getting a weird lag in your scene, disable the MASH plugin (if you aren’t using it, obviously).  It seems to cause some slowness sometimes.
  • If you’re using the shape editor and creating a blendshape on a skinned mesh, do not use poly operations with history
  • Shape editor again… it can auto mirror blendshapes, even on asymmetrical meshes.
  • If you haven’t used them (they’ve been there awhile now), the transform constraint options in the move/rotate/scale tools are very handy
  • If you haven’t seen the charcoal editor for maya, it looks super slick!


That’s all I’ve got for now.  Happy Rigging!






Blog Post news rigtip update video

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}


Blog Post Course Announcement Founders Portfolio news rigtip tutorial update video

Behind the scenes of our Character Rigging 101 course

During our last run of our Rigging 101 course, we did a week by week post about what we were working on with our students.
It is our best way to show and share with you what makes our course stand out and benifit our students that, over and over again, have told us they have been unable to find in any other learning opportunity.
So enjoy this week by week breakdown of what our Character Rigging 101 and we hope to train with you soon
Josh, Brad and Chad
Rigging Dojo

Week 1 behind the scenes:

Week one is deceptively simple, but it is a test of lots of areas all at once. Can you read and follow directions and communicate well, can you learn to evaluate and prep a model for rigging so it doesn’t cause issues later including looking over topology and starting pose. Get some tools and scripts installed like the mGear rig and get it working or did you give up, get stuck and loose focus.
Online classes are harder in some ways but because we are result focused, working remotely we get an incredible view at how good an employee a student would be, how do they approach asking for help and how resourceful are they in trying to solve their own issues, and lastly, how well do the share and help their classmates with what they figured out?…/mGear

mGear Rigging Framework for Autodesk Maya. Now available!Download:

Week 2 behind the scenes:

Focus on really seeing the reference and not just the icon of what you think the anatomy looks like leads to better skeletons, deformations and natural movement once animation starts.
We also hit the tech side of understanding the Maya Joint and skeleton creation process. How to place them, controlling orients and relating this back to deformation quality and rig stability.
Week 2 is a hard week and pushes the students to balance technical with artistic skills.
It is often an undo week, where many students undo or unlearn things they thought they understood and we start the removal of bad habits created from other training sources.

Week 3 behind the scenes:

Another week and we are now digging in to skinning and deformation, connecting the work from last week on Joint Placement to how it effects our skin weights. We show them how to make using the existing skinning tools work best and explore NGSkinTools to have a foundation to build on later with helper joints, corrective shapes and twist or bendy joint layers…it all has to start with a good base deformation foundation.
Students also start looking at the UI/UX part of rigging and work on understanding how to build controls for animators and why they are built a certain way so they can start laying out controls for their final skeleton.

Week 4 behind the scenes:

Last week students dug in to learning about character UI and control building, this week started off with a look underneath all the connections and tools and math needed to start driving those controls.
Understanding what Nodes are, connections and the tools to work with them and a look at the 3d math like Matrix and Vectors that helps understand what is happening when you parent or constrain or simply move something around in the viewport. Then they explore constraints and build a foundation to start rigging something in this case -tentacles like Doctor Octopus from Spider man.

Collecting our links over the past year for all the good math for artists we have found. Here they are in a nice, easy to find place for everyone.

Week 5 behind the scenes:

We dive back into deformations this week with a deeper look at advanced workflows and more details on using the Maya skin tools and NGSkinTools. Working smarter not harder with skinning and knowing the tools and how control them for the desired result is key to good workflow.
Then taking the rigging learning from last week it was now time to apply it to setting up helper joints like twist extractors and also understanding their limitations.

Week 6 behind the scenes: Time to rig a character!

There isn’t a perfect rig for every situation
Advanced rigging doesn’t mean complex and fragile
The basic fundamentals of rigging, manipulating pivot points and hierarchical relationships through connections of varying types is what it all comes down to. (AKA zero it, group it, connect it, tweak it, constrain it) whatever you do in your rig, never forget it has to get from pose A to pose B for the animator without exploding
A complex rig, full of layers of controls, at the core, is still just pivots and relationships.
Students this week get to learn about and start exploring rigging the character and seeing similarities between parts of the body like spine and fingers or legs and arms. We look at space switching and start digging in to understanding how to hook up all the controls, twists systems and rig the character to be able to be animated.

Want to work on a rig also? We have our free 101 quadruped rigging series that our good friend from Rigging 101 (the site) Javier “Goosh” let us host and share with you all.

Quadruped Friendly Rigging – Rigging


Week 7 behind the scenes: Advanced deformation cleanup:

Rigging is underway and now we look back to deformations and how to improve and fine tune them.
Without a full muscle system (or even with one ) it is still common practice to use blendShapes with some sort of pose space driver to fix and adjust the mesh when skinning and helpers can’t do any better.
There are nice new tools in 2017 of Maya that allow for doing these without external tools and hacks, though there are some limits to how complex the shape system is some TDs have found, it is still a great starting point to keep everything self contained in Maya.…/…/maya-2016-5-2017-invertshape/

Morgan shared a tip on how to invert a shape when you want to make a corrective blendshape and have it work on a skinned mesh, right in Autodesk Maya


 Week 8 and our final week:

Last week was our final week for our Rigging 101 course and we finish up with students continue to work on their core rigs. While they do this, we move forward to talk about optimizations, basic face rig concept and a starting point and finish critiques and QA along with a discussion on how to continue learning from here. Students keep access to their course area and can continue to work on their projects, share updates with our private community of alumni and industry guests as well as get other perks for being part of our student and alumni community.

Thank you for checking out our course

Apply Here

*Note: First time students there is a 25$ registration fee.
*Rolling start dates based on application numbers and mentor availability.

Have questions like how much does it cost?

Check out our Frequently asked questions page.

Blog Post news


We are excited to be able to be at SIGGRAPH this year with all the great character work going on it should be a great event.

Here is where to find us and when.

The Art of Character Rigging

Tuesday, 26 July, 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm :  Hilton Anaheim, Avila room

This session is for attendees interested in talking about the challenges, failures, and successes of character rigging, tools and technology, training, and where to go from here.

July 26th and 27th  :  Show Floor  BOXX booth booth #361

Heads up Animators and Character TDs, Brad Clark Co-Founder and mentor at Rigging Dojo is coming to give you a new perspective on your tools and workflow.

Brad Clark

Brad has solved problems in technique and workflow for Animators and Character Tds for teams from Dreamworks, EA studios, Sony, Volition and most recently Epic Games, and is going to share some training tips with you at the Boxx booth during SIGGRAPH.

Stop in and grab new Rigging Dojo sticker and find out about Brads recent tests of our Apexx 2 system and how you can stop wasting time waiting for exporting, baking and get back to animating faster. Learn to quit fearing heavy data, mocap and animation layers, tricks to speed up your rig and take control over your time so you can create more and still have time practice handstands and climb rocks (*Cartwheel and handstand challenges accepted, not responsible for how much fun or injury might be involved)

*Brad will be demoing some of the the fresh new Zombie moves from @MoCapOnline

[FBX] Zombie Pro: MoCap Animation Pack - MoCap Online - 4

About Rigging Dojo:

Rigging Dojo – Teaching the art and science of character rigging, enabling animators to create the illusion of life through intuitive rigs, beautiful deformations and solid pipelines.
Co-founded by Josh Carey, Brad Clark and Chad Moore.

About Brad Clark:

I am a coffee seeking digital mountain man.
I make animation possible. I do many things artistic and technical and I share that knowledge as often as possible. My latest work can be seen being played by happy gamers and watched by excited fans.
I am currently a Character Art and Technology Consultant actively working with several next generation rigging and animation projects.  – Find me on Twitter @Bclark_Cgchar