Blog Post interview Leadership rigtip

Get to know: Nina Fricker – Lead Technical Animator at Insomniac Games

Get to know: Nina Fricker – Lead Technical Animator at Insomniac Games

Let’s start off with some questions from our friend Izzy Cheng

Hi Izzy!!!

What is some advice you’d give to people getting into Technical Art or Technical Animation?

AH!! Where to start?? This is a topic I could talk about a LOT.

The main advice I give to aspiring character TDs is to work with a modeler and animator on some characters. This has a numerous benefits. First, the group will push each other to be better at their craft. The rigger is going to find areas where the model needs improvement to get good deformation. The animator is going to find problems with the rig that will require better weighting and controls from the rigger. Everyone can help critique performances. Find people who will really push quality. Ideally at the end of all of this, all three will have great demo reel pieces that each individual wouldn’t have been able to achieve on their own. Another benefit is that you’re basically emulating production. This is how it works in a studio, so getting this kind of experience, and more importantly, getting comfortable and adept at the iteration cycle between departments shows companies that you’re production-ready! Find a way to highlight this collaboration on your resume and demo reel. I’d love to see examples of how the iteration loop between everyone improved the end character and performance. Make sure to talk about this in your interviews! Let people know what animators hated in your rigs, and how you addressed their concerns. It eases my mind, as a hiring manager, to know that you’re comfortable receiving and responding to criticism.

As a veteran in the game industry, what keeps you from burning out?
I have a lot of interests outside of work that keep me balanced. I love to work out, cook, learn, garden. Work/life balance is really important in order to sustain a long career in the game industry. I have been incredibly fortunate to work for studios that take good care of its employees.

Do you have a favorite project you worked on at Insomniac and why?
Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus

This was my favorite because it was the project that I felt like the North Carolina studio really hit its stride. As a group we had gone through shipping a few titles together, and had learned to work and collaborate with each other incredibly well. In addition to the working relationship of the team, the project had a really fun plot line and character line up. Into the Nexus had two awesome female characters (Talwyn & Vendra) which was a great new challenge for me. They both had to deliver a wide range of emotion. The animators on the project brought out some spectacular performances from them which I’m still very proud of to this day.

What traits make a good *Lead* Technical Animator?

To me the most important trait of a good lead, regardless of discipline, is that your focus is on making your team successful. Going from an individual contributor to a lead required a major mental shift in what being good at my job looks like. This didn’t come easy after almost a decade of straight-up production work. I still struggle with not being able to do as much work myself. As with all aspects of my career, I’ve received wonderful guidance and mentorship from so many people at Insomniac. They’ve helped me realize that I make a big impact as a force multiplier through leading. This came in the form of CONSTANT reassurance that the success of my team was first and foremost and that my feeling of not doing enough showable production work was a normal reaction. It’s become very fulfilling for me to see the amazing things the folks on my team accomplish.

Great Questions from Izzy, thank you for that, now let us get to some of our own.

Were you always into computer graphics and games or how did you find your way into the industry.

I pretty much decided that I wanted to work in 3D when I was 12 years old. This was when I saw Jurassic Park in the theaters (yes, I’m old). The “Welcome to Jurassic Park” scene where we first see the brachiosaurus blew my mind. Eventually I saw a “making-of” for the film and fell in love with the magic of bringing digital characters to life.
Just a couple years later Toy Story was released in theaters. A full CG animated film. Once again, mind blown.
Around this same time, I had a wonderful teacher in middle school who taught AutoCAD to 7th and 8th graders. Back in the early/mid 90s, this was basically unheard of. Having access to his high-end Linux machines and learning this sophisticated software gave me confidence that I could make things on a computer and learn complicated concepts. I give him a lot of credit for my comfort level with technology at a very early age.
At this point I set a life goal of being a VFX Supervisor at ILM. Granted, at the time, I had absolutely NO idea what that meant. It was just a job title that I saw under the names of people in behind the scenes pieces, so I thought that’s what I was going to be when I grew up.
While in high school, a good friend of mine showed me how to use trueSpace 2 and Bryce 3D. We got both installed on my home machine which freed me to start tinkering around on my own. Also in high school, the cincher of my career direction came out in theaters. The Matrix. Up until then, being techy and computer obsessed was just nerdy. The Matrix was not only technologically inspiring, but it made me feel like being techno-savvy was super bad-ass! I very much wanted to be part of the vfx/cg animation world.
The combination of all these things led me to Full Sail to study Computer Animation. I wanted to get into a job where I was working on 3D characters as soon as possible. It wasn’t until I got to the Character Setup class that I learned that rigging was where I wanted to go with my career. This is also when games as a career started to surface as an option. I didn’t much care which area of entertainment I went into as long as it meant I could work on 3D characters.

Can you share your learning curve and experience over the years as a TD going from finishing school to getting your first job?

The transition from school (where I had both Rigging Dojo founders Brad Clark and Chad Moore as instructors) to my first job lasted roughly 3 months. In this respect, I consider myself INCREDIBLY fortunate.
While still in school, during my rigging class, I had a lab instructor who left towards the end of the course to work at a company called Turbine. Since rigging was something that really sparked my interests, I kept in touch with him throughout the rest of my time at Full Sail. I’d send him my group project rigs and he was gracious enough to give me feedback and advice when I ran into technical issues. Not long after I graduated, this lab instructor turned mentor was looking for an entry level rigger to join his team at Turbine. Thankfully he saw some potential in me and hired me to fill that position!
In my first couple years at Turbine, I learned a ton about the ins and outs of production. There’s so much more to being a developer than the specific craft you’re trained in. It was quite intimidating at first to learn all of that and a game engine. At Full Sail, we didn’t get any exposure to engines or production pipelines. I get the impression that has changed at most schools, and both are now a regular part of 3D programs.

What does your day or week look like now that you are on the Tech Animator side vs. more of a rigging or pipeline TD?

Tech Animation at Insomniac means supporting the rigging pipeline and Maya tools for artist, primarily animators and riggers, but in some cases other departments as well. As a lead, my main responsibilities throughout a week involve jumping around to a number of different things. Depending on what’s going on and where we are in production, things can change week to week. Here are some of the things that I do regularly:
Meet with various feature teams to evaluate progress, plan goals, collaborate on a plan of execution for the next set of goals, etc. It’s in this area that I get closest to our games. The work is very close to the heart of what our audiences will experience.
Meet with the riggers on my team to discuss their goals, both short and long term. This is also where I get feedback from them on how things are going on the team/project/studio.
Provide rigging support for projects. I generally try to stay out of important tasks because the amount of time I can spend on production work can vary greatly day to day. I’ll take on smaller rigging tasks when they pop up. This helps the people on my team stay more focused on the larger things they’re working on. I also really enjoy working on prototypes for a new idea.
Fix bugs both in the game and in our tools.
Work with other leads and the project manager to schedule. Because production is constantly changing and evolving, we evaluate and adjust on a weekly basis.
Collaborate with the character TDs in both studios on direction of our tools.
Participate in code reviews.

Can you talk about developing for VR projects vs. a more traditional game and some things you learned or overcame that might have been a surprise?

As a studio working on our 4th VR title, we’ve learned an incredible amount about developing games for VR. To me the most surprising aspect of working in VR is how easy it is to trick your brain into accepting what you’re seeing is real. Back on Edge of Nowhere development, we had areas of the game where you’d walk along cliff sides that overlooked steep edges. My hands would get really clammy and sweaty every time I ran across them. I truly believe that VR is something you need to experience first hand to really understand it. It’s a very visceral experience to have your fear of heights triggered just by playing a game. It’s an exciting medium to play in and we’re pushing the boundaries exploration in VR with our latest title, Stormland.

This is a behind the scenes teaser (I make a brief appearance):

And here is our trailer!

At Rigging Dojo we get a high percent of female students and some of our most successful students have been women, what has your experience been as a female in Tech and games?

I am extremely fortunate to have spent so much of my career at Insomniac where gender is a non-issue. My leaders and colleagues create a safe, professional and collaborative culture in which everyone is able to thrive. It’s not something I take for granted. What I find the most troubling is that women still only make up a small percentage of the industry. I think we’re hovering somewhere around 15-20%. I thought after 17 years I’d see a more balanced population, but the increase has been meager at best. This makes me sad, and it’s why I got involved with a mentoring program. The least I can do is play a small part in helping more women make their way into this line of work that I love.

You have been a mentor for artists like Izzy who we just interviewed, do you still do mentoring and what was that experience like?

Izzy and I were paired up through a mentorship program called Game Mentor Online which is unfortunately no longer running. It was an excellent program started by Women In Game International that I really enjoyed and wanted to continue with. Since it never came back online, I haven’t been actively seeking a mentoring program, but I would like to find one that has a similar structure and vibe to it. I miss it, and as mentioned above, it’s a way for me to help women break into our industry.
As a side note, Izzy was WELL on her way to a budding career as a Character TD when I started working with her. She’s incredibly smart, hard-working and relentlessly learning new things. I’m so incredibly proud of her! <3

If you could give your past self any advice on working, life and the games industry what would it be?

There was a long time where I was very self conscious and fearful of not knowing things. If a topic came up in conversation that I didn’t understand or wasn’t familiar with, I’d just listen and try to figure things out. It really weighed on my self esteem. On the outside I’d nod along like I was keeping up but, internally I was upset and convinced that I was stupid. I felt like a fraud and that soon I’d be discovered and fired. Eventually… we’re talking years… I had a bit of a mental shift. There came a point when I got so tired of feeling so terrible about myself despite my career still moving forward. I can’t remember the catalyst, but I started experimenting with speaking up. I tried it out a little, here and there, and saw no perceivable adverse effect. As time went on, I got more and more comfortable with putting myself out there and asking questions when something was raised or referenced that I didn’t know or understand. Now, I’m on the complete other end of the spectrum. I ask about anything I don’t know. Completely shameless.

There were a few surprising things that came from this 180 (okay, maybe not THAT surprising, but it was for me)…

1) Nothing bad ever came of it. Not once. No one ever shamed me or made fun of me or thought less of me. In most cases, people have been happy to explain and help me.
2) I learned a lot from my peers. So often people we’re more than happy to take the time to teach me.
3) A lot of people were in the same boat. So many times I’d hear echos from others of “oh yeah, I don’t know either”. There are even times when people who seemingly appear to nod like they understand will admit they don’t when the topic is cracked open! Why do we do that?! I think that showing vulnerability is difficult and uncomfortable, so we tend to do what’s more comfortable. We nod and pretend to know.
My advice to my younger self would be: Let your vulnerable and authentic side show. It’s okay to be imperfect and not know everything. We’re all in good company. Give your peers the benefit of the doubt that they’re more helpful than harmful.

Last question – what book are you reading right now or last finished?

I usually keep both a fun book and informational book going at once.

I just finished Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood. I highly recommend listening to the audiobook version. Now I’m looking for something to read/listen to next. Any recommendations?
On the informational side, I’m reading Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error by Kathryn Schulz. It’s an interesting dive into the psychology of being wrong. This kind of stuff is fascinating!

How can people best find you online?

Twitter would be the easiest way, although I don’t post too often: @NinaFricker

 Thank you so much for taking the time for us.

You bet! The pleasure was all mine!

p.s. Want to see someone interviewed, let us know so we can talk with them! Our next interview will be with Sophie @ Insomniac Games California

A character TD/rigger on the awesome  title! Congrats!

Then next after her in our women in Tech Art series will be Julia Bystrova, Lead Character Rigger at Tangent Animation who just finished up work on the all Blender CG film from Netlfix called “Next Gen” by 

We hope to have more Blender training available this coming year as it expands and matures its animation and rigging tool set along with major UI improvements (Blender Rigging for Netflix Next Gen )

Blog Post interview

Get to know: Isabella Cheng – Technical Artist at Survios

Get to know: Isabella Cheng – Technical Artist and Rigging Dojo Alumna

Isabella Cheng Technical Artist at Survios

Isabella Cheng
Technical Artist at Survios

Let’s get started with a bit of background about you, were you always in to computer programming and tech?

I was always into games and computers. I went to school at USC for Computer Science with the notion that I’d be a game programmer. Turns out I really like working with artists and I happen to also be artistic, so I applied my skills as a Technical Artist. My first industry job out of college was pipeline scripting for mobile games. But then I discovered the ?magic of rigging ?and working with character art, and thought, “Hey I think I can get pretty good at this.”

Can you share your learning curve and experience over the years as a TD going from finishing school, finding Rigging Dojo and getting your first industry job?

Personally my transition from mobile pipeline stuff to rigging and Unreal felt almost like a career change. When I was first dabbling in rigging on my own, I had no idea what I was doing. I was self teaching myself using tutorials online but they weren’t enough to help me really grasp the core concepts. I heard about Rigging Dojo and signed up as soon as I could, and a couple months in Rigging 101 filled the gaps I was missing. I used what I learned from Rigging Dojo on a couple side projects, and finally landed a job at Survios rigging and scripting for VR games.

Walk us through what your day or week looks like. How much time coding or pipeline work vs. rigging and character work are you doing for example.

I do a whole variety of things, and it really depends on the needs of our projects. There was a huge need for pipeline scripting when I joined, so a lot of my time was spent building pipeline Maya tools that help our artists and animators. But when a project ramps up with a lot of characters, I fill that role as well. I could be spending a whole week on one task. Another day could be that I’m rigging a character in the morning for one game, and I’m scripting a tool in the afternoon for another game. To my surprise, by far my favorite part of my job is working on motion capture and the mocap data pipeline, it’s incredibly rewarding to take a human performance and see it on a 3D character.

Image of Sprint Vector by Survios

Image of Sprint Vector by Survios


Was there already a pipeline in place at the studio you’re at now or did you have to help build it? What was a challenge or improvement that came from that process?

There was a rigging pipeline in place before I joined using an auto-rigger. After I joined, the characters for our games got more complicated, and I helped build out our own inhouse rigging tools. The rigging and animation team never stops improving the pipeline. The biggest challenges I continue to face is balancing time in R&D with actual development. Luckily my team is given time to research the best solutions to solve character and animation pipeline issues, but it’s challenging to begin trying something, not knowing exactly what to expect. But this is also what makes my work exciting and rewarding.

Let’s talk tools, are there publicly available scripts or tools you like to use when rigging?

Absolutely! First and foremost we use the Unreal A.R.T tools because Survios is an Unreal house. I use ngSkinTools personally for skinning weights, even though my coworker hates it ?

I came across Studio Library for our animators and it’s been great. But if I don’t find a tool that suits my needs, I tend to either find something close and modify it, or build it from scratch.

How much stock Maya vs. custom inhouse tools or maybe runtime rigging in Unreal are you using?

For player movement, we have a system in Unreal that handles our character movement in VR that is completely custom inhouse. Unlike traditional games, our animators don’t necessarily animate everything for the player character because locomotion is being tracked by the VR controllers and head mount display. For other NPC characters, we are using the stock Unreal rigging stuff given to us. On the Maya side, we use a combination of stock, third-party and custom inhouse tools. The problem with having a ton of custom inhouse tools is we can’t migrate our tools as fast as new Maya versions come out.

Anything you wish would get fixed or changed in the software to improve production work and make it easier?

Right now his tool is in Beta, but I hope Jeremy Ernst releases his second version of the rigging tools soon!!

Do you see any major changes to how you are working now with Unreal and character rigging?

I definitely see major changes working with Unreal, it’s a whole other beast. One of the biggest considerations we take creating characters is how easily we can reuse animations and what that implies in Unreal. Unreal can retarget animations from one skeletal mesh to another. But that means if we want to fully utilize our animation budget, we have to make sure a number of characters are not wildly different where we have to create a whole new set of animations for one character. This mindset starts all the way at the character concept phase. Of course, these decisions are project-specific, but we only have 3 animators, 2 riggers and 2 character artists! As riggers we have to decide the best way to build the skeleton that will work for a variety of characters, and when brought into Unreal, making sure the animations don’t look and retarget terribly.

Having first worked with Unity and now Unreal what are your thoughts on learning them and any tips or gotchas you could share?

Learning Unreal is really fun, and being familiar with Unity made it a bit easier. The gotchas for me are the Blueprint system in Unreal and animation retargeting.

With the animation retargeting on skeletons instead of a “rig” like in Unity, are there any things you know to help out that process or have looked into to improve the retarget results?

Since we are conscious about retargeting and reusing animations across multiple characters, we make sure our joint orients and positions across our characters that share the same skeleton/animations are similar enough that the animations won’t look terrible in engine. For retargeting in general, I have just started playing around with MotionBuilder, and I’m super excited and impressed with the results I’m getting!

What have you found , training wise to have been the most helpful to you growing as a character TD? Any last tips or advice you can give to someone that wants to improve their skills as a TD?

Rigging Dojo, duh! The community that surrounds rigging is actually super cool and friendly, which makes finding resources very easy. So feel lucky as a growing character TD you chose this path, and don’t be shy to reach out!

If you’re working on your demo reel, find a model you think would be a fun challenge to rig, and try it! And +100 points if you find an animator to test it for you and give you feedback, and they could use it on their portfolio. It’s a win-win.

Want to really improve your skills as a TD? Go and take the online anatomy class by Scott Eaton. It is amazing, period. I’m in the middle of it right now, but it’s already helped me understand the puzzle pieces of the human body. Which makes me a better rigger!

At Rigging Dojo we get a high percent of female students and some of our most successful students have been women. If at all, have you faced issues or challenges that male peers might not have?

I can fortunately say that I have not faced these sorts of issues. I had pretty much the same challenges, and luckily at Survios we maintain a really collaborative and inclusive culture, and I’m not treated any differently than any other game developer because of my gender.

That is great to hear that and also a nod to the studio you work at for making it a balanced environment.

Now that you’re working vs. fresh out of school is there anything that you see missing in current TD skills or reels? Could be advice to your past self making a reel.

I didn’t come from an animation background, so sometimes I feel like I’m a mechanic that doesn’t know how to drive a car. I’m learning a ton from the animators I work with at Survios about their creative processes. As a rigger it’s been a learning experience working with them first hand and balancing their wants and needs. Advice to myself (past and present) would be to take some animation classes and try to animate things myself in order to better tap into an animator’s mindset. I wouldn’t necessarily put my animations on my reel, but I would learn some valuable things about what animators expect out of a rig, and those choices are important for a portfolio.

Last question – what book are you reading right now or last finished?

For my class we’re using a book called Figure Drawing For All It’s Worth by Andrew Loomis. Beautiful drawings and approximations of the human body. I’ve never taken art classes so this pretty much blew my mind.

The last book I finished was Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Phillip K. Dick. Because Blade Runner.

How can people best find you online?

You can follow or message me on Twitter @izzyccheng, email me at [email protected],  Or if you join the Slack channel, I’m on there as well!

Thank you so much for taking the time for us.

Thanks for the interview!!!


Blog Post interview news rigtip

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

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



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.


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.

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:


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:


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:


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.


Rigging Dojo AIR tutorial

Rigging Dojo’s (A.I.R) : Halloween Treat no Tricks with Josh Carey

October 31st 2014 Artist in Residence (A.I.R) Live

With Josh Carey Rigging Dojo Co-Founder and Rigging Supervisor Reel FX
Friday 2/3pm central




Josh, taking a break after finishing up “The Book of Life” is currently teaching on location in Denmark so we have an earlier time than our other AIR events. Also we want to make sure everyone that wants to go Trick or Treating can still get out or maybe find the most sincere pumpkin patch and enjoy the night with friends can do that as well.  We hope to see you there, don’t miss it and avoid wanting “restitution”!

About Josh

“I am currently the Head of Rigging at Reel FX Creative Studios in Dallas, Texas.  While I am in charge of the entire Rigging Dept, my duties reach beyond that simple title.  I supervise on projects while still having plenty of ‘on the box’ time.  I do lots of scripting, developing tools, workflows, as well as getting down and dirty with doing rigs.  We tend to have to work fast here, so I put a lot of emphasis on working fast and efficiently, and I make sure we put a lot of effort into making tools that aid in that workflow.  I am always striving to be better, and really… if you’re not pushing yourself and the artists around you, then what’s the point?

My main drive is in problem solving, but coupled with that comes making great art.  I want to be a part of something awesome, be it great animation, great visual effects work, or developing new technology.  I believe in surrounding yourself with great artists and smart people in order to get better at what you do.  This is truly a never ending learning experience – we are all students of the craft.

In addition to my time at ReelFX, I am also a co-founder of the online rigging school, Rigging Dojo.  I created this with Brad Clark and Chad Moore with the intent to find and develop great technical artists that we can not only hire, but to help set the standard of education for technical art in our industry.  Rigging Dojo has been a complete success so far, considering that our students are getting hired at some top studios.”


Check out his latest work over at

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interview news

Meet The Rigging Team From The Anomalia “Wildlife Crossing” Course

Meet The Rigging Team From The Anomalia “Wildlife Crossing” Course

3 faces in a column, a cartoon pretend snail and text that says wildlife crossing
Rigging Dojo short film rigging in Maya

This summer, Rigging Dojo partnered up with Anomalia to put a small group of rigging students into a production environment to create animation rigs for their short film, “Wildlife Crossing”. In this post you’ll meet the 6 students and see the great work they produced.

This special 8-week course was taught in the Rigging Dojo online classroom and was called “Advanced Cartoon Rigging”. The team created stylized cartoony animal and vehicle rigs. They also created various scripts and UI’s to help the animators. With video feedback and supportive guidance from the mentors and team members, this was an exciting chance to experience what it takes to work in an actual production.

“I had a great time here, and have learned a lot of new things – thank you Josh, Dan, Brad. The feedback for my work was really constructive and I really liked that it was showing directions without giving everything on a plate. Also thank you Lee, Ivan, Matteo, Jason, Daniel. I’ve peeked into your posts / rigs and got some knowledge from there as well.” – Bogdan Diaconu

Rigging concepts were covered such as face rigging, stretchy limbs, twist-locking, joints/hierarchies, skinning work-flows, corrective shapes and advanced deformation tricks. Advanced workflow concepts were covered such as naming conventions, pipelines, scene organization, scripting and team feedback. It was mentored by Josh Carey, Brad Clark and Daniel McCrummen.

“I had great time with this class. I learned so much, from reviews to other students works, and I had the opportunity, for the first time, to have some feedback from animators to improve my rig.” – Matteo Di Lena



The Anomalia course 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.

The “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.

Don’t miss the next time we run a special course like this. Make sure you subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on Facebook  and Twiter where we will announce future dates.

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

Matteo Di Lena


Deer Rig:

Rig realized for Anomalia’s last short film, Wildlife Crossing, via Rigging Dojo summer class.
Thanks to all the rigging dojo staff and students for their great feedback!


“My name is Matteo, 26 years old, from Italy. I work as a 3d Artist since 2008. I started looking at rigging more or less a year and a half ago, I really enjoy it and I would love to be a professional character rigger in the future, as for now I couldn’t spend too much time digging into this world since I have a full time job. This course could be a very good starting point to understand production needs, so here I am! 🙂

I started my career working as a 3d generalist with 3ds Max on architectural and commercial projects in late 2007, constantly looking to something new to improve my skills. I discovered character rigging in late 2009, I’m focusing on it since late 2011, and took my first rigging dojo class in 2012.Â

I have 5 years experience in modeling, rendering, compositing and post production, but now my main focus is to continue with character rigging to improve my skills, starting with some deep study on scripting in MEL and Python to improve my workflow.

I currently work as a 3d Artist for an Italian wheels design company.”


Bogdan Diaconu


Fly Rig:

This is the last character I’ve rigged for Anomalia’s short movie, ‘Wildlife Crossing” : :
– quadruped legs rigging with auto stretch
– stretchy spine with twist control
– independent eye’s sockets with move/rotate/scale
– dual layer ribbon implementation for the lips ( a ribbon driving a ribbon )
– body squash
– IK/FK/Dynamic wings, in IK mode the wing tip can be attached to something else ( rig requirement)

Kid Rig:
Kite Rig:

“This class was a way of verifying my knowledge in regards to rigging, I have already worked as a technical animator but I have never had a lead or a senior person to poke me in the right direction or to teach me things. All I knew before was through tutorials and a lot of trials and errors.Â

I’ve started in the CGI industry as an animator immediately after graduating Computer Science University. Due to my studies, i was attracted by the technical side of animation and proceeded to understand the art of rigging and generally scripting.Â

My career evolved from TV series to commercials and for the last 5 years to the games industry.”


Lee Ozer


Lee came from a background as a programmer from the video game industry. For the last 6 years or so she has been studying visual effects, working as a software engineer and VFX artist/generalist, including rigging biped and quadruped characters.

Frog Rig:

Shows off some of the basic controls for the frog:
* move, scale, rotate
* attributes to controls visibility of controls and model/proxy geometry
* ik/fk switching and blending
* ik stretching
* forearm and shin twist joints
* flexible spine
* facial blendShapes
* finger and toe curl and spread
* head, mouth, eye, tongue controls
* space switching on arms, legs, and eyes


Daniel Crandall


“My name is Daniel. I just finished my Master’s degree in 3D Modeling at Academy of Art University. While studying modeling I had discovered a passion for rigging. I have been working on a few student projects trying to get more experience rigging.”

Car and Truck Vehicle Rigging


Ivan Mendoza


Ivan finished a degree in Digital Art and Animation last December. Since then he has been rigging for a cartoon TV series in Mexico where he has also done some scripting.

Doe Rig:

Doe Trot:His rig in action


Jason Redd


Kid Facial Rig (sadly cut from the film due to animation time limits)
Jason is currently an intern at Green Grass Studios in Dallas where he is doing python tool development and rigging.


Congrats to the whole team for their hard-work and teamwork during this production. Once again, if you’d like to be notified the next time we run a special course like this (*we just might be doing one soon), make sure you sign up for our newsletter.