Thursday, June 26, 2008

Reader's Question: Is It Necessary To Learn Rigging?

Mac left a comment asking: I want to know that to become a successful animator, is it also necessary to learn rigging?

This is a great question, and of all the CG disciplines, rigging is certainly the most relevant to what we do as animators. Rigging truly is an art, and the rig an animator is given will make a huge impact on that animator's work - both in what the animator is capable of doing with the rig, and in how quickly the animator can get his work done.

Having a fast rig that you can work with quickly can make all the difference in the world when it comes to hitting your deadlines. On the flip-side, it takes a true rigging expert to create a rig that is fast, but is also very flexible and powerful, and has all of the options the animator requires when posing that character and creating a performance.

So for me, rigging is an incredibly important aspect of what we do.

That doesn't mean that we need to know everything about rigging ourselves, of course, as our job is often to simply be the animator. HOWEVER, if there is one thing that it is helpful to study a little bit and get *some* amount of understanding of, it's the basics of how your rig works, and how it's built.

I don't have a very deep understanding of how Optimus Prime is rigged up, but I know enough about his rig to know how I can pose him, what will break him, etc. And having a very rudimentary knowledge of how expressions work and so forth will help you at times with working with your character.

Additionally, many smaller studios prefer their animators to have a strong knowledge of rigging, and these smaller studios often have animator/riggers doing both jobs at once.

This is a case where knowing a bit about both jobs will open up more job opportunities for you, but be aware that these jobs are not generally going to be a feature film studios or often even larger games/tv studios. The big studios are still, by and large, looking for experts in each given field, as that structure has proven to provide the best quality work...

Anyway - like pretty much anything else, it can't hurt to learn a bit about rigging as long as it isn't distracting your time away from learning more about animation, but I wouldn't spend a ton of time with it unless you really love doing it!

shawn :)


Cuby said...

Thanks a lot for this new Blog Shawn! I'm absolutely loving it, and have it bookmarked as RSS.

This question is one I've often pondered myself, so it's great to hear an answer!

Cheers, and keep up the awesome tips!

Julien Abenhaim said...

Thanks a lot Shawn! I bought "The Art of Rigging Part 1" for maya at adapt last year but didn't start reading it yet since I'm animating in every spare time I get. Maybe I should look into it a bit :)

Jordan said...

First off, I'm loving this new blog. :)

I started off as an animator, and due to necessity, I had to learn how to make my own rigs as a mean to an end to get some animations going. I ended up becoming addicted to rigging, so be careful, animators. You may like rigging TOO much!

Julien, "The Art of Rigging Part 1" is an excellent book to get started on rigging on the right foot, as well as a great crash course in automation via MEL, you won't be sorry. :D

Anonymous said...

First off, Lemme just say a huge Thanks to Shawn for putting together yet another awesome resource for us animation junkies! You're attitude and love for our art is both contagious and inspiring keep up the good work man!

As far as the question goes, I have to agree with Jordan. . know enough to get along and speak intelligently but beware of becoming too proficient in rigging.

The problem is once a studio knows you know how to Rig you always run the risk of getting pigeon-holed into being "JUST" a rigger. . . least at Imageworks. :)

I graduated from Ringling School of Art and Design with the unfortunately bad habit of loving to write scripts and rig characters. . . Now instead of being an amazing animator who's spent tons of practice time making great animation, I'm a professional rigger wondering if I'll ever get to realize my dream of being an animator. There's a lot of enjoyment and satisfaction to being the guy that makes the rigs/tools that help the animator create the performance, but at least for me, it's a sad small joy compared to being the animator him/herself.

just my 2cents.

Anonymous said...

First post here :)

Well, I pretty much started with rigging and then I moved to animation, mostly because the characters I had were not rigged.

The "rigs" I used to make were very simple, though. Nothing ultra fancy as automatic deformations and joint chains with lines and lines of code to make the bones move "exactly the way you want them".

I know more about rigging now, but I am still not a master rigger, and since I'll animate bipeds and such most of the time, I don't spend a lot of time researching on fancy creatures and such. I do, at least know how to add some extra functionality to almost any rig, though. You never know when you'll have to animate something and that little "extra" that you came up with may save you hours of work.

Bruno Andrade said...

amazing blog Shawn, thanks a lot. I´m almost done with the Tips and tricks book, it´s gold stuff as well. I made a little book and read it when I´m at the bank, waiting for the bus, etc.

I´ve recentely finished a Rigging tutorial from Digital tutors, good stuff and it was good to get some knowledge on that area. It´s easy to get addicted to it for sure, but I know it takes a lot of time and practice to get to a professional level obviously, so I settled on taking this time to practice animation, but it was great to know a few things about it for sure.

3DTodd said...

I just discovered this blog today. Coming from such respected animation professionals, I have no doubt I will learn much from this site.

I'm especially interested in getting a good handle on rigging since I hope to create character animation shorts as well as apply my skills on professional projects. My main apps at the moment are Cinema 4D and Modo. Thanks for creating this blog. I'll be popping in on a regular basis. Cheers. :)

Ben C said...

thanks for this blog Shawn, really is a great thing you're doing for the animation community :) now among my list of daily-checked sites.

amdbcg said...

Hey, so who rigged optimus prime and how long did it take to rig that monsterous thing?

oh yeah, and did the rigger also put controls/ sliders in there too?

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