The Lord of the Rings – Extended Edition DVDs have a great section called “The Taming of Smeagol”, where they talk of the process used to create Gollums 3D character. Includes modeling, motion capture, rigging and animation.
If you don’t have the DVDs, these two videos cover much of the material… maybe all… or more! Can’t remember. There’s a bit of overlap between the two linked videos, but if you enjoy one, you’ll find both interesting.
Blender has a new version out, and the thing that first caught my eye was the image below.
The ability to smooth bone weight influences… smoothly (without using a paintbrush).
When I started learning Blender’s rigging tools, I noticed the lack of a proper workflow for smoothing skinning weights. I spent days trying to replicate a workflow that I have relied on for years in another software. DAYS. I even preparing a plan and was setting aside time to build a tool to handle this… but then… BAM! Here we go.
This is not the first time this Blender has read my mind.
*10 minutes later*
Installed and tested this on Ubuntu. Works!!!
I was so excited to see this feature added to Blender, I nearly put this as my Facebook Cover Photo. Hey! Don’t look at me like that.
Workflow is everything. Key word being “flow”. Flow is a difficult state to reach when doing something as technical as rigging and skinning is a process that most everyone hates, even riggers. I’m one of the few that enjoyed the process as was able to get to a nice zen state and just… well… flow!
I’m a big dork. Where’s my badge?
This is also not the only impressive improvement in the newest release. Checkout the list of new features here.
CGCookie just released a short video demonstrating this new skinning feature, along with the Mesh Data Transfer tool, which simplifies the process of transferring skinning weights.
Claus, a very talented and technical animator friend of mine and I were talking of the recent events in the company. We were talking about some key things that can really set most rigs apart from the standard. This includes custom icons (locators) instead of just NURBS curves, or broken hierarchies which make it easier to post character silhouettes to camera.
He told me that his favorite rigger was a Masaki Togashi. I looked him up and apparently he was the sole rigger on Ghost in the Shell 2. I guess the guy really knew his stuff, though other riggers found him difficult to work with. A “my way or the highway” approach. In his defense, I can understand what it’s like what you try and go outside the normal boundaries in order to make innovations. Hope to meet the guy one day.