HOW DO I CRE­ATE MY OWN CUS­TOM PICK-WALK HI­ER­AR­CHY? Antony Ward replies

Is­abelle Rose, Florida

3D World - - ARTIST Q&A -

The best rigs are in­tu­itive and sim­ple to use. When build­ing them you must re­mem­ber that it’s pos­si­ble it will be used by a whole team of an­i­ma­tors, all of which will have their pre­ferred ap­proach to bring­ing things to life. Over­load a rig with too many con­trols and you’re not only mak­ing it more com­pli­cated to use, but you’re adding to the amount of time it takes an an­i­ma­tor to cre­ate the sim­plest of se­quences.

One el­e­ment of rig­ging that can help is to build in the abil­ity to pick-walk through the hi­er­ar­chy. This en­ables the an­i­ma­tor to quickly nav­i­gate the rig by us­ing the ar­row keys, rather than se­lect­ing con­trols or dig­ging through the Out­liner. As an ex­am­ple, if you have the hand con­trol se­lected you can quickly move up the chain to the el­bow con­trol, and then the shoul­der con­trol and so on. Whereas on a nor­mal rig, press­ing an ar­row key likely se­lects a con­straint node or some other area of the rig that shouldn’t be touched.

The prob­lem is that there hasn’t been a good so­lu­tion to this in­side Maya, not with­out the help of ex­ter­nal scripts or tools. Per­son­ally, when build­ing rigs for clients I don’t like to add any ex­ter­nal plug­ins. It can cause prob­lems down the line when a whole stu­dio then needs to make sure they have the same plug-ins in­stalled, up­dated and work­ing just so they can an­i­mate.

Luck­ily this all changed with Maya 2017. With last year’s re­lease came new con­troller op­tions that gave you the abil­ity to in­di­cate which el­e­ments in the scene are con­trols. With them tagged you can

then dic­tate the pick-walk par­ent or child, re­gard­less of where ei­ther of them lie in the hi­er­ar­chy.

That’s not all these con­troller tags do. Once spec­i­fied that they are part of a rig, Maya will take ad­van­tage of any ex­tra CPU or GPU power you have through par­al­lel eval­u­a­tion, dra­mat­i­cally im­prov­ing the per­for­mance of the scene as it plays back or is in­ter­acted with; some­thing you can test for your­self with the Pro­filer tool. What’s more, the con­troller tags are very sim­ple to set up.

au­todesk maya’s new con­troller tools can not only speed up the an­i­ma­tor’s work­flow, but the per­for­mance of the scene too as they in­ter­act with it.

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