HOW DO I CREATE MY OWN CUSTOM PICK-WALK HIERARCHY? Antony Ward replies
Isabelle Rose, Florida
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.