3D World

Day in the life

Marty Hon, rig­ger at Dig­i­tal Do­main, breaks down her day


Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from Columbia Col­lege Chicago with a de­gree in 3D An­i­ma­tion, Marty Hon has spent years hon­ing her craft as a CG artist. Prior to join­ing Dig­i­tal Do­main, Hon cre­ated re­al­is­tic ren­ders and high-qual­ity mod­els for free­lance clients, be­fore mov­ing into the realm of TV com­mer­cials where she con­tributed char­ac­ter and prop rig­ging, hard-sur­face mod­el­ling, tex­tur­ing, an­i­ma­tion, ren­der­ing and com­posit­ing. For the past five years Hon has been lend­ing her tal­ents to Dig­i­tal Do­main’s Van­cou­ver stu­dio.

08:00am Af­ter I get to the of­fice, I start my day with a cup of tea, a light snack, and a look through my emails for up­dates or changes to any as­sets. I’ll go through each one to see if there are any notes, any new re­quests or sched­ule changes for any spe­cific func­tion­al­ity for rigs that I’m as­signed to.

09:30am Other than char­ac­ter, ve­hi­cle and prop rigs, fa­cial trans­fers are also part of the rig­ging depart­ment’s job. Our in­te­gra­tion depart­ment records fa­cial mo­cap per­for­mance to track and gen­er­ate fa­cial masks for each shot. I’ll then cre­ate a spe­cific fa­cial de­for­ma­tion rig in Maya, us­ing nu­mer­ous in­house plug­ins that can trans­fer the per­for­mance from the masks onto our char­ac­ter model. Once the rig is tested, the trans­fer process can be au­to­mated on our ren­der farm. When it’s pos­si­ble, I’ll send the new shots to the farm to trans­fer early in the morn­ing so I can check and edit them later in the day.

11:00am Next, I usu­ally start with the tasks that have quick turn­around, such as model up­dates. Dig­i­tal Do­main has an in-house rig builder sys­tem in Maya that uses ed­itable Python tem­plates to bring in mod­els, skele­ton, weights and other com­po­nents to au­to­mat­i­cally con­struct the rig, al­low­ing us to edit each por­tion sep­a­rately. Mod­els are con­stantly be­ing up­dated. If it has the ex­act same topol­ogy and pose, it’s a sim­ple re-run of our rig builder. If not, then I will have to re-pose and trans­fer weights.

13:00pm To start a char­ac­ter rig, the first step is to use our skele­ton

tem­plate, which al­lows us to po­si­tion the joints to the best of our anatomy knowl­edge. The tem­plate also al­lows me to add an ex­tra limb (with a few lines of Python script) if we have to. Skin­ning weights is next. Skin­ning can be a time­con­sum­ing and repet­i­tive process that re­quires both the tech­ni­cal and artis­tic sides of the brain. This is usu­ally when I turn on mu­sic and just roll with it. Then I run Rig Builder’s tem­plates that will au­to­mat­i­cally bring in ev­ery­thing, ori­ent joints, build con­trols and con­straints.

15:00pm For prop rigs, there is no one tem­plate that fits all. It can be a ca­ble rope, a plant, an es­ca­la­tor, a ma­chine gun, etc, so it re­quires cre­ativ­ity. I also have to be in touch with an­i­ma­tors to know specifics of what they need and what needs to be changed. We use Rig Builder to cre­ate ev­ery rig, which means ev­ery­thing we build is scripted out in Python. First, I would build a mock-up in Maya to prove the con­cept to my­self, and the more com­pli­cated rigs also re­quire ap­proval from the an­i­ma­tors. Then, line by line, I script out each step of the process in Python.

17:00pm In rig­ging, daily meet­ings aren’t as com­mon as they are with other groups. At the be­gin­ning of a show, there will be a round­about meet­ing. Af­ter that, the lead rig­ger has weekly meet­ings with an­i­ma­tion and other su­per­vi­sors, but as a rig­ger, we usu­ally just have a quick daily check in with our lead and/or co­or­di­na­tor to make sure we are on task and to see if we need any­thing. And of course when­ever we run into prob­lems, we have our peers at Dig­i­tal Do­main to help out and dis­cuss the mat­ter.

17:30pm I am a bit of a worka­holic and I love what I do, so I don’t tend to need much time to un­wind. There were days I used to do many mod­el­ling, 3D sculpt­ing, rig­ging and script­ing projects at home past mid­night ev­ery day. Some­times, 40+ hours of 3D work is still not enough to sat­isfy my cre­ativ­ity needs. But since my fam­ily has grown over the last few years, time is be­com­ing more and more pre­cious. I tran­si­tioned to less time­con­sum­ing art projects to con­tinue my artis­tic cre­ativ­ity, such as wa­ter­colour paint­ing, ink draw­ing and craft­ing felt toys for my daugh­ter.

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 ??  ?? Marty Hon and the team at Dig­i­tal Do­main re­cently worked on high-oc­tane VFX se­quences for the su­per­hero block­buster Cap­tain Mar­vel
Marty Hon and the team at Dig­i­tal Do­main re­cently worked on high-oc­tane VFX se­quences for the su­per­hero block­buster Cap­tain Mar­vel

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