The Top 5 Reasons Why Your Rig Will Get Kicked Back by an Animator
As a rigger, it's your job to create a rig that animators can control without any issues. Inevitably there will be times when the rig you created is sent back by an animator due to issues in the design that hinders their ability to animate properly. This post will present the top five reasons why your rig may be sent back by an animator, so you can be better prepared to avoid a rework from ever happening with your rigs.
This first issue is probably the most likely to occur. If your rig has ugly and unnatural deformations it'll stand out like a sore thumb. As a rigger it can be hard to spot deformation problems in your rig, especially if they're occurring on areas that are small or often obscured from view. While you may have spent a good time checking the articulation of each joint and how it affects the mesh, an animator will need to pose the rig from many different angles and once a rig is ready for animation the deformations may not stand up to what the animators throw at it.
Make sure the deformations are clean in every joint and it bends in a believable way. If you need to, put your rig through some tough pose tests and try to find the limitations of your rig. Sometimes an animator can quickly fix small deformation issues by adjusting the
weights, but you shouldn't rely on the animator to have any rigging experience. So to avoid your rig being sent back, make sure you have natural deformations and that your rig can stand up to the test.
Another common issue and a good reason why your rig may be sent back is broken control curves. It could be a control curve that hasn't been constrained properly to the joint or controls that don't do what they should or don't do anything at all. If an animator tries to manipulate a control curve, and it has no affect on the mesh then it'll most likely be sent back immediately to the rigger responsible.
As your rig starts to include more and more control curves in order to properly manipulate it, you need to make sure each control has the right affect on the mesh. This also includes things like set driven keys and expressions.
No FK Options
Not all animators like to work exclusively in IK. Some prefer to only use IK when absolutely necessary. For instance, if an arm needs to stay planted on something like a wall. If your rig doesn't include the option to switch to FK, then it can pose a big problem to the animator who prefers to work with FK arms. If an animator receives a rig that doesn't have an FK option, it can make their job much harder.
All animators like to work differently, so make sure you're providing both options to accommodate all preferences. An animator that likes working with FK arms will likely send your rig back if they don't have that option. The same goes for IK and FK options for the legs as well. While IK is the more likely route the animator will take, depending on the shot, FK may be needed. For example, if the animator has a character that's sitting at the edge of a wall with their legs swaying back and forth; this look can be very hard to achieve with IK legs.
Incorrect Points of Articulation
In order for a rig to be believable, all the joints will need to articulate realistically. If the points of articulation are incorrect, like joints placed in the wrong areas, then the animator won't be able to create believable animation. This is especially important for a human-type rig. if the articulation doesn't look right, then the whole rig will suffer.
For instance, if the wrist joint is placed in the wrong area,when the animator goes to rotate the wrist they'll get unrealistic results. It's important to know how the human skeleton moves so you can create a rig that articulates in a realistic and believable way.
Not Enough Control
You can never really predict exactly what your rig is going to be used for and the types of animations that will need to be created with it. If an animator is required to animate a very cartoony and exaggerated shot, but your rig doesn't support that then it'll most likely be sent back to you to accommodate that particular shot.
Your rig should provide the animators with enough control in order to achieve just about any animation thrown at it, whether it's very exaggerated or more realistic. If your rig doesn't have enough controls, it won't be possible for the animators to achieve the look they want. For example, if an animator has a shot with lots of facial animation and dialogue, but doesn't have enough control over the face to achieve what is needed in a believable way then you will need to make adjustments to your rig.
Taking these top five things into consideration before you ever send your rig down the pipeline will make sure you have a far less chance of having your rig sent back by an animator. To learn more about what goes into creating a great rig capable of handling any animation, check out the tutorial about Pushing Your Character Rigs Beyond the Basics in Maya and continue learning with these in-depth rigging tutorials.