Rigging: the smudgy grey area where budding animators with a sense of adventure (and dissatisfaction for rigs they were handed and decided they could fix themselves) meet software developers in the closet (technical explorers who thought programming was too hard then inevitably pick it up and often enjoy it), and argue whether rigging is an art or not while they pass each other on their way to they don’t know where.
The only discipline in a whole animation pipeline that was born software-centric, and for entirely too long has been taught and practiced almost exclusively that way.
While not entirely impractical Rigging by “Tricks” and “Techniques” (glorified sequences of software specific actions) is all most people know and employ, and often all that gets paid forward by freshmen turned educators the following semester, and the discipline itself is basically never taught specifically for any length of time the way modelling or animation would be.
Almost always an accidental choice of career, an unnecessarily arduous and personal path for most, and one that a lot of people abandon for other departments or fields the moment they actually get good at it (because it’s admittedly a bloody boring and plain job in a lot of places).
Rigging by first principles
Rigging actually has plenty well established fundamentals and first principles from other fields it’s based on. What lets it down is obfuscation of real issue by conflating software issues, all the while ignoring important subject matter that is inexplicably considered too hard to learn (yet mastering every corner of the buggiest software and plug-ins is somehow acceptably easy?!).
I disagree with the notion that programming or mathematics aren’t tools for creative endeavors, or that they are inaccessible, or even just particularly hard disciplines to learn, and remain incredulous when it’s pointed out to me that “they are for the hard core”.
I dislike software specific tricks. I find them useless as well as counter productive for anyone’s education; general knowledge of how software itself works goes a much longer way for much less effort.
What I would like to do about the above is demonstrate, live on stream and with no off-camera work, how things go from nothing to triple digit fps rigs. Demonstrate and explain the first principles to get there every step of the way. The process, the mistakes, the research, all that goes in it.
The focus will NOT be the software and a multitude of broken button combinations you have to learn to push in some magic order, it will instead be principles and application of design, math, programming, anatomy and kinesiology.
The intention is to work through a progression of increasingly complex rigs, starting from the deceivingly simple and escalating to a full creature, and illustrate every step of the way how software actually works under the hood, what the math involved are in a BS free, uncomplicated fashion, and how to write non-horrendous code in support of rigging tasks and tools (non-horrendous is really the best you can hope for, code is never good).
The software used will be predominantly Autodesk Maya and MS Visual Studio, and the programming languages will be Python and C++ (yes, C++, please don’t listen to the people saying it’s “hard” or “advanced”, it’s not and it hasn’t been for years), but there isn’t a specific requirement you use those to learn.
There isn’t a specific intended audience, and the barrier of entry will be intentionally be set as low as it can be.
If you’re a programmer or a TD with an interest in the craft of rigging, an aspiring or established rigger, or an animator that actually wants to understand the tech behind what you animate, or anywhere in between and by the edges of that, please tune in,
Come, join the Cult!