View Full Version : Auto-Character Rigging. Thoughts?

11-26-2005, 03:40 PM
What's people's opinion of those who've used these apps? Are they worth it? I see some claim to be up and animating in a matter of minutes. What does that include? Must your character be weight-mapped first? Just wondering just how automated the process is in these applications. Would love to cut down my rigging time and just animate. Are they a lot more than importing your own rigs? And which one do people seem to like the most? Thanks for any feedback.

11-26-2005, 06:32 PM
I obviously have a bias here, so I'll try to speak in generic terms, so this doesn't become a sales pitch.

From my point of view, there's two aspects to consider when asking if an auto rigging package is right for you. First, they're a convenience. Rigging can often times be a whole lot of little repetitive tasks that can take many hours to do manually, but can literally take only seconds if automated. Pretty much any autorigger will pay for itself after half a dozen characters from this point of view alone. The second and more complex issue is this. Developing a good rig for commercial use involves tons of research and development. The rig that we provide with Maestro has literally gone through years of refinement and exploration, being tested in every scenario I can think of to throw at it. So you're not just getting a speedup in workflow, you're also getting the experience of the rigger that designs the rig. This can be either a good or bad thing, depending on your circumstances. I personally didn't want someone else's rig. I wanted my own, that was customized to my ideas of how to animate. For those that like my way of thinking, Maestro has been a really good choice. But this somewhat limits you to another person's way of doing things. I will add that both Maestro and ACS4 give you the ability to customize or even create your own rigs, and incorporate them into the plugin, so you do have some flexibility.

Overall, if I were you, I would ask myself what I really want to focus my energy on. There are a lot of animators out there that are very happy to slip on the glove of another person's rig, and just want to get to it. These people are typically pretty flexible about different rigs and different controls. Other animators really want to get under the surface and design every aspect of how the character works for animation. This latter group may be frustrated by any autorigger, simply because the very aspect of a plugin doing something for them takes away the connection they have with the character rig, and they feel less comfortable with it.

I'm not sure if this answers your question, but hopefully it gives you some food for thought.


11-26-2005, 08:37 PM
thanks, that's helpful. I guess my simplified question is what am I gaining from an auto-rigger that I can't do by importing rigs I've already made?

11-26-2005, 09:36 PM
In my experience, transporting rigs from one character to another ranges from difficult to impossible, depending on the rig.

There's the bone tools, which allow you to modify the skeletal shape. They're not nearly as easy to adjust as skelegons in modeler, and they can go completely berserk if you use "Record Pivot Rotation", something I rely on. In general, they just aren't useful enough to me to even bother.

There's the "rig" format, but it only covers a few of the multitude of rigging concepts. It doesn't even support hierarchy relationships, so exporting a normal 3 point foot rig won't work. It also doesn't do expressions, which is another rigging component I use extensively.

I don't want to bash Newtek here, but this is honestly an area where lightwave is weak, and that's why there are several plug ins available to fill the gap. Personally, I've put a lot of thought into why certain 3d apps lead the market for character animation. The actual process of animating a character is pretty straightforward. It's just animating control nulls or bones, and refining the curves. It's mostly about having a good sense of timing, anatomy, physics, and other non-software related skills. So what makes the difference? My opinion is that some of the other apps offer much more robust rigging options, and make transfering rigs much easier. I could be off base here, but that's just the conclusion I came to. I personally think that Lightwave is stronger in a lot of other areas, and don't want to switch to another app that may offer more power in certain areas but be harder to work with overall, so I decided to build the rigging tools I needed in-house.

So to sum up, those of us who have built these rigging tools have done so because we needed more than Lightwave has to offer out of the box. This is really normal for all 3d apps. That's why there's so many diverse plugins out there for all of them.


P.S. I'm going to show my bias here and make one more point. I really think that the rigs I've come up with are very cool. The thing about Maestro is that it's not just an ordinary rig that you apply to a character and that's it. The control panel concept is really revolutionary. It allows for a much more sophisticated rig without cluttering your layout interface, and makes the animation process go so much faster and easier. We're going to put out a new demo for version 2 sometime this upcoming week. I would definitely reccommend checking it out.

11-27-2005, 12:42 AM
I dont like autoriggers in general. Mainly because of the rigs they create. I do my own rigging and I like to understand what Im doing and why.

That being said I would say that in terms of autoriggers in general I would highly recommend maestro over any of the others. I dont use it for autorigging but for controlling things like characters, other rigs, scenes etc its pretty amazing. :thumbsup:

11-27-2005, 05:59 AM

I bought Maestro 2 a couple of weeks ago. In fact because I needed a Rig that works "out the box" as Eric said it helped me to reduce the time on a paid project.

The support from Maestro developers it excelent. In fact I don't know why eric didn't ignored my mails! (kidding here) :) I v'e been quite inquiring about many things about the plugin :) And he answered quite quickly and always with a solution or pointed me on the right direction on the documentation!! :)

But as Larry said, if you have time to do your own rigs, you will learn a lot from them, and do whatever you want with them :)

In fact I do not know either why Larry didn't made his own autorriger centuries ago! :)

Hope itīs help,

11-27-2005, 08:23 AM
well there's several otions to think about re rigging and animating characters and NOT just looking at autoriggers for lightwave.......

i have acs3, td4 and version 1 [currently] of maestro for lightwave...

i find that maestro is very easy to setup and rig plus pos and think that i'll upgrade to version 2 very soon

td4 has an advantage that you can move scene's to someone else who doesn't have the rigger and the rig will be open for them to use as this only uses lightwave's tools to create the rig in the first place...

acs3 and acs4 seem to be okay but i think that development has stopped and it has trouble with multiple characters in scenes.

...training...i'd also recommend do you learn how to rig either from a book [if you have the time to read, understand try, de cifer and the finish] or more possibly rom video training from a master such as splinegod.

other apps....
you may also want to have a look at other applications such as messiah workstation which is cheap and has some amazing character animation tools and will host/export well to lightwave...try their demo!
same goes for xsi foundation and their rigging tools.

one thing to keep in mind with using other aps is the hoops you may need to jump thru in getting your scene back into lightwave or seeing the whole scene in the animation app....xsi for example is quite a vertical learning curve from something as flexible and friendly to learn as lightwave...try their demo and you'll see what i mean!

lots of options...

one of them 'is for you'

11-27-2005, 08:51 AM
But as Larry said, if you have time to do your own rigs, you will learn a lot from them, and do whatever you want with them :)

That's just it. I do do my own rigs. And without having done them I wouldn't know half the stuff I know about LW right now. So that's good :) I guess I will check out the demo of Maestro and see how it goes. Eric - thanks for the replies (and everyone else). Hope to see that version 2 demo soon :)