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Gettarobox
04-18-2006, 02:01 PM
I was just wondering if anyone had a recommendation on what the best auto rigging plugin or whatever is out there. I don't want to spend time rigging so if there is an alternative :thumbsup:.

ericsmith
04-18-2006, 02:44 PM
At the moment, there's only three viable options. One of them is ours, but I'll try to be unbiased.

1. Maestro
2. T4d rigging tools
3. ACS4

There's another one on the horizon called LCS evolution. It's been in development for a while, and the last word I remember seeing was that there was some problem holding it up.

There also used to be "The Setup Machine", but it's no longer available from what I understand.

LSC is different from all the others in that you place nulls in Layout to fit your character, and the bones are created there. In all the others, you place skelegons in your model and the rigger converts them and applies the rig.

There's been rumours that ACS4 is no longer being developed, but I don't know if that came from the source. Aside from that, my personal opinion of ACS4 is that it's too complicated and difficult to use. I spent hours trying to rig a character with it, and never got it to work. At $120, it's also twice as expensive as T4d, without adding much if any value for the priice.

T4d is straightforward, easy to use, and inexpensive ($60). The rig it creates isn't real sophisticated, but some animators prefer a simple, straightforward rig.

Maestro is really a different kind of package from the normal autorigger. The rigging part is really a macro executer, so in addition to the provided rigs, you can create your own command files and use it to do just about any repetitive task in LW. You can also edit the rigs we provide, so if they're not exactly what you like, you can customize them to fit your needs. The rigs provided with Maestro are also more comprehensive than the other riggers provide. For example, I think that Maestro is the only rigger that provides a facial rig. Also, it's got a lot more controls for things like fingers, and complex hip movement.

The other major component is the control panel, which is like a joystick controler for the entire character, or any item or channel in Lightwave. This is a very quick and powerful way to control your character. The controller also has a timeline/keyframe editor that's really nice, and some added features like pose and motion saving/loading, etc.

The price is $150, so it's the most expensive, but you're really getting a complete animation environment that is much better for character animation than native Lightwave.

Okay, so I don't know if that was as unbiased as it should have been, but I really do think Maestro is cool. I can't imagine doing character animation without it.

Eric

cresshead
04-18-2006, 02:58 PM
you'd also be well placed to learn rigging as well...so that when a autorig doesn't offer you a solution for a wacky characters with 10 arms and 5 legs....you can rig it yourself...or at least have a go!

have a look at the ikbooster video that's here on the boards today and also lok at some of the training available from splinegod and 3d garage.[videos for sale tutorials]

coremi
04-18-2006, 03:09 PM
i also think u cand download some kind of DEMO from Maestro and from T4D, so u can give it a go.

cresshead
04-18-2006, 03:14 PM
both are pretty good..i have meastro 1 and the td4's latest...

the td4 uses standard items so you can move the rig around to other users who maybot have any rigger and it will work okay for them..meastro is a more refinded solution and does a stack of other stuff too.

[ btw i've not spent a whole load of time with them as i use another 3d app for animation at present]

the demo is the way to go...see which you prefer.

cgbloke2004
04-18-2006, 03:20 PM
i'll add another one.
this is very simple, straight forward, [but sometimes thats all you need to get started..] and i used it to do some really quick stuff.

SimpleRigger [252 KB] : Based on the skelegons of an object, this plug-in creates a medium-complex rig. Contains plug-in, description, sample object files
http://www.animationsnippets.com/plugins/index.html

ScottSullivan
04-18-2006, 08:34 PM
I'll throw my 2 cents in. Maestro is well worth it. I've got Maestro 2 and it just ROCKS. I started doing CA from Tim Albee's Character Animation book, which really goes into detail. At the time I was just getting to know LW as a program, so it was a little more complex for me. But it's a great book.

However, after learning LW a bit more and playing with Maestro more and more, I just fell in love with it. It's so easy using it to animate, then go back and add your facial animation. Not to mention that while Tim's book really goes into detail, I didn't prefer his method (weight maps). That was really my only gripe. Maestro uses bones, which I prefered.

If you add the info from Albee's great book and the interface in Maestro, you've got a great package that literally can grow as you do since Maestro has the ability to add customized hotspots. In the end, I used Tim's exercises and thought process within Maestro to learn to animate.

Great job to the guys at Stillwater!

Cheers,
Scott

Nemoid
04-19-2006, 02:03 AM
one of the best was TSM the setup machine, but its dead for Lw

I'd go Maestro

Gettarobox
04-19-2006, 05:41 AM
thanks for the help everyone. i know a bit about rigging already but really just want to focus on modeling and animating. i have the Albee book but it seems awfully painful to set up the weights and stuff. I think i will try Maestros demo since it seems to be more than just an auto rigger.

thanks again guys.

Exception
05-15-2006, 08:42 PM
I just tried Simplerigger, and although it looks nice, so far for me the goals are not working at all... If I move a goal null, the object doesn't move one bit. Only when I rotate them.

Edit:
Perhaps I should have tried with ENABLe IK on... I didnt even know that button was there...
sigh... I should stick to buildings :)

So, I must say, simplerigger wors quite nice...

SplineGod
05-16-2006, 05:55 AM
thanks for the help everyone. i know a bit about rigging already but really just want to focus on modeling and animating. i have the Albee book but it seems awfully painful to set up the weights and stuff. I think i will try Maestros demo since it seems to be more than just an auto rigger.

thanks again guys.

Ive done tons of rigging and have never ever had to use that many weight maps. Typically I add the bones and start testing deformations first to see where things need some help. My first choice is to use hold bones because theyre easy to add and I can see the results immediatly. Also many problems can easily be anticipated in the modeling stage. Doing simple things like spreading the arms, legs and fingers a bit can greatly reduce any need for weight maps by reducing any cross influence you might get from bones.

Basically if weight mapping will take X hours to do then worst case is the same X hours regardless if you do it first or wait to do it last. Usually I find that I either dont need weight maps or only very simple ones. So my worst case ends up taking very little time by waiting until the end. This way I can minimize the rigging time and focus more on animating.

I prefer to also just reuse my own rigs. Its pretty simple to do in most cases. Im also using IKBoost more and more as a primary rigging and animation tool. Those rigs are very easy to reuse as well.

Im not big on autorigging anyways but I would also highly recommend maestro. I think the power it gives to scene control in general greatly outweighs anything else it does. Its a great way to control your character and anything else going on in your scenes the need orchestrating.

hrgiger
05-16-2006, 09:18 AM
I think ACS4 could be the best autorigger out there, but unfortunately, Lukasz doesn't seem to be putting any more work into it to keep it current.

badllarma
05-16-2006, 12:02 PM
Believe it or not I always thought you had to weight map at one time :cry:
but I know better now :thumbsup:

Maestro is is the way to go not only for rigs but prettty much anything nice at controling lighting rigs as well using your own images if you want to get really into it as back grounds you could design virtual lighting boards etc......
The posiblities are endless :D

And no I don't work for them :)

SplineGod
05-16-2006, 01:48 PM
I know what you mean! When weight maps first came out The highest bone falloff was ^16 so they were needed. Later Newtek added in ^32,^64 and ^128. At that point even Newtek said that with those new falloffs that WMs were not needed nearly as much.
That was about the time that vertex paint was released and the first thing I did was have it create weight maps for every skelegon. I quickly learned never to do that again because fine tuning so many weight maps was a source of great pain. I also learned that holding off on using them until after really checking out deformations first saved me a lot of time. :)

Cobalt
05-20-2006, 05:53 PM
I hate to admit this, but I don't have the time, patience or interest to learn the true art of character rigging. My "hats off" to all the TD's out there that do that kind of thing for a living. So I have tried just about all the auto riggers available for Lightwave and I think Maestro comes out ahead of the pack.

The skelegon to rig process works very well. All you have to do is adjust one of the many pre-built skelegon rigs to your model. I didn't even fool around with weight maps and the deformations looked really good right out the gate. The hot spot controller is really cool and works well ... though you need to take an hour or so to test what each hot spot can do for you. There is a "pose" saver that I have used a few times without problem.

Apparently, this is just scratching the surface of what Maestro provides. I still haven't taken a look at the custom key frame editor it provides.

Last note, while Maestro rocks and the other auto-riggers have all been OK for me in the past, I have found nothing that lets me animate a single character like Sega's Animanium. It's down right fun. You can switch back and forth from IK to FK quick as can be. It reminds me of playing with action figures when I was a kid. The model and rig conversion process is long and painful process though and I haven't really used it in a real project with a deadline yet ... or maybe ever.

SplineGod
05-20-2006, 06:07 PM
IKBoost is the closest thing in LW to Animanium. IKBoost allows IK and FK at the same time. It allows to to modify your rig as you animate to give you more control in various situations. You can copy/paste, poses and motions from a whole rig or parts of a rig. You can also load and save rigs and parts of rigs and reuse them. Definately worth learning. :)

Auger
05-20-2006, 10:26 PM
I hate to admit this, but I don't have the time, patience or interest to learn the true art of character rigging. My "hats off" to all the TD's out there that do that kind of thing for a living. So I have tried just about all the auto riggers available for Lightwave and I think Maestro comes out ahead of the pack.

The skelegon to rig process works very well. All you have to do is adjust one of the many pre-built skelegon rigs to your model. I didn't even fool around with weight maps and the deformations looked really good right out the gate. The hot spot controller is really cool and works well ... though you need to take an hour or so to test what each hot spot can do for you. There is a "pose" saver that I have used a few times without problem.

Apparently, this is just scratching the surface of what Maestro provides. I still haven't taken a look at the custom key frame editor it provides.


:agree:

Maestro truly is a powerful app. There are a lot of features you don't see at first. Then you get the "hey, that's cool" discoveries.

You'll love the keframe editor once you start playing with it.

Jon

ericsmith
05-21-2006, 02:25 PM
Last note, while Maestro rocks and the other auto-riggers have all been OK for me in the past, I have found nothing that lets me animate a single character like Sega's Animanium. It's down right fun. You can switch back and forth from IK to FK quick as can be. It reminds me of playing with action figures when I was a kid. The model and rig conversion process is long and painful process though and I haven't really used it in a real project with a deadline yet ... or maybe ever.

Hey, since this idea has been discussed in another thread, I'm really curious to know how Animanium works for animation as opposed to just posing. Do you get manageable keyframes? How well to the feet stay locked if you edit the keyframes for the hips (ie. move to a different frame)? Does the workflow of dynamic IK hold up for real production level animation?

Eric

Cobalt
05-21-2006, 03:50 PM
SplineGod: I gave IKBooster a quick try and saw how easy it was to switch between IK & FK. My "bad" for not taking the time to learn this feature yet. That's typical of my experience with Lightwave so far ... I am sure there are many more features hidden under the hood somewhere. It's always a joy to find these and go "cool ... I didn't know Lightwave could do this!"

ericsmith: I haven't used Animanium & Lightwave together in video projects yet. Though it is fun to work with, I am only able to animate a single character and just hope that it integrates with everything in Layout ... i.e. other characters and objects. My version of Animanium is home on my workstation so I will focus on learning Maestro on my laptop while I am gone.

t4d
05-21-2006, 07:42 PM
edited double post

t4d
05-21-2006, 07:46 PM
Nice thread I agree with most that's said =)

Just like to add other option Messiah !!
truely the best LW plugin out there
( equal if not more then Fprime Sorry,. mac guys )

one plugin gives you a complete Character animation animal :dance:
it's super fast openGL, deformation and IK is amazing
rigging is far simplier and powerfuler then Lightwave, ( by a long way )
the rig options are mind blowing,
the Character animation workflow you have is a dream to uses.
yes costs more then Maestro but if your going to spend $$ best do a good job at it :thumbsup:

you do have to Bake the character animation to send to LW's render
I but i seem to have to bake motion channel in LW somtimes not much differents really.

I do disagree with the No weight maps opinion

1/ if you pose the mesh for weight maps you Don't pose for IK
Eg- leg spread apart good for No weight maps Vs Legs straight down better for IK

LW already has major IK problems compaired to XSI and Messiah So a good IK pose is much more important to me.

2/ most of the time it's quicker to create a weight map then play around and test hold bones, not all the time but most of the time.

Weightmaps are direct you can see which point at are effects by what.
Hold bone are uses with other bones = very hard to see what points are control by what bone.

YES cartoon characters are Great for hold bones and alittle weight maps here and there

But once you get into high polygons character weight maps are the only way to go.

as for IKB i watched all those Vid's too
Sorry a 20 min walk cycle in IKB when it can be done in 2 min using normally IK say's alot to me :thumbsdow

PLus you have to wear your Rigging hat on as you animate,
I prefer to animate thinking only about keys and curves
IKB make the whole thing much too complex for a little animators heads:stumped: But that's just me :)

metahumanity
05-21-2006, 08:38 PM
Itīs really incredible that until now itīs impossible to lock an IK item in worldspace with the regular system.

Really.

I am starting to feel a bit stupid or asking for such basic functions for years.

"Weīll look into it right after finishing this and that"

Yeah ok, weīll wait.

metahumanity
05-21-2006, 08:40 PM
you have to wear your Rigging hat on as you animate,
I prefer to animate thinking only about keys and curves
IKB make the whole thing much too complex for a little animators heads:stumped: But that's just me :)

Nope, itīs not just you..

metahumanity
05-21-2006, 08:45 PM
But once you get into high polygons character weight maps are the only way to go.



Weighting is still a trial and error process. Controlable Jointcompensation on a point/poly/edge level (Smartskinning anyone?) is the way to go, IMHO.

Oh, we can already do that, right.

Uuups, the expression doesnīt read the indirect IK animation. Ok, letīs bake. Now letīs edit it some more...nahh.

LMAO

t4d
05-21-2006, 09:20 PM
Weighting is still a trial and error process. Controlable Jointcompensation on a point/poly/edge level (Smartskinning anyone?) is the way to go, IMHO.

Oh, we can already do that, right.

Uuups, the expression doesnīt read the indirect IK animation. Ok, letīs bake. Now letīs edit it some more...nahh.

LMAO

Weight mapping can be a pain but it's alittle like textures - Uv mapping vs projections
eg weight maps = Uv Maps / Hold bones = projections

Sure I'll uses as little weight maps as i can
and Yes I uses straight projections when I can as well
but to get control that extra step of Creating weights or Uv maps Is worth it.
some super work can be created with projections
But there's more work correcting projections in problem areas then if your using Uv's.

Expression & Baking..
it's odd Some LW users are they happy to Bake motion curves in LW and think that's fine workflow , but the baking from Messiah to LW is bad and a reason some don't uses it ? even tho it's far more poweful Character animation program ?