The following post details over the course of several weeks to give you a full understanding on the journey it to took to overcome managerial and technical obstacles that allowed us to stay on target successful.
Following a breakdown of the auto-rig issues, I effectively needed to go back to rigging basics to get my head back in the game and trigger my memory. Despite it’s length and the monotony of sitting through over 3 hours of this, I had ZERO EXPERIENCE with quadruped, so I honestly bit the bullet and just persevered with watching this. I was on Richland College’s Interactive Simulation and Game Technology and basically with the video below, I just took a class in rigging.
When my mind was well and truly fried, I decided to simplify much of the lecuture’s tutorial because I believed it was best to conserve time and focus on what movements Tyrone precisely needed and cater to that. As a result, as a matter of time management and communication across the team, I colloberated with Tyrone on a daily basis to ensure my tasks were helping to overcome technical obstacles he encountered when animating such as a control breaking or a joint disconnecting etc. Effectively not to bore you, it became a very fast and efficient back and forth methodology:
I would build a draft, test it, then pass it to Tyrone to further test, highlight problems, and instead of him waiting for me to fix them, I had ensured that “components” were in place that he could simply reference the rig, animate accordingly and every new draft I sent him simply fixed/improved/enhanced what was already there. For example, I completed the weightpainting on the body rig and coordinated Tyrone to work on the movement, so by the time he had a polished movement, I could pass him a rig with the head attached, thus while the head was animated, I was analysing his animation and correcting weight paint issues to polish the final animation.
In the past, I was used to just waiting until the rig was complete, but here, Tyrone and I had each others backs and had a very professional and critically profound working relationship to get the best out of both of us. I learnt a lot from Tyrone as he shared many of his previous negatives and positives working with other quadruped rigs, so I was able to take that feedback on board and either a) avoid common rig problems and/or b) ensure the rig had components that would benefit his animation such as additional hip and attitude controls that made animation easier and more detailed.
This was a vastly frustrating, technically overwhelming challenge given my lack of experience, but I just fought through every obstacle because I simply refused to compromise. I even asked Emma McCay and Blaine Fox several technical questions to solve issues that many forums and videos couldn’t solve for me. I just had to talk to people and it was getting sorted…. Wish I was less stubborn 3 years ago.
With the new rig complete, the auto-rig essentially became entirely mine. I won’t take credit for Advanced Skeleton for the initial rig, but where I take pride is that I basically analysed and broke the rig to learn about it and understand how it came together, echoing Richland’s tutorial. As a result, I ended up removing components from the auto-rig and replaced them with my own until I had created a hierarchy I knew inside out, allowing me to quickly engage with problems that Tyrone encountered. By the time I had a stable rig, Tyrone was tell me he’s broke something and I could immediately understand where the issue lay and fix it.
It’s not the cleanest rig by a mile, but it WORKS and gets the job done so I’m able to push forward with rendering and return if Tyrone needs assistance.
Below are a few pose tests from Tyrone so I could isolate issues with any extremity poses such as the legs. Inspecting these, it helps me to determine priorities in my rigging task management in order to make the animation production a smoother transition, and promote enough flexibility for Tyrone to animate while I fix minor errors. Thus avoiding any halt between animation and rigging.