Sunday, April 10, 2011

Customising Workspace Research essay

Customizing your Scene

This research essay looks at the importance of customizing your scene before one starts producing an animated film.

According to i3d tutorials custom toolbars help one “facilitate [ones] work and help [one] work a lot faster and more efficiently… it can help [one] speed up [ones] workflow”. This applies not only to toolbars but also to customizing ones scene in general. If one has a scene customized in a way which best suits the use of the scene it will speed up the workflow.

The default set up for Softimage is shown bellow:

However this set up may not be ideal for use in all scenes and it may be beneficial to customize it.

The advantages of customizing the scene:

1. It makes it more efficient as one does not have to keep changing between unnecessary windows.

2. Especially when working on a single monitor it helps to make your scene more organized and less cluttered.

3. If the windows you need are floating windows they often obscure your vision and hide some of your work. Therefore if they are placed inside a window it means one doesn’t have to keep moving them around which saves time and makes it much easier to work effectively.

When setting up your scene it is important to think about what you are setting the scene up for, for example are you going to be predominantly animating, modeling or lighting the scene. Once this is established one can start making the necessary changes.

One of the obvious changes one can make is to change what will be displayed in the four separate divisions. If one is modeling, for example, then it may be useful to be able to see each side of your object in these windows. However if one is animation one may want to have the camera view, the user view and the graph editor displayed in the windows. If the graph editor is easily accessible and readably available it will make ones work flow much more efficient. Additionally if one can see the camera view and the user view one will be able to see how the scene will look to the viewer, whilst simultaneously editing it in the user view. Thus one will get a better idea of how the animation is looking as a whole.

Bellow is an example of how the scene is set up when using face robot. Although I may never choose to use face robot itself I think the set up is one which will be very useful when lip sinking as one can see the sound waves and the animation simultaneously. This will make working with sound much easier and clearer.


I selected this example as sound plays an important role in animations, whether it is lip sinking or sound effects. Therefore when I work on my future animations I can use this set up to ensure I sink the sound properly to the animation as I will be able to see both the animation and the prominent beats at the same time.

Tool Bars

The advantages of customizing tool bars:

1. If there are certain commands which one has to use over and over again it will make ones work flow much quicker as it will be one click away as opposed to maybe three or four.

2. The long lists of commands displayed in most menus means it may take quite long to find the command which one is looking for. However if the command is placed in a customized tool bar it will be much quicker as one won’t have to look through long lists of options and wait time trying to find what one is looking for.

3. When animating a custom toolbar is especially beneficial as it would be very time consuming to have to select each control one needs every time one wants to key frame it. However through creating a custom tool bar where one sets a button to select the specific controllers needed, it will make it much easier as one only has to press one button as opposed to selecting numerous objects.

Once again depending on what the purpose of the scene is for one can set up customized tool bars. As previously mentioned when animating it may is very helpful to create buttons which will quickly select a certain animation controls at once. This will save time as it will ensure that one does not have to keep selecting multiple controls but can rather just click one button. Alternatively when modeling one may want to create a custom toolbar with the menu options one uses the most frequently, such as the split edge tool. This will save time as it will be one easy click away.

Bellow Is an example of a toolbar set up for animation purposes. I chose this example as they have separated the buttons in the toolbar by subheadings. This will make the toolbar more user-friendly especially when someone as to work on a scene customized by me, as they will have a better understanding of the toolbars. Furthermore it will be useful for me if I ever have to go back to a project as I will understand more clearly and quickly what I intended the tool bar to be used for. This will ultimately benefit my over all work flow as it will make my workflow quicker when I am working on the project or it will make it quicker for me to got back to and understand a project, especially if I have used icons and not words for my buttons.

Furthermore if one has multiple buttons on a custom tool bar it could be counter effective as one has to search through the many options in the toolbar every time to find what one is looking for. However if one creates subheading it will make it much easier to quickly find what is needed as it will separate the options in a logical manor while still keeping the buttons one easy click away.

(Softimage Resources)

Ultimately customizing ones scene is of huge advantage as it assist one in completing the project with more efficiency and with a better workflow. However to ensure that one gets the most out of the customization it is important to be aware of what and why one is customizing the scene. Additionally when adding toolbars it is important to make sure the toolbars are created in an orderly and easy to understand way otherwise it will become to complicated and reduce effectiveness of the toolbar.

Works Cited

I3d tutorials. Softimage/xsi custom toolbars and shelves. YouTube. 2007. Web. 10 April 2011

Rederosity. Automated Lip Sync in Face Robot and Innovative Rigs with Interactive Creative Environment (ICE) Kinematics Set New Bar for Character Animation. 2010. Autodesk, Inc. Web. 10 April 2011.

Softimage Resources. Rog – Flac. Web. 10 April 2011

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Rigging Essay

Rigging Essay

Default Rig

Softimage has two default rigs, one for human characters and one for animal (or fantasy) characters. The rig for the human character has a head and neck, two arms and hands, a spine, a pelvis and two legs and feet. The rig is accompanied by numerous controllers and constraints, which assist in the animation of the character.

Character rigging in Softimage has been made very user friendly as one can easily modify the default rig as needed. The modifications to the rig can be done in one of two ways. Either one can create the basic biped rig and physically lengthen and adjust the bones as needed. Alternatively one can load a rig-building guide, this guide allows one to set up the “size and proportions to match your character, then create a rig for your character based on this guide” (Softimage Users guide). When using the biped guide one is able to, not only define the skeleton structure, but one can also set the volume control. The volume controls are “displayed as yellow splines with small manipulator cubes, which you can use to define the body’s volume” as seen below (Softimage users guide).

When using the default rig in Softimage the rig comes with constraints and controllers. This makes he rigging process much easier as one does not need to set up all the controllers but can rather add where necessary. Additionally one can add any desired bones to the rig that aren’t already there.

Once the rig fits the character as desired the rig must be attached to the character, this is done by enveloping the rig to the character. One will then need to paint weights on the character to ensure that the ‘skin’ of the character is attached in the desired way to the rig. However if one had attached volume controls to the rig it “can allow a character to reach extreme poses more easily than by weighting alone” (Softimage users guide).

It is evident that the default rig provides a wide range of options for modification. This allows the rig to be quite versatile and gives it the ability to be applied to numerous character designs.

Manually set up rigs

The rig I am going to discuss is not one I found on the internet but rather one which I made following the Softimage XSI tutorials.

The process of creating a rig manual starts with creating the bones to fit the character. It is important to make sure that one is in the correct view when creating the bones, as this will determine the direction in which the bones will bend. The structure of the bones was very similar to those in the default rig as I had a head and neck, two arms and hands, a spine, a pelvis, two legs and feet. The construction and number of bones used were very similar to those in the default rig. Therefore the skeleton of the manually made rig is basically the same as the default one.

Once the bones were in place one has to manually assign the controllers and constrains. This is important in ensuring that the rig can be animated effectively. One can add the controllers as desired but the main places would be feet, hands, pelvis neck and head. Once again the places where the tutorial suggested that the controllers were placed was in the same positions as those in the default rig. Finally, like when using the default rig, I needed to envelope the rig and paint on the weights.

Therefore the process of creating a manual rig was far more laborious than using the default rig, yet in both cases one arrives at the same destination. One could argue that through creating ones own rig it allows for more versatility that the default rig does. But, as previously discussed, the default rig allows one to modify it so vastly that there is no need to create a rig for that purpose. Additionally once the default rig is in place one still has the ability to add in bones, constraints and controllers where necessary.

Ultimately, the most important aspect of rigging is not manually creating a rig, but rather being conscientious when modifying the rig to fit the character. The better the rig fits the character the better the rig will be enveloped to the character. As discusses previously the volume control which one can apply to the default rig assists with this. If the volume of the character is suggested correctly, the more successful the enveloping will be.

Works Cited

Softimage. Softimage Users Guide. Autodesk, 2011. Software