Monday, 9 May 2016

What Animation Rigs Do We Use at Escape Studios?

Morpheus - endlessly flexible
One of the many benefits of learning animation using Autodesk Maya is the excellent range of free rigs and sets available for student use.

Animation is a complex craft to master and it's important to start off using the right tools.  For student animators, it is best to avoid complex, production-ready rigs - they are simply too complicated for a beginner to master.

Below is a list of some of the best free animation rigs we recommend for student use, and where to find them.

The Marvellous Monty
The marvellous Monty by Raveen Rajadorai. Monty is a green pea with legs, and is the perfect rig for learning animation. We recommend him for animating locomotion, like walks runs and jumps. His long legs make him very flexible and easy to use.

We also recommend, for beginners, the excellent Pixo Jr rig, a copy of the Luxo lamp that made Pixar what it is today. Luxo is simple to use and great for learning motion cycles and even character performance.

Morpheus by name, Morpheus by nature
Josh Burton's excellent Morpheus rig is another great rig for acting and performance. This stunning rig has a few quirks (the textures are a little tricky to use) but it is very flexible and adaptable and gets great results.
For sets and props we use the many free assets available at the excellent website Turbosquid, and also, which has tons of free stuff. We always recommend that our students make an effort to set the scene, and create a set. It helps you imagine what is taking place, and helps create an interesting environment.

Animators can also consult the Resources page of The 11 Second Club. The Club runs a monthly animation competition, which we strongly recommend all our students enter. Their Resources page lists the rigs that they recommend, and we don't disagree with any of their picks. They are all solid and reliable, and deliver the goods when it comes to character performance and dialogue.

Another very useful page is this blog post by LesterBanks, a few years old, but still a great list of fantastic free rigs available online.

Finally, don't forget Animation Buffet, which again lists some of the best free resources out there.

The important thing to remember when you download a new rig is that all rigs have their quirks, and each one is unique.

To be certain that your animation will come out OK, will need to test your rig extensively and make sure it can do everything you need. If necessary, get online and start asking questions in user forums. Not all rigs will do what you want them to. For example, if you are working on a dialogue shot, don't invest tons of time and effort in a rig that doesn't have good facial controls - you are simply wasting your time.

The Escape Studios Animation Blog offers a personal view on the art of animation and visual effects. To find out more about our new BA/MArt starting in September 2016, follow this link.  To apply, visit the offical page here.

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