this Leopard Rig by Truong, available for free download at Gumroad. It is an attractive, well-structured rig with simple controls, and it's pretty easy to figure out how to use it.
In order to get real-time playback in your viewport in Maya, you need to go into your Animation Preferences (bottom right hand corner of the screen) and then Under Settings/Animation/Evaluation change Evaluation Mode to Parallel.
So, how do students get the most out of this rig?
Setting up your shot, make sure you find the little blue cross on the side of the rig; it's the FK/IK Spine switcher. Under FKIKBlend, set this channel to 10. This will enable you to animate the up and down motion on the leopard's body more easily.
Can you get real-time playback?
Yes. In order to get real-time playback in your viewport in Maya, you need to
go into your Animation Preferences (bottom right hand corner of the
screen) and then Under Settings/Animation/Evaluation change Evaluation
Mode to Parallel.
Below is some excellent animation using the Leopard rig by Escapee Francesco Nevi, who recently went on to get a job working at Framestore in London.
Note the super-simple greyshade render. Animation reels generally don't need fancy renders; in fact many studios (such as Blue Zoo) prefer to see animation in greyshade with simple sets, as this allows the person reviewing the animator's work to focus on the thing they really care about - the animation.
Below is some excellent animation by Escapee Will Smith, who is now working at Lipsync Post.
Alternative cat rigs
Some alternative cat rigs which do allow real-time playback are the cheetah rig, and also the very low-poly Houdini cat rig.
To see some excellent animation done with Houdini, check out this cat leap by Escapee Giuseppe Candido, who got a job earlier this year working as an animator and 3D artist for Touch Surgery, helping to create virtual operations for trainee surgeons.
The Escape Studios Animation Blog offers a personal view on the art of animation and visual effects. To apply for our BA/MArt in 3D Animation, follow this link. To apply for our storyboarding evening class, visit this page here. For the next 12 week animation course, click here. And to apply for the next evening class in Producing Animation, see this page.