I worked on Avengers at Method Studios. This is a maya rigging and animation pipeline, with lots of custom deformers and tools. I grabbed a couple shots of rocket so I could talk about my contributions there. Rocket was our most demanding character, because of his fur, number of shots and dialogue. He also has a characteristic attitude that our animation department recreated well. I handled the pose space deformation for Rocket, setting up his shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees, ankles and neck. I used method's custom rbf interpolator to read and drive poses, and generated the deformations with the morph plugin from SOuP.
Another shot of Rocket in the escape pod. Method was responsible for all of the shots with rocket and groot. We did some digi-double work with thor and eitri, mostly for tracking, and I set up those characters as well. We did all the environments and vehicles for the forge sequence, including the nidavellir space rings. I helped organize the massive number of assets in the forge and the repeated pieces that made up the nidavellir, as well as rigging some odds and ends props and vehicles.
A shot of Thor holding open the iris on the nidavellir. I rigged the tracking/digi-double for Thor, and the environment pieces here that he needed to interact with. We also had acustom tool that allows method's pipeline to handle rig referece extremely granularly. The forge was a collection of thousands of copies of hundreds of assets, and I helped work the kinks out of this process.
A final shot of Rocket and the gang.
Hair and cloth sim on the Cade/Mark Walberg digi-double. The direction here was to have cade's shirt drape deeper and hair have more reaction to the broad character motion. Hair and cloth were simmed with zeno, ILM's proprietary 3d software.
Transformers 5 was a great project to learn all of ilm's custom tools. Their pipeline is almost completely managed through a custom software called Zeno. Maya is used for animation, but deformation, tech-anim, shot sculpting and everything downstream that relates to moving polygons is handled by the creature department from inside Zeno. I was lucky enough to get to start on the rigging side then move into shot work later in the production. Transformers five was a tough show due to the number of assets.
This is rigging and cloth sim shot work and setup for the Mark Walberg and Laura Haddock digi-doubles. I rigged the cloth for several digital stuntmen for this film: these two, as well as the paratroopers from the end sequence. The cloth and other simulated elements were set up in Zeno.
A lot of our job in rigging on Transformers was to recover old rigs and make them current. Optimus Power was originally rigged by Abs Jaromie. I set up some rigid dynamics for his leg cables and belt flaps, and maintained that rig for the other artists. This sword is an example of shot specific additions we might add and maintain during the course of show. We did a lot of sim work on these robots to avoid collisions and create appealing motion, but we did even more shot sculpting, when the thousands of parts inevitable crash into each other.
Optimus Power being attacked by the knights. We had five knights, divided up and traded back and forth between mysel, Eugene Yanza and Daniela Califatello. The knights shared proportions so we organized and shared our rigging components using ILM's rigging tool Block Party, which breaks the rig down into modular and re-usable components.
I inherited Grimlock from his orignal creature TD named Chris Haverburg. Grimlock went through a lot of changes for Transformers 5. He was scaled to about a third of his original size, and animation wanted to overhaul how his claws could lift and drop.
We got a lot closer to Grimlock in this sequence, so the asset teams upressed his feet and face. The jiggle reactions on his feet are were achieved in animation by spawning controls on the fly for separate model parts.
We also had a shot with Grimlock vomiting a police car, so I reinvented the neck rig as a set of pieces follicled to a lightweight mesh. This let us sculpt/deform the shape of the neck as the car passed through, without having to animate hundreds of tiny parts individually. The animation was tracked to a practical car that was destroyed for the shot.
I re-rigged the rigid sim components and maintained the rig for slignshot. (the green one) His long coat was set up ona previous show with a series of rigid components held together with stiction (which is a dynamic constraint that spawns surface dependent springs) we set the stiction to be unbreakable and allowed the rigid parts to drape ina
cloth like way. I set up the sim rig with new rigids that reflected the way his new coat geo was split, and tested the rig against this motion to make sure the broadest motion woudlnt break the somewhat delicate setup.
This is a fun one off robot called "tank bot." I set him up quickly for just a few shots, but had to make sure the treads could engage while it was transforming. The pieces falling were achieved in animation.
Optimus is a major character so he recieved a lot of attention int he show. His face rig was obsolete with the new current standard, and was re-enabled by some coding from Nico Sangrajka. I added hundreds of tiny parts to the face, as well as visibility switches so Optimus could develop his scarred look during the film
An example of the rigid dynamics and cables I added to the Optimus rig.
Here is a good example of later shot sculpting and dynamics in stead of rigging. This is Canopy, rigged by Alyssa Diaz. I used Zeno's robust sculpting tools to push around canopy's chest and prevent penetrations with the arms and ground plane. I also set up a rigid chain to sim the cables to the left and right of his head. (although we backed off on the motion so much you can barely see it.)
As artists peeled off onto other shows and there were fewer and fewer Creature guys, the robots changed hands quite frequently. I ended up working on quite a few robots, including knights, slingshot, berserker, etc...
Beauty and the Beast :
I worked on Beast at digital domain. Another maya pipeline, with custom deformers and tools. I came into beast later in the production when the rig had already made a lot of progress and we were developing the facial animation pipe. My first task was to try and get more idealized shapes from the direct drive that was pushing the face around. I generated a library of poses from our FACS shapes, and we read from the face with a custom tool, that looked at individual vertices on a cage mesh to determine pose intensity. The facial psd was the last step in the pipe to kind of insure that although we were driving the face organically, it would still stay on model, with the tiny details like lip thickness and brow wrinkles not compromised by the fluid nature of the motion.
Another big challenge for Beast was his long draping hair. Digital Domain uses a custom hair tool called Samson to generate and render its fur inside of v-ray. I made the pre-sim rig, which was aa set of rigged curves used as guides for the final hair. Before it could be simmed, the idea was wed present the hair in as close to final a pose as we could. So i made a rig for the guides that would drape along the beasts back. I made a series of joints aimed at follicles on a guide mesh, which were driven to slide along it when the head moves, so no matter his pose, the guides draped realistically.
some shots the motion was just too broad to make it through all the facial animation steps. This shot was heavily sculpted by our lead modeler in a few poses, then I used a number of plugins and techniques to apply the sculpts in a way that kept them logical and appealing throughout the animation.
Maleficent was also for Digital Domain. We knew we had a lot of shots with these pixie characters, so we really polished their deformations. The pixies were incredibly hi res, to allow for the high fidelity facial capture we used, and so it made getting strong deforms difficult. We used helper joints and a lot of pose based deformation to deliver the final characters. I worked a bit on all three pixies, but primarily on knotgrass, pictured here in red.
Knotgrass getting weird with a baby.
A set of demo roms of our pose space deformation on the pixies. This is flittles neck rom, which was the basis for the other characters neck poses and sculpts. The modeling did the first pass of all the poses we generated. Then we engaged them and made refinements until the deformation was smoothly interpolating and deliverable. Our facial modelers mad ethe final pass on our neck sculpts. These poses shown here are all my personal sculpts. We had roughly 60 poses for each shoulder, including twists, 16 for the neck and 3 or 4 for each elbow/knee.
The hand rom I used to validate my finger psd sculpts. We did every knuckle.
Maleficent s wings were another challenge. I did a lot of shot work sculpting feathers toward the end of the show. We had an elaborate rig for the feathers, but it didnt quite hit every pose, so just about every shot needed some amount of sculpting. I've included a few of the shots I helped deliver.
More shot sculpting feathers.
This is one of a few full cg shots of maleficent. Contributed to maleficent's cg rig and worke dont he feathers int his shot.
Ironman 3 :
Ironman 3 was also at digital domain. I worked on the mark 42 suit rig, which was in the bulk of the shots for the film. I added all the misc flaps and panels that flipped open int he skydiving shots, as well as adjusted skin weights and maintained the rig. For the suit opening shots we had a extremely hi res version of the suit which had tons of internal pieces to add interest to its folding open. I rigged the hi res suit, and made a a tool that let animators spawn a control whenever they needed one, so the suit opening animation could be designed flexibly in shot. I also made a bullet ragdoll asset that could be used to bounce iron man off of the ground when he crashed.
For the barrel of monkeys skydiving sequence, i made a set of digital doubles. We did cloth sim s well as noise deformers to make the hi frequency wind on the clothes and hair. I did sim work on these shots as well as helped maintain a tool that would transfer shape and sim data from performance to performance as the animation updated.