Hello, My name is Michael Golchuk. I am a 3D Character Rigger / Animator. I graduated College in Sept. 2018, and my course study was Animation for Game, Film, and Visual Effects. My course criteria includes AutoDesk's Maya, Pixologic's ZBrush, Adobe Photohop, After Effects, Premeire, Flash / Animate, Dreamweaver, and Audition; Quixel, 3DMax, and Microsoft's Office. Maya is my main program of choice which I use on a daily basis. I studied both Animation and Rigging in college, and I enjoy both. I chose to specialize in 3D Character Design - Character Rigging - because I want to animate, and I want to animate using a really good rig. I believe that I have now created that rig. My intent is to master the art of character animation, and creating my own characters is a great start.
May 15th - I am starting my final demo now. Found another rig problem - rotating the chest controller in the x axis caused the face to crash. Fix - I moved the facial controls to the head joint - problem fixed. I only noticed this because I was doing an extreme pose - the character has to sit on the ground with her legs crossed. My point is this - The Jen model already went through a 24 frame walk cycle, and head turn animation test and passed. I guess, in both those animation tests, although they were complexe, that particular x axis was never used or tested. Anyway, changes to the final scene are to animate Dylans hair, to give Jen a new hair style and animate her hair. I have to create a campfire, a tree, and grass cover. Then light the fire, which will light the whole scene. I also have to create stars in the sky to set a romantic mood. And above all, think of something great they can both say, as this scene is my lip sync scene, and record the sound track. Nothing but fun ahead. Seeing these characters come to life is an amazing experience.
May 1st - I made quite a few modifications to my Jen Model for the Head Turn Animation Sequence. Jen's hair has been replaced with XGen hair with animated splines. The hair animation worked out great, but I don't like Jen's hair style. I will be changing that in the months to come. Once you animate XGen hair you pretty much have to start from scratch if you want to do any modifications to the hair once you have converted the splines to curves. Good part is, Jen's hair is now dynamic - which means it will automatically react to forces such as wind and gravity.
I must say that there is definitely a difference in how an Animator looks at 3D and how a Rigger looks at 3D. I think all Riggers should be Animators as well. I have found a few problems which I would never have found if I hadn't been animating the characters I built. Unforeseeable problems which would cause a Rig to crash during production. If you are a Rigger, Animation tests are a must to see if ALL the joints are moving the way they are suppose to. And the animation tests should be complexe - a 24 frame walk cycle for the body, and a head turn with facial expression for the head rig.
My facial Rigs are Joint based - meaning the face is weight painted. I also use Blend Shapes - even though the 2 are not compatible, I found a way to make them work together - a simple modificaion in the pipeline. During Jen's face animation I used the Joint based controls more than I used the Blend Shapes. This is the first time I posed Jen's face for animation - it was a blast to see her have emotions for the first time. In a way, I get to see how her character will develop - character meaning in the way she portrays herself - the way she acts - her personality. This also helps me to decide on what type of voice to give her.
I had to rebuild the face GUI for both characters. It was a process as I had to reconnect and reset all the facial connections. Well worth it though. When I first started animating Jen I was instantly frustrated at where the facial controls were located. They were in the way, and let's face it, if your going to animate a character for the next three or four years, you want the controls to be easily located. Nothing worse than a rig that sucks when you want it to do something. Anyway, I enjoy animating my rigs much more now that the changes were made. I added a "hide facial GUI" to the neck control, just to clear the board a bit. My Facial GUI has both Primary and Secondary control sets, and when turned on, the scene gets a bit crowded. Besides you don't need a facial GUI when you're animating the body. OK, Hopefully I'm going to tackle speech next. That will be a blast.
I've completed my 2nd animation test for my character model Jen. This was an interesting test. I had to replace Jen's old poly hair with new XGen hair. I wanted the hair dynamic - to react to gravity, wind, and so on, so I used XGen's animated splines. This example is using the Top Down method. I am not satisfied with Jen's new hair style, which I will modify down the pipeline sometime. Since this was my first female head animation test, from a rigger's point of view, I didn't like the way my facial GUI was set up. The test passed, but as an animator, I found that my facial controls were too small, and they were obstructing my point of view for the face. So now I am rebuilding and modifying the facial CTLs so I can better animate. The animation testing process has been a real benefit for checking out the rigs, making modifications, and ultimately, creating a great working rig. So, once I am finished doing a rebuild on the facial CTLs for both characters, I will then work on a better hair style for Jen. By the way, the pipeline process of building and animating the XGen hair is a totally separate process, and hair animation is completed after the scene is keyframed and animated. Hence an XGen hair artist would work separately both prior and post animation sequences. Looking back, I have accomplished a lot in this past month regarding the finalization of my character's Jen and Dylan. I can't wait till they start to talk, which brings in another problem to solve - finding the proper voice for the characters. The voice pretty much will make or break the character - endearing or repelling, hero or villain, friend or foe. I may just go to a crowded mall, sit and close my eyes, and listen to the various voices passing by me just to get an idea of how my character's should sound. My problems are fun problems, but challeging as well. I love my work. Some day it would be nice to get paid for it. Ha ha.
Below is my animation test #2 for Dylan. The Head Turn. So far, this rig is performing great. A few tweaks here and there, but all is working as it should. I have to say that it is a "blast" seeing my rigs come to life through animation. Jen is next for the Head Turn.
Here we are in April of 2019. I have finished rigging both my characters - Jen and Dylan, and I have started my animation tests. My characters are rigged with a separate head and body - meaning that each character has a spearate rig for the body, and a separate rig for the head and facial expressions. My first Anim Test is a 24 frame female walk cycle for my character Jen - body, and a 24 frame male walk cycle for second character Dylan - body. The real test of a Rigger is to see if your Rig actually works in the Animation studio. The walk cycle is a complex animation with lots of overlapping and follow through movements. A great test to see if your rig's body is performing as it should. I don't just mean proper weight painting; this animation test verifies that these rigs operate within the industry standard. I'm pretty sure that I have set a key for every controller in the body for this walk cycle. Every joint moves as it should - proper orientation. And all the controls are there - the industry standard - COG, hip and chest CTL, Clavicle, Fk arms - shoulder, eldow, and wrist. Ik arms - wrist and PVR. Arm Twist, Wrist and finger CTLs. Ik feet, foot roll, toe roll, and foot twist. The neck, head, and facial CTLs are part of the head rig assembly, and will be tested separately. Everything checks out good on the bodies of both models.
These test animation videos are slowed down so I can see how the body weights are being distrbuted in the animation. Even as I finalize these rigs for production, I find that I am still adjusting and fine tuning the weights. I did find a small problem in the Dylan rig - the right wrist joint was 180 degrees out of rotation. This meant that the wrist was rotating left and right on the "y" axis when it should be rotating on the "z"axis. I replaced the joint and had no problem adding weights to the new joint without disturbing the rest of the body weighting. Nice fix - Maya has come along way. Now I get to animate the facial expressions and test out the facial rig for each character. Right off the get go I found anothr problem with the Dylan rig. The neck CTL wasn't working properly. Rotate worked but Translate did not; The problem was that the neck to head ik was missing. The directory was there but no ik inside it. I replaced the missing ik and hooked everything up again, and onward with the animation tests.
I have designed two characters - Jen and Dylan - which I started designing in college and continue to refine and develop today. This is my 4th year of character development and I am happy to say that I have won the battle. I can actually call my self a Rigger. I have finished rigging my two characters - Jen and Dylan.
Jen and Dylan 4.0 both have XGen hair with animated splines (curves). I have developed a joint based facial rig with painted skin weights, combined with a full set of Blend Shapes which interact with each other. Primary Facial Controls include a set of 22 keyable sliders which control a separate Right and Left Bulge/Suck, Zip, F, P, Snarl, Cheek, Squint, Blink, Lips and Jaw- Up, Down, R. L,, Pucker, Smirk, Smile, Sad, Poute, Tongue and Mouth In / Out.
Secondary Controls let you key frame even farther with additional Joint controls for Laughlines, Cheeks, Nose, and Chin, as well as 16 individual Lip controls for adding character to your characters. My character's bodies are Joint based, comprised of ik/fk arms (and legs optional), dual chain spine, clavicle, arm twist, wrist and jointed fingers, foot roll, hip, chest, and COG CTLs as taught in college. Both characters are identical in their technology.
Jen and Dylan 3.0 is total rebuild from the 2.0 models. The poly mesh has been rebuilt, fixing all the problems encountered in the previous models. The 2.0 version was my first time building a human mesh as a school assignment. Both Jen and Dylan failed in their productions as their rigs collapsed. Now having more experience in what I am doing, the rebuilds report no errors, and the UVs unfold without any problems signifying previous problems are now corrected.
I am replacing the hair systems on both models with XGen hair with Animated Splines (curves) giving Jen and Dylan a whole new look. I am continuing to develop my facial rigs interface as I am not yet happy with the facial controls. Jen and Dylan have been stripped down to their underwear. I am starting to design their clothing using nClothe. Jen now has open toe high heels as she will be wearing a formal dress. Not sure about Dylan yet.
The above video is a demonstration of my joint based facial rig. No blend shapes have been added yet. This was also part of my grad demo.
The above video is my final graduation demo. This video project was completed in August of 2018, and that is when I started the render process. I graduated in September 2018. The video didn't finish rendering until December of 2018. As we know, the final product has to be rendered out in Maya. I use Arnold because I like the look of the final product. My video is 1600 frames, 24fps, consisting of 6 scenes. Everything was rendered out on a single Alienware laptop. This one minute long project took 2232 hours (3 months), full time, to render out, which was precalculated in the production schedule, and pretty much bang on.
I think everyone hates their first projects. Anyway, the Jen rig failed during the 5th scene. Her hand collapsed. Dylan also had poly issues. It was pretty much a patch job just to finish the production. It turned out OK, but lots of problems to fix.
2018 Graduate Animation for Game. Film, and Visual Effects Center for the Arts and Technology, Kelowna, BC.
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