Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Few More Workflow Helpers

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Phew! The last two months were pretty hectic. In a nutshell, I had to create over 100 animation assets to support a new game feature. This was on top of all the planning, meetings, and occasional sick days:)

Although, a good number of these assets were smaller transitions or held poses, I still had to use every trick in the book to get these done on time. This leads me to a few more hotkeys, scripts, and workflow helpers that kept things moving along at a steady pace.
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First, if you haven't done so already, go to Jeff Cooperman's site and download his suite of aacScripts. They're all useful, but here are the one's I used a lot in the last month.

toggleNurbs
---map this to "n"
---it's esp. useful when a rig is very cluttered and there's no way to easily toggle the visibility of each controller (I prefer to toggle their visibility through a masterVis node that's parented as a shape node to the Uber controller, the Root controller, and the Head controller)

toggleXRay
---noted this before, and still very useful for hard to find controllers.
---mapped to "9" (or ctrl + "x").

snZeroOutControls
---quick way to zero out channels for foot plants.
---checkbox the vertical translate channel, and checkbox two rotate channels (you'll know what I mean once you open the UI and a rig)

eulerfilter
---I noted this before as well, but because I use it a lot, I've recently mapped it to ctrl + "o"

abxSmartKey
---from another previous post. It's now mapped to ctrl + "k"
---do it! you'll use it more once it's mapped.
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Kiel Figgins also shares a lot of cool scripts on his site.

The one that I really dig is saver.
---I'm more likely to make incremental saves when it's only with a click of a button.

And did I mention before that I absolutely love Maya's shelves for saving poses and selection sets on the fly (using pose2shelf)?

I know setting these scripts upfront may seem like a hassle, but believe me, they will help with your flow.
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A few additional reminders that helped me get everything done on time:

Plan your attack--have a good idea before animating. This may include reference or a bit of thinking. I slacked on the planning for a few anims and they ended up kicking me a bit. Also, for this many anims, I started by creating an Excel list with the full file names and time estimates for each one before jumping into actual animation.

Layer polish--as always, every thing could use more polish, but do what's more important first. Some anims were cut--good thing I anticipated it and didn't take those ones far at all.

Recycle--the only way I was able to finish everything was by re-using parts of anims when I can, modifying them for variations and differnent transitional angles. This may seem like a shortcut, but it's production/budget reality. Hopefully, if you're tricky enough about it, it won't stand out too much.
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Finally, on the bigger front, I felt our little pod at work got a lot done within our given time frame. I contribute that to good collaboration, communication and support. Basically do your best to be a team player while showing support and respect, and most likely you'll get it back. And for those familiar with the term, our small team used a process call SCRUM, or Agile Development.

3 comments:

Saul Ruiz said...

Awesome TJ!! Man 100 Animation Assets! That is crazy dude... now i know where you have been all this time! Heh heh just kidding.. i hope you are doing well buddy.. we need to hook up and catch up... thanks for the great script advice.. i definitely need to hook them up to my keyboard! I hope all is well Brother...

@b said...

hey tj..thanks for all these scripts...cant wait to try them out...many a times a good solid workflow can make all the difference...

hoping to see more posts from you regularly...

cheers!

Anirudh

TJ Phan said...

Cool!