Sintel, the Durian Open Movie Project » Blog Archive » Sintel Face Rig (Yet Again!) and Neck


Sintel Face Rig (Yet Again!) and Neck

on March 4th, 2010, by nathan

I know you all are probably sick of my posts. Rigging is so boring, after all. No one wants to hear me talk about it. So I’ll keep this short.

(I’m being sarcastic!)

First, here is the final Sintel face rig:


I’m not particularly happy with the control scheme. It can be pretty clunky. But it’s fast to hook up, and very general (it’s got us covered for pretty much anything we might throw at it). And that’s why we went with it.
The basic idea is that there are controls on the rig that, when selected, bring up sliders in the n-panel relevant to that part of the face. Most of the controls themselves don’t do anything, they just act as access points for the sliders. This keeps things reasonably organized, and at least somewhat visually related to the face. But it also makes manipulating the face a two-step process, and you can’t slide multiple sliders at once. So there are definite drawbacks.

(And yes, her eyes are crazy yellow! Bwa ha ha ha! Actually, I’m just messing with the other animators by changing the proxy eye color every day. Tee hee. So if the eye animation in Sintel sucks, you can blame me.)

On another topic, we also have a new neck rig:


The deformations in this video aren’t so great for demonstrating the rig (it’s not the final weighting, and there are some obvious issues with it). I might make another video later to demo it a bit better. But the basic idea is that we now have separate controls for the neck and the head which can be rotated independently, and the actual neck bones maintain a smooth and plausible curve to accommodate the rotations of both controls. At least, as smooth and plausible as possible given the rotations.

Previously we only had a single control, which was clearly not enough to specify the range of poses that the human head and neck can be in.


By popular request, the face rig:
The inside mouth is not yet complete (which is why it doesn’t match up with the mouth shape keys).

58 Responses to “Sintel Face Rig (Yet Again!) and Neck”

  1. nathan Says:

    @D and LetterRip:
    I’m skeptical if a generic midi device would actually be faster or more intuitive to use, but I concede that I have not tried it.

    But there are also matters of practicality and portability. I’m not going to design a rig interface around a physical device that most animators (including myself) don’t have. Moreover, MIDI devices vary considerably in how they are designed and laid out (and for good reason) and thus are difficult to target.

    Admittedly, it’s not an either/or thing. I could design a rig for both typical input and midi input. But that may necessitate design compromises as well as added complexity to the rig. Not to mention taking more of my time. I’d rather focus on designing rigs that work really well under the circumstances that most animators will use them, rather than designing rigs that work really well for the few animators with midi boards.

    As multi-touch becomes more common (and when it makes its way to workstations), that is a direction I would really like to explore, as that seems like it will eventually become quite ubiquitous. But midi, not so much.

  2. joeedh Says:

    Will you have the eyelids autotrack the eyes (the so-called “fleshy eyes” rig)? I’ve found it really adds a lot.

  3. nathan Says:

    We have a rigging wish list, of which that is one of the items, yes. But the wishlist is low priority compared to getting all the rigs finished and animating the movie. đŸ˜‰

  4. Ickathu Says:

    You are awesome!!!!!!!!
    Thank you so much for being an awesome rigger. Without your rigs to tear apart, I would never be as good a rigger as I am now (and thats still nothing compared to you). Thanks for this file, but… Is there any way that you could post the old file? The one with controls directly on the face, with few (none?) sliders?

    you are the rigging king.