Just some quick notes on spine joint placement courtesy of Chad Moore (with some finishing annotative scribbles and editing by me – Something to think about regarding joint placement. The need for spacing out joints in the spine is only really need in cartoon-y spines for the squash and stretch factor, otherwise for more realistic rigs it would be good to mimic the way the spine works. (Like above, rig image courtesy of Ashley Arthur)

First session with rigging dojo

Started my first session with rigging dojo today :) Starting off with some notes on joints and anatomy ~ I couldn’t be happier. Of course I have been directed back to hippydrome but here are some very useful anatomical movement notes:

Main motions of the body:

Flexion and Extension – Adjusting angle between two parts

Flexion – When a bone that can be bent is bent (bending arm, lifting entire leg)
Extension – When a bone that can be bent is straightened (straightening arm, putting leg back down)

**This is only from forward/backward (up/down) direction.

Abduction and Adduction – Adjusting relation to mid-line of body

Abduction – When you move a joint out (lifting arm or leg out to the side)
Adduction – When you move a joint into the centre (bring arm or leg back in to the middle)

**This is the side to side direction movement.

Lateral Rotation and Medial Rotation – Rotating body parts

Lateral (external rotation) – When you rotate a joint outwards (twisting the heel so it turns outwards)
(internal rotation) – When you rotate a joint in (twisting the heel so the toes point inwards)

**This is the twisting movement.

Elevation and Depression – Adjusting Elevation


When you go into the foetal position, all the parts of your body that can be flexed and adducted are flexed and adducted. When you go into a pose such as a jumping star, everything that can be extended and abducted are extended and abducted; with one exception which is the SHOULDER BLADE: The shoulder blade becomes abducted in the foetal position and adducted in the star pose.

Special motions

The Forearm Rotation: Supination and Pronation

Supination – The transition from pronated (palm facing down) to Supine (palm facing up)
Pronation – The transition from the palm being in an anterior-facing position (facing down) to a posterior-facing position (facing up)

There are 2 bones parallel to each other in our forearm: The ulna which is connected to our elbow and the radius which is connected from the lateral (outwards) side of the elbow to the thumb side of the wrist. The ulna is connected to the upper-arm most firmly and the radius is connected to the hand most firmly. When the forearm rotates, the ulna stays still and the radius flops over the ulna, making an x over the ulna. When your 2 bones are parallel the hand is Supine. When it crosses over it becomes pronated. In between the 2 is demi-pointe.

*This is traditional supination & pronation where the ulna doesn’t move (think of it as the page turning movement, and the arm rotating from the pinky finger). If you think of the movement such as turning a key in a lock, your ulna does actually move (where the middle finger is the rotation point)

The Side-to-Side Movement of the Wrist: Ulnar Deviation and Radial Deviation

Ulnar Deviation – Moving your wrist towards the ulna (or pinky)
Radial Deviation – Moving your wrist towards the radius (or thumb)

Wrist has flexion and extension, but the side to side motion is a form of abduction/adduction – as this can be confusing for the wrist we use ulnar and radial deviation. You can deviate your wrist a lot towards the ulna (as there’s a gap) – but the wrist cannot deviate as much towards the radius.

Importance of pipeline

Just found my notes at one of my favourite talks at FMX this year: ‘How to Approach a CG Production’ by Kay Delventhal.

A 2nd year once told me it was difficult to develop a pipeline because you simply do not have the time to when making your 2nd or 3rd year film. So I figured I could start building tools and pushing a good working procedure if I start early and start working out and gain experience in what needs to be done.

Although my notes seemed to be an utter mess and half is missing, I’m going to try and store down what I got so I don’t forget this:

Pre-production is about definitions – defining the creativity(visual development), technology(tools), and budget(time). Design, workflow, production plan, asset creation + pipeline development:

Pre-production: Figuring out what needs to be done and how to do it

It is important to know what needs to be done so time isn’t wasted doing what isn’t going to be in a shot.
Naming Conventions + Folder Structure

The pipeline involves passing work down to so many people that it is important to make sure your files and folders are named and placed in an appropriate way so that people do not waste time finding exactly what they’re looking for.
The filename has to:
  • identify purpose and content
  • be constant and stable (especially for referencing)
  • have all the information in the name
  • be unique
There are two types of files:
  • WIP(Work in Progress) & Pipeline (.ma, .psd)
  • Master Files (Final) (.mb, .tga, .tiff)


  • No blank spaces or special symbols. Remember_your_underscores~!
  • Never use temp names
  • Never use the word ‘final’
  • Maya WIP files are .ma
  • Maya Master files are in .mb (Faster)
Keep in mind; assets for example characters can change names during production which you may need to work around. The part of the name that changes the least is on the left side, and the part that changes the most (e.g version) is on the right.
Shortening words:
It is useful to shorten words for naming conventions, e.g:
  1. Project name: “Final Project 2011”
  2. Join words with Capital First Letters: “FinalProject2011”
  3. Remove vowels, double letters and whatever isn’t needed: FnlPrj11
Asset types are usually 3 letters for example:
Rigging specific: JPL (Joint Placement), RIG (Rig), SKN (Skinning), FCS (Facial Setup)
Sample filename:
[WIP File] FnlPrj11_CHR_HmnBty_MDL_v001.ma

It will typically contain:
  • Project Name: e.g. FP11 or FnlProj11
  • Asset Type: e.g. CHR (Character)
  • (Sequence)
  • (Asset Name)
  • (Shot)
  • Workstage – e.g MDL (Modelling)
  • (Comments)

Versioning Files
Typically, we version files either by adding _001 or _v001 for WIP files. You can also add the date: YYYYMMDD so the file becomes name_date_v001.ma and the version resets for each new date.
Master files don’t have numbers, if it does it is only for referencing.
I’ll do the rest (on folder structures) tomorrow.


I remember when I first got into animation, before I had any idea of the many roles in productions, before I even knew what a TD was, one of the lines that stuck to me was from Richard William’s The Animator’s Survival Kit

“If drawn ‘classical’ animation is an extension of drawing, then computer animation can be seen as an extension of puppetry – high tech marionettes.”

I loved the idea of puppetry, I’ve always wanted to work in animation, but I rebelled in the thought of being an artist. How funny now a rigger can also be known as a puppeteer.

Quick update

Here was my animation hand-in for the last semester. My first animation showreel, and I have a lot to improve on, especially with the picking up weights animation!

Hope to see an improvement very soon :)

FMX 2011

FMX was awesome. Heard some great talks, met some amazing people, sat down for a casual drink with Ben Shepherd at cinesite, and a lighting director (Mohit!) at Disney – who had just given us a talk on tangled not long beforehand :o. Here’s us with the sun in our eyes, getting people who were potentially going to work with us very…very drunk.