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Major Milestones in Character Development work.

Throughout my career, I have develloped procedures and tools to help create 3D characters for animation.
Most of this work can be describe as character rigging tasks, but they also extend to general production pipeline.
The following lists represents a summary of some of those techniques.


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Rig Assembly System.

Early on my 3D work, I relize that in order to build and manage 3D character for project ranging
from commercials, to film, to animation, I needed to come up with a way to automate the
complex task of rigging characters.
This led to my develloping a set of modular tools to deal with
prepping geometry,
building a marker set for joint setup,
creating a control joint based rig,
binding tools to couple the geometry to joint rig
and
cleanup tools to package the rig for referencing in production pipelines.

Since 1999, when I first implemented this with Perl scripts in XSI,
I have re-inveted, rebuilt and augmented this process several times in
different forms and different scripting languages for XSI, Maya, as well as
integrate support for custom plugin support, various export to 3rd party software
or custom software through xml data files.
This process can scale in complexity, to handle generic bipedal characters,
props and clothes, hair, and one off rigs, quadrupeds, wings, tails, pretty much
anything you can think up of rigging.
The process can also be broken out to facilitate multiple riggers working together
on a single rig, and/or tasking different parts of the rigging process to different
levels of rigging experience.

To find out much more, you can read my 2003 Siggraph Course Notes, How to build a Better Puppet.

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Facial Rig Development

From my work at Lucent/Bell Labs and Nickelodeon Digital Labs, to my current project using FaceShift
I have implemented and managed multiple hybrid facial rig systems from fully blend shapes to fully
joint/muscle based deformer and many hybrid variant on different CGI projects.

Some notable milestones include....

Lucent Bell Labs/Face2Face joint based rig with rotational mouth deformation driven by FAP data
(video capture, facial analysis data).

Hybrid envelope deformer and blend shape facial rigs, (with hair rigs to follow) on Virgin Media
project at so animation.

FaceShift (facial capture software) driven blend shape rigs, for use in Interactive theater play
currently in production.

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3D Content to cell phone.

Build hybrid pipeline for 3D content production of NBA players shooting hoops
for real-time 3D game on Nokia OS (pre-iPhone).

Pipeline consisted of...

Modeling, Texturing, Rigging and Animation in SoftImage XSI.
Automatically generated simple FK Game rig for export to Maya.

Automated export of both Collada data for Maya cell plugin and
custom data file export for direct game engine support.

In Maya, automated import of game rig, applying bake rotational
animation, and export to custom binary format supported in Nokia OS.

Process was automated (via library of scripts) so that Animation TDs
could process motion clips as needed.

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Production Web Site devellopment.

Working at smaller studios, I have had to wear many hats including setting up
rendering farm, file servers, and on some of the more complex projects both external
web client portals as well as internal production tracking web sites.
I have been able to adapt my knowledge of programming and engineering automated script tools
modules to track production trees using a combination of php, mySQL queries, CSS formatting and
javaScript support on several projects.
Has complexity in production increases, this becomes a very efficient way to make sure artists can
manage both assets and shots throughout the production cycle.

Pipeline tools develloped in conjuctions with web support have included...

Modeling, Rigging and Texture Asset tracking for Production Artists.
Automated Generating Dailies for Artist Preview.
Point Baking Support and Tracking for Animators.
Layer Management for Lighting, Rendering and Compositing.
Rendering Queue.

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Node Based Processing.

With experience in both large production environment at Dreamworks, and smaller studios and
Lucent startup, I quickly saw the advantages to using realtime tools like Mayas binary math
utility nodes to process math operations in realtime.

From simple math networks, to complex array calculations, this process coupled with building
script tools to automatically generate and connect the nodes and xml standardize data files
have enable me to use Maya to prototype 3D object behaviors as well a generate text readable
descriptions that can be use in conjuction with other node based software.

In particular having been involded with 3D facial, deformation I was able to build a Maya to
TouchDesigner (realtime VJ Effects software) pipeline. Generating the content in Maya including
description of the node behavior, that could be read in TouchDesigner.

I am currently testing similar process building rigged data objects with game engines such
as Unity.

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