****Disney provided an all-expense paid trip for me to cover this great event
Pictures provided by Disney. All opinions are 100% mine. ****
So what is rigging? I know I had no idea. The dictionary defines this as the “ropes, chains, etc., employed to support and work the masts, yards, sails, etc., on a ship”. Hmmm well that is not exactly what we have here with animation rigging.... It took some digging to find a the definition of the animation form of rigging.
According to About.com "Rigging is preparing a 3D Model For Animation When a modeler finishes building a character, it's a static 3D mesh, almost like a marble sculpture. Before a 3D character model can be handed over to the team of animators, it must be bound to a system of joints and control handles so that the animators can pose the model. This process is typically completed by artists known as character technical directors (TDs), or riggers".
Well that is the definition… but what is it really? During my recent trip to the Disney Animation Studios, I learned all about the rigging process. How important is this to the animation process? Well it is a key component in CG, it gives the character life. Without rigging the animated characters have, a stiff feel… They are like waddling boxes with arms. Who would want to watch a cartoon with no life.. no free flowing movement? Without rigging the characters would be stiff and lifeless, not the running jumping and loving life characters that you know and love. We all love Disney cartoon because they are so life like, they transport us to wondrous places and make us feel like we are there with real friends.
Can you imagine seeing Frozen without rigging? Well it would be hard to watch. There would be no flowing spinning dresses, no lovely flowing locks of hair....everything would be static and stiff… We were very fortunate to get a lesson in rigging from the Disney rigging team for Frozen, Keith Wilson, Frank Hanner, and Greg Smith. These talented guys build character rigs on the movie, they also work on the hair and technical animations.
"Character riggers are responsible for sculpting the details... the mouth just right, the shape of the cheeks the expression". On Frozen there are more characters then any Disney film, there are 312 unique characters. That to me is amazing, you really do not realize that this film has that many characters, it is a lot of work for this team. Another interesting fact is that there are 245 simulated unique costumes, it is more than double the amount of all previous Disney films.
For Frozen there were 63 hair rigs with traditional Norwegian hair styles such as braids & buns. They are difficult to create in CG, so difficult they had to create a new piece of software called Tonic to help with the hairstyles.
I was fascinated to hear that Elsa has 420,000 hairs on her head, this is about 4x more than an actual person, the average person only has 100,000 hairs. Elsa has an astounding amount of hair, as a comparison, they mentioned another Disney princess famous for her long locks, Rapunzel only had 30,000 hairs... That is amazing, it seemed like Rapunzel would have had so much more!
Keith Wilson, was a big part of the clothing rigging team for Frozen. According to Keith, the characters dresses had a foundation garments including, pantaloons, petticoats, and over-skirts...with details such as pleats. "Visual appeal and clarity is what the strive for".
Greg Smith, one of character riggers on the Frozen team helped make the characters come to life. Greg says that "One of the goals is to bring more dynamic motion". A program called Flourish was to add simple overlapping notes... this made Olaf's hair bounce and seem more real. This also gave the animators more control over the characters. "The goals of the rigging team is to let the animators imaginations run wild".
After the team explained what rigging was, we were all treated to a chance to move and do our own rigging with Olaf. To see how Olaf was made, and shockingly he is not made of snow!
I am not a computer whiz, but I got the hang of the process, and had a fun time moving and having fun posing Olaf. I moved, Olaf’s “hair” made him smile made him frown and move… I tried to make a “grumpy cat” face of sorts for Olaf… and it came out looking mean and sinister.
This is much harder than it seemed… This great team is so very talented, and you can see why they have the jobs with Disney Animation and I do not lol. Now I know the importance of rigging, and how amazing it actually is.
Disney's Frozen releases on Digital HD February 25th and Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD & On-Demand March 18th!
You can purchase Frozen on Blu-ray on 3/18/14 in stores, but you can pre-purchase on Amazon today!
****Disney provided an all-expense paid trip for me to cover this great event ****
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