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MEL Scripting a Character Rig in Maya: Modeling and Animation Controls
 
 

MEL Scripting a Character Rig in Maya: Modeling and Animation Controls [Kindle Edition]

Chris Maraffi
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product Description

Product Description

Whether for big budget films and game productions or lower budget TV and Internet content, creating flexible and believable character rigs is an essential skill required to bring any 3D animation to life. As the leading software used for cutting-edge animation, Maya has an established rigging toolset for creating realistic character controls. Traditionally, however, the process of manually building custom rigs in the software interface has been time-consuming and expensive for those who want to produce high-quality 3D characters. Now for the first time and from the author of the best-seller, Maya Character Creation, comes an in-depth guide on how the pros are using MEL (Maya Embedded Language) scripting to streamline and automate the rigging process. With MEL Scripting a Character Rig in Maya, you’ll learn how you can build custom character rigs in a matter of seconds, as opposed to days or weeks.

In this detailed guide, you’ll learn:

• The techniques used to build a complex character rig in the software interface, followed by instructions for writing the equivalent MEL code for scripting the entire process.
• Fundamental concepts of creating animation controls in Maya, from the basics of creating, editing, and binding skeletons, to more complex rigs with controls that employ spline IK and channel connections.
• Important coding techniques such as using conditional statements, loops, variables, and procedures.
• How to create a character animation GUI (Graphical User Interface) that makes animating the character easy and fast.
• Important skills for building rigs using numerous hands-on exercises, all code examples and Maya files available on the companion Web site.

From the Back Cover

Whether for big budget films and game productions or lower budget TV and Internet content, creating flexible and believable character rigs is an essential skill required to bring any 3D animation to life. As the leading software used for cutting-edge animation, Maya has an established rigging toolset for creating realistic character controls. Traditionally, however, the process of manually building custom rigs in the software interface has been time-consuming and expensive for those who want to produce high-quality 3D characters. Now for the first time and from the author of the best-seller, Maya Character Creation, comes an in-depth guide on how the pros are using MEL (Maya Embedded Language) scripting to streamline and automate the rigging process. With MEL Scripting a Character Rig in Maya, you’ll learn how you can build custom character rigs in a matter of seconds, as opposed to days or weeks.

In this detailed guide, you’ll learn:

• The techniques used to build a complex character rig in the software interface, followed by instructions for writing the equivalent MEL code for scripting the entire process.
• Fundamental concepts of creating animation controls in Maya, from the basics of creating, editing, and binding skeletons, to more complex rigs with controls that employ spline IK and channel connections.
• Important coding techniques such as using conditional statements, loops, variables, and procedures.
• How to create a character animation GUI (Graphical User Interface) that makes animating the character easy and fast.
• Important skills for building rigs using numerous hands-on exercises, all code examples and Maya files available on the companion Web site.


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 11332 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 5 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
  • Publisher: New Riders; 1 edition (16 April 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003GCTQE0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #579,778 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Got the book in good time. 3 Nov 2013
By Peter L
Format:Paperback
Title says it all :) and the book was in a good condition. Very satisfied in deed, can recommend them to others
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good info and well-written, but might be overcomplex for many people 25 May 2009
By B. Dorman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The author is good at explaining things and he covers a lot of stuff that most books on animation and even rigging really don't go into. For example, lots of books touch on joint orientation but they don't EXACTLY spell it out and most animators online seem sketchy on the concept. You can sort of partially ignore it but when you do certain things in script then it can come back to bite you if you are just letting maya do what it wants. There's a few other things like this that make it worth the price (which is pretty cheap compared to other maya books) for anyone who doesn't already know rigging in and out completely. Actually, I'd say that learning actual rigging is where the book does the best job.

What I did not like as much was that the rig is just very geared to a very heavyweight (very) high poly model. As such, the scripts are a lot more complicated than they maybe need to be for most people. If you are starting your own studio or something then they are perfect but if you are making games or animation that's not intended for a feature film it's really overkill. Actually maybe overkill even for a feature film if the character is a simple biped/human.

The scripts are still valuable, though, and overall the examples of maya are what make them useful. But, I was sort of disappointed because I hoped more for something where I click just a button after selecting a few options and get a rig for a biped that only needs to be bound to animate. But like I said, it's more complex than that.

For example there are scripts for making your bind weights off of a lower res version of the object. A great idea, but again really only if you are rigging the heck out of feature film level characters (and if that's the case you probably can't get away with a generalized rig setup anyway). It's a fair amount of work to make a lower res version of a character, and if you are just making a biped character you can just copy the weights from another character in the first place instead of first binding a lower res one from scratch and then copying the weights and then adjusting it minutely here and there.

Also, the skeleton is pretty heavyweight and so most people will have to pare this down a lot to really make use of the scripts. I guess there's no 'one size fits all' version of rigging scripts, but I was disappointed that (as far as I can tell) you can't just get your controls rigged off of them and then bind and animate. Instead they are good reference, but if you are new to rigging you are going to have to realize that this is sort of 'advanced' rig. The author points this out, but I think it should be emphasized. So, I guess the scripts are good teaching tools but I don't think most people are going to actually USE them directly because it's more of a multistep process that is a bit overkill for possibly anything short of making a feature film - which if I was making one I'd be more concerned about learning more nonstandard animation stuff.

So in short the book is good, even great for what it is (with some of the most clear and simple explanations of rigging and mel scripting out there) but I wish that the more advanced stuff had been more separated out with some option of some simple one click (or close to it) scripting of a basic skeleton without so much emphasis on the actual binding part and deformers. I guess basically an autorigger. For the amount it does, it seems almost odd it doesn't go to this extra step. there's even scripts for making skeleton itself, but the problem in general is that it's a process that takes many steps so if you are making a simpler character I think it would actually be more work than just adding it all in by hand. I'd normally not make skeleton with a script but if I did I'd want something like having it stop for each joint to have you place it (or a locator) in the correct location manually, and in general to make the scripts take more burden off of the rigger. Instead of making things simpler they seem more geared to making the most advanced rig possible, but again, I think it's almost TOO advanced, or at least for most people it will be.

But, unless you are an authority on both mel scripting and rigging you should probably pick this up. Just keep in mind if you are still more or less a beginner that for most projects this rig is going to be overkill and just pick out the parts you want and make them into a leaner process of rigging.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Serious book... 3 Mar 2010
By GMoneyPhx - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Unlike a lot of books that promise to cover advanced territory and end up glossing over it, this book really does the job. Yes, it is advanced but it needs to be. Very valuable guide indeed.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My new hero... 19 Mar 2009
By Christopher G. Shaw - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A short and sweet review from me.. .. excellent book. Easy to follow. Not only gave me a good understanding of rigging with MEL but clarified a lot of my understanding of how MAYA really works.

Good examples.. Needs several reads to let it all sink in.. but well worth the money and written by someone who obviously knows their stuff inside out, in a way you can understand.

There are a couple of small minor typos in some code.. but nothing that will stop the code running... eg. the example of page 298 has the X & Y back-to-front. The support website also is pretty lame.. and a bit disappointing. Having said all that, it's currently my MEL bible and constantly on hand for reference. Good job Chris
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 28 Mar 2014
By david Heidenreich - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Purchased for son who is a 3D animator. Found it very helpful in his work. Apparently the detail is quite good.
4.0 out of 5 stars It works 29 Jan 2013
By Stiletto - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
For the most part the code in the book worked but there was some sections missing and the website that they have you go to for the missing code didn't have it all. But when all the missing code was compiled it worked nicely. Just have to get use to the sliders for the body parts
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