Friday, 15 May 2015

Introducing The Animus Creature Rig

Animus rig by Nick Miller and Lin Xiong
Finding great rigs to study creature performance isn't easy.

Here at Animation Apprentice we are recommending that our students test out the Animus Rig, created by the very talented Nick Miller and Lin Xiong, and released as freeware into the Maya community.

Animus is a great rig for a number of reasons, one of the most important being the wide range of facial controls, which makes it very good for sophisticated creature dialogue and lipsync. So, how does it all work?

Where is the Animus Rig?
You can find it and download it for free here at Creative Crash. 

How does the Animus rig work?
To see how the rig works, start off by watching the official how-to video below: It's 20 minutes long, but you'll be glad you did!

Animus Rig from Nick Miller on Vimeo.

Getting Started
First, go to the main global control (named all_anim) and turn on Settings and Hands. You will need these controls to animate the facial expressions and hands.

How do you turn on the facial controls?
To use the facial controls, go to the viewport and then select panels/facial camera. This will bring up a full facial interface which allows you to animate the facial expressions as well as dialogue and lipsync. Tear off the menu by going to panels/tear off. Test out the facial controls to see what they can and can't do.

Facial detail
You can find more (and more detailed) facial controls under the eye-shaped icon above Animus's nose, labelled face visibility anim. Set Detail Control Vis to on in order to get a wide range of facial shapers. These will help you get good expressions out of the rig.

Eye direction controller
The eye direction controller is parented to the head control, which isn't that helpful, because you want the eye direction controller to stay in the same place even when the head turns. To turn this off, select the eye direction control, Cntrl A to pull up the Attribute Editor, and turn off inherit transforms. Now the eye direction control will stay put when you rotate the head.

Where is the tongue control?
As above, under the eye-shaped icon above Animus's nose, labelled face visibility anim, make sure to set Tongue Control Vis to on.

What about the scripts and icons that come with it?
First make sure the scripts and icons are in the correct directory. Scripts go in your Maya scripts folder.

This command opens the UI, make sure you execute in python:

import nm_animus_mirrorFace


import nm_animus_faceSym



Example of Animus Animation
To see the rig put through its paces, see the animation test by animator Spartan Pace below.

Like all new rigs, it's always worth spending a bit of time figuring out how the rig works before you start animating. What can the rig do? What can't it do? Every rig has its limitations, and you need to animate within those limitations. Always watch the "how to" videos - it will save you a lot of heartache down the road.


To find out more about Animation Apprentice, click here for a link to Frequently Asked Questions. To sign up for our next classroom at Animation Apprentice, follow this link. For more information on finding work and surviving in the animation and visual effects business, read our post on how to find a job in the animation industry, and check out our post about what not to do at a job interview. Also see our post on starting your own small animation business, learn how to create an invoice, and see how we arehelping our students find work through our film co-operative Nano Films. Download the free Escape Studios Careers in VFX Handbook. Take a look at how can help you find a job, and read our piece about how to survive as a freelance animator. Also, find out what Cinesite look for in a student's demo reel, and read our post on setting up your own animation business. Also see our post about freelancers and taxes.

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