Thursday, 5 November 2015

Meet Pixo Jr - The Animator's Favourite Lamp!

Pixo Jr - a great training rig for Maya animators
Pixo Jr is an excellent rig, free for student download at

We recommend Pixo Jr. for the early stages of learning animation - it's a great way to get used to the Maya animation controls without things getting too complex, too quickly.

Pixo Jr. was created in homage to Pixar's pioneering animated short - Luxo Jr. - the film that made the studio's name and proved that CG animation could connect emotionally with audiences.

Luxo Jr.
Who created Pixo Jr? And Why?
Pixo Jr. was a joint project way back in 2006, and was created by animators Amrit Derhgawen and Alex Crouch.

Inspired by Pixar's Luxo Jr., Pixo was created to "help animators practice animation principles, such as timing, weight, spacing, phrasing, and overlapping. Pixo is simple, so you can do basic animations without being distracted by a whole lot of gadgets and gizmos that get in the way."

What are Pixo Jr.'s Quirks? 
Like any rig, Pixo Jr has a few quirky features that might fox you when you first give him a test drive. Below are some commonly encountered problems to help you on your way.

How do I turn the light on? 
To turn on the light bulb inside Pixo Jr.'s "head", first select the yellow star-shaped icon next to the lamp head, which controls the light bulb settings.  In the channel box you can control the intensity of the lamp, the cone angle and also colours. To turn the lamp off completely, set Intensity to 0.

In order to see the effects of these changes, go to the lighting tab in the top left hand corner of your viewport, and click on "use all lights".  Also, you can render the current frame to see the rendered effects of the light bulb.

To turn the bulb itself on, go to Incandescence Red, Green and Blue and set the values to 1. Now the bulb itself will light up.

To further adjust the bulb, go to Outputs in your Channel Box and click on Bulb_Phong. Here you can adjust the settings for the bulb.

I opened Pixo in Maya 2016 and he doesn't work - what's going on?
Pixo doesn't work well in Maya 2016. This is because of Maya's implementation of parallel evaluation, designed to make rigs perform faster in the viewport. Part of the Pixo Jr's rig is not behaving correctly in this new evaluation mode.

Luckily, you can get the rig to work correctly in Maya 2016 (including old scene files) by going to windows > settings and preferences and then in the settings > animation category, change the drop down menu for evaluation mode from "Parallel" to the older mode "DG".

What can you do with Pixo?
To see what other animators have done with Pixo Jr., go to YouTube and enter the keywords Pixo Jr, and have a quick look around.  You can do some cool stuff with this rig.

Below is a great little shot animated by one of our students, Jeff Smith.

Most of all, have fun with Pixo! And be inventive!

Is there another free lamp rig available online?
Try this one at Turbosquid. This excellent free lamp rig was created by Mangesh Kondalkar.


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