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Lack of rigging tutorials is painfull.

This is true. It's a real pity, Houdini doesn't receive the respect it deserves concerning character rigging and animation. After some thorough investigation on how Houdini can stand against Maya or XSI concerning character rigging, I'm pretty convinced that with the help of some custom tools and tweaks Houdini can be the best tool for this purpose. Anyway, the 3DBuzz series of rigging tutorials are the most advanced I've found. Please take a look at this link.


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I'm super sad the only rigging video on SESI's site it so old it's only available in DL quicktime format. Almost exactly 6 years old (in NOV) for Houdini 9. (The first iPhone had been out for 4 months in Nov 2007, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Luciano Pavarotti, and Evel Knievel, had all died that year)


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Maybe someone who knows this stuff can chime in and call me out. And I'm sorry if this sounds inflammatory, but looking at the copy for the character tools I assume the manual section on them must be so good it doesn't need any video tutorials:


Can anyone who worked on a Houdini character setup comment on how they learned?

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  • 1 month later...

I've done some stuff with it:


I'm not a pro at all, but I'd be happy to share what I've found/learned so far.

I used to use Project Messiah, but grew pretty disillusioned with the tool and company behind it, so this past summer I started fiddling around with H, and seeing how it went there. I found that I loved it! I'd also recommend the 3DBuzz dvds, well worth the money and offer a really solid foundation for how the basic tools work. I also looked at other tutorials for Maya and Softimage to understand rigging issues in general. Some other good tutorials are are a set by Joe Cosman (http://joecosman.blogspot.com/) for Messiah, but most of the techniques can be directly applied to H.

If you want to just do animation, and don't care about the rig, then play with the toon character and animate to your hearts content. If however you want to rig, I'd personally advise skipping the autorig altogether, and learn to build them from scratch. It's not that hard, once you know what to look for.

My workflow so far is:

1) import your mesh(s) for animation

2) set up your basic skeleton on one side. So the root, spine, pelvis, left legs and arms. Make sure youv'e got the orientation right. Basic rule is to orient the bone so that the primary direction of rotation is along X. So say for a thigh bone, rotating the bone along X is going give you the forward/backward movement. So for a biped, looking at it from the side, the bone is orientated so that you looking down the X axis, Y is pointing fwd, and Z is point up towards the head.

3) once the bones are in position link the bones to the primary mesh to get the basic weighting in place (there's a shelf tool for this)

4) use the Edit Capture Regions tool (http://www.sidefx.co...tcaptureregions), modify the capture regions to fit your mesh. Ive found that spending a little time to set these up right makes it pretty damn easy to deal with weighting the character. Assuming you have a mesh that's got good topology, then you can get a lot of the weighting done at this stage, or at least that's been my experience so far.

5) add support bones where necessary. For example, I take the forearm bone, and add a new set of bones(3) in it's place that fit along it's length (each support bone having 1/3 the total forearm bone length and parented one after the other). These are then linked to the wrist, so that when the wrist rotates in Z, each of the forearm support bones rotate in some fraction of Z as well, to simulate the twisting effect of the forearm muscles and bones. This is something I picked up from the Joe Cosman tutorials.

5) Add IK to the leg and arms if needed

6) add FK controllers for the all the bones. These are going to be Nulls that are set up to drive the various bones - the boens will be made invisible, and you'll use these nulls to actually animate the bones.

7) add any other nulls you need to control bones

8) mirror the left side to generate a right side of the rig, there's a shelf tool for this, pretty easy to do

9) go into your mesh(s) and do the weight painting. I do this in 2 stages. I create one Capture Layer Paint SOP (http://www.sidefx.co...pturelayerpaint) for the core body (all the non mirror bones like the spines, etc), and paint with symmetry turned on. Then add another Capture Layer Paint SOP and do the left side parts like the legs and arms

10) mirror the capture weights with the Capture MIrror SOP.

Voila! Done, go to Hollywood and collect that Oscar for your amazing work, or perhaps cash that 10 million dollar bonus you got from your overly generous employer...

Edited by jim c
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