Rig Referencing For Animation

Maya: Rigging

1. Creating A Project

File > Project Window > New (click)
Navigate to the folder you want your project in, select it then name your project. Leave the defaults and press accept.

Create a folder for the rig increment saves
In scenes create a new folder called “rig” and in that folder call it “working”

We can put all the rigs in the working folder.

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2. Cleaning And Saving The Rig

We need to clean up the rig file so we only have the rig, we don’t need all the blendshape meshes in the rig file for animation.

1. Select all the objects blendshapes groups lights etc we don’t need in the rig
2. Create a “deleteMe” selection set.
Be sure not to select certain objects like the daisyChain blendshape mesh or other nodes the rig needs in order to operate.
3. Save this scene as an incremented version of our rig in the “working” folder.
4. delete all the objects contained within the “deleteMe” selection set.
5. ** we can also clean our file to get rid of unused nodes. I don’t mention this in the video but we can go.
file > optimise scene size (with default settings) this usually won’t delete anything we require. Be sure to save before optimising.
6. Save the scene with deleted unused objects and nodes to the
scenes/rig directory as rig_doNotModify.ma
This is the rig we’ll reference into our animation scene.

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3. Creating The Animation File

1. Create a completely new scene
2. Save it in a folder called
scenes/anim/ as animation_v01.ma
3. Reference in the rig_doNotModify.ma
file > create reference

Referenced rigs cannot be modified like regular files. This animation file is simply pointing to the “scenes/rig/rig_doNotModify.ma” file. When we save the animation file the scene size will be much smaller because we are only saving things like the animation curves we create.

4. Setup your scene with lights props and cameras as per usual and start aniamting.

*Keep in mind that we often reference in heavy props and scenes too. Cameras are usually created within the animation scene unless using a complex camera rig.

**Also remember to copy the whole project directory now while moving to different computers as the animation file also requires the rig to open.

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4. The Reference Editor

We can edit the reference files in
File > Reference Editor (ctrl shift r)

We can rename our namespaces as we wish.
We can load our referenced objects/rigs in and out by ticking/unticking the ticks.
Reference Window > Reference > Replace Reference allows us to update our files to different rigs.
Reference Window > Reference > Remove Reference is how we delete references from our scene.

We can also import the references into our scenes which removes the file link and essentially flattens the file.
Reference Window > File > Import Objects From Reference

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5. Adding To/Modifying The Rig

To modify the rig we open the original increment saved last rig, not the rig_doNotModify.ma rig. We will save over it later.

1. Open the last increment save in the rig/working folder
2. Modify the rig just being sure not to remove the controls that have already been animated.
3. Save the rig as the next increment version
4. Clean the file by deleting the “deleteMe” selection set and file > optimise scene size
5. Save the newly modified file with cleaned nodes and objects to
rig/ rig_doNotModify.ma

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6. Setting A New Project Directory

File > Set Project…

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Andrew Silke

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