Friday, January 11, 2013

A Tea Time 'How To': Modifying the Norman Rig - Part I - Why Modify?

Now that everyone has already had ample time to lay back and take it easy, it's about that time to start warming yourself up for the upcoming semester. The tail end of the winter holiday is an ideal opportunity to take your Spring classes into consideration:

- How many animation classes do you have?
- What does the syllabus look like?
- How many assignments are there? But most importantly...
- What are you passionate about?

Working on an assignment is one thing, but fulfilling an assignment with work that you are truly interested in or passionate about will not only get you the grade you're supposed to hunger for, but will also give you a better result in the end.

How does Norman come into all of this? 

Well, for one thing, 99.9% of people are bored of looking at him. For another, even if you don't know it yet, so are you! Even if you colorize that bulbous body of his, it's almost impossible to get so worked up over his bland appearance, and animation generally suffers because of that. How can you expect someone else to be excited about your animation if you aren't?

As Bill Nye would say, Please consider the following:

Loses it's appeal, doesn't it? Thus, we mod!

Benefits of Modifying:

1. The obvious - Appeal! Modifying Norman to suit the needs of your animation creates appeal for your characters and will intrigue your audience -- Particularly if it's something they've never seen before.

2. Rig familiarity - One of the things all animators strive for is speed and efficiency. Doing the best job possible, the fastest possible. While Norman isn't the best rig on the market, he is reliable and easy to work with, thus modifying Norman rather than finding on making a new rig every time you take on a new project is time saving! Not just because you don't have to rig a whole new character (re: bullet 4), but because you will get used to working with Norman. When starting an animation you will know exactly what the rig is capable of, so you'll be able to streamline your ideas from the start. Plus, when getting down to it, you won't be searching for what control does what.

3. Buys you time - Not just in the speed of your animation, but in actually getting to the animation. It's tough sometime to come up with golden ideas on the fly, so thinking about a character first can be helpful. If you're not sure of a story, but know that you want to do a scene with, say a superhero, you can start taking the time to build the character, and then the ideas might come to you in the mean time. 

4. Faster than building a rig from scratch - Though creating your own rig is probably the BEST practice (and if you're capable of doing that within a certain time limit, good on you), it's not often we, as students, have the luxury of that kind of time. Modding Norman will give you your unique character without the painstaking hell that is painting weights -- and it's amazingly effective! (i.e. Fig. 1.0)

No matter how amazing your animation is, Norman -- or any of the basic rigs -- simply will not pack the punch you're looking for without some help.  So, with that in mind, let's get started. 

Fig. 1.0 - Yes. Believe it or not, behind that stern, bold bat logo on his chest, that's still Norman under there.

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