A Rigging Journey - Miria Kutzner
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A Rigging Journey - Miria Kutzner

Miria Kutzner
by miriakutzner on 1 Jun 2020 for Rookie Awards 2020

Hello people! I'm Miria and just graduated from PIXL VISN media arts academy, where I studied 3D Animation & VFX for 15 months. I present to you some insights to the projects I've worked on for the past months. I hope you like it!

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Getting started

I've started my Student Reel with a cute little creature I found on Artstation. The artist of the concept is Panagiotis Cheliotis.

Although I am specializing on Rigging, I wanted my very first project to be one I started and planned on my own. While learning more about the pipeline in general and the influence every department has on Rigging and vice versa, I also managed to prevent future problems.

Besides, I really liked to dive into Sculpting and Texturing a little more, since I had lots of fun in the classes before.

In addition to my classes, I started to watch a lot of tutorials for ZBrush, Mari and Rigging.

Sculpting

Here you can see some sculpting WiP's (took with my phone because I sent them to my parents):

Integration

After Sculpting I thought about the environment I wanted for my creature.
I planned to capture the mysterious, creepy and greenish atmosphere of the concept, but didn't want to copy the skulls. I teamed up with Mirco Tornow to create an integration using footage of the woods near my home.
We went to shoot the footage and an HDRI for the right lighting and reflection.

Rigging

After retopologizing and creating the UV's, I started to rig the creature.

It was my first non-human rig, so it was pretty challenging in the beginning but I learned a lot of new things e.g. rigging a hind leg, ribbon spines and anatomy.

Below you can see a demonstration of the finished rig I sent to Joshua Schmidt for animation.

Texturing

While he animated it, I created the textures in Mari. The only thing I ever textured in Mari before was a spoon, so I had to do some research about creating skin textures.

The grooming was done by Franziska Niebuhr.

Here are some texturing WiP's and the plugged-in textures. I rendered everything using Redshift.

Here you can see the finished Integration.

Turntable

For the breakdowns, I also wanted to do a turntable. Elia Göttlicher was responsible for the Lighting and Compositing and we had the nice idea to do an animated, loopable turntable, to not only present the texturing breakdown, but also the rig.

I sent the rig over to Nina Fischer for the animation. Since she had already graduated, we did reviews on syncsketch.

I am really happy how it all turned out!

Cyborg Character

A few weeks before our demo deadline Pascal Kuhn asked me spontaneously if I could do a facial rig in two weeks for his cyborg character. Since I was waiting for my composited shots and other renders and felt like my reel was missing something, I accepted the challenge.

This is my first facial rig. It is joint based and controlled by expression.
Considering the time I had and not knowing much about facial rigs before, I am happy with how this project turned out. I've learned a lot throughout the process.

In addition to the facial rig I also did a basic body rig and the rig for the mechanical arm.
This time, I worked with Set Driven Key and limited the shapes.

The rest of this character and the animation was entirely made by Pascal.

Here you can see some pictures of rig tests, I took with my phone because I thought the faces looked funny, not knowing I would use them in the future for my entry.

Pascal also animated some poses for me to showcase the facial rig.

Lizard

The last rig I want to present is a lizard, which was the second project I did for my Student Reel.

Modeling and Texturing was done by Simon Pinsdorf.

As you can see in the next picture, not everything worked the way I wanted to all the time.  But through those errors I've improved my problem solving a lot and learned to just restart Maya from time to time.

As Simon was doing some researching on this specific type of lizard, he found a shot of it climbing up a tree and doing a nodding movement. He wanted it to be included in the animation.

To make the rig more animator friendly, I created a controller for the neck, that automatically counter rotates the head joint. You can also switch this feature off for a normal neck controller.

Another challenge was to attach the scales.
Just skinning them or parenting them didn't work, so I created two spline setups, one that follows the movement from the spine and one that follows the movement from the neck and head.

Below, you can see the finished animation, which was done by Joshua Klumb.

Lighting was done by Marvin Huth and compositing by Mirco Tornow.

Finally, I present to you my edited Student Reel, in which you can see the presented projects and some additional smaller ones.

Last but not least I want to thank everyone for the collaborations. I've learned how important a reliable team is!
I appreciate all your work and input you gave me along the way.


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