This is a fish rig developed by Ron Griswold and Marek Schneider, with input from David Maas, who also prepared the mesh.  All work was done for a 30-minute done format film produced by Softmachine GmbH in Munich, Germany.  It includes options allowing the animator to either take advantage of full automation using dynamics, procedural animation or complete hand-keyed animation, but best of all, the animator can set the rig to any range between these options, choosing how much control is desired to meet targeted animation quality and deadline budgets.


The rig also includes an eye setup that allows for toonish squash and stretch as well as both world eye targeting and key-controls – together or left /right.  Definitely worth reverse-engineering (for those of you so inclined).  The facial rig is based on morph targets, a decision which we made for cost reasons.  While the range allowed isn't overly flexible it does allow for a full range of expressions.  Ok!  So here's a detailed description of the rig:


World View Controls:

All control points of the fish can be accessed through armature handles, which are divided into three groups under the main fish icon (ClownFish).  Double-clicking toggles each Armature's visibility.



The bone icon (CL_joints) lets you quickly access the individual joint handles if you need to fine tune some joint rotations. (above)



The main handles show up when you activate the fish icon (CL_icons).  These are: main, head, spine, tail, eyelids and eye targets (local and world).  They are self explanatory.  Play around with them, taking care to explore left, right and middle mouse buttons – particularly for the eyelids. (above)



The CL_squash icon lets you activate some squash and stretch handles for the face and the eyes.  That helps eliminate the “cg-stiffness” from your animation.  It also gives a lot of flexibility in plying to the camera.  Every handle controls different channels with the left, right and middle mouse button.  Of course all the channels can also directly be selected on the edit sphere and in the motion tab.


Item List:

The rig takes advatage of the new Item List display options. When you set the item list to show only “Unlocked Items”, it will only display the relevant control items, and hide all the rest of the rig.  The rig has been divided into several groups, such as Rig_Controls and Facial_Anim, wich makes keyframing easier, or the Compose group, which includes all important elements if you want to make motionclips of your animation.


List Controls:

CL __Anim_Params__ includes six sliders:


1. CL_params contains several sliders to fine tune the dorsal dynamics. You don't really need to touch these.


2. CL_swim_params:


tail_amplitude and tail_frequency controls the tail's procedural wave motion.


dynamics_off_on lets you activate dynamics for the tail and control their force. Dynamics are solved on top of every other animation, procedural or keyframed, and you can blend them seamlessly in and out.


tail_spine_link dynamically activates (0) or deactivates (1) the individual CL_tail control.If deactivated, the tail bend is controled by the CL_spine_bend control.


tail_delay controls the tail's time lag when the tail is animated using the BF_spine control or the BF_tail control.


swim_amplitude controls the procedural motion of the body main control and the head.


3. CL_MotionDynamics_Fins and CL_MotionDynamics_Tail let you fine-tune the dynamics for tail and fins. I recommend to only play with Damping and GlobalWeight.


4. CL_armAuto_params control the procedural motion of the pectoral fins.  


5. CL__Facial_Animation__ includes the various sliders for the facial animation – self explanatory.  :-)  Facial morphs can be added as needed.



The provided scenes:



In this scene you can already see an example the procedural swim motion on arms and body.



This scene is hand keyed on “CL_main” and “CL_spine_bend”, mixed with procedural tail animation (“CL_swim_params”).



This scene shows the clown fish with keyframes exclusively on “CL_main”. Dynamics control the tail motion, and the arms are controlled procedurally.Play around with the CL_swim_params” slider and the “CL_armAuto_params” slider to see the different effects. Talk about lazy animators!   ;-)



Any resemblance to existing characters is purely coincidental.  ;-)


Happy animating!

Marek Schneider and David Maas

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