U s i n g   M o n t e

Monte is a fun character designed by Thad Clevenger and setup by Ron Griswold.  Here's the basic breakdown of how to use him...

Note:  The Edit Spheres are set up so you can only select the channels that are supposed to be animated.  For example, if you don't see a H (Heading) ring that means the item isn't supposed to be animated on that channel.  It may be controlled by expressions or it might just not do anything.  Either way, your best bet is to leave it alone.

Before you start:
Turn on Hide (it's on the bottom left side of the Item List).  This will hide everything you're not supposed to animate with.  Everything that's left in the Item List after Hide is on is OK to animate.

Basics - Item List
In order to make things easier for the animators, Monte has been set up in a way that allows all of the controls to be easily accessed and all of the things that shouldn't be touched during animation to be locked and hidden.  There's a null object called
Monte_Animation_Controls that is the parent of all the controls you'll use in animation.  The whole setup, objects, bones, effects, etc. are children of the Control_Hierarchy null.  You shouldn't have to touch that one at all while you're animating, but if you want to look at the setup, just unlock it and expand it. 

Basics - Expressions List
The expressions have all been named and organized in a clear, easy to understand fashion.  There's a lot going on in this setup, so take a look at some of the expressions to see what's going on.

Since it's much better to work with low-res objects and turn MetaNURBS on, Monte is set up with a MetaNURBS slider.  This allows you to quickly turn them on or off (and set the subdivision level) without having to hunt through the Item List for each of the objects.  The slider is at the top of the list.

The Body and Head:
There are several controls for the main body.  The
Pelvis_Handle is the big triangle sticking out of his back.  The spine and neck are controlled by the smaller triangles above it.  Just middle-click on them in the Animation Window to select them.  The main control for the head is Head_Handle.  It's the triangle sticking out of the back of his head.  Only the rotation channels are available for this. The tail is controlled by Tail01_Handle and Tail02_Handle.

Eyes, Eyebrows & Cheeks:
There are several controls for the face.  There's the eye controller (
Eye_Handle) which is what you rotate to make his eyes move, there's the Eyes_Blink slider (I'll let you guess what that does), and the EyeBrowCurve points (that are at the bottom of the Item List).  The cheeks are controlled with the CheekRunners slider.  This gives you nice control over his rather large cheeks.

The Mouth:
The mouth has a very interesting setup.  It uses Bone_Deform, FlexMotion, CycleBranchMorphAddFrame, and Sliders.  There are two parts of the setup 

  1. A basic lip shape that is defined by the curves on the lips which are also linked to the MouthShapes slider.  You can create new shapes by defining a shape on a negative keyframe then adding another CycleBranchMorphAddFrame expression to the ones already there.  The CycleBranch expressions are near the top of the Facial Expressions section of the list.  There's Frown, Smile, Oooo, and Lower_Lip_Close.  Feel free to make your own poses.  (There's even a tutorial in the Tutorials section about how to use CycleBranchMorphAddFrame.)

  2. The Lip Runners (UpperLipRunners and LowerLipRunners).  These are paths that the control points of the lips ride along.  This simulates the radially contracting muscles of the mouth.  It is also additive to the mouth shapes.

Legs & Feet:
The legs are controlled by
L_Leg_Handle and R_Leg_Handle.  These are the triangles sticking out from the back of his ankles.  In addition to that, there are several heel, ball and toe controls.  He's got such big feet that he needs a lot of control...  Notice that the L_Leg_Handle and R_Leg_Handle are the only ones  that have translation channels available (X, Y, and Z)-- the rest are used only for rotation.  If you want to rotate just the foot, without the knee following it, rotate the L or R Leg_Handles.  If you want the knee to follow, rotate the L or R Heel_Handles.

Arms, Fingers & Hands:
The main arm controllers are called
L_Wrist_Handle and R_Wrist_Handle.  You can move and rotate these-- rotating will, of course, rotate the hand.  The shoulders have their own controllers.  The banking will aim the elbow, and the translations (Y and Z only) will let you do things like make him shrug or hunch up his shoulders. 

The fingers are controlled by sliders using CycleBranchMorphAddFrame expressions.  The sliders are called Fingers_Left_Slider and Fingers_Right_Slider.  That's pretty clever, isn't it?  If there are common positions you want to put the hands in, you can add more CycleBranch expressions.  You probably won't need to though because it's easy enough just posing each finger with the slider.

That's All!
Well, now that you know how to use him, why not practice for a bit then send us some of your scenes?  We'd love to see Monte as animated by members of the messiah family (you). 

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