Ident Animation – Finished Rigs & Scene

Before I jump into updates on my rig this week, I’d like to focus on what we learnt about cameras (get it…focus).

The class was shown how to setup cameras in the scene to give you fixed point of views for the purposes of rendering. I’m aware that cameras in Maya can be animated but we didn’t cover this (to be honest anything in Maya can be animated).

Starting this process is so simple.


As above Create > Cameras > Camera. This will put this little guy onto the grid.


Cameras have an absolute tonne of settings in the attribute editor, everything from field of view, aperture size, depth of field etc. For the purposes of this animation, all settings will be left at default. However the two important settings we turned on from the viewport were resolution gate and safe action, which look like this.


The outside frame shows what will be contained within the frame at the resolution you’re rendering at and the safe action zone gives a boundary in which to keep all the main action in your scene without the risk of losing it when exported for film/tv etc. I decided to keep these on permanently when setting up the composition for my scene.


The other trick related to the camera and rendering we were shown was making your ground plane appear infinite. Some of the Nickelodeon idents shown to us used the same trick. It gives a surface your shadows can be cast onto without worrying about if the end of it will be seen on camera. Here are the setup steps.

Infinite Ground Plane

  1. Create a plane large enough for your shadows to cast on
  2. In the hypershader search for background shader
  3. Create a background shader and apply it to your plane
  4. Select your main scene camera (the one that’ll be used for rendering)
  5. Under Environment settings, change the colour to an off white (or desired colour)
  6. Renders will now look like they have an infinite ground plane

Something else I learnt while doing this is that you can smooth out the usually quite jagged and harsh shadows from depth map shadows. All you have to do is increase the filter size under depth map options and it smooths the shadows out (definitely something to consider going forward, till now I’ve been using raytraced all the time because depth maps seemed very low quality).

Oh and the text in the scene, dead easy to create. Create > Type. Type in what you want and especially in Maya 2017 it defaults to 3D text.

Here is the end result.

scenesetupNow I’ll update on the robots.

As made clear by the post from last week I absolutely lost the plot after Matt ran through the steps for rigging a single arm. Someone might as well have explained quantum physics to me while I was hungover. Thankfully this week I had the sense to take notes as we went over it again.

Rigging the Robot

  1. Shift click to add joints without connections.
  2. Parent Constraint to snap them to the object/vertice you desire.
  3. Delete constraints from hierarchy
  4. Drag the joints in hierarchy to connect the chain
  5. Parent this chain to required geometry
  6. Setup IK handle – Skeleton > Create IK Handle
  7. In the tool settings for Create IK handle select ‘Rotate Planar Solver’
  8. With the tool still selected, click the root joint and then every joint down the chain
  9. Parent the resulting IK handle to the main body of your rig
  10. Create a NURBS curve
  11. Snap NURBS curve to desired vertex (or wherever you wish a new controller to be)
  12. Constrain IK handle to NURBS with a pole vector from the constraint menu
  13. Voila a working arm

Here is the final hierarchy, with both robots in the scene. I can see why naming is so important now on large rigs, that escalated quickly. Now I have two functioning robots, a camera, my name broken down into individual letters and an infinite ground plane. Two weeks later but I’m ready to start animating.


Or at least I thought I was, I’d forgotten to turn the robots into character sets. So I’ll have to quickly sort that out and maybe do some of the blocking over Xmas.



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