No Template = Creative Thinking
Something I wasn’t taught in school that I really wish they spent some time on is just how to prepare and organize your 3D work so it is easily explained to other 3D artists and animators. There isn’t really a universal system for the way things are laid out in an animation file, so it really just comes down to the personal organizational style of the animator. Which parts of the rig control what, to what degree bones can be rotated, which aspects of the animation are controlled by IK, and which are just endomorphs; these are all choices that an animator may make when setting up an animation rig.
Something I have found myself having to do a lot lately in this one project is just figure out something that works and go with it. Because of the complexity of the rig and model we are using (which mirror the complexity of the processes we are demonstrating) there are a lot of aspects of the model that work in different methods of rigging. There’s a point where several components are controlled by one controller bone, but there are about 4 bones that need to be animated by hand every time that control bone moves, too. All of the bones below a certain bone on the rig will scale up when the one bone is scaled down; it is important to remember when inputting manual center coordinates. Two very important parts of the animation are controlled by endomorphs; a series of sliders that gauge what percentage of a certain shape a given object will “morph” into.
You can see how that can be complicated to explain, even to someone else who has 3D training. Where I may have used endomorphs for one part of my model, another animator might have used an IK chain with a fixed pivot. It basically all comes down to style and personal preference, and as long as there’s no standard for it you just have to make sure you keep track of all the methods you use in your rig.
So while there’s no set template for how to set up an animation rig, it matches our philosophy at DDA; there’s no set template for the way we handle projects here, either. Every project is custom built from the ground up to suit your budget and your needs. So while the lack of templates may make things a bit more of a challenge, it is just that kind of adversity that can really foment creativity.