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3D rigging, or skeletal animation, is an important part of the 3D animation process. Rigging is the process that makes it possible for animators to manipulate and move 3D models. Riggers do this by creating a hierarchical system of interconnected "bones" that provide articulation for all the moving parts in the model. Once the work of the riggers is done, the animation-ready model will consist of two equally important parts: The mesh (or skin), and the rig (or skeleton). While only the mesh is visible, it's the rigging hidden beneath the surface that provides all the pivot points that allow for animators to make a model come alive.
Rigging allows the animators to control their 3D models like puppets—very, very intricate puppets. The model's range of motion is determined by the position, orientation, and scale of the various interconnected bones. Riggers control the animation with the application of complex algorithms mediated through a more accessible user interface. A critical part of this process is arranging the bones hierarchically so that the movement of a node higher up in the chain causes a reciprocal motion in the nodes lower down. For example, if the forearm moves, then the fingers will have to move, too.
Since the technique was introduced in 1988, it has become essential and is used in virtually all animation systems. If you're looking to create 3D animations—whether for film, video games, or advertising—you need the help of experienced 3D rigging professionals who can provide you with the tools you need to make your characters come to life.
3D rigging is widely used in the gaming and movie industries. While the technique is central to the animation of characters and creatures, it's also commonly used to animate mechanical objects or any other kind of articulated object. The primary advantage of the technique is that it dramatically simplifies the animation process, providing animators with the minimum number of characteristics to control while maintaining the level of articulation needed to communicate realistic movement. The animator can focus on the wider-scaled motions of the figure instead of getting bogged down defining the position of every individual vertex on the mesh.
There is a limitation to skeletal animation, though—it does not realistically convey muscle or skin movements. You can imagine what this looks like if you think back to earlier video games. There are techniques for addressing this. For example, muscle controllers can be attached to the rigging that cause corresponding movements in the mesh when the rigging is moved. Pulling this off properly is no easy task, which is why it's important to work with talented 3D animators and riggers.
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Let Cad Crowd connect you with the expert 3D modeling and freelance animation services you need to bring your characters to life. Whether you're working on some marketing material, a video game, or a full-length animated film, we've got the expertise you need to bring your project to fruition. Whether you're outsourcing some of your company's workload or hiring new help for your startup, we can put you in touch with top-notch freelance design talent.
Cad Crowd puts the world's best CAD design and 3D modeling experts at your fingertips. Submit your project for a free quote. We'll review your requirements, and set you up with one of our top-ranking freelance animation professionals. Get started today!