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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' which provide articulation for all the moving parts in the model. Once the work of the riggers is done, the animation-ready model consists 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 the models come alive.
Rigging allows the animators to control their 3D models like puppets — very, very intricate puppets. The model is moved by the position, orientation, and scale of the various interconnected bones They do this through a set of animation controls, which typically involve 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 movement 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 an essential aspect of animation that 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 riggers are 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 thing. 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 or articulation needed to communicate realistic movement. This lets the animator focus on the wider-scaled motions of the figure, rather than getting bogged down defining the position of every individual vertice on the mesh.
There are limitations to skeletal animation, though. The most important being that 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, like by attaching muscle controllers 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. With our flexible services, you'll be able to get the freelance design talent you've been looking for, whether that means outsourcing some of your company's workload, or hiring on new help for your startup.
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!