[Bf-funboard] Empties in the bone hierarchy

Sangwoo Hong sahngwoo at gmail.com
Mon Mar 30 18:37:57 CEST 2009

I normally wouldn't comment on this sort of subject but seeing how it's
getting pretty heated, let me throw in my two cents.
Simply put, I think having empties or objects "in the rig" in the context of
Blender's, for lack of a better word, "encapsulated" bone system is...

The reason for this is simple.  The reason why one needs character sets and
such functionality in other 3D apps is because they have no encapsulation
which segregates objects belonging to rigging systems from "normal" objects.
 Blender provides this functionality as a base feature of "rigging objects"
in the form of armatures so why would you want to break that veil and throw
in objects from the outside confusing things further when it already allows
you to use objects from "outside" to be used to draw in place of the default
bone shapes?  Other packages offer stuff like character sets because it's
such a mess to have rigging objects intermixed with regular objects but they
have no recourse because their bone system was like an after thought.
 Blender does not suffer from this problem.

A good example of this is 3DS Max's Character Studio Bipeds.  I personally
really like Bipeds BUT try working with more then a handful of them in a
scene and keeping track of the hundreds if not thousands of bones all named
Bip something or other gets old real fast.  It would be so much better if
say the creators of Character Studio decided to "encapsulate" all the bones
belonging to a single biped in to a, I don't know, an ARMATURE?

I don't see anyone else mentioning this but I'll say it.  The real issue
here is people looking for features they are used to from other apps in
Blender.  But if you examine the underlying reasons for why these techniques
exists in other apps you'll realize it's a lot messier then at a glance.
 What I think makes Blender great is that it breaks from a lot of this
legacy stuff which is actually a drag on people's productivity.

Let me leave this thread with this.  I was never a full time rigger when I
worked at Pixar but I did get to work with their in-house rigging system
some which btw is an encapsulated system completely separate from other
scene objects.  It didn't even have bones back in the days when I used to
work with it. (It might now but I highly doubt it.)  But everything you
needed was available anyway because the system makes one realize that a
collection of 4 points and their spacial relationships is all you need to
create the end of a logical "bone" and, by using these collection of "bone
tips", it's possible to create a fully functioning rig with no problems.  As
a matter of fact, not having "bones" frees one up to use tricks like
including the points making up the end of one "bone" in to the rigging of
other logical "bones" for secondary motion or even including those points in
completely "unrelated" parts of the "bone hierarchy" so the motion of a
single "bone" can move many different parts all at once.  See, you might be
scratching your head going "How can you have a rigging system which has no
bones?!?" but that's the point here.  Once you get so used to words like
"bones" and "character sets" and "empties" etc, you start thinking that is
the be-all-end-all of what you need but the truth is that is not necessarily
the case.  It's just your comfort with the word associated with a particular
functionality which is making you cling to the word but the word is not the
idea, the word in this case is... a useful lie.

As a quick side note, let me add that what would really speed up rigging in
Blender isn't empties but an auto-rigging script.  The biggest reason why I
like 3DS Max Bipeds is the fact that you just size it in to the scene and it
brings in a rig which basically covers 90+ percent of what one would need to
rig a humanoid character.  (Hey, it's good enough for Epic Games to make
Gears of War with it, it's good enough for me.) I looked in to writing an
autorigging script for Blender recently and it seems all the pieces one
would need under the hood for something like this is already there.  Now if
I only had some time...

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