感謝Way推薦給我資深rigger Josh Carey專訪文章，後來間接又找到作者另一篇專訪，由於篇幅很長，但是內容又都很豐富，所以我就擅自把它主題式的拆成兩篇：一篇是關於短片Looney Tunes - Coyote Falls訪談內容，另一篇是Josh Carey談他個人職涯與展望。由於這支短片是華納公司第一次把它的經典卡通由2D轉為3D的嘗試，有其重要意義，撇開成本、故事、編導來看，我覺得技術方面是非常成功的，後來片子也得到了第38屆安妮獎的提名。主要角色是逼逼鳥RoadRunner和大野狼Coyote，先來回顧一下正片吧！
I saw some of the impressive rigs on your website. How do you usually start out with these character?
A lot of what we've done in the past at Reel FX is take other companies IP and make commercials or shorts with them. This means that we need to adapt and be able to imitate/replicate everything they've done with their rigs (and animation, rendering, etc). In these instances, we generally absorb as much footage of their movies as we can, trying to pinpoint joint locations, volume preservation tough-spots, key things that need to move during animation, etc.
As for the Looney Tunes shorts, we didn't have anyone to imitate other than the classic cartoons. Animators did an awesome job at grabbing frames from the cartoons and showing us specifically what poses they wanted to be able to recreate. We used the official WB character sheets to figure out the on-model poses that these 2D characters needed to hit in 3D. Often times when starting out, the first thing i'll do is take a pencil to a printout and draw my skeleton over the character and indicate any notes, special cases, or animator requests.
至於「兔巴哥」(Looney Tunes)這個案子，我們就是想辦法重現經典卡通就對了。Animator做了很多功課，像是從舊卡通中抓出各種希望能夠做到的pose。我們用華納官方的角色設定稿(character sheets)去想像如何把2D的角色擺進3D裡。每當一個案子要開始時，我會做的第一件事就是拿出一枝鉛筆，然後在印出來的角色圖上畫出骨骼位置，並且記下所有心得、特殊需求和animator的各種需要。
Chuck Jones had a big influence on the animation history. How did you feel about renewing the old Looney Toons?
Chuck Jones對動畫史有很大的影響，你對於重新詮釋「兔巴哥」(Looney Tunes)這樣的經典有什麼看法？
First honored and excited, then a little scared. We did not want to have any part of something that did not pay homage to Chuck. We said at the start that we would go all out to make sure we nailed the classic chuck style, while still going for the semi-real look that WB was asking for. Even the models themselves went through many rounds of approvals until we were happy that they were close enough to the original designs, and that the rig could take the model the rest of the way based on the poses in animation. We did not want tiny toons models or anything remotely off-model from the classics, and we fought hard to push that through.
One effect that I really liked is when the Coyote moves really fast, and you can see three arms at once. How was that done?
Multiples! We basically had parts of the original rigs, with transparency controls, available to the animators to bring in multiple times per shot. Our animation TD wrote a tool to help animators deal with the multiples that we included from these rigs. Animator patience obviously comes into full effect here again as they were basically animating on 1's at this point, as well as a major props to the Lighters that had to deal with the crazy amount of multiples that the animators were adding to their shots. We gave the control to the animators to specify how much of the limb needed to be shown - whether it was a Road Runner head where only the head (no neck) was shown, or a fully faded coyote arm - animators could dial that in. That info was then passed down the pipe into lighting/rendering.
很多組的rig！基本上我們有原本做好的rig，然後加上透明度(transparency)的控制，就可以讓animator在一個shot裡用上很多組同樣的rig。我們的animation TD寫了一個工具可以幫助animator處理這樣的問題。animator的耐心顯然再次發揮巨大功效，不過他們只要做一次就夠了，但是可苦了lighter，他們變成一個鏡頭要處裡很大量的rig。我們將控制權交到animator手上，他們可以設定手臂部位的顯示程度，或者是Road Runner只要出現頭而已，然後把脖子以下都隱藏起來，或是一整隻半透明的coyote手臂，animator可以綜合使用這些功能，然後將這些資訊傳遞到下個工作流程：打燈和算圖(lighting/rendering)。
How long did it take you to create a character for the Looney Tunes shorts?
We had an initial rig out pretty quickly (couple weeks), but it went through many many iterations of fixes and changes. The key was actually getting the model as close to 'on model' as possible (according to the 2D character sheets), and that took time. We were making tweaks to the rigs all the way to the end, and we split up the rigging between body and face to 2 people, which helps the process go faster. I can't pinpoint an exact number for you, but I would approximate that we spent somewhere between 4 and 8 weeks on them. Possibly more :)
Can you tell us what was your role and and duties you had during the Looney Tunes production?
During projects as well as between projects, I'm the Department Supervisor for Rigging. This means that I globally supervise how the rigging dept runs, our workflow, our future R&D efforts, etc. It also means that I Supervise rigging on projects, which is what I did for the Looney Tunes shorts. We had a team of about 7 riggers that I supervised. Basically, I had to make sure that our rigs could do all the crazy things that our animation director wanted them to do. For the coyote and road runner shorts, I mostly handled the body rigs and figuring out how we would do our 'multiples' system. I say 'mostly', because a lot of our team touches a lot of different rigs at any point during a production. On the latest round of shorts, I again mostly focused on the bodies of Elmer and Daffy, but then focused on the faces for Sylvester, Tweety, and Granny.
At ReelFX are they using more joints or blend shape based face rigs?
I would like to say that our face rigs are pretty much your standard rig these days. They have a pretty defined set of blend shapes that go on top of a pretty complex joint-based setup. The animators can use either set, but most of them use a little bit (or a lot) of both. The joint-based controls are generally more broad-based influences, with the ability to turn on 'micro movers' to get super refined deformations.
我必須說我們的臉部rig比一般絕大部分的rig要複雜許多。我們在相當複雜的joint基礎上再加上一組定義明確的blend shape。animator可以運用任一組合來做，但他們多數會兩種混著使用。以joint為基礎的控制器用來產生比較明顯的變形，至於要做非常精緻的變形就可以打開微控制器(micro movers)來完成。
Do the riggers also model the character themselves? Are riggers ever involved in modeling blend shapes (if the pipeline requires it?)
Rigger也需要做角色model嗎？Rigger需要參與model blend shape嗎？或是說工作流程上有這樣的需求嗎？
Personally, I've always made blend shapes myself (and enjoy doing it!), but at ReelFX, the modeling team handles both model and blend shape creation. We do have a few riggers that would be completely comfortable making blend shapes though. I would like to say that our modeling team and rigging team works very closely together, so by the time we get approved models, edge loops are how we need them and models are good to go.
以我個人來講，我總是自己做blend shape並且樂在其中，不過在ReelFX，我們的Model團隊會同時負責model和blend shape。我們有些rigger有時候也很樂意建立需要的blend shape。我想說的是，我們的model團隊和rigging團隊合作非常緊密，所以只要我們確認model的佈線和我們rig上的需求相符之後，model就等於過關了。
Did you work closely with animators when achieving such flexible rigs and was there a requirement on your behalf to understand concepts of animation?
Absolutely! A lot of us had the original model sheets up at our desks as both inspiration and for goals of what we need to hit. The animators did a GREAT job going through footage of the old cartoons and pulling screen grabs of poses that the characters would have to hit. Bryan (the animation director) would always walk over and show me something insane and say "So... think we can do this?" It was a great collaboration between our teams. On this latest round of shorts, deadlines were a bit tighter because of other ongoing projects, and we still wanted to push the quality to be even better than the first set. Sometimes it was a bit painful, but in the end we had some great work to show.
As far as a requirement to understand concepts of animation - yes! Every rigger must know those concepts. Most of our team animated at some point, whether it was in school or on the job. Either way, we all have a love for animation, so we do want to make the best and easiest to use rigs for the animators.
How many controls do rigs like the Road Runner and Coyote have?
The originals (coyote and road runner) had approximately 500 controls, roughly 150 of those were in the face. On the more recent rigs like Elmer and Granny, they were closer to 700 controls, mainly because they had outfits on.
原本像是coyote和road runner這樣的角色大概有500個控制器左右，裡頭大約有150個是臉部控制器，最新的幾個角色像是：Elmer 和Granny，他們就有多達700個控制器，主要是因為他們身上還有穿衣服的關係。
We finally had the chance to write a data mining tool that tells us how much of those rigs actually get used, but we didn't have that tool in place until we were mostly through the rigs on those shows. Only about 5% of those rigs were never touched, but on any particular shot, the rig usage could be anywhere from 50 to 75%. Obviously this means that not all controls were used in every shot, or even the same controls from shot to shot. Anyway, interesting statistics to go through, which means we can optimize rigs based on previous projects data.
I’m very curious as to how you were able to push for such great flexibility and exaggeration in the rigs that were used in the Looney Tunes shorts, it really seems like CG has come along way. Was there any need for research and development for the Looney Tunes short, and what were some of the issues, if any, that were encountered during production?
R&D happened on the fly for our Looney shorts. The schedules were so tight, and our insistency on getting the models/design to perfection (to hit the right Chuck Jones designs) just made things tighter. We had to develop a few new rigging techniques, but nothing that you would see on a feature. No new plugins, but some general scripts/tools and rigging pipeline updates were made. Generally, our rigs are pretty flexible with the standard templates. Kyle Wood, one of our lead riggers, spent a lot of time developing some new facial rig modules, which certainly helped the animators achieve the squashing, stretching, and insane shape-pushing that was needed. The animators did an awesome job at pushing and pulling those rigs to match the poses of the classics, and a lot of what you’re seeing on screen is because of their patience with nailing each pose. They were sculpting on each frame at times, whether that was using the rig, using special deformers or tools, or sculpting with in-shot PSDs.
「兔八哥」的R&D其實是很倉促的，時程非常趕，而且因為我們很堅持要在model上達到Chuck Jones原作的設計，所以時程就變得更緊。我們開發了幾個rig的工具，但是你在片子上看不出來，沒有開發新的外掛(plugins)，主要是一些程式工具(scripts/tools)和rig工作流程的改進。老實說我們的模板對建構普通角色來講已經很足夠了。我們當中一個資深的rigger Kyle Wood，還花了很多時間幫我們建構了一套新的臉部rig系統，這套系統對於幫助animator做到臉部的擠壓伸縮和一些誇張變形很有幫助。Animator做得很棒，他們花了很多時間去把這些rig擺得跟過去經典卡通裡的pose一模一樣，很多你在影片裡看到得很棒的東西，都是因為他們很有耐心的去精雕細琢每個pose，當他們在使用rig時，他們會用上變形器跟一些工具，或是針對鏡頭使用PSDs(編按：Pose Space Deformation)，他們會一張張的雕琢畫面。
It must be said that the animators put a lot of love into those shorts. Our (riggers) success depends on their success :)
Thanks for the opportunity for this interview!