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Interview with Josh Carey -職涯篇-

Character TD career evolution

Today we have Rigger Josh Carey! Can you tell us a little bit about your career and how you got started? 

今天我們很榮幸能專訪Rigger Josh Carey!可以跟我們談一下你的職涯經歷嗎?你是怎麼開始這一切的?

If I go way back, I could probably say that my interest in CG started around the time that Jurassic Park came out. I taught myself AutoCAD and TruSpace, and even had a few AutoCAD classes in high school. I started out going to college for a Computer Science degree, with the intent of somehow branching into graphics from programming. Someone showed me Lightwave in college, and I was hooked. I eventually transferred over to the Art Institute of Ft Lauderdale, and focused on graduating with a good modeling reel, though I didn’t necessarily stop at just making good models. I wanted to animate them too, which of course required rigs. I kind of got absorbed into the rigging process, and I think because I had a good background with programming courses, “tech” stuff came easy to me. I love to solve problems, and pretty soon I was helping a lot of people out with rigs and tech stuff. That continued after school as well, where contacts and friends I had were tossing me freelance jobs to help them out.  

回想一下,我開始對CG有興趣是在電影侏儸紀公園上映後,我自學了AutoCAD和TruSpace,然後在中學裡上了幾堂AutoCAD的課。接著我進大學選修了資工學位,試圖要更瞭解在電腦圖學裡關於程式方面的知識,有一天有人介紹給我Lightwave這套軟體,從此我就被它迷住了,我甚至因此轉學去福特勞德達爾藝術學院(Art Institute of Ft Lauderdale)並且集中精神在準備Modeling的作品,但是我沒有侷限在只做Model,我也想要讓角色動起來,當然這就需要rig了,因為這樣的機會就被rig的過程吸引住了。我想大概是因為我有寫程式的背景,所以「科技」方面的東西對我來說得心應手。我喜歡解決問題,而且很快的我替大家解決了很多關於rig跟技術方面的問題,即使我離開學校後,還是會一直接到朋友或是熟人丟案子給我做。 

After doing a bit of freelance work, I ended up at The Animation Farm in Austin, TX. It was a small start-up company looking to do game cinematics for its first large gig. I made some great friends there, and we really turned that start-up into something great with such a small team. I was able to do a ton of different things there, while mainly the tech artist/rigger, I also animated, modeled, setup some pipeline stuff, and even did a bunch of After Effects work.  After the farm, I went to Kingsisle where I was the tech artist on an unreleased MMO, and shortly after, I made my way up here to ReelFX.
做了一陣子freelancer之後,我去到德州奧斯丁的The Animation Farm上班(編按:網路上連個網站都沒有,看來過了許多年還是個小公司),那時候公司剛創立不久,第一次接到一個遊戲片頭的大案子,我在那裡交了不少朋友,而且我們真的以一個小團隊做好了一件大案子。在那裡我做了一堆雜事,大部分是關於技術跟rig,但同時也要做animation、做model、改善流程(pipeline),還要碰很多After Effect的工作。離開Animation Farm後我去了KingsIsle Entertainment擔任一個開發中的大型線上遊戲(MMO)的tech artist,但沒多久,我就到現在的公司ReelFX

What are some of the things that recruiters from big studio look for in student reels? (Riggers and Character TDS)
請問大型Studio在招募Rigger和Character TD時會怎麼看Demo reel呢?

This answer will probably vary based on the studio or the position, but I’ll tell you what I look for. An ideal candidate out of school for me would show that they can model, animate, and rig. Sure, that’s asking a lot out of a student, but I’m not saying they have to be awesome at all of those. A rigger needs to understand models, good design and edge flow, and they also need to know how an animator works and what an animator needs. If you’re a student and you haven’t taken a character from modeling to rigging to animation, you need to do so. It will only help your knowledge of a CG production, at least at the asset-to-animation level. As riggers, we are clients to the animators. We’re here for them. A rigging student should understand that they’re going into a service oriented position.

So, back to things I like to see in a reel: Good deformations-  Focused areas of a rig that show wireframe deformations of a character. Complex rigging-  Vehicles, complex props, crazy character with something difficult to deal with.  I want  to  see how you’ve approached and solved a problem.On the opposite side of that, I don’t want to see a generic human rig showing off a standard IK/FK arm, a foot roll, or anything that is just FK (unless you’re just showing deformations). Set your reel apart-  I’ve seen a LOT of reels lately that seemingly have the same exact ‘template’. If everyone has the same human, followed by a dragon, followed by a fairy, how are you making yourself stand out from the crowd. Scripting/tools-  Auto-rig stuff is cool. Show a problem, then show how you solved it. 

漂亮變形(Good deformations)

複雜設定(Complex rigging)

與眾不同(Set your reel apart)



Did you have a programming background before you started learning CG? Or did you learn it whilst attending The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale?

Mentioned this a little above, but when I was going to the University of Texas, I had a couple C++ courses, some general programming and logic courses, and for some reason, found myself in an Assembly course. It was about that time that I had the notion to switch to an animation school. Of course, as soon as I hit Maya at AiFL and started to learn MEL scripting, all my previous programming knowledge put me ahead of the curve. I definitely do not regret starting out as a CS major.


Can you tell us a little bit about your workflow?

My workflow, and the workflow that I try to teach others, is to keep things simple, fast, and do it all efficiently. I'm a big fan of making Maya adhere to your own workflow by hacking up the UI and making your own proc overrides. It can be a pain to redo those kinds of hacks when moving versions, but really, you don't do that often. I like to do things as iteratively as possible - don't over-complicate a rig and don't just try to hash out something new and *complete* the first time. If I'm approaching something new, I like to chat with several animators about what they would want and need, and I'll sketch an idea out. In fact, the other day I sketched something out on a whiteboard with an animator, then took a picture of it on my phone and sent it to my email. The more I can plan out before even starting on the computer, the better. 
我的工作流程或是我想傳授的工作流程就是:讓所有事情變得簡單、快速,並且很有效率。我是一個堅持要把Maya個人化的超級粉絲,不管是改善能加快效率的UI(hack up)或是用一些專屬的小工具。當然這在Maya版本更新時會有點麻煩,可是說實在的,你又不是天天都會換版本。我希望儘可能地把事情做到好,不要太過複雜,不要急著解決新的東西,然後儘量第一次就把東西做好。假如我在研究新玩意兒時,我會先跟幾個animator聊聊去瞭解他們想要和需要什麼,然後我會為那個點子畫張草圖。事實上,隔天我會和一個animator把草圖畫在白板上,再用手機照下來並且寄email給自己,我希望在進到電腦前能做愈多計畫愈好。

Once I'm actually in the computer, I tend to follow the standard of building something quick and easy first, then refine multiple times while keeping animators in the loop. Most of the time when I'm building something, I'll be scripting it out at the same time. Usually my scripts at that point are full of pseudo-code and lots of comments. I'm not worried about clean code at that point until I'm sure that I'm on the right track with a clean and useful rig.


What are some of the things that help motivate and inspiring your work?

Anything art related! Animated shorts, cool game art, sculptures, new technology. Nothing gets me going better than seeing some cool techniques, technology, or an end result where I want to reverse engineer how it was done.


Rigging can be a lot of trail and error. What do you do to work faster?

Scripting. If you're going to do something more than once (and yes, you will be doing more than once), script it out. I do not remember hearing this advice when I first started, but once I started to actually do that, my efficiency increased. Once you feel comfortable doing "scripting" to automate things, then you start to tinker with actually developing tools and workflows around your efficiencies. It's all about taking tasks that you can automate and repeat, and turn them into a button click, or a mouse swipe. Once you do that, you'll have more time to concentrate on aesthetics or just making things *better*. You're always going to have trial and error. It's usually called R&D, and everyone at some point will have something they must throw away. As long as you can learn from a failed attempt, it isn't really a fail at all.



In your career, was there one challenge in rigging that particular was hard for you?

Good question. I can't pinpoint one single instance, but I can certainly list a bunch of items that stick out in my mind

1. Creating a really nice, animator friendly, deer leg rig. It took awhile to get the internal mechanics of this right, but it was definitely a challenge to figure something out that treaded the line between ease of usability vs automation for a 3-joint leg that you would find in a dog, cat, deer, etc.
1. 製作一付好用又對animator友善的鹿腿rig。我花了一段時間才把這個rig的內部機構給搞對,這絕對是一個挑戰,面對3節骨頭的腿部設定時(比如:狗、貓、鹿、etc.),在簡單好用與全自動的設計之間,你必須做出正確取捨。

2. We had an odd character to rig once that was a bit of a challenge - he was basically a snake-like body, but he had 4 arms, 4 feet, and a tail. the tricky part was figuring out a nice ik + fk solution that allowed the "tail" portion to stick to the ground like an inch-worm might crawl.
2. 我們面對了一個有著蛇身、四隻手、四條腿、和一隻尾巴的古怪角色。最困難的部分就是那條尾巴,不但要有好的ik + fk控制,而且還要能夠黏在地板上像尺蠖一樣爬行。

3. The road runner's leg/wheel. There's actually a lot of cool things going on in that rig even though it gets little screen time. There are some utility node networks that I setup that allow volume scaling of the joints based on position along the circle, so as the circle was spinning, the joints could scale as they reach the front of the circle. All animator controlled, of course.
3. Roadrunnner的腿和圈圈的切換。這個rig裡面有很多很酷的東西,儘管它只出現在動畫裡一眨眼的時間而已。我設計了一些Utility的網絡(network),讓骨頭能夠針對圈圈位置做體積上的縮放變化,所以當圈圈開始轉動時,我就能用骨頭來做變化。這部分理所當然的還是要交由animator來控制。

4. Rigging and skinning Boog from Open Season (for Open Season 2 and 3) - we knew how much control Sony had originally put into the silhouette controls for boog, and we knew how much that slowed down his rig. We obviously had to be able to match that amount of control, but because of our tighter deadline/quotas, we couldn't necessarily have that slow of a rig.
4. 打獵季節2和3裡的主角棕熊Boog的rigging和skinning。我們知道Sony用了很巨量的控制器來控制Boog的剪影,但同時我們也知道這些控制器讓rig變得非常笨重,所以我們不但要做到和原本rig同樣的控制器數量,而且因為緊迫的時程,我們也絕不能讓笨重的rig拖累到進度。

There are plenty more challenges over the years, but that's just a few off the top of my head!


If somebody out there is thinking about becoming a rigger, what would be your best advice to them?

In order to be the best rigger, you don't have to be the best programmer. The 'tech' side of it can sometimes be lost on people - they will either absorb themselves into it too much, or be afraid of it. To be a great rigger, you need to find the happy medium. You should have a love for animation and should hopefully have animated yourself at some point - successful or not. You should also know how to model, but you don't necessarily have to be the best modeler. You should know your software package inside and out, always experimenting and challenging yourself to make a better rig. When you make a rig, you shouldn't ask yourself if it's a cool rig - you should ask yourself if it is easy for an animator to use while still giving them the control they want and need. Avoid over-thinking the mechanics of a rig. If a rig needs a manual on how to use it, you've gone too far. Collaborate with your team; animators are your client.

rigging dojo logo

Can you tell us a bit about Rigging Dojo?
Rigging Dojo的事嗎?

Rigging Dojo is an online school setup to train people in the art of rigging. We've set this school up a little differently than other schools, in that we aren't just giving a templated curriculum that gets generalized for all students. We try to cater towards the students skill level and adjust the instruction from there. There's a lot of focus on 'concepts' and a little less focus on tutorials. We want to make sure people are understanding the "why" and not just the "how".
Rigging Dojo是一個線上教學機構,成立來教大家rigging的技藝。我們這間學校跟其他學校有點不同,就是我們不用制式化的課程讓每個學生最後變得普通。我們試著因材施教,並且隨時調整指導方針。我們專注在教導「觀念」然後才是技術教學,我希望我們的學生都知道「為什麼」而不是只知道「怎麼做」。

Our intent from the beginning has always been to find and teach students that we would want to hire, and so far we have been successful at this. We've had students break into the industry, take their careers to the next level, and have even hired some students ourselves. We should have some new offerings coming up in 2012 for those that are looking for other options instead of just a 1-on-1 mentor course. More information can be found on our FAQ page at http://www.riggingDojo.com/faq/


Matt asks: It seems that you've worked on a lot of projects that involved hair/fur. How does this affect your workflow in rigging, and what kinds of obstacles does it create?

It varies on the quality, the character, budget, but most importantly - the fur system that you have to work with. Typically we're given curves or nurbs objects that drive hair/feathers/fur, so we just need to rig those as we would rig anything else. We do have dynamics setup in those types of rigs, which animators can choose to use or not. The biggest problem when dealing with furred characters is usually the penetration of the fur itself. when an arm bends, you need to be aware of how long the fur is around the elbow and how it reacts to your skinned mesh. As long as you have a way to control the fur, you'll be able to prevent some nasty looking fur penetration.


 Have you an opinion about the playable characters in games? If you were into that line of work, what would you do / do different?

I worked briefly in games years ago, so technology has certainly evolved since then. If you look at games like Uncharted 3 (just came out!), they are doing some really cool stuff with character deformations/rendering. I think technology is definitely bringing the film and game worlds closer, but rendered/film characters will always have the advantage of being able to layer on as many 'special' deformers as you want, where games are mostly limited to blendshapes and joints (that i'm aware of). You can really do the same stuff in the rigs though, you just need to approach it slightly differently. Take a look at what the animators achieved with Epic Mickey - that rig was pretty much open for any squash/stretch cartoony-ness that they needed. Perhaps not at the facial deformation level of Wile E Coyote, but they could push it pretty far.
我幾年前曾短暫地在遊戲業待過,所以我知道比起當年科技現在已經進步許多。假如你有玩過最近出的遊戲,像是:秘境探險3(Uncharted3),你會發現很多很酷的角色變形和算圖技術。我想科技已經讓影片與遊戲這兩個世界愈靠愈近,不過影片應該仍然略勝一籌,擁有各種類型的特殊變形器和更多層次(layer)的變形優勢。據我所知,目前遊戲大多仍受限於只靠joint與blendshape來變形。儘管如此,你還是用同樣的rig思維在做事,只是用不同方法來達成目標。看看遊戲傳奇米老鼠(Epic Mickey)中animator能做到的事,那表示它的rig一定也擁有很大的彈性來完成各種伸展擠壓卡通化的需求。程度也許還不如Coyote臉部變形的水準,但已經做得非常好了。


Are there any other outside activities you do that you think help your day job?

Other than mentoring to teach students but also learn from them (keeps us both fresh!), I try to fit in some time for other activities. I used to do sculpting in my free time, but that is hard to come across lately. One thing that I make sure I get in is cycling time. It keeps my mind fresh and burns off the stress that can come up during crazy production schedules. I’ve had a lot of ideas pop into my head while I’m on the bike.


Lastly, where do you see the direction of CG heading?

Tough question :)
好~難回答的問題: )

It's apparent that companies are definitely moving into a realm of 'more for their money', which can be attributed to the advances in technology. You can get things done faster, with better detail and better quality, so productions are demanding more. No doubt there are still hurdles to over come, but I don't see this trend stopping anytime soon. The biggest challenge for us as artists is to stay efficient at what we do while "upping" our game a bit on each project. We hit this a lot.  We want to get our current tasks done quicker and quicker, which doesn't mean we're trying to replace anyone; it just means that the less time we have to spend on the 'normal' tasks, the more time we'll have to spend on developing new technology, processes, etc. I'm sure every company is facing the same thing. 

As far as the style of where CG is headed, that I do not know. I do hope that we can start to see more original ideas and more studios pushing the boundaries of a normal CG feature. The biggest issue that I've seen over the years is when the "Art of" books come out for a film, they have such awesome art and concepts, but then that great art isn't translated into what we end up seeing in the movie. I think that's why I enjoy seeing a lot of student films that come out that push the style of CG into something that we normally wouldn't see. 
至於CG的風格會朝什麼方向,其實我並不清楚。我只希望能看到更多原創點子,更多公司願意挑戰一般CG影片的疆界。我看到最大的問題是,看了好多年美術設定的書("Art of" books),裡面總是有很多很棒的設定跟美術,但是最後卻沒有成功地轉換為很棒的影片。我想這就是為什麼我很喜歡看學生作品的原因,因為他們總可以把CG風格推到比較不尋常的位置去。

Thanks for the opportunity for this interview!






Josh Carey

目前擔任美國ReelFXRigging部門總監,同時也是線上Rigging教學網站Rigging Dojo的創辦人之一。曾經做過許多電影和短片的案子,像是:打獵季節3、功夫熊貓-蓋世五俠的秘密、冰原歷險記-長毛象歡度聖誕、兔巴哥系列…etc.



AnimSchool Interview: Rigger Josh Carey
Interview with Josh Carey - Rigging Supervisor



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