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CEPHALOPOD RIGGING (TENTACLES)

I have been busy working on this experimental project and have been getting impatient to finally get it on the blog. Talking scientifically rigging a cephalopod limb! what are we talking about ? tentacles. 8 legged characters though technically speaking and I learned this while writing this article an octopus has two legs and six arms (don't ask me which is which as I have no idea). It has to be one of the most complex rigging experiences as it has to remain simple enough that animators can actually animate with it! but at the same time it needs to squash, stretch, twist, spiral, and curl all that and in all axis!. In fact is there anything a tentacle can't do?.


So in the above video clip, the main skeleton is skin bound to the character rig and all the other functionality comes from duplicated joint chains influencing the bound skeleton that includes FK, IK with squash & stretch.  The mini rendered scene was rendered in 3 parts using Maya's render setup for render layers. (1) the octopus on its own as I didn't want any depth of field (DOF) but as you probably already know if you are interested in doing this kind of thing the ground plane was present in the layer with an absolute attribute plugged into its visibility node. (2) the reverse for the sandy ground plane as there is DOF on this and to catch the shadows well the octopus has to be in the render layer but again with an absolute attribute plugged into its visibility node. The caustic light effect visible on the sandy ground plane was rendered directly into the image also, it's called a gobo effect and uses a pre-rendered image sequence plugged into the lights texture node. The third and final camera shot was rendered in one layer with the water splash effect and as I mentioned above with full global illumination (GI) and a subsurface scattering (SSS) effect on the skin material of the octopus the render times were very long!. The rest of the effects water surface displacement map and god rays and the sand particles were all done in post using After Effects (AE). Everything that you see moving apart from the facial expressions are using the dynamic rig setup influencing the skin bound joints and I was going for a kind of jelly wobble look and I think it worked out quite well?. What do you think I would love to get your comments on this.

The rig has a lot more options built into it besides the dynamics system using Maya's nHair including control curves attached to the dynamic hair curves parented to clusters for the second level of control. A procedural chain that deals with all the sine movements. The Dynamic & Sine systems are both custom attributes and are boolean switches either ON/ OFF, I used offset groups in the IK and FK joint chain hierarchy and the dynamics are plugged into the FK rig and the Sine is using the IK rig, offset groups. Both IK & FK are using a float attribute so I can keyframe between the different options using set driven keys (SDK). I am in the process of animating another little video, proof of concept demonstrating using just one of the tentacles all its built-in functionality. I will upload it here as soon as it is presentable...

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