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seeking rigging and animating a face in maya workflow advice


I have to rig and animate a face talking specific text for 30 seconds. I've to do it in Maya and it's a software I've never used before - which isn't a problem, plethora of tuts out there, but I'm to rig and animate for the first time ever as well - and I have to do it fast, project is due in 16 hours, so I have very little time to experiment (is it even realistic to make it?) The level of detail and animation quality should be something alike skyrims, so nothing too complex.

I have a low rez UVed sculpt with all the maps and textures already set up in marmoset - and I heard it's possible to render the animation inside as well?
I need distilled information. some of the questions I have.

1. what's the best way to rig it (should I rig with blend shapes or bones - or both> maybe someone know good tuts)
2. should I make it myself or should I download face controllers UI from somewhere (dunno if it's even the right question to ask)
3. Is it really possible to export all kinds of animation from Maya to marmoset for render (blend shapes or bone rig animations - doesn't matter \ is it a simple fbx export from maya to make it work? (i really would like to use marmoset to render))

4. any advice in general on how to meet this deadline and how to handle the situation

greatly appreciated - thank you!


  • Eric Chadwick
    16 hours is really tight if you have no experience. If you're a skilled rigger, 16 hours is probably doable for Skyrim-quality animation.

    Depends a lot on the topology of the mesh, if it's not made for animation you'll have lots of trouble trying to get decent weighting and deformations.

    For Toolbag-specific questions, paging @EarthQuake who works there. You may also want to ask in the Marmoset section since there tend to be skilled users in there. 

  • oglu
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    oglu polycount lvl 666
    The facerigger in mGear could help to get started.
  • pao_viko
    Thank you for the advice, both of you. Got some extra time to finish it up. I only managed to do a face rig yesterday, and a real shitty one in terms of skinning. But I do have the controls set up and can control most of the more subtle animations and eye movements, so I've been thinking - is it logical to sculpt the more extreme facial situations in zbrush and mix these methods together? I think that might be a solution

  • thomasp
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    thomasp hero character
    This job with the deadline as stated in the OP sounds right out of Mission Impossible: Highway to Hell. Ideally you should be given time to test your pipeline prior to jumping into the finer points of facial rigging in a software unfamiliar to you.

    I read about 16 hours but no consideration given to actually animating the facial rig? In my first job we had this genius senior artist on the team who took a couple days to link the jaw bone of a face rig to an audio file and exported that into Unreal for a cinematic... well, I do not recommend that approach.
    Instead perhaps look into making the rig so it works well with one of these automated facial animation solutions that take a video of someone talking and retarget that. There are some nice looking results out there. Not sure which of these tools are available for Maya or play nicely with it. You'd need time to properly check them out.

    Anything beyond the simplest of skeletal animation/vertex skinning is probably going to be lost in translation when using FBX, plus you can run into trouble with different FBX versions, scale issues and so on. If you really need to output to Toolbag for rendering then consider Alembic as a transfer format. From memory you'll have to bake it all into a geometry cache prior to export. That must be fun with a 30 seconds timeline.

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