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Chapter 16. Character Setup Pipeline for... > The Character Setup Pipeline

The Character Setup Pipeline

The “life” of a character begins the second you start laying out its joints and determining how the controls will cause the character to move and interact with its environment. Many steps are involved with character setup, and most steps can be accomplished during the initial model creation or after the model is finished. The bulk of your work should really be spread out in an intelligent and planned scheme so that it works as much as possible in concurrence with the animation, texture painting, shading, lighting, and rendering budgeted time schedule. You should be able to publish updates of the rigged character into the pipeline as they are completed and needed by each department. This is how things need to work to function properly on a schedule in a real production environment with real deadlines, whether it be in the film or the game industry. Specific stages must occur to integrate the character rig seamlessly into the rest of the production to achieve full time/output efficiency.

The typical character setup pipeline can be broken up into the following generalized stages. Each stage is designed to be a separate element that could be preceded with an additional prerequisite stage or replaced entirely with a similar combination of stages. Depending on a specific production's needs—a commercial versus a feature film versus a game production versus a viz/sim project—each will have specific caveats that further define the details of the stages involved with the pipeline, depending on how many departments are involved, what the timeframe is, and how the data I/O pipeline needs to function (for example, file formats the 3D data needs to be converted from or into for the final digital output formats). Figure 16.2 shows a prototype of a character setup pipeline.


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