FMX2022: A new way to rig

Published Categorized as Business Stories, Smart Industry

Pixar presents their new way of rigging

At the FMX 2022 Pixar presented their newest innovation in rigging technology. They held a panel, talking about their work for the movie “Turning Red”, where the model of the main character represents a radical divergence from traditional rigging techniques.

Charakters rigged through a new way to rig.
Red Pandas in Pixar’s “Turning Red”

Traditional Rigging

Traditionally, rigging refers to the process of creating the bone structure for a 3D model. Riggers use this bone structure to manipulate the 3D model like a puppet for animation. Through this, they can rig pretty much anything. From space ship to soldier or even galaxies it really doesn’t make a difference what the object is.

A skeleton will allow any object to be animated freely. This technique greatly simplifies the animation process and improves production efficiency. Because of that rigging is most common in animated characters for games and movies. Once rigged with a skeleton, any 3D object can be controlled and distorted as needed.

Pixar is changing the rig game

William Sheffler, Senior Character Artist & Modeler held a talk during the FMX2022 presenting their new way to rig. Pixar developed a new technique using bezier curves to rig 3D models.

Traditional riggers might be used to compliacted structures inside of models with a lot of rigging points. Pixars riggers won’t be using those anymore though. The shilouette of a 3D model now describes its form. The very curve system describing the mesh can now be used to animate the model. The technology is still quite new and is still being developed. So while the body and some additional extremities like, tail and ears where rigged with the new system, facial expressions where still rigged using more traditional ways.

Animators working for Pixar will use their new system going forward. They already plan their next movies with their rigging system in mind. Riggers will not only move extremities through curves, but whole models.

Rigging with Bezier Curves

Success and future use

William Sheffler already called the new rigsystem a huge success. Pixar used the new system only for the pandas in “Turning Red”, yet is planning on using it for the whole “Lightyear” production.

Since this is a new technology, based on much more than a first glance lets on, Pixar will release a paper on this topic. For those of you, that find themselves interested in rigging or already in the position of a Rigger, this paper might prove to be informative. William Sheffler, who also is one of the co-authors, already teased the paper to include a lot of maths and the calculations done for the system to smoothly work.

The average Pixar fan might have to wait some time, before using this rigging process. This is because Pixar is usually working in a closed system. Since Pixar is releasing their paper soon and it will be a question of time until riggers use their system widely spread. They are right to call this rigging process a huge sucess and it’s exiting to see where it goes.


By Marc Gehrmann

I am a designer, that is not only interested in designing new objects, projects and processes, but also the theory that design itself is based on. My taste in design favors projects, that are useful to many rather than just a few. Design can do a lot to make the world are better and more interesting, inclusive place and I want to be a part of that.

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