03 June 2012

Lee Salvemini - Ninja Character Creation Volume 2 - Rigging - Tutorial Video Review

CGMasters.net recently contacted me and asked if I would do a review of their Ninja Character Creation Rigging tutorial video. This is the second tutorial in their planned to be four part series on aspects of the character creation process using Blender . Given that I was so impressed with their previous Character Creation videos, I decided I would, so off I went to download the video from the download link they sent me.

Product Specifications:
  • Name: Ninja Character Creation Volume 2 - Rigging
  • Author: Lee Salvemini
  • Price: $60 (3 Sept 2011)
  • Type: Downloadable Tutorial Video
  • Length: 9 Hours 40 Min Roughly
Chapter Sections:
  • Bonus Chapter 1 - Welcome to Blender 2.5 - (Runtime 14Min 55Sec)
  • Bonus Chapter 2 - Blender's Armatures - A Crash Course - (Runtime 15Min 11Sec)
  • Chapter 1 - Creating The Skeleton - (Runtime 8Min 36Sec)
  • Chapter 2 - Creating The Proxy Mesh - (Runtime 31Min 56Sec)
  • Chapter 3 - Rig Overview - (Runtime 15Min 52Sec)
  • Chapter 4 - Head Rig - (Runtime 14Min 49Sec)
  • Chapter 5 - Arm Rig - (Runtime 29Min 49Sec)
  • Chapter 6 - Hand Rig - (Runtime 23Min 39Sec)
  • Chapter 7 - Leg Rig - (Runtime 19Min 32Sec)
  • Chapter 8 - Foot Rig - (Runtime 22Min 22Sec)
  • Chapter 9 (Part 1) - Spine Rig Standard Version 1 - (Runtime 8Min 57Sec)
  • Chapter 9 (Part 2) - Spine Rig Advanced Version 2 - (Runtime 27Min 18Sec)
  • Chapter 10 - Accessories Rig - (Runtime 56Min 42Sec)
  • Chapter 11 (Part 1) - Eye Rig - (Runtime 35Min 7Sec)
  • Chapter 11 (Part 2) - Blend Shape - (Runtime 39Min 55Sec)
  • Chapter 12 - Custom Properties - (Runtime 57Min 5Sec)
  • Chapter 13 - Vertex Groups And Weight Painting - (Runtime 129Min 48Sec)
  • Chapter 14 - Rigging With Cloth Simulation - (Runtime 15Min 7Sec)
  • Chapter 15 - Rigify - Auto-Rigging System - (Runtime 13Min 54Sec)
The first thing to note is that the downloadable version of these tutorial videos is very large, so you will need a reasonably good internet connection to download it. I found the download rate very quick and the reliability of the download very good. There were no dropped connections and all the files downloaded correctly. If you do not have a good enough connection to the internet then you can also order a DVD version of the content which is identical to the downloadable version.

After having downloaded the files and extracted their content, I opened the index page in my web browswer and was presented with a very neat and tidy interface listing all the topics covered in each of the video tutorials. Each of the 17 chapters (15 Main chapters and 2 bonus chapters) videos are viewable either from inside the web browser, or as independent videos which can be played in your video player of choice. The VLC media player is provided for Windows and Mac people so you do not have to download it if you do not have it on your machines. Also provided in the download files are all the blend files of the different stages of rigging of the ninja character, the python script, the version of Blender used to create the rigging and even the original concept art created by David Revoy (which looks amazing).

I found the web interface very easy to navigate and the video displayed very well in the browser and were very well encoded. If the video is too small for you in the web browser the flash player that is used has a full screen option which displays the video in full high quality.

Having explored the interface I moved on to actually watching all the videos from start to finish. This took me longer than I expected because I had to go back and watch different chapters multiple times to wrap my head around what I was being told.

Rigging is one of Blender's more advanced topics and it takes some mental gymnastics to understand some of the fundamental concepts that are involved when using Blender to do rigging. I should say that I am no rigging expert and found Mr Salvemnin's instructions easy to follow and very clear, though I did have to pay complete attention to everything he said. He takes the time to not only tell you what you need to do but also why. To me it is this combination of clear instruction and the explanation of why he does things the way he does that really makes the videos invaluable as a learning tool.

On the main cgmasters website for the rigging video they mention that the videos are appropriate for any level of Blender user. I would agree with this. I think if you have never done any rigging before you should be able to follow everything, though you will need to be paying very close attention to what is done and go back and watch the videos more than once. That said if you do take the time to properly watch and re-watch the videos you will be rewarded, no matter what your level of Blender rigging experience, even battle hardened riggers will pick up tips and tricks.

I have seen and read a lot of videos and books, and I can say that I have never seen a video tutorial that is as complete and extensive as this is on the topics of rigging. As far as I can tell (remember I am no rigging expert) it doesn't miss any information or steps required to make a professional, industrial grade, fully rigged character which you could probably use on professional productions such as Sintel. There are topics covered that I have never seen covered anywhere else (Proxy Meshes, Custom Controls, etc), which really set these videos above any other at least as far as Blender is concerned. If you manage to learn all the techniques used in these videos you will be able to do almost anything Blender rigging wise.

There are topics that are covered which by rights Mr Salvemini did not need to cover but which in being covered really helped make the video sets even better (Chaptars 14 and 15 for example).

I really can't say enough good things about these videos, they are amazing, I could not find a single thing to complain about.

If you are interested in Blender and want to get expert in rigging with Blender this is the video tutorial to get.

Review Score 100%