10 July 2012

Nathan Vegdahl's - Humane Rigging - DVD Review

Another month and it's time to do another Blender Foundation Open Movie Workshop training DVD release review.

The Blender Foundation Open Movie Workshop training DVD are high quality training DVD's covering all aspects of production and training in relation to Blender 3D. They are the nearest thing to official/gold standard training that the Blender Community currently has access to, as they tend to be created by the people that created Blender. Each DVD is released under Creative Commons Licensing.  The sale of the training DVD helps support the Blender Foundation and helps in improving Blender.

This time the DVD released is "Humane Rigging" created by Nathan Vegdahl, the irrepressible guy who has worked on many of the Blender Foundation's Open Movie Projects and has produced many different training products.

For those who don't already know Nathan is an extremely talented Blender user who specializes in all things rigging. Which means that he is the ideal person to be producing this training DVD, as it covers rigging in Blender.

Humane Rigging - Blender Foundation Training DVD 8

Product Specifications:
  • Name: Training DVD 8: Humane Rigging - Rigging For Human Beings
  • Author: Nathan Vegdahl
  • Price: €27.50 (as of 10th July 2012)
  • Type: Video Training DVD
  • Runtime: 6 Hours (approximately)

The first thing to say about this DVD is that it only covers certain concepts related to rigging in Blender.  It will not cover how to animate the rigs you create with this DVD, nor will it cover deformations in any great detail and weight painting is only briefly demonstrated.  This is to be expected as rigging is a vast and sometimes complex topic, and trying to cover both rigging, weight painting and animation at the same time would make this DVD much longer than it already is.

What is covered are the major rigging structures and controls that are needed to make flexible rigs which can stand up to a real world production requirements of a professional animator, giving the animator the flexibility they need to get their job done.

The approach Nathan takes to do this is simple and effective, he goes over the topics he wants to teach by introducing and creating 3 character rig types.  Each different rig type explaining an important rigging concept in Blender.

The 3 different rig types are loosely ordered from simple to complex, using a process of continued refinement to the rigs to make them more flexible as new topics are introduced to the watcher.  This helps greatly when trying to get to grips with some of the more complex theoretical concepts that Nathan explains throughout the DVD.  It is important to note that Nathan does introduce a lot of theory as well as practical instruction when creating his rigs.  I found this very useful and educational.

The DVD is very well narrated and Nathan on the whole is very clear when it comes to explaining the topics of rigging.  Though rigging is a complex topic and by necessity you will have to be paying complete attention to what he is saying if you want to understand the rigs he makes.  Rigging at the best of times can be confusing but Nathan does his best to keep it understandable.

Over the course of the 6 chapters, Nathan shows you how to rig some of the major parts of a character (fingers, eyes, hands, palms, feet, legs, etc.).  He also covers using various modifiers and constraints to make the job of rigging more efficient and his rigs more powerful.

By the end of this DVD you will have good knowledge of what Rigs, Bone Constraints and Drivers can be used for.  The Bone and Driver Constraints are used extensively in Nathan's rig and his descriptions of how to use these features if very good.  Another highlight of the DVD was Nathans discussion of Intermediate Parenting and it uses.  I found this very useful once I was able to wrap my head around it.  Also the use of drivers to prevent alterations to specific rig values was very clever.

I personally think that if you are a beginner/intermediate Blender user starting out in the rigging side of things that you will learn a lot from this DVD.  Be warned though that you will be required to be paying attention and probably have to rewatch parts of the DVD repeatedly to get your head around a lot of the topics Nathan goes over.

All in all an excellent DVD, well worth adding to your collection especially if you have an interest in wanting to rig more effectively in Blender.

Review Score 85%