Can I make a career as a Rigger?

Hello guys , my biggest dream was to be a master of animation but I beggin my journey in blender with modeling but when I realize that modeling it’s not my best sport I start to learning rigging and animation but rigging it’s what I love most ,so my question is if there is a chance to make a career in rigging?
Please I need a curious answers ,
Iam also working in animation but as you can imagine is a slow process :smiley:

Yes, totally, riggers are actually much needed. Download a couple of 3D models from blendswap or sketchfab (different ones, like some organic, some mechanic), rig them them with as much care as you can, record a demo of you playing around with your rig in the viewport, featuring the nice constraints you implemented, edit these video together into a demo clip with your contact info on it and show it around! :slight_smile:

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I totally agree with Mink, it’s hard to find riggers. On some projects you can rely on automated rigging, but for a cartoony rig or when you want to have special controls it’s impossible to get to the result without rigging knowledge.

Can you rig in Maya?
That’s where most of the studios are having their animation pipeline (game,VFX, TV).
You may think Blender is on the rise and there are many job opportunities, but actually the truth is the industry landscape hasn’t changed much. You want a job as a rigger, learn Maya, that’ll improve your chances by a factor of 10.

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I agree, learn Maya, just the rigging part, if you’re any good you’ll likely get work cos nobody likes rigging.

Oh man this is bad and IAM in the situation that iam very good in rigging in blender :frowning: I don’t want to leave blender for Maya​:frowning: because for modeling I really don’t care to much in which program i will do

Well it is probably more true about Rigging and Animation than anything else.

I don’t think you’d have to leave Blender. I mean you could work only in Blender if you want. Nothing wrong with that.

But here is another way to look at it. Maya has better rigging tools and a more robust and “tried and true” animation system that is used widely in studios.

So the professional in you might want to be thinking about knowing everything you can know about rigging that you can. If you want this as a career, I think it is worth considering learning Maya.

This is my way of looking at it. Knowledge is power. And if you are interested in a professional career at anything, don’t limit your knowledge based on predetermined bias. Seek to know anything and everything you can.

In fact, even if you intend to only find work in Blender, as a professional rigger you should also be conversant with and be able to go back and forth between Maya and Blender.

There is no shame in that. Only more knowledge.

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For me it’s the opposite. Under no circumstance do you get me to even think about rigging in anything but Maya.

If you want to have a career, you should go the path of least resistance and biggest chance of succes, job opportunities in Maya outweigh Blender by a factor of 10+ if not 50+.
Yes, I’ve pulled that number out of thin air. I have actually never seen any job offers in regards to rigging in Blender (except here on BA), but there are plenty for Maya. I would say that rigging is one of those disciplines that is always highly sought after, probably some of the best chances for jobs besides Houdini artists.
Limiting yourself to Blender is like leaving plenty of money on the table, as well as really interesting jobs, i would strongly recommend against it.

Also If you are good at rigging in Blender then you will have no problems taking your fundamental knowledge to Maya and become really good there.

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From what I am seeing right now currently working as an animation technical director across several projects. Is that there does seem to be a lot of pure animators out there and not very many skilled riggers and TD’s. And I don’t really class being able to use auto rigging features as being a true rigger or TD.
But from my own past experience and career Journey. I would caution anyone about planning a whole career and future around any one aspect of the CG industry.
This is a difficult point to get though now as so many of the educational establishments out there seem to be going this way. Encouraging people to focus on ever narrowing goals software’s and current existing industry niches. But the industry changes on a dime and is always moving. Nothing is static. Especially not job descriptions and technical roles.

Focus on being a good all round technical creative above all if you want to go in this direction. Most of these skills sets and principles are transferable across different apps and systems once grasped.

And in respectful regards to some of the other comments. I would also cation against becoming fixed to any one app to base your career on as well. Try to be as flexible and adaptable as possible.

Maya is still dominant in the industry but Blender is coming on leaps and bounds and is only going to get better. I am convinced it’s going to gain a lot of industry ground in the future. So I would say focus on both if you can. I’ve worked extensively with animation and rigging across multiple apps over the years , 3DS Max Softimage Maya and now Blender. And I have used and tested the Blender rigging and animation tool kit now enough to know that it is pretty damned good and only getting better.

It can also do a lot of things faster and easier now than Maya and is starting to innovate in it’s own way. Such as the Bendy stretchy B bone features. Character rig scene referencing also just got a huge boost. Maya dominated by being the ultimate pipeline king rather than a stand alone generalist app as Max and Blender traditionally were. But this is changing now with Blender too. Pipeline integration is getting a lot of focus. Especially now it is getting used more in big studio productions.

So yes. I’d say learn the Maya tool set too but don’t loose focus on Blender either. What you learn in both will be transferable. Focus on broader principles. And try not to get put in any particular box longer term.

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i starting using maya 2 years ago and i learn the modeling tools , then i move in to the rigging and stopped there because in that stage i didnt had any idea about rigging ,after that i return in blender 2.79 because for me blender ui and hot keys was just outstanding and i learn rigging there, after that i never look back in to the autodesk maya :neutral_face:
you really made me skeptical and now iam confused :smiley:

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Don’t feel confused. Blender is more efficient and user friendly in many areas over Maya. Even some areas of animation and rigging.

Maya’s huge advantage was it’s heavy pipeline focus. It is mostly designed to be used over big productions with teams focused on specific areas. It’s biggest strength I think really is in packaging up and managing huge amounts of interdependent data across a typical studio production. It has never really been a user friendly stand alone generalist app the way 3DS Max, Lightwave, Cinema 4D and Blender etc have traditionally been. So that’s why it often will seem less friendly or straight forward to use than Blender.

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Don’t be confused. You already know how to rig in Blender so you’re more than halfway there - getting up to date with Maya will be easy for you if you already mastered the principles in one software.

Maybe that’s just me, but i find Blender is absolutely not straight forward, rather pretty idiosyncratic and weird. Especially the rigging. I hate it.
I was absolutely dumbfounded by the simplicity of some of Maya’s workflow, which i couldn’t foresee because it was too simple. I expected something complex. This is what Blender does to your Brain. :laughing:

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By the way, I completely get the reason why you can be confused. I think I have been through this. For me, the change was when I realized I was being a fan of software rather than a user of software.

Originally, I was a fan of LightWave. Mainly because I did not know anything else. And it did seem to give me what I wanted. Over time this changed. And the huge decision for me was to switch to Blender.

And this changed me to a fan of Blender, and an objective user of LightWave. I could see the drastic difference in my views regarding LightWave as just another software with some great things and some not-so-great things. But those people who remainted as “fans” of LightWave could not see this and were defensive.

Over time I began to see that Blender as well, had serious limitations. And so, I started using Softimage, and then Maya. And a whole new world of top-of-the-line software opened up to me. And it completely changed my attitude about everything.

Software is just a tool you learn to use. But…

Every software has some limitations. And these limitations are not “well it is the artist not the software”, there are real show stoppers in some cases.

Just the other day I had to debug a rig I was exporting from Blender to Unity. Nothing I did worked. I imported the rig into Maya and tried to fix it and export from there to Unity. Sill same issues.

Finally I had to simply re-create the rig from scratch in Maya and export. Finally problem solved. And this is because Blender has some issues with fbx that can not be fixed. And probably never will be.

So, if you want to rig only in Blender and you have clients using Unity, you may have some issues you will never be able to solve in a good way. It can happen and it can be a mess.

The moral of the story. Don’t paint yourself in a corner. Keep an open mind and a toolbox that has as many tools in it you can fit and have time to learn and use.

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Sadly I think the fbx issue is something that will always be there in Blender as it’s always trying to play catch up with a constantly moving target.

Can I ask out of curiosity how you are constructing the rigs for real time in Blender ? I’ve not made any real time rigs in Blender yet. When I made these in Max I would always build a straight up FK hierarchical rig to carry and deform the character geo with everything hard parented to a central parent or motion bone. This would just be a simple bare bones top down joint hierarchy with no IK or controls of any kind. Then there would be a totally separate control and animation rig on top of that driving it with constriants. Then I would filter out the animation rig and only export and bake the simple FK hierarchy and skinned geo. This seemed to work well in most cases and I was amazed how much was possible sometimes.

I’ve read of some on here trying to export auto rig systems like Rigify. But I can’t see how this would ever work. But due to how many have asked about it I’m sure there is a place for an auto rigging system in Blender that is designed and optimized specifically for game engine export.

I think you are very right when you say perhaps it’s just me. I feel the same way. Perhaps it’s just me. So many of these things can be deeply subjective from a personal perspective. And also very reliant on what sort of work is being attempted and the situation and time or money involved.

Many people say ZBrush is weird and confusing yet I found after years of hearing how difficult it was that I took to it instantly and found it incredibly creatively liberating. Perhaps it’s because of having started off in traditional sculpture. But to me it all feels so natural. And is the only 3D focused app I feel is relaxing to work and create with in the late evenings.

I thought the simple FK hierarchy rig with skinned geo + the control rig approach is the standard?
It makes the most sense and is the most versatile when it comes to exporting into another program or an crowd sim system. But admittedly i don’t know much about rigging - i just do it as part of my hobby, same with animation.

In regards to ZBrush, i can only shake my head when i hear these stories from other users - I’ve never felt that way. Sure it is weird and confusing in some way’s, but the confusion i felt when trying to adopt to Blender was much more intense (for a while).
I think it has a lot to do with personality. I am very rigorous and i move very systematic. I might take longer than others to adopt to something, but when i do it goes deep into (muscle) memory and it re-structures my Brain. I feel a constant imposter syndrome, that’s why i push deeper to avoid feeling uncertainty, which then gives me confidence. Even if i am not that great of a sculptor/rigger/animator and i don’t know everything, i do feel save and relaxed whatever i do. It took me some years, but i am at the point where i really understand the relevant art fundamentals and i am no longer bound to programs and can move freely wherever i want to go.
It’s great and feels awesome.

I will spare you the details. It has nothing to do with how it is rigged. FYI it was a straight rig. Just a spine basically with only one parent bone and a series of bones under it not in a parent chain.

It has to do with some real-time simulation robotics.

However when it comes to characters, we build a simple fk rig of deform bones that are compatible with Maya/MotionBuilder HIK.

We animate with any rig system of choice, be it Rigify or Blendrig. Our deform bones are constrained to the necessary deform bones in the more complex rig.

The animation is then baked to our deform bones and exported free of anything else. This gives us the option to also use these characters in MotionBuilder and keep the same deform rig between the two.

It is indeed the cleanest way to do it and we never have any issues there exactly. The issues are just those inherent in a hacked fbx exporter that simply has bugs. Add this to Unity - which in my opinion is crap when it comes to transforms - and it becomes a mess.

Additionally I have to work with programmers that have some very specific needs with the robotic real time system. And it is extremely easy to break it.

Unreal is far more forgiving.

My own take on this subject, is that I would recommend to go for a technical artist position, which means to become a generalist first that can have many skills to pick from the inventory, rather than one exclusive.

Starting from a young age as a professional it will be almost impossible get production quality rigs and work as a full-blown rigger, also exclusive riggers, might only be required by some only specific high-end studios with enough resources to afford a full time rigger. However in most common cases as a generalist (simply you will need to make the life of creative people easier so they don’t have to deal with technical stuff). Your skills will be much more expanded and much more useful in many situations.

However this is my own estimation, I have zero experience in CG, only in IT, so this is only a matter of resource allocation first from the company’s side and also getting your first steps. Then as you spend enough years in the industry and keep sharpening the rigging skills on your own (perhaps the company will pay for your Maya licence and you get to learn it for “free”) and keep searching “rigger” positions, chances are that you will see then what goes.

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rigging and animation its my main goals, modeling its quite easy iam not the best but i know many things for good topology and all kind of things because for rigging good topology its very important for mesh deformation

Animation and rigging have quite the synergy so it means that you would have best of both worlds that way. Also another thing to note here, is that animation has now lots of “generalist” roles in it by now, which is far from what we consider “traditional animation” where each keyframe was placed manually. Now there would be a combo of simulation-tracking-mocap and this means that what is as important to capture data and edit them further and also as equally important to create manual animations from scratch that look good. Is about using the technology and also having the skills.

Also about modeling or texturing do not worry at all, since you are trying to focus only on animations. However you can use some premade assets (or paid if you want them to be used commercially) so just you have some content to work with and combine it with your animations there. Because working with abstract skeletons or animatics might confuse you at times (is it a robot you animate or a zombie? different motion for each one). However what you won’t be able to avoid is to study “motion” extensively (theatrics, performers, body language) so you can acquire that important ability to know what goes into having a good animation.

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