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Nathan Vegdahl did it again! On this 8th DVD in the Blender Open Movie workshop, he progressively teaches us the theories and practical applications on how to set up rigs and how to solve the problems that we might encounter along the way.
This DVD contains valuable information that any Blender enthusiast (or 3D artists for that matter) will definitely find insightful. Nathan's approach on problem solving in general is a treasure in its own and is somehow delivered through the tutorials and be the witness yourself.
Being a regular rigging guy, my perspective towards setting up bones and armatures has totally changed and this open movie workshop greatly influenced how I'll approach my rig setups from here on. Somehow, it felt like I had been time-warped three years in time, when I was heavily using these concepts (constraints, actions, etc.) AND realize in the present time that I had done things the wrong (non-optimized) way. Thanks to the training DVD, this is all clear to me now.
I have to warn you though: the training DVD DOES NOT teach you how to specifically rig a type of character, machinery, or anything that you wish you thought about (e.g. T-Rex on rollerblades, a centaurian mermaid, centipede gorilla, etc.). But instead, it teaches you the core concepts on how you can BUILD your own and customized rigs, with Nathan's initial guidance in mind. This, in a way, is a feature that I myself have found very very useful. Like the saying goes: 'Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.'
Another plus I've observed while watching the training is that the whole time I felt like I was in a class or in an actual session. The presentation of the concepts plus the handwritten notes and drawings that appear therein are just so comfortable and relaxing to experience, not too technical and not too strict in a sense.
If you want to learn how to rig properly, explore why and how it happened, with so much fun, then this is definitely for you.
To give you an overview of what the training DVD contains, here's a list:
Custom bone shapes
Rigging in parts
Planning for requirements
Basic leg rigging
Sorting controls into layers
False custom shape transforms
A precursor to the torso/spine rig
The constraint stack and advanced constraint usage
Advanced inverse kinematics usage
Switchable parent-child relationships
Isolating bone rotation
Basic mesh deformation with "armature deform" modifiers
Building your own custom bone shapes
The "local location" toggle
The importance of knowing anatomy
Advanced torso/spine rigging
Pivot slide rigging
Improved finger rigging
Colorizing rig controls
Blender's library linking system
Blender's "proxy" system
Setting up rigs to be used in multiple files
Now, that sure is a huge list! But worry not, since the author gradually takes you one step at a time and by the moment you realize it, you're already done, confident, and ready to face the problems the rigging world has to present.
One of my top choices is 'Rotation Theory' in CHAPTER 3. You'll see why once you immerse yourself in it.
Oh, and did I mention *there are* a couple of background music here and there, which is really nice!
Majority of this review will pretty much describe the pros I have observed while watching it, however, there's only a single thing I would hope would be there, that is to have a way to specifically go to a topic in a video. For example, an index page that would take me to the concept of 'deltas', to which it will lead me to, say, 01:30 of video x or something. This would really be useful for people like me who are practically daunted by some theories explained therein.
After watching the whole thing though, I felt sad that I had to finally leave the training DVD and more on to other things, I was so 'hooked' into it that I was expecting to learn more, even beyond the capacity of the DVD itself. Well, that's just how it is. :)
EASE OF LEARNING: 9/10
With all that said and if you're still reading these ramblings until now, there's no rigging introduction that I could recommend more than this. 'Humane Rigging' is the definitive guide for rigging in general that I have ever experienced yet.
Nathan Vegdahl never ceases to amaze me. Not only is he one of the greatest technical teachers I've ever experienced, but his sense of humor and practicality astounds me. He treats and handles rigs with such finesse despite the intricacies. Hands down. One day, I'm hoping I could bump fists with him and suck in all rigging and animation info my mind can handle. Until then.
Happy Blending, everyone!