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3D Animation tip: Proper use of the placer

Are you using the placer (also called world node) of your 3D rigs correctly? Character animator Jacob Frey explains what this controller is for and why you shouldn’t touch it while animating.

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9 comments

  1. Marcus says:

    Very helpful thanks. I missed the cool intro from your last video though. This one seemed like it didn’t have the fun of the last episode. Are you going to do that kind of thing again?

    • J.K. Riki says:

      Hey Marcus! Thanks for the comment. Each week we’ll be posting a new video that is technically part of one “episode.” So the Detective Opening of the last video is the start of the full episode, and this is like the second part of it. In future weeks more will be released, and eventually they will have a YouTube playlist of one complete episode that plays through them all! This lets people watch just bits if they want, or a full episode (once it’s released) if they have time. Don’t worry, though. Future episodes will have the “fun” you mentioned. We haven’t seen the last of Ferdinand’s characters or a certain loud mouthed frog. :)

      Hope that explains it! Thanks for watching!

  2. dobermunk says:

    Cool! Well done.

  3. Todd says:

    I gotta say, it’s great to see animators helping animators. But I never liked other animators telling me what to use and how when it comes to the rig. I think we all went through this phase when learning how to animate, trying to justify why we, ourselves, animate the way we do. As far as I am concerned, though, I use all the parts of the rig differently as necessary for the shot. I agree that there are some instances where certain workflows are smarter, but when it comes to industry animating time is money. Do what looks good and do it quickly. Cheat the IK if you need to move the whole character with the all control for a jump. For all of the budding animators out there, the only rule is that it looks good in the shot cam… Do what ever it takes to make that happen… all I’m saying is that this should not be taken as a rule only as an option. on that note… keep the videos coming! It’s always great to get tips.

    • While I think too that anything you can get away with is allowed and okay to do, this tutorial is more an explanation for what this node is primarily meant for. And as anything that is meant for something you can use it differently. However, I would claim that it helps to know what it is first. This is not “telling you what to use and how”, but someone explaining the purpose of something in a rig that a rigger deliberately implemented this way.
      Yes, you can and should break rules and if it serves your performance or your time restraints even more so, BUT before you do that you should at least know what you are breaking. I have to admit I didn’t know it for a long time. I have been there: I animated a walkcycle by moving the placer node, I animated over two axis and it would have been so great if someone would have told me that I could have avoided so many problems (and save so much time) by using the placer the way it is intended. Placing your character correctly and not having to deal with a one directional motion in two curve can save so much time. But when you are there to make this experience yourself you either have to live with it or start over. So I would say it’s a great thing to warn people about this before they waste hours manually sliding an IK controller to its place or desperately trying to remove a jiggle motion that is hard to see in the curves
      In many cases (I would claim in most cases for feature film animation where you see the ground) this advice is a huge time saver.
      And in other instances (if you don’t see the ground) breaking that rule and animating the world node can be a time saver too, but only if you have the knowledge about two different ways, you also have two options that you mentioned. Not knowing what the placer is for only leaves you misusing it and maybe having the luck to misuse it with the correct results.

      • Todd says:

        That’s a fair assessment, and I agree. I suppose I should also mention that I’m in the game industry where we don’t deal much with weird camera angles and off origin animation, But when I do animate an acting piece I use all the parts of the buffalo ;) I’ll also add that it’s been a while since I learned animation and I may have forgotten all of the mistakes I used to make. I may have also reacted a bit too much to this snippet of text explaining the video. “Jacob Frey explains what this controller is for and why you shouldn’t touch it.” The video was very well done and informative… also… thanks for the polite response!

        • Thank you for your response! I have to say, I wasn’t sure if I seemed a little rude and I am glad you didn’t take it that way. You are right, the description is maybe a bit to simplified (but you know… it has to be snappy and short) and in the video it’s not clarified that of course you can throw those advantages away if you know what it will mean for other parts of your production. Also in the animation for game loops the character usually doesn’t walk out of his world node as far as I know. I am glad we had this discussions for viewers who might wonder about this too.
          Which reminds me that we should probably do a special about animation in games and how it’s different from film animation. :D So feel free to contact us if you want to write or talk about it or know somebody else who would be good to interview.

  4. Lucas says:

    The problem with using world nodes is you never know where it can go wrong. One slip up and your model is off screen and you are frustrated to understand why or where it went. So if you do it, make sure you are very careful. I prefer using each handle alone.

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