Muscle Systems for Game Production

  Game Developers Conference 2006 Session

Speaker: Jason Parks (Technical Artist, Sony Computer Entertainment America)
Date/Time: Friday (March 24, 2006) 2:30pm — 4:30pm
Track: Visual Arts
Format: 2-Hour Lecture
Experience Level: Advanced - Requires experience and familiarity with subject.

Session Description:
Muscle systems can seem very daunting and far too complicated to consider using in your production pipeline. However, once the concepts are broken down and explained, it becomes clear how to construct them and make them go. This lecture demystifies the two principal components involved: the muscle model and the skinning solution. The presenters cover all the desired features these components can offer. Typically, muscle systems have only been used in the academic arena or as high-end solutions in the feature film industry. Now is the time to start using these techniques in game development. How these systems can be used a game production pipeline is discussed.

Most of the major commercial and open-source systems available for Maya today, as well as theories and strategies for automating the creation of these systems, are compared and evaluated in the presentation. This lecture is the sequel to, and should be used in conjunction with the course presented last year: “Helper Joints: Advanced Deformations on RunTime Characters.”

Idea Takeaway:
Technical artists learn what are the most popular features needed in a muscle model and a skinning solution. Attendees take away an evaluation of the major commercial and open-source solutions available today. Attendees also take away the following ideas: how systems can be mixed and matched and used in different ways; automation theories and strategies; and applications in game production.

Intended Audience:
This course is intended for the character technical artist who is faced with the task of delivering the next level of realism and quality in their game characters or general enthusiasts who have always been curious as to how muscle systems work, what they are made of. Even though all of the systems will be demonstrated in Maya, the theories are universal and can be used with other 3D modeling/animating/rigging packages. It is a good idea to have a basic understanding of: * Standard skinning and weighting theory. * Traditional character rigging techniques. * MEL scripting. * Maya’s Dependency Graph and underlying architecture. * Maya’s Application Programming Interface.

[Download Presentation]
This is the presentation only from the GDC website. It contains still images but does NOT contain the 2+ GBs of movies, sorry.


Helper Joints: Advanced Deformations on RunTime Characters (GDC 2005)



["Anatomy of Movement” by Blandine C. Germain ]
Anatomy of Movement presents a dynamic, integrated approach to the study of the physical structures of the musculoskeletal system and their functional relationship to the movements of the human body.
[PAN Arts by Warwick Mellow ]
Character setup techniques, with isolated deformations.
["Building Efficient, Accurate Character Skins from Examples" by Mohr/Gleicher]]
Siggraph 2003 paper on auto-computing number and weighting of Helper Joints.

  External Links

Muscle Systems:
Open source muscle plug-in for maya, poly/NURB muscle model. Now v2.0 too!
[CG|Toolkit: MuscleTK]
Muscle plug-in for Maya with skin simulation, launches November 1rst
Free Muscle plug-in for Maya, with skin deformer which contains a sliding solution.
[Comet Muscle System]
Muscle plug-in for Maya, hasn't been updated in a while, no beta, looks very promising
[Shipkov Muscle]
Peter Shipkov's free Muscle script
[cgCharacter ACT]
Muscle plug-in for 3DS Max, early beta for Maya with no deformer
Character Animation Tools Muscle product
Cloth Simulator for most 3D software


  Master Classes

[Custom Character Tookit]
Maya Techniques™ | Customer Character Toolkit allows you to explore the methodologies and techniques involved with building a character pipeline.

[Hyper-Realistic Body Rigging 2]
Maya Techniques™ | Hyper-Realistic Body Rigging 2 has Thuriot's New Muscle Model.

Sculptures and wall chart

Updated: 2/27/06

Email: Jason Parks