Team profiles: Character TD

Bret Bays, the Ottoman project’s Character Technical Director, has been rigging up a storm lately. As animation ramps up, his character controls are constantly being put through their paces. Despite an endless torrent of extreme poses and feature requests, Bret’s meticulous devotion to his work shines through. We thought it would be good to share a profile of the man and his work.

The Ottoman rig in action
The Ottoman rig in action

On getting started with the team 

I came to Ottoman project when I met [Animation Director] Dimos back in summer of 2009. I was attending Animation Mentor at the time, and he was a mentor there as well. We had sort of met through C4D beta testing, but when he found out I was at AM we began to talk.

When I first started, reusing rigs was the biggest challenge. There was no system in place. Python wasn’t implemented yet (in R11) and I didn’t know COFFEE, so scripting it was not an option for me. R13 helped solve that issue, but it had its own quirks when trying to easily and quickly rebuild rigs. 

On the rigs themselves

They have a lot of fundamentals. They’re sturdy. There’s always stuff I’d like to add, or do differently, as time goes on, but if I kept going back and revising, the short would never get animated. I’m glad I got it working as a template though. Might be safe to say I’m the first person to create a face rig template in Cinema 4D. 

I was pretty proud of the Scorpion Mecha rig. That was a challenge, and I like the dynamic, springy-ness of the cockpit. Even if the setup for it is not anything particularly special, it was something I had never done before.

On staying motivated for long stretches of time

I haven’t really ever been a part of a team that finished something, and I haven’t had much opportunity to show off my work. All of the short ideas I have had, I haven’t been able to materialize much. I felt like there was so much potential with this short, and we’re getting so far, that someday I’ll be able to point at it and say, “Hey, I helped make that happen.” This project has led to new job opportunities, so I just want to keep at it and see it through.

Advice for aspiring TDs

Just keep practicing. Rig as much as you can and learn to script so you can automate things. Your life will be significantly easier if you can automate some of the more tedious and boring tasks.