Getting Started with CAT Rigging Tools in 3ds Max
Illustration by John Hersey

Exploring the Absolute layer


From:

Getting Started with CAT Rigging Tools in 3ds Max

with Joel Bradley

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Video: Exploring the Absolute layer

Animation layers are the containers for all animation keyframes we may place on our rigs. They are very powerful versatile set of controls that allow us to store, layer up, and even blend multiple animations together. The simple truth is that without an animation layer applied in CAT, we have no way of creating animation. Let's take a look at the first Animation layer type that we will consider, which is the Absolute layer. Selecting our rig and going over to the Motion panel, let's come down to the Layer Manager rollout.
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  1. 3m 52s
    1. Welcome
      52s
    2. Working with the exercise files
      38s
    3. What you should know before watching this course
      59s
    4. Setting up the 3ds Max project structure
      1m 23s
  2. 5m 29s
    1. What is CAT?
      2m 4s
    2. Locating CAT features in the 3ds Max user interface
      3m 25s
  3. 26m 3s
    1. Using the preset rigs
      3m 38s
    2. Organizing a rig using custom names and colors
      6m 1s
    3. Editing the preset rigs
      4m 33s
    4. Exploring the 3ds Max Modifier List
      5m 11s
    5. Repositioning bone pivots
      3m 8s
    6. Using control gizmos
      3m 32s
  4. 28m 15s
    1. Understanding hubs
      3m 19s
    2. Adding legs to a rig
      4m 21s
    3. Working with spines
      4m 44s
    4. Adding limbs
      4m 45s
    5. Adding extra bones to the head
      6m 0s
    6. Adding toes and tails
      5m 6s
  5. 16m 17s
    1. What is a muscle strand?
      6m 15s
    2. Using a muscle strand on a rig
      3m 22s
    3. What is a CAT muscle?
      3m 1s
    4. Putting a CAT muscle to work
      3m 39s
  6. 11m 42s
    1. Understanding the Setup and Animation modes
      3m 17s
    2. Exploring the Absolute layer
      3m 13s
    3. Explaining adjustment layers
      2m 23s
    4. Exploring the CATMotion layer
      2m 49s
  7. 16m 4s
    1. Working with the hand and foot hubs
      4m 1s
    2. Exploring the foot pivot system
      3m 40s
    3. Exploring the CAT display inside track view
      4m 5s
    4. Using the IK/FK system
      4m 18s
  8. 15m 31s
    1. Exploring the CATMotion Editor
      2m 28s
    2. Customizing motion
      4m 49s
    3. Directing motion
      5m 25s
    4. Grounding motion
      2m 49s
  9. 29m 41s
    1. Building a rig: The lower body
      7m 1s
    2. Building a rig: The upper body
      8m 36s
    3. Making good use of secondary bones
      4m 54s
    4. Creating a rough skin pass
      3m 45s
    5. Creating a stress-test animation
      5m 25s
  10. 42s
    1. What's next?
      42s

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Watch the Online Video Course Getting Started with CAT Rigging Tools in 3ds Max
2h 33m Intermediate Nov 06, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Discover an alternative to the traditional character rigging workflow with the Character Animation Toolkit (CAT) for 3ds Max, which offers preset character rigs as well as custom tools for creating a rig from scratch. Author Joel Bradley demonstrates animation layers; CAT muscles, which you can use to create a skin that deforms and stretches realistically as your character moves; and the forward/inverse kinematics workflow. The final chapter puts all these features into motion, as you apply the tools to a full character rig with secondary bones and perform a stress test animation.

Topics include:
  • What is CAT?
  • Using and editing preset rigs
  • Repositioning bone pivots
  • Using CAT control gizmos
  • Working with spines
  • Adding limbs to a character
  • Working with adjustment and motion layers
  • Animating with the foot pivot system
  • Building a start-to-finish rig with CAT
Subject:
3D + Animation
Software:
3ds Max
Author:
Joel Bradley

Exploring the Absolute layer

Animation layers are the containers for all animation keyframes we may place on our rigs. They are very powerful versatile set of controls that allow us to store, layer up, and even blend multiple animations together. The simple truth is that without an animation layer applied in CAT, we have no way of creating animation. Let's take a look at the first Animation layer type that we will consider, which is the Absolute layer. Selecting our rig and going over to the Motion panel, let's come down to the Layer Manager rollout.

And you can see we already have an animation layer applied. As we are already in Animation mode--denoted by the Green Toggle button--we can come and scrub the Time slider and see that we already have some motion applied to our rig. Animation layers are created by coming to the Add Layer button, clicking and holding down the left-mouse button, and selecting the layer that we want to work with. While we're here, let's apply an Absolute layer.

As you can see, now if we scrub the Timeline again, an Absolute layer supersedes any previous layer's animation. In other words, with two Animation layers in the stack, only the second are top layer has any visible effect. As we have no animation on this new layer, nothing really is happening in the viewport. Unlike Photoshop's layer stack, or even Max's own Modifier Stock, CAT Animation layers are not calculated from the bottom of the list to the top, but rather from the top down.

This means the second layer in our list is now in reality the top layer. Let's turn on Auto Key and add some extra animation to our newly-created layer. A simple rotation applied to each arm bone should do nicely. I will scrub the Time slider to around about frame 30 and then switch to my Rotate tool using E key. And I'm just going to rotate the upper arm bone of each limb, like so. Once in position, I'm just going to come down and make sure I turn off Auto Key.

Now of course, when we scrub our Time slider, all we see is our newly-applied rotation motion. It is important to note at this point that we have not overwritten the animation that was already applied to our rig. We have simply layered another animation on top of it. If we were to delete this layer or disable it by simply coming back to our Layer Manager and then double-clicking on our Absolute layer, you will see that we get our previous animation back.

The Absolute layer type is the canvas on which we paint our animation with CAT. It is a basic Animation layer that has no unique or special properties but that has been designed to be the default or standard Animation layer in CAT. In our next video, we will consider two layer types that do have some unique aspects to them. These are the Relative Local and Relative World Animation layers.

There are currently no FAQs about Getting Started with CAT Rigging Tools in 3ds Max.

 
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