An introduction to 3D animation rigging

Animation industry professionals explain the role of a rigger in 3D animation.

"I’d consider the rigger as the Mr Geppetto of Pinocchio, he’s the guy that adds the strings, he adds the handles and he brings the puppet to life." Says head of rigging and creature effects (CFX) at Axis Studios, Will Pryor. "He enables the performer to move the puppet.”

Animation industry professionals talk about rigging in 3D animation in this ScreenSkills masterclass recorded session.

The panelists explain what rigging in 3D animation is and what different kinds of rigs there can be. There are demonstrations of the workflows of different animation studios when it comes to 3D rigging. And the panelists give advice about how to become a rigger, including showreel dos and don'ts and interview tips.

The chair and panelists

  • Lucy Teire (head of production, Interference Pattern Ltd)
  • Eoghan Garvey (rigging supervisor, Axis Studios)
  • Will Pryor (rigging supervisor and head of rigging and creature effects (CFX), Axis Studios)
  • Giulia Dell'Armi (senior character technical director, DNEG)
  • Elena Borla (senior character technical director, DNEG)
  • Ana Maria Savastre (junior rigger and rigger, Blue Zoo Animation Studio)

The panel was introduced by Abigail Addison, ScreenSkills animation production liaison executive.

Questions they answer and the points covered include:

  • 0:00 – Introduction
  • 1:30 - What is rigging?
  • 4:45 - Creature effects (CFX)
  • 7:12 - DNEG animation showcase
  • 9:24 - Blue Zoo Animation Studio workflow demo
  • 13:19 - What do IK rig and FK rig mean?
  • 16:05 - Axis Studios workflow demo
  • 26:23 - Coding, programming and rigging
  • 29:33 - What level of coding knowledge would you expect someone coming in at entry level for rigging to have?
  • 36:06 - To what extent does the amount that things are automated apply to studios of all sizes?
  • 38:35 - In rigging, what specialities can you do and how might they suit different people?
  • 46:50 - Axis Studios facial rigging demo
  • 54:35 - What are potential routes into rigging and what sort of things are studios particularly looking for?
  • 1:01:13 - Dos or don'ts for rigging showreel
  • 1:04:40 - What skills and abilities you [the panelists] would be looking for when hiring riggers
  • 1:09:16 - Interview tips
  • 1:11:58 - Q&A

About the speakers

Lucy Teire is the head of production at Interfere Pattern Ltd in Edinburgh. Lucy has more than 15 years of experience working in animation and visual effects (VFX).

Eoghan Garvey is a rigging supervisor at Axis Studios. Eoghan previously worked as a rigging supervisor at Boulder Media and as a lead rigger at Brown Bag Films.

Will Pryor is a rigging supervisor and head of rigging and creature effects (CFX) at Axis Studios. Will has more than 15 years of experience in the animation industry and has previously worked for such studios as Milk VFX, DNEG, Framestore and Industrial Light & Magic (ILM).

Giulia Dell'Armi is a senior character technical director at DNEG. Giulia has nine years of experience working in rigging, specialising in character and props rigging. Giulia previously worked at ILM, Passion Pictures and Axis Animation.

Elena Borla is a senior character technical director at DNEG and a lead rigger at REALTIME. Elena has worked on many animated feature films and TV series. Projects on which Elena's worked include Digby Dragon, Spirit Untamed and Mr. Spam Gets a New Hat.

Ana Maria Savastre is a junior rigger and rigger at Blue Zoo Animation Studio. Ana Maria joined Blue Zoo in July 2019 and was a student at Bournemouth University International College before that.

About the event

This is a recording of an online event that took place on 5 May 2021. It was introduced by Abigail Addison, ScreenSkills animation production liaison executive, and supported by the ScreenSkills Animation Skills Fund with contributions from UK animation productions.

Further careers information

Read our job profile on being a rigger in animation. Learn how to build an animation portfolio. Check out all our animation job profiles.