General Rigging Topic: What makes an animation control?



What properties would you consider specific to animation controls? ADSK now allows for marking transforms as anim controls, but I wanted to know, what more is there that you feel identifies something as an anim control? For example:

  • Having access to spaces to operate in
  • Custom visibility
  • Maybe know its mirror if there is one
  • Know that their animation is to be saved/exported
  • Custom hierarchy
  • Custom pickwalk


I’d say the top level question for me is “should an animator be touching it?” One thing I wish they had a better idiom for is “hide this from animators” – there are a large category if things I want to see if I’m messing with the scene which I’d like to keep locked away from prying eyes. I don’t really mind if people want to investigate (often, it’s great for the animators to poke around and see how things work) but if’s annoying that if I’ve got, say, an offset joint intended to reset local orientations or something then I’m on the hook for locking or de-channel-boxing all sorts of stuff to keep it from being accidentally broken or keyed.


To me control is about articulation, in essence its what I call giving something a singular value meaning - I.e. for a user the control should feel ubiquitous with its manipulation. It’s not a bucket to store everything - it’s an access point that grants further manipulation. And this gets into a sticky situation because what is deemed manipulation vs control? - should controls have axis’, state, variance, analog notions of change or should that be on the manipulators of said control.

What deems something that is used by an animator and that can basically be anything given the right context - what does manipulation look like for an animator is more of a question. Bones could be animation controls if context is meaningful - Id argue anything can be an animation control if its promoted properly and that means attributes and state too.