Customizing CAT rig in 3ds Max 2012

So, one more forum I had to register…:wink:

I wanted to expand my skillset with rigging, so I started a couple of rigs already.
Even though I´ve heard a couple of times not to rely on CAT in production, I just couldn´t resist, because the initial setup of a CAT rig is so damn fast.
But since I didn´t want to stop there, I started to customize the rig, building facial controls and all sorts of magic life inducing little thingies.

There is a lot of difference between rigging with bones and some infos on CAT are just very well hidden.
I already got help on some of my issues, but now I´m stuck on the following one:

I added bones for ears, via a tail in CAT.
Now I want to control the ears via raction manager and some custom facial controls.
The problem I´m having: I can control the ears now manually, after setting up the reactions, but apparently the CAT system isn´t respecting any keyframes I set on the facial controls, neither in setup nor animation mode.

So how can I solve this problem?

Another problem I keep getting: If I add extra bones, set them to “additive to setup” and then rearrange them, they keep popping into “random” positions and orientations, once I enter animation mode.
So whats the correct workflow for that?

Here you go, just for you:

Text below:

A poster on who is using Autodesk’s CAT asks:

The problem I´m having: I can control the ears now manually, after setting up the reactions, but apparently the CAT system isn´t respecting any keyframes I set on the facial controls, neither in setup nor animation mode.

He already hinted at the answer in the same post:

Even though I´ve heard a couple of times not to rely on CAT in production…

So there’s your answer.

Never depend upon closed-source frameworks that aren’t ubiquitous and proven.

It’s true of CAT, it’s true of everything. And in fact it is one reason I’ll never go back to developing with .NET on Windows. If you don’t have the source for something, you 1) will never fully understand it, and 2) never be able to sustain your use of it. When I was at BioWare Austin, and the Edmonton guys decided to switch to CAT, I was up in arms for exactly this reason. We had an aging framework- PuppetShop- but it worked well enough, we had the source, and acceptable levels of support (Kees, the author, is/was readily available). Instead, they switched to a closed-source product (CAT) from a vendor that has repeatedly showcased its awful support (Autodesk), and headache ensued. Fortunately I never had to deal with it and left some months after that. Without the source, you’re dependent upon someone whose job it is to provide support just good enough so you don’t leave their product (which is difficult since they own everything), and bad enough that you have to hire them to fix problems (they pride themselves on this level of support, which I call extortion).

As for the ubiquitous and proven part: unless this closed source solution is incredibly widespread (think Max, Maya, etc.), and has a lot of involved power users (ie, Biped is widespread but difficult to get good community support for because it attracts so many novices), it means you have to figure out every single workaround because you can’t actually fix the problem because you don’t have source. Imagine working with no Google- that’s what you give up when you use a closed-source framework that isn’t an industry standard.

So don’t do it. Don’t let others do it. If you’re currently doing it, think about getting the source and if you can’t do that, start making a backup plan.

Once again Rob is right on the money.


Haha, nice, now i got featured on your blog…:wink:

Well, by the time it took me to NOt get an answer on my original question (how to do what I want in CAT), I had alread built a custom rig wich COULD do the things I was asking for… so yeah.
Even If I´m far away from being firm with my technical skills, I guess its still true what you said…

Ha, see how powerful an unanswered question can be? Zen rigging 101!

What is the sound of one joint flipping?

Hi all. The answer to this problem is fairly simple, but first I would like to say that CAT can very well be a robust production tool and has production-proved itself (at least for games!). Having said that CAT definately needs some iniciative on your part since documentation is still scares, hence solid rigging knowledge is helpful to understand what works and what breaks the system.

I assume the reaction manager stuff was done in setup mode by setting the flag under “hierachy tap>link info>setup mode” to Animation controller (“additive to setup” also checked), if you havent done this nothing will work as expected. After you rigged on the now available setup track for the relevant bones you have to make sure to delete any absolute layer in the Cat layer manager which was created before changing from static matrix to animation controller since this will blow the bones off kilter. Further more, it is important that keys are set on the hub object (parent) of the rigged setup since cat will only display the reaction manager goodness correctly within the range of keys set on the hub.

In case you have updated your rig to include a facial setup but already have animations done on the previous rig, your setup will be blown apart due to the absolute layer issue mentioned earlier. For this situation I reccommend to use dummies which are aligned to the facial bones in setup mode and linked to the head control object. You can than write a simple script for a button which aligns the face bones to these dummies unless, of course, you wanna go through all the bones on all animations and allign them manually.

Hi chrissimon,

thanks for the reply.
I wouldn´t say CAT isn´t production proof, but like you said: Documentation is cr…scarce.
It´s a bit like mental ray: Vray only got such a great boost in popularity imho due to the great amount of great documentations and tutorials.
I´d still say I need to get further into building custom rigs from scratch, because I also think its very helpful to know what you´re doing, if you want to do something differently then “intended”, like it seems most of the time when working with CAT.

That being said: Once I get my custom rigging skills up to date, I´d love to compile a list of do´s and don´ts for CAT…:wink: