Lots of fun details in their Technical Paper.
Pixar’s Online Library has published the SIGGRAPH 2022 technical paper and video being presented by the studio this year about their Profile Mover rigging tech recently used on Turning Red. The paper is: ‘Character Articulation through Profile Curves’, by Fernando de Goes, William Sheffler, Kurt Fleischer.
Here’s the abstract, and the video is below:
Computer animation relies heavily on rigging setups that articulate character surfaces through a broad range of poses. Although many deformation strategies have been proposed over the years, constructing character rigs is still a cumbersome process that involves repetitive authoring of point weights and corrective sculpts with limited and indirect shaping controls. This paper presents a new approach for character articulation that produces detail-preserving deformations fully controlled by 3D curves that profile the deforming surface. Our method starts with a spline-based rigging system in which artists can draw and articulate sparse curvenets that describe surface profiles. By analyzing the layout of the rigged curvenets, we quantify the deformation along each curve side independent of the mesh connectivity, thus separating the articulation controllers from the underlying surface representation. To propagate the curvenet articulation over the character surface, we formulate a deformation optimization that reconstructs surface details while conforming to the rigged curvenets. In this process, we introduce a cut-cell algorithm that binds the curvenet to the surface mesh by cutting mesh elements into smaller polygons possibly with cracks, and then derive a cut-aware numerical discretization that provides harmonic interpolations with curve discontinuities. We demonstrate the expressiveness and flexibility of our method using a series of animation clips.