About Rig Structure and Master Controllers

Before using a Master Controller wizard, it is important to understand how the Master Controller will connect to your character rig and control its nodes. You read this topic carefully if you want to make sure that your Master Controller will work when you import your character in an animation scene.

Each node in a scene is identified by its unique path, which starts with Top, followed by the hierarchy of groups in which it is located, and ending with its name. For example, the unique path to a scene's main composite is typically Top/Composite, and the unique path for a composite named master_comp inside a group named MyCharacter would be Top/MyCharacter/master_comp.

Master Controllers need to be able to locate the nodes they control using their path and their name. When you create a Master Controller by using one of the wizards provided with Harmony, you will be prompted to select which Composite node to connect the Master Controller to. The Master Controller node will be created in the same group as the Composite you selected, and will refer to each node it controls by its relative path from this group.

For example, if you create the Master Controller at the root of the scene, and this Master Controller is meant to control a character inside of a group, it will refer to each node it controls by the name of the group, followed by the name of the node. Hence, to control hand_front-P inside group MyCharacter, it will use the path MyCharacter/hand_front-P. This means that if the group MyCharacter is renamed, the Master Controller will not work. Likewise, if you import the character twice in the scene, both their Master Controllers will control the first instance of that character, as that instance will be in the group MyCharacter, and the second instance will be in a group named MyCharacter_1.

However, if you create the Master Controller inside the group MyCharacter, it will refer to each node in this group by their name only. To control hand_front-P, it will only need to refer to the node as hand_front-P. By using this approach, you can rename the character's group, and you can import as many copies of the character as you want, and its Master Controller will still work.

Hence, you should create your Master Controller inside the group of the character it controls. Not only this will make your Master Controller impervious to changes in group names or hierarchy, it will make it easier to copy your character and its Master Controller into templates and scenes, as it will always come bundled with the character.

To accomplish this, three conditions must be met:

  • Your character's rig must be inside a group.
  • This group must contain a Composite node.
  • The keyframes for the key poses you want to use to make your Master Controller must be inside this group. For example, if your character's group has a parent peg, you should not create keyframes on that peg to make your key poses.

NOTE If you want to make a Master Controller that only controls a specific part of your character (ie: the head), and this part happens to be contained inside a group with a composite, you can create your Master Controller inside that group instead. This will make it possible to import only that part of your character in a scene and use its Master Controller without issue.