Author Archives: Sam Carl

Maya skeleton systems

The Maya skeleton system is a structural system applied to a geometry that dictates how it will be able to move and be animated. This is a tool used mainly by animators and video game engineers. The system is used to control logical and hierarchical movements within a geometry. Without the bone system, the 3d geometries would be useless to an animator.

The functionality of Maya skeleton systems are based on a parent-child joint hierarchy. The animator places joints in an order following a logic which builds these relationships.  When joint chains are created, the first joint placed is the root joint or parent joint. All joints placed after which are connected to this joint are subsidiary child joints. Each joint placed in a specific system is the child of the joint before it, and the parent to the next joint. These relationships dictate the logic by which the joints move and interact with one another. When a parent joint moves, all associated child joints must move with it. In a system of joints, the root joint will move all joints in the entire system, and each subsidiary parent joint down the chain will move only the child joints after it, moving down the chain to the most subsidiary joint. An example of this would be a model of a character’s hips and legs. The hip joint would be the root joint  ̶̶  the parent to all joints below. Each leg would be a separate chain of joints, with its own hierarchy of joints.

This type of hierarchical motion is called forward kinematics. This is the most common and straightforward method of animating with Maya bone skeletons. However, it can create problems when trying to mimic movements that require each joint to move independently. For example, trying to animate the intricate movements of a character’s spine would be impossible using forward kinematics because there is no one joint that would control all the others. Each joint needs to be able to move independent of the ones before it. The solution to this problem is a method called inverse kinematics. This method allows any child joint to be frozen in place until it is released and allowed to move again. These two methods of kinematics are typically used in conjunction in a complete character model. Forward kinematics can apply to a structure such as an arm, while inverse kinematics may be more useful for animating a spine, or a system of hips and legs.

The implications of Maya skeleton systems in architecture are interesting. This tool can be very useful for designers who are working with the intricacies of parametrically adaptable building systems. Screening systems are a great example of a building system that is able to be put into motion. Having louvres that open and close, or components that can move to control aperture size could be animated in Maya during design phases to allow the architect to better grasp how the system will actually function.

Carl, Hageman, Rivalsky

presentation board

Carl, Hageman, Rivalsky; Concept Proposal 002

P1_Sam Carl_002

Manta is an acoustically adaptive surface installed in Rensselaer’s Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center. Its construction was a collaboration between Grimshaw Architects and the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC). The result is a polymorphous surface that allows users the perceive changes in acoustic character in real time.

The surface is able to change shape and acoustic character based on various inputs, such as sound, stereoscopic vision, multitouch, and brainwaves. Each panel is CNC machined polyethylene, and the connectors are made of a thicker polyethylene. The whole surface is suspended above the floor via a system of hydraulic rigging lines attached to each individual panel. A stationary truss runs along the center of the surface to stabilize it.

The way the design team utilized digital fabrication to create an adaptable and seemingly free thinking installation lends an important viewport into the future of architecture and concept design. Creating things that are able to independently perceive data and morph to respond to different conditions is a fascinating way to think about designing inhabitable spaces and maybe eventually entire buildings.