What naming convention do you use for left and right sides?

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What naming convention do you use for left and right sides?

Postby strider2000 » Mon Jul 25, 2016 12:30 am

I'm creating some characters and am interested in what naming convention people use for the left and right sides of the characters. Image

I'm sure this is a classic issue for art and animation. For the characters supplied with ASP, it seems that most of them will name hands A and D as right and hands B and C as left.

While that's anatomically correct, it seems easier for me to name them base on _the animator's_ left and right, so we don't have to think through what position the character is in. So, my preference is, A and C would be called left and B and D would be called right. My personal focus is to try to make things as fast and easy as possible. Do others like that better or not?

I've also seen U and D used, for Upstage and Downstage as well as front and back. Those seem better than anatomically correct naming, but they still require a little conversion in the head (at least for me, but maybe it's just because I haven't done it much). Also, it's not as helpful for the direct front and back views, though one could easily argue those are used far less.

Another thought I had was to use color coding that aligned with the animator's perspective. It seems that its of greatest concern when dealing with things like that switch layers for hands or when actually constructing the characters. For normal bone animation I don't even think about the sides, but if I have to manipulate something in the actual layers that's when it's an issue.

Anyway, just wondering what other people think about the issue.
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Re: What naming convention do you use for left and right sid

Postby synthsin75 » Mon Jul 25, 2016 12:46 am

It depends. If your characters are mostly 3/4 view, U & D (upstage & downstage) works well. But if you have more views, I use R & L for the character's right & left. The problem with using my right & left is that I'd have to be aware of that in the character's back view. Your solution, of always being your right & left regardless of view, would cause me some issues, since during an animated turn they'd have to swap at some point. But that's only an issue for animated turns. Your method should work well for non-interpolated switching between views.

But often it just doesn't matter. Unless you are regularly manipulating those layers, you'll be animating visually by bones.
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Re: What naming convention do you use for left and right sid

Postby Greenlaw » Mon Jul 25, 2016 2:23 am

To me, shorter is better, and to be as clear as possible. For example:

ArmUpL, ArmLoL, HandL
LegUpR, LegLoR, FootR

'Up' is short for Upper of course, and I use 'Lo' for Lower so there is no confusion with 'L' for Left. By keeping the segment name to two letters, it distinguishes it from the single letter L/R notation and it still keeps the names short. (It's annoying when a layer name is so long that it runs off the edge of the panel and can't be read without resizing. Best to avoid that as much as possible.)

When I have reference layers for 'duplicate' elements that go behind and in front the body, the limb groups would be named something like:

ArmRNear
ArmRFar

I could use just N or F but I prefer to spell it out to clearly distinguish the depth notation from the R/L notation.

As you may have noticed, I also like to use camelCase rather than using spaces and underscores. (Actually, true camelCase would start with a lowercase letter, but here I start with a cap simply because it looks nicer.) I typically use this naming format for bones and art layers, HOWEVER, for Smart Bone Dials that are not part of the main skeleton, I like to spell things out clearly. For example:

Head Turn
Body Turn
Leg R Roll
Arm L Depth
Arm R Roll

I do this for two reasons:

1. To distinguish Smart Bone Dial bones from skeleton bones in the character. This helps when you're creating Smart Bone actions and you have similar bone names in dials and skeleton.
2. Spelling it out looks better when you've laid out your Bone Dials as 'control panel'. (FYI, I also like to parent all Bone dials to a single 'mover' bone. It's just a lot easier to manage, especially if there are a lot of things moving around the scene.)

BTW, I usually name every bone, group and drawing. Trust me, it's worth the effort when you have characters with many dozens of layers to keep track of, especially when you need to troubleshoot something.

Tip: At work we have a handy script for batch naming chains of bones (like spine or tail bones) but there's a trick you can do without using a script. Just select all the bones in the chain and enter a name. You'll see that all the selected bones will receive the same name, which is technically wrong since every bone MUST have a unique name. At this point, save the scene, close it, and then reopen it. Now you'll see that the bones have been renamed with an underscore and number appended. For example: tail_1, tail_2, tail_3, or spine_1, spine_2, etc.
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Re: What naming convention do you use for left and right sid

Postby Greenlaw » Mon Jul 25, 2016 2:42 am

Oh, and for switch layers/groups that have separate drawings for rotation, I use Front, Side, Back and 3Q for 3/4. I use 3Q just to be sure the '/' doesn't confuse a script. That's probably unlikely to happen but I prefer to avoid any text that might be confused as a math symbol by a script. (It's caused problems for me in the past when rigging for 3D animation.)
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Re: What naming convention do you use for left and right sid

Postby synthsin75 » Mon Jul 25, 2016 3:31 am

Neat trick for renaming a lot of bones, Greenlaw.
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Re: What naming convention do you use for left and right sid

Postby Greenlaw » Mon Jul 25, 2016 6:27 am

Thanks.

I stumbled on that when I was troubleshooting a Smart Bone Action that just wouldn't take because it turned out that the bone name already existed elsewhere in the rig. ASP doesn't report this error and how I found out was when I reopened the scene later and the troublesome bone got renamed with a number. After some playing around with this behavior, I discovered it had a useful side-effect.

It might technically be a bug but I prefer to call it an 'undocumented feature'. :D
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Re: What naming convention do you use for left and right sid

Postby Greenlaw » Mon Jul 25, 2016 6:40 am

synthsin75 wrote:The problem with using my right & left is that I'd have to be aware of that in the character's back view.

I know what you mean. I used to use camera left and camera right, but that might be too confusing for other people.

When I arrived at my workplace, it was already established to use the character's left and right regardless of facing. Nothing wrong with that and I've since switched to using character left and right. However, I find this system more confusing when the character is facing me, and I find myself holding up my own hand for reference anytime I get lost. :)
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Re: What naming convention do you use for left and right sid

Postby synthsin75 » Mon Jul 25, 2016 6:45 am

Yeah, I assume character's left/right is just more universal, since everyone can at least figure it out, no matter the view. I haven't done any work in 3D, but I assume that's the standard there.
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Re: What naming convention do you use for left and right sid

Postby Greenlaw » Mon Jul 25, 2016 7:23 am

Yes, in 3D it's always the character's, but then you're always free to look at the scene from any angle while animating so there's less confusion. In ASP, you're almost always animating from the camera's POV.

It's not a big deal. To me, it can get confusing either way, so it's really only a problem...with me. :)
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Re: What naming convention do you use for left and right sid

Postby jahnocli » Mon Jul 25, 2016 9:38 am

On AnimatorsForum.com, Mike Kelley always uses "downstage" and "upstage" to refer to limbs. I always thought this was clever, because it is independent of the character.
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Re: What naming convention do you use for left and right sid

Postby Lukas » Mon Jul 25, 2016 10:56 am

When using Right or Left in the name of something I always think from the characters perspective.

It gets messed up when flipping characters though, so I avoid Left and Right altogether to avoid confusion.

So when rigging I count from left of the screen to the right: upperarm 1, lowerarm 1, upperarm 2, lowerarm 2

For quadrupeds I use the same thing, Leg 1, Leg 2, Leg 3, Leg 4

I've tried many naming conventions and this one has been sticking around for the longest. I like it.
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Re: What naming convention do you use for left and right sid

Postby Lukas » Mon Jul 25, 2016 10:58 am

jahnocli wrote:On AnimatorsForum.com, Mike Kelley always uses "downstage" and "upstage" to refer to limbs. I always thought this was clever, because it is independent of the character.

Yeah, this is good, but watch out when you start using smartbones for body rotations that involve changing the layer order.
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Re: What naming convention do you use for left and right sid

Postby chucky » Mon Jul 25, 2016 3:48 pm

I use A and B,
Those two can be used for any angle.
If 3/4 I use A for the closest limb and B for the furthest.
Mike Kelley has put support for that in his great scripts.
L and R can get weird when flipping and is too language dependent also is iy stage left or character left.
I think that method is.....well left alone, right? :?
Last edited by chucky on Mon Jul 25, 2016 3:54 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: What naming convention do you use for left and right sid

Postby Greenlaw » Mon Jul 25, 2016 3:52 pm

Lukas wrote:
jahnocli wrote:On AnimatorsForum.com, Mike Kelley always uses "downstage" and "upstage" to refer to limbs. I always thought this was clever, because it is independent of the character.

Yeah, this is good, but watch out when you start using smartbones for body rotations that involve changing the layer order.

If 'downstage' and 'upstage' names the limb layers closer to and farther from camera, I like to use 'near' and 'far' because it's makes the name shorter.

Rather than using Animated Layer order within a Smart Bone Action, I prefer to animate visibility of a duplicate--I find this is more reliable if I intend to also manually keyframe layer order for other elements in the scene, otherwise I may run into keyframing conflicts. Actually, I recently started using layer opacity with step frames instead of layer visibility in the Smart Bone Actions because I've found that keyframing visibility isn't reliable when the duplicate layers are references. (It's always something, isn't it?) :)
Last edited by Greenlaw on Mon Jul 25, 2016 5:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What naming convention do you use for left and right sid

Postby chucky » Mon Jul 25, 2016 3:59 pm

Greenlaw wrote:I like to use 'near' and 'far' because it's makes the name shorter.

Oh that's good. Might stick to A and B for now , but , I like it. :D
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