Tuesday, March 7th, 2023 Posted by Jim Thacker

Baguette: a powerful free nodal rigging system for Maya

Framestore rigging supervisor Nims Bun has released Baguette, his nodal rigging system for Maya, for free.

The toolset, previously used in production at Pixomondo, lets artists create flexible, reusable rigs for characters and vehicles, and includes a number of features designed to streamline production work.

In development since 2013 and used in production on major visual effects movies
Although it has only just been publicly released, Baguette has been in development for ten years.

In an interview with 3DVF last year, Bun said that he began work on it shortly after finishing on the Minions movie in 2012, going on to develop Baguette full-time for eight months.

Development then paused as Bun went on to work for VFX facilities including Sony Pictures Imageworks and Industrial Light & Magic, resuming when he joined Pixomondo in 2018, where he became rigging lead.

Pixomondo then used the toolset in production for several movies, beginning with Goosebumps 2.

Create ultra-customisable character rigs by wiring nodes together
Baguette enables riggers to create rigs simply by wiring together nodes to create joints.

There are readymade node types for body parts like heads, legs, arms, quadruped legs, hands and feet, plus different types of joint chains, which can be connected to quickly create custom rig layouts.

Users can pick from a list of preset shapes to use as rig controls, or assign their own custom shapes, with the option to edit the control shapes directly in the Maya viewport.

Rigs faces, bipeds and quadruped, and even vehicles
It’s also possible to rig faces as well as bodies: the video above shows Baguette in use to create a FACS-based facial rig, with the node network driving a set of scan-based facial blendshapes.

The framework comes with presets for biped and quadruped characters, and even vehicles like cars and planes, making it possible to create a wide range of rigs very quickly.

Designed for use in professional VFX, animation and game development pipelines
Since all of the nodes are independent, one benefit of using Baguette in production is that they can be updated individually, removing the need to rebuild an entire rig when a character is updated.

Each node can be customised via Python scripting, directly inside the Baguette UI.

It is also possible to cut and paste nodes between projects in Maya, or to share rigs with other artists as sets of nodes, which Bun says results in files “100x smaller” than standard Maya scenes.

Other nice features include buttons in the Maya shelf to switch transform spaces, and to reset the character to the zero pose, a custom pose, or the default poses for individual controllers.

Licensing and system requirements
Baguette is available for Maya 2019+ on 64-bit Windows only. You can download compiled binaries from the GitHub repository. Part of the source code is available under a MIT licence.

There isn’t much written documentation yet, so the best way to find out what Baguette can do is by watching the videos on Nims Bun’s Vimeo channel.

Download free modular rigging framework Baguette from Nims Bun’s GitHub repository