Thoughts on how I might rig this set up? An Update

I recently saw this video on YouTube about a ventriloquist I rember from my youth :slight_smile:

Arthur Worsley

And it got me thinking about how it might be done. Two options came to mind :

  1. Two rigs - one for Mr Worsley and another for the doll. Both rigs would be limited as basically both are just head motion with some arm/upperbody sway.
  2. One rig for both doll and Mr Worsley. - just connecting the doll to a hand bone of Mr Worsley and giving it one body, a head and a jaw bone.

So any thoughts?

Stay Safe All, gryff :slight_smile:

I wish I could help but unfortunately I don’t know much about rigging. I do love that act though :slight_smile: Truly remarkable talent. Thanks for sharing it!

As far as your question, it might be worth asking on 3D art forums as well, since it’s not specific to Babylon.

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Our ultra creative minds @PatrickRyan and @PirateJC might have some ideas!

With my pretty limited knowledge of rigging, option two seems simpler, having one less rig to keep track of, but I’m not sure if this would make the weight painting process (the hardest part to me!) more complex, as you would have to keep track of the hand bone’s influence on the doll and avoid it bending unnaturally.

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Fun idea.

The truth is you could do it either way, with one or two rigs.

@carolhmj is correct though. Given the fact that the ventriloquist and the dummy are always “connected” it’s easy to think of them as one “object” in 3D terms. So this means that we can think of them as being controlled by 1 single rig, where the dummy is just a different skeletal structure than the other hand.

Fun mental exercise for sure.

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@gryff, I would also agree with one rig of the puppet being an extension of the ventriloquist’s hand. There are a couple of advantages here from an animation standpoint.

  • The puppet will always follow the rotation of the parent joints which becomes very important if you want to rotate the shoulders or hips of the ventriloquist. The puppet will follow and you won’t need to animate the puppet root to stay with the ventriloquist.
  • You get the benefit of being able to work with IK constraints while animating. It may be easier to let the puppet drive the motion of the ventriloquist’s arm rather than needing to manipulate the arm to get the puppet motion right.
  • One control rig. If you want to add some complex rigging, you can drive specific motion with a single control. Say, for example, you want to put the look direction of the puppet’s and ventriloquist’s eyes on one custom parameter so they look at one another when you add value to that parameter. With one skeleton, you get the option to add this kind of joined animation through a single control surface.
  • To help with the skinning operation, as @carolhmj pointed out, you would likely want the ventroliquist in a A or T pose with the puppet torso extending off the bottom of the arm parallel to the arm direction, as though it was the hand, with the puppet arms in A or T post from the puppet torso. You will still likely need to finesse some of the weights on the vertices, but this kind “nested T (or A) pose” will take you most of the way for the standard skinning operation.

Hope these thoughts help. Let us know if you have more questions.


@PatrickRyan , @PirateJC , @carolhmj , @DarraghBurke : Thank you for all your thoughts and ideas. Quite an excellent collection of thoughts/ideas and people. I had not anticipated such an excellent ideas.

For now, I have gone with the “single rig” approach. Click Arthur’s shirt for a very simple animation.

Arthur and Charlie

I attached a “doll bone” to the end of the R.forearm as the hand takes the doll to far away unless I offset the bone. I can probably remove the vertices of the hand mesh and hand/finger bones as well. So a possible asset saving. Will be adding more bones to the doll.

Need to dress them better too :slight_smile: But am working on it. Also working on a mystery game - so I flip flop back and forth a bit. Will keep you informed as I proceed,

Thank you all again, and Stay Safe All, gryff :slight_smile:


That was fast! Nice work @gryff! Off to a good start!

Can’t wait to see this develop further!

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Woah, indeed that was fast! I like how it’s shaping up and can’t wait to see them dressed up all snazzy!
I don’t know about the style of your mystery game, but a ventriloquist looks like the perfect character for one :joy:


@PirateJC and @carolhmj : Thanks for the nice comments. I actually did not think it was that fast but then I use MakeHuman , which is free, to quickly make avatars. It is very easy to use.

And I use the CMU rig (Carnegie Mellon University) which allows me access to around 2000 .bvh files from CMU if I need animations…The rig has ~ 30 bones unlike the Mixamo 60+ bones.

As for the “mystery” - it is takng a while to build the “library” because I need to find copyright free image files for wall paintings

So I switch back and forth when I need a break from one of them. Helps keep my sanity :wink:

Thanks again, Stay Safe All, gryff :slight_smile:


To @PatrickRyan , @PirateJC , @carolhmj , @DarraghBurke

Well, here is an update - Charlie. the doll now has some clothes, hair, teeth. and I have added my first sound clip and animation. As you will see from the display, I will add some more.

Arthur and Charlie 2

The one issue I had was adding the sound. I tried using @PirateJC 's method to get around the nasty little button that appears when using the Chrome browser - did not work. So I reverted to the method I originally used in playing multiple sounds from one sound file - PG here

It does seem to cause a little delay the first time it plays ? The setup is still one rig - with one animation added.

Some more of my thoughts later, in the mean time - any more feedback ?

Stay safe all, gryff :slight_smile:


And here is an illustration (image below) of the actual updates to the rig itself.

A. From the front: The red bones are the 4 bones added for “Charlie” - a body, neck, head and jaw bone.

B. From the right: The green bones of "Arthur’"s right arm The forearm bone has been subdivided and the point of subdivision adjusted so that the first three bones for “Charlie” are vertical.

I may add a lower body bone for “Charlie” to allow his body to bend in the middle.

Total Bones currently 37, but there are at least 5-6 bones that can be removed - finger bones in that right hand for example.

The two characters have been set up so that the bent right arm of “Arthur” and the sitting pose to “Charlie” are actually the rest poses before they were used.

Stay Safe All, gryff :slight_smile:

Bone Image:

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