CGCircuit Interview with Hans Godard, Character TD at Naughty Dog

CGCircuit is proud to present the latest in our on-going series profiling some of the leading technical and creative talent in the entertainment industry.
Today, we bring you an interview with one of the more exciting Character Technical Directors out there, Hans Godard, whose work can be seen in game developer Naughty Dog’s latest efforts, including the upcoming Uncharted 4.
Our brief interview with Hans regarding his latest plug-in release, RBF Solver, just scratches the surface of his fascinating array of tools and techniques, but we hope it gives you a taste of how Hans is helping to move the job of Character TD forward with his ingenuity and imagination.


The Interview

rbfSolver_iconThank you for taking the time to chat with us, Hans. Could you briefly describe your current job and how you got there?
I’m a Character TD at Naughty Dog, a video game company that recently produced The Last Of Us. We are currently working on Uncharted 4.
I started to work as a freelancer in France in advertising. I also worked on a cartoon series and in feature films and, ultimately, Quantic Dream was my first video game company. As a Rigger I decided to continue in that direction because there are lots of interesting aspects in this industry.

What is exactly the RBF Solver?
The Radial Basis Function Solver is a way to interpolate an input in a system defined by Poses. Each pose describes a N-dimensional Key and an M-dimensional Value. It simply means, Keys can be anything, and Values can be anything.

How does it differ from PoseSpace Deformers?

As you said, PoseSpace Deformers are deformers.
Typically the PoseSpace tools are made to sculpt and generate the corrective shapes, and use a deformer to drive these shapes.
Then because of the Deformer they are pretty frame-rate killing and heavy in production pipelines.

I am focused on the way to drive these shapes only, the interpolator itself.

What can you do with the RBF Solver?
So the RBF Solver allows you to drive Corrective Shapes, but not only that.
You can drive Corrective Joints, useful in video games, you can drive lights or particle effects, because it is generalized!
Again, Keys are N-dimensional and Values are M-dimensional.

So this technology is very flexible and makes companies totally free to build their own “Corrective pipeline” from scratch,
without any dependency to other plug-ins or software.

Who would use this plug-in?
Mainly Character TDs, Technical Animators, Riggers or Programmers.
Anybody dealing with Maya script or Maya Graph can use it.

How have sales been? Who’s buying it?
For the moment a bunch of Freelancers bought the plug-in, but also companies such as ILM, LightChaser, Glasswork Animation, Luma Pictures, as well as some Universities and Schools. All of them got a good deal. :)

Where can we get it?
The Plugin is downloadable through Autodesk’s app store.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about the RBF Solver?
Another important piece of technical information is that the plug-in was created in Python.
I made this choice because I think it is easier for a Freelancer to move from one company to another using the Python plug-in.
And companies still have the choice to use it directly or to implement a custom C++ version.

Anyway everybody often prefers to own the source code. In the end, a good question is probably :
Is it possible to make it for less than $199 ?

Additional Links:
Radial Basis Function via Wikipedia
Naughty Dog
Hans Godard via LinkedIn
Hans Godard on Vimeo