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Versatile Hand/Arm Rigs?

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Versatile Hand/Arm Rigs? 
By riggs on Feb 11, 2005 03:31 AM
Hello All. Question for some of you experienced riggers out there...Maybe I am just overlooking the simplest option in this but I still will ask.

I am trying to create a versatile character hand/arm rig that will obviously move with the character's spine (Local space) but also be capable of locking to an object (animated or static) so that the body can still move but keep the hands locked.

Currently I have a rig very similar to the rig used by Michael Comet in his "Alien" rig from the Discreet tutorials in version 6. This rig uses three dummy objects to blend the hand position between a local space dummy linked to the spine, and a World Space dummy linked to a main character placement control. A third dummy is then the parent of the main hand control that blends between the position of both the local and world space dummies with a CA on the Hand Control(this third dummy is position/orientation constrained between the local and world dummies). This works fine, as long as the placement control is constantly in the exact same spot as the rest of the character. Unfortunately, this is hardly the case, as the placement control is hardly used except for some crazy flying action that may occur with the character. Therefore, trying to lock the hand to any desired location, as in to some other animated/static object, becomes difficult.

Several options I've thought of:
1. Obvious: use a link constraint on the object itself to the hand - but what if the objects need to remain in their current rotational and positional location and animate from here? (for example I need a mailbox lid to open, but it needs to rotate from its own pivot point, while the hand needs to look like it is actually opening it)
2. Link Constraint on the Hand Control: have tried this several times - seems to be very unstable with all the computations already being performed on the hand control (like other position/rotation contraints from other objects, CA's like finger controls, etc) - and therefore it crashes each time.
3. Trying some combination of the LocalWorld CA on the Hand control (that lets you blend the hand position from local space to locked, or world, space) with link constraints...how? I don't know

Am I overlooking something plain as day, or are there any small wiring/script functions that may help control this rig better? I know there must be an easier way, as it would be insane to animate a hand rig on something like a violently shaking baby for example. Please lend any insight you can...and let me know if I am simply searching wildly for an answer right in front of my face. Thanks all.

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