Rigging typically refers to the process of creating animation controls and effects for characters, but as a general rule, rigging refers to any structure or control flow intended to impart motion to scene components. Rigging can involve many disciplines, from higher level mathematics to scripting and expressions, riggers need to have good problem solving skills. Not only much a rigger create a control structure to allow for the required movements as specified, they must also deal with the challenges of delivering to spec. The challenges can be broad and varied; they tend to be unique or specific to anatomical or clothing issues quite often. Deformations require the proper placement of topology within the mesh; riggers must then observe and correct the deformations driven by the joint controls; this typically requires weight-painting, corrective joint morphing, secondary animation for jiggle and fat mass, clothing interaction, and so on.
Riggers need a good knowledge of both anatomy and the product. Quite often, rigging can stretch the limits of the program out of the box, and additional scripting is almost always used, regardless of the application. The cliche scriptwriters’ line of “like nothing we have ever seen before…” is quite common to encounter, and often the visual effects artists and rigging team are required to deliver the promise.
In production, a rigger is typically referred to as a “Technical Director (TD),” and will often be credited as such. Rigging is a big job, and typically TD’s will confined their efforts to that pursuit alone.