Which of the currently available skeletons/rigs would be the best and most future-proof starting point worth of investing time and possibly even money?
The long story.
I have seen different posts here about people having issues with some animations, and some answers are that the skeleton of their choice is not the best option for specific kinds of animations. I have heard critics about UE mannequin, Blender’s Rigify and other skeletons for various reasons (issues with twist bones, fingers, root motion etc.). I have also looked at AllrightRig and it looks awesome but it’s still beta and I’m not sure if it would be free of all the issues of the other skeletons/rigs I mentioned.
From UE4 docs, I found this to be really helpful starting point:
This approach fixes most of the issues, but not all of them - some complex animations might still look not right and cannot be fixed because of the skeleton design.
At some point I might want to try out all the latest (UE 4.14) features (IKs, montages, retargeting, blending, Pose Drivers, Virtual Bones) and have a future-proof and UE compatible skeleton which can be used with freely available mocap animations (the famous Carnegie-Mellon University BVHs, which have been converted to FBX by cMonkeys).
Besides all the usual walk/run/idle animations I will need good finger animations and facial animations. For faces, most probably will go for morphs; bone animations are too cumbersome to get right. But I might also look into Cluster Shapes (if I find some way to do it with free software tools). My project is more a simulation than a game, therefore it is important to have decent quality of animations because of lots of close-up views, but I’m not aiming for AAA or something like that - it’s just a one-man hobby project.
While I’m ready to tweak some animations manually, I don’t want to start with something that later on turns out to be inappropriate for too many animations - I don’t want to re-rig everything from scratch.
I’m ready to pay a reasonable one-time price (let’s say, under 50 USD), but it is important to be assured that the rig will be maintained for the future UE versions.
BTW, I tried to add a poll to the thread, but always received the following error:
So I added the poll as a Google docs form here: