Most Max users are familiar with BonesPro. It’s been around. But no substantial advance has been made for 10 years. 3d-io, in cahoots with Digimation, decided to take the ball and run, bringing the old plugin up to today’s standards.
All the cool things that made BonesPro a standard are still in there, but they’ve been optimized. Setup is quick and organic with fast feedback as you adjust the influence of the bones. This isn’t really spectacular as there are many skinning systems that do the same thing’including the comparably cumbersome internal ‘skin’ modifier in Max. But the fine-tuning tools allow you to get to your goal much faster before getting into the potentially time consuming process of adjusting influence on individual vertices.
The real power in BP4 lies in the animation and control of hypodermal features like real bones or muscles. Using Metabone objects, you can simulate protruding bones in the elbows or knuckles, muscle flexion, and alien objects moving under the skin.
I could have used this on a recent project where a girl was holding and rubbing her arms, requiring skin to skin deformation. Using the deformation objects, I could press into the flesh of the arms from the outside (just like objects pushing out from under the skin.)
As a little bonus, BP4 comes with BoneJiggler as a world space modifier to bring secondary animation to the character adding weight, inertia, and potentially just silliness.
Again, 3d-io has taken a simple tool and made it incredibly productive without overburdening the artist with unnecessary complexity’while keeping things open so that you can layer that complexity as needed.
Price: 299 euros (approx. $410 U.S.); upgrade 99 euros ($136 U.S.); site/volume and educational licenses available.