This setup uses joints to control deformation, but curves and blendShape nodes are used to drive the joints, leaving the direct manipulation of the joints to be used as a secondary tier of control. Generally, the setup is pretty simple, but the initial setup requires some assembly, followed by some very specific skin weighting. However, once done, the results are usually pretty solid and makes generating sculpted deformations very simple and light (33min).
Learn more about modeling, dynamics, rigging, and Maya, with any of my iBooks in the “Theories and the Practice of Rigging” series, covering joints and joint setups, deformers, controls, modeling, and dynamics. All available for iPad or Mac in the iBookstore and on Kindle.
iBooks – http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/jeremy-a.-parrish/id507724058?mt=11
Kindle Format – http://goo.gl/V4o5w9