Thanks for your support, everyone.
Jango, Sorry I haven't updated my website to reflect changes that I made to the skeleton but I actually did simplify it. I took out the ribcage,all of the neck ribs and tail ribs too. It made weighting the skin much easier but still not easy. To simplify the process, I only painted the skin weights on one side of the model then mirrored them over. That worked very well but I still don't understand some of the choices that Maya made for me. For instance; when I bound the skin to the skeleton I don't understand why the end of the tail was affecting the skin weights around the neck. I mean, the tail joints are further from the neck than any other part of the skeleton yet Maya determined that they should influence it.
Also, I created an advanced foot rig that worked well for posing the feet but did not work at all for animation. The reason is that the foot rig used a MEL script that I wrote to reverse its hierarchy to allow the foot rig to be both a reverse foot and a forward foot. It you've ever used a reverse foot rig you know that they are wonderful for keeping the foot planted during walking cycles however, I couldn't see how I could also pose the foot with the toes curled under for a more dynamic look as the model walked. My solution can be seen on my website or on page one of this thread. Anyway, it worked fine for posing the model but if you tried to keyframe animate the model then rewind the timeline, the feet would become all twisted since the switching between forward and reverse foot rig were not keyframed. The MEL script was used but no record of its use was keyframable. I suppose I could have keyframed the color attibute of an off screen object then have an expression that would trigger the MEL script whenever the color condition changed (IF blue then run script...). I think I may have even tried that but it didn't work since I don't believe the timeline evaluated MEL script when jumping backward in the timeline (rewinding).
So, for the next rig, if I do a creature that needs very posable feet, I will look into building a forward and reverse foot rig that are parent constrained to the foot skeleton. I will write a scipt that will cause each foot rigs to locate and keyframe their position identically. After that all that will be left to do is keyframe the contraint value from one rig to the other (ie, forward rig to reverse rig).
If any of you guys know what I'm talking about and know a better way then PLEASE
let me know. I want the same kind of foot control that Godzilla and the Jurassic Park T-rex have. When they walk, their toes curl under and it looks cool!!
Stay tuned for the video clip!