Apr 302012

Okay, now for the last part of this tutorial: We’re going to turn the motion trails effect into a Digital Asset, which a single node with inputs, outputs and parameters (just like any other node) that can be shared with other artists. The network we made to create the effect is big and ugly, and no one in their right mind would want to copy and paste that whole thing from scene to scene and start jumping across the SOP and CHOP networks and look for individual nodes to tweak parameters. Digital Assets let us package everything together nicely.

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Apr 272012

I just wrote out a new version of the Maya to FBX export script, this time in Python, and with a lot of bugs and instabilities cleaned up. It auto-detects deforming vs. non-deforming objects, and exports each type of object to a separate FBX, optionally from a selection. Everything is baked into world space so there are no complications with unexpected transforms.

The new script is on the scripts page, in place of the old MEL one.

Post a comment if you have any questions…

Apr 192012

Now that the initial trails setup is done, it’s time to get the audio effect in there. CHOPs in Houdini (channel operators) are really, really powerful, but they’re often the last part of the program that anyone touches. They can turn simple motion and effects into much, much more complex effects pretty easily. I still am unaware of the vast majority of things you can do with CHOPs, but I hope this example will be a good start for anyone who’s trying to learn Houdini…

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Apr 132012

I haven’t posted in a long time mostly because I’ve been spending the majority of the last month devouring Houdini tutorials on the internet. Houdini is capable of handling incredibly complex visual effects, and its node-based architecture makes it ideal for effects R&D… if you can get past the learning curve. I’ve never seen a more complicated-looking program.

Anyways, after beating my head against the wall for the better part of a month I’ve finally started making sense out of this program, and I want to share an effect I’ve been researching for an upcoming spot, and turn this into a sort of tutorial for dealing with particle systems, creating objects on the fly, and manipulating shapes using audio. Later on I’ll also go over how to make the effect into a “digital asset,” meaning packaging the effect into a single node with its own interface that you can then use for other shots or share with other artists.

I really dislike video tutorials so I’m going to try to write this one out. The first segment will be about creating the trails, the second will be about modifying the trails using CHOPs, and the third will be about repackaging the effect as a digital asset and building an interface.

Anyways, here’s the effect we’re creating:

I realize it kind of all turns to spaghetti in the end, but that could probably be fixed with a little more fine-tuning, and I wanted to show a little complexity to the effect. Hit the jump for a big huge post about how this is done.

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