Maya

New job!

I recently took a staff position at the up-and-coming Gentleman Scholar StudiosĀ in Santa Monica. I’ll be their “Technical Director,” which more or less means I’ll be doing more of the same old scripting, lighting and materials. Which is totally fine with me… these guys are gonna be big. Also on Read more…

Maya

more problems with render layers

I am a huge advocate of using shared render layers in a file referencing pipeline. It’s probably the only reasonable way of allowing lighters, animators, riggers and FX artists to work on shots and assets simultaneously. That being said, it isn’t without its weaknesses (many of which I talked about in anĀ earlier post). The latest one I encountered happens with scenes with TONS of objects… not necessarily a high polygon count, but just lots and lots of individual DAG nodes. Take a look… (more…)

Maya

Renaming duplicate nodes

I’ve been working on a project that incorporates a lot of models that were made by duplicating or importing things into a scene over and over again. When this happens, you have lots of nodes that will have the same name, and Maya will differentiate between them by tacking the Read more…

Maya

hfMaya2MaxFBX

So a while ago I worked on a project that involved a lot of work in Fume and Krakatoa, both dynamics plugins for 3DSMax. I’m not a Max user at all, nor do I know a whole lot about dynamics, but I do know these plugins are a lot better Read more…

Maya

controlling textures with a rig

There are plenty of situations in motion graphics where you have tons of repeating elements. Designers love that kind of thing. You’ll also often be expected to make slight variations of these repeating elements… like a bunch of dots or squares or something that have slightly different textures to them, but are essentially the same thing. You could make a unique shader or a separate referenced asset for each one of these variations, if, say, you really hated yourself. Instead you could build the texture swap right into a rig, so the animator or designer or whoever could just pick a color or a texture for each object while animating the scene. This makes it way easier to direct, and you can just reference the same object over and over again instead of making multiple assets. I was just showing somebody how to do this the other day and figured it’d be a good thing to post about. Here’s how the setup works…

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Maya

the “tech” shader

If you’re using mental ray as your renderer, chances are that you aren’t going to get a whole lot out of the passes system, especially if you’re trying to write custom color buffers. It’s a slow, buggy, work-intensive process to get a lot of passes out of mental ray that Vray has absolutely no trouble with. You could use render layers instead of custom passes, but mental ray also has a particularly long translation time for complex scenes (think of any scene where you see mental ray hang for about 10 minutes before it even starts to render a frame). So you can’t exactly add render layers haphazardly… you need to condense things as much as possible.

Someone told me about a neat trick that they saw at a studio they were freelancing at where three data channels would be written to RGB channels, almost like an RGB matte pass except with “technical” passes instead of mattes or beauty or whatever. Since the data being written only needs a single channel, you can get three kinds of data written to one image and then split them apart later in post. Simple enough when you think about it…

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