Sunday, February 28, 2010

Nuke .chan to .fbx converter

Good folks at Cmivfx released this converter to allow us to track in nuke and import that into Maya. Good converter though hard to locate on their website. Here is a general link including mac, windows & linux versions.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Cherry Blossom Drop

Had a project involving cherry blossoms. Couldn't help but do this.
Maya 2010 and Mia_x_passes Materials

Attaching Cherry Blossom Geometry to a Tree with Tree Wind turned on -

Paint Effects Objects UV changes over time and thus will prevent the use of "djRivet" Script.

Solution. Cached out the Geometry of the paint effects tree after conversion to polygons. UV unwrapped object followed by deleting history and then reapplying the geometry cache information.

After this, we used the "spPaint3d" script to paint instances of the CherryBlossom geometry to litter the branches with the flowers.

note to self

- Since we will not be able to edit the geometry as it has been combined, the best way to help randomize the flowers would be to include a shader for each flower petal thus by editing the colors slightly we are able to introduce randomness without touching the geometry.

- I had to separate the paint effects polygon tree and recombine in order to make it a paintable surface for "spPaint3d". Just one of those things ;)

Lastly unhide the PaintEffects Polygon Geo with geometry cache and then select all CherryBlossom instances and then select the tree and execute djRivet.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pivot Point Mode Biatch!

I hate the fact that my Apple keyboards don't have insert. It ain't useful unless your on maya and pivot points are important which THEY ARE.

Here is a link with the list of equivalents:

My Currently Apple Thin USB keyboard
All other apple keyboards

FYI, Maya 2010, insert is fn+enter on the numpad.
Jesus I even had to waste time googling this up.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Another Intern will live to see another day

Just recently, we had a 600 frame scene that required an Ambient Occlusion Pass. We used the MentalRay AO Texture and got optimized the frame to a decent 1min per frame. We were all happy and dandy till we found out that during batch renders...this 1min became 6min per frame.

Do a little math and we couldn't finish it in time. It would take way too long. So we called an Intern and gave him sugar money, and he sat down and rendered using a script in a batch of 10 frames. 14 hours later and loads of movies and coffee...the deed was done.

Then I come along this damned script...might have saved him those 14 hours. Might have been 2 hours but hey, he wouldn't have seen 8 movies that night.

Personal Note to self
Maya 2010 - batch render function was attempted and did not work in this case, please try the above .bat file in future.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Geometry Random Rotation on Particles

How to create particle instancing with random rotation -

1. create object to be instanced
2. create particles using particle tool
3. in particleShape1 node create two PerParticle (Array) Attributes using the "Add Dynamic Attributes" button under general. They are rotChoose (which is a float) & rot (which is a vector).
4. Be sure to create these attributes under PerParticle(Array) under creation in the expression editor. Use "All Data Types".

particleShape1.rotChoose = rand(360); (float)
particleShape1.rot = <<0,particleshape1.rotchoose,0>>; (vector)

particleShape1.rotChoose = rand(360);
particleShape1.rot = <<0,particleshape1.rotchoose,0>>;

5. Then plug the rotChoose into rot under the rotation options -> rotation

CGTalk Discussion
Rotation Random

Maya 2010 and Maya 2009

Monday, February 8, 2010

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Backburner not firing all cylinders!? The humanity!

So here is a link where they mentioned that backburner doesn't use all cores. Dear wen hao, note to self, use these bloody command line codes.

I quote the wise people on CGtalk

"I have gotten in the habit of manually setting the memory and thread usage flags in the job setting for MR jobs with Backburner:

Specify the number of rendering threads.

Enable this option so that Maya automatically calculates the number of threads that should be used to best take advantage of the CPUs (or cores) on your workstation.

Soft limit for the memory used by mental ray (in MB). A soft limit implies that mental ray may actually use more memory than indicated.

Enable this option so that Maya dynamically calculates the memory limit prior to the start of rendering. This feature can be enabled at all times to obtain better performance."


Another point to note while using Backburner. Assign small jobs and if the job fails take note as it tends to render over previous files or jam up the render farm. Furthermore, renderlayers are DANGEROUS so keep it to one render layer per file. And save out a brand new file for each render and then dump those later on.

Backburner 2008.01

Cities - First QTown, now KludgeCity

Okay so for the Sel*etar project (name space is so that when client google up this project they don't find these posts). Anyway during the project...we were looking for ways to break the horizon line with cities. My friend Chia Choon looked into QTown which was one hack of a fantastic Mel Script.

Lately this guy named Ed Whetstone released something called KludgeCity. It is bloody impressive. Please do check it out and he was nice enough to release it for free. Kind intelligent people, gotta love em.

I think Qtown makes good suburbia whilst kludgecity really holds up to close detail with good UVs to boot! Love it!


Both scripts used on Maya 2010 and Windows 7


Been a big fan of Mental Ray nodes. Especially those that speed up render time and save me polygons. I haven't tried this in production as I am always worried what it would do to my mattes for compositing.

Mental note - please do test how the mattes work as I can see this used in my productions pretty often.

Mia_RoundCorners - Add bevels without adding more geometry

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Modeling a Head - Orthographic Vs Perspective

Just did a job for a client where close reference to an actual human character is important. I modeled the character with Orthographic cameras but checked every now and then in perspective.

When it was sent to the client, the replied that the proportions were off and that the model did not look good at all. They also did include a little image which totally did not look like the model proportions I used. The head had lens distortion and did not look right.

I switched the camera to an 85mm lens when close up on the face and she didn't look bad. But it did occur to me I modeled in Ortho and the reference images were probably with an 85mm. So would that fuck things up for me in future?

Please read this tomorrow morning and find out more.

CGTalk Discussion

Backburner Baby

Alright. Also after this project which personally was a little ridiculous given the time frame and number of frames. Totaling 3200 in 20 days including weekends was a little extreme.

So I've got two machines setup on Backburner and it looks like it works quite well. I am hoping the emailing function works as that would really give me peace of mind.

Note to self.
Backburner Manager - Manages All Rendernodes
Backburner Monitor - Allows us to view all available Rendernodes and manages jobs
Backburner Server - Considered a render node

Start Backburner Manager, then Server then Monitor on main machine and Backburner Server on all other machines.

Testing being done on Maya 2010 and Backburner with Windows 7

Sele*tar Project - Issues and Solutions

Creation of Binary Proxy (Assemblies) for Mental Ray

Rendering of massive scene using MR and Binary Proxies

Creation of Signage above key locations with "Compositing Background" setting on. ( Cinema4d term where the image is displayed like a surface shader in Maya un-affected by light)

Issues with file referencing where the scene file took 30min to open

MR Mia_x material causing weird shadowing effect as if an object was blocking the sun.

Use of MR texture -> ambient occlusion to create quick render of scene with gorgeous results instead of using the built-in AO pass.

Flickering for Paint Effects trees and grass. Could not figure out if the issue came from texture details thus the flickering or FG points thought FG caching was done. Further testing will be conducted to get better at FG caching for effective use during productions especially fly-throughs.

A shot took 6min/frame but only 1min/frame when rendering using Viewfinder instead of Batch Render option.

Project information
3200 frames
768x432 Resolution
Maya 2010 & AfterEffects
Duration 20 Days
Maya 2010

BSP2 & a Forest

This was one of the first issues encountered for a fly-through done of Seletar Airport. It is pretty much like an architecture shot with hardly any animation.

We initially couldn't render the files with the huge mess of trees but later learnt BSP2 with Ray-tracing as the render mode combined with Binary Proxy was the way to go. It allowed the computers to flush their memory and keep chugging.

BSP2 and Ray Tracing for rendering mode are settings to be used when combined with Binary Proxy in Mental Ray.

Pretty well documented discussion about the creation of forests.

Other related info


I am setting this blog up as a repository for myself to refer to all the things learnt and all the links associated to the questions that were raised during the process of a project as well as the answers.

The problems aren't big problematic ones but small things here and there that should have been easy but apparently, Autodesk Maya doesn't play nice.