Monday, December 28, 2009

Maya/Mental Ray: Portal Light

Was looking around at some lighting/rendering sites and noticed how often some people use the portal light/sky light in mental ray. Not much stuff about that, though, regarding Maya. So I thought I'd throw up a vid about what it is and how one might use it. It's a pretty cool shader/light that solves a couple of specific problems and can actually be used in bunches of other circumstances. Some more info can definitely be found at Zap's site and Andrew's site.

Maya/Mental Ray: Portal Lights

Friday, December 18, 2009

Maya - Rigging a dynamic hair system (or one hair anyways)

Here is a video about how to set up a rig for a strand of hair (or anything else that requires some dynamic simulation, like a tail or a wire or whatever). The basic concept is to use an IK spline and blend shapes to get a rig that is fully blend-able between dynamic and manual animation and still give full control over the dynamic component of the rig. It's a bit long (about 40 min), but has the theory behind the rig and pretty much the full setup in Maya.

Maya Rigging: Dynamic/Manual Hair Setup

One more time, for realsies this time

With feeling this time . . .

The Needful Head is for sale on Amazon! By the gods, it's frackin awesome! (can you tell I've started watching Battlestar Galactica?)
Rich made another banner for this holiday season (last year was kind of wash out with distributor issues) so the push is on. In case you didn't catch it in the business pages, we're up to #158,542 in the amazon dvd sales charts! With a huge holiday surge we can catch "Alluvial Deposits in the Nile Delta: The DVD". Those guys at the Geological Information Network think they're such hot s*$t. Let's take em down a peg!
The link to Amazon is here. (look around and you can also find the downloadable version)
The website is here.
Don't buy this crap:

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Maya - Rigging a no flip pole vector for a leg

Here's a MUCH quicker video about rigging an IK leg with a "no flip" pole vector. I'm definitely on more solid ground with rigging stuff than the Mental Ray stuff :)
Anyways, the idea is to create leg rig with a "knee twist" attribute so that you don't have to animate the pole vectors (most of the time). I prefer animating this way- a bit cleaner and works better for me most of the time.

Maya Rigging: No-Flip-Leg Pole Vectors from zeth willie on Vimeo.

Maya Mental Ray - the basics of linear workflow

Finally had a bit of time, between all of the stuff (work, teaching, life), to create a few videos tutorials!
I love it when people take the time to create detailed tutorials and I've watched more than my share, so I thought it would be fun to make a few myself. Since I'm teaching animation right now, I'm always talking about that and I'll eventually throw some stuff up about animation things related to my class, but for now, I'm mostly doing stuff that I think is more interesting to me lately and maybe a bit more esoteric. Definitely not super advanced stuff for the most part (unless you're a total beginner, which is cool too), but just sort of picking and choosing what I feel like exploring. Some of it is might be a bit complicated and specific, like some rigging stuff, but others are about stuff I'm just learning the finer details of myself, like the mental ray joint that follows.
BTW, I know that I can be a bit over-explainy and pedantic sometimes. So sue me. Too much classroom time (I was a HS teacher in NYC before I started digital stuff). But I hate it when people assume I always know what they're talking about when I don't. Just went to my finacial advisor and WHOOSH. Right over my head. Didn't understand a word. Sometimes the simple stuff is interesting to me too, dude. I went a bit crazy with the first one, so it's in four parts. I also get a bit fast and loose with the specific lingo sometimes (gamma correction, gamma encoding, float, HDR, etc). Feel free to correct anything that's wrong or bugging you in the vids, or let me know and I'll do it.

Anyways, I'll throw a bunch of posts up as I see fit with the rest of these mama-jammas . . .
part1=gamma, part2=basic workflow, part3=real workflow, part4=basic post stuff

Maya/Mental Ray: Linear Workflow Part 1

Maya/Mental Ray: Linear Workflow Part 2

Maya/Mental Ray: Linear Workflow Part 3

Maya/Mental Ray: Linear Workflow Part 4
Here are some of the links I mentioned in the video:
1. The man, the myth, the legend . . . Master Zap

2. djx talks about linear and gamma
3. Andrew at 3dLight talks about linear for Maya/MentalRay
4. floze does a tute about linear rendering in a series of interiors
5. A long CGTalk thread about the topic
6. A much more detailed Mental Images thread
7. A detailed article by Yves Poissant on Tone Correction
Good lord. Here's a couple more for post-production stuff:
1. A bit of AE stuff
2. S'more AE, a bit more complicated this time
3. A good generally useful pdf

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Maya - AddDoubleLinear node, the better way

This is a quickie. I've actually got a few videos with some slightly more interesting (I think) tutorials that I'll post up later.
I hate the +/- Avg node in Maya for adding two numbers. It usually takes some fussing to get it work correctly (I think it might even be buggy, or at least poorly conceived). So I usually use the script editor on the bottom left corner to create an "addDoubleLinear" node. This is more straightforward . . . takes two scalar inputs adds em and gives a result. Just type "createNode addDoubleLinear -n *name it what you want*".
The only problem is that this add node doesn't show up in the hypershade, which is where I do most of my connections. So here's a better way. . .
Create the ADL node like you'd create a mult/div node or other utilities with MEL. Instead of "createNode", use "shadingNode -asUtility addDoubleLinear".

This creates the ADL as a utility which shows up in the HS window under the Utility tab. Now you can finally sleep at night!