Archive for maya
In an earlier post I discussed and shared a litSphere (or Matcap) shader for maya (which also works in Softimage.) Back when I made one for a place I worked I also made this artist’s guide for coworkers, which I just found while sorting through my hard drive.
The shader I made available here is not the one I made (it’s no longer mine to share) but one in the public domain – happily this little guide still applies.
So here it is…
There are quite a few litsphere maps out there, do a little googling and you’ll find plenty. They are also easy to make in photoshop. If you want to simulate lighting from a render, you can place your advanced/non-realtime material on a sphere, render it out, and use that as your litsphere… this is great for previs and layout, you can see in your viewport a realtime approximation of your shaders. And since it works out-of-box it’s a useful trick for studios which don’t have the resources for a more advanced realtime visualization system.
Your results will vary depending on your graphics card. Softimage users, I’m not much of a shader guy but it shouldn’t be too difficult to set up a good solution for the high quality viewport (which, by the way, hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves – sure it needs work but its a huge step in the right direction.) If I get a chance I’ll see what I can come up with, it would be nice to be able to model in a viewport with shading looking similar to Zbrush etc. I’d also like to have a simple solution for lit sphere shading in Arnold and Vray. Any shader gurus out there who are interested in the idea contact me and I’ll share what I have (for what it’s worth.)
CG society has an article about some of the work we did at PLF for Green Lantern. (I later went from pre/post vis to work on effects for the film at another studio, getting a double dose of green.)
As long as we are talking about Exocortex, they just posted this exciting preview of the next version of their point rendering tool Fury.
For those of you wondering why this is important, it’s simple enough. Fury is fast. Really, really fast. And it was written by Ben Houston, the original author of Krakatoa, a tool of choice for rendering particles. Softimage, Max and Maya users alike can move their simulations to ICE (or create their simulations with ice directly) and partake in the Fury awesomeness.
LOOK at it. 1 million points. Self shadowing and cast shadows. 1-second-per-frame.
“The major new features in Fury 2.0:
* GPU-accelerated particle self-shadowing
* Shadow maps
* Built-in compositing previewing.
* Command line renderer support.
* Synchronized Softimage and Maya support.
In this example, 1 million points are lit and rendered in about 1 second per frame and the shadow map is also created at the same time. Motion blur and DOF do not slow down rendering time.
The simulation in this example is from a alpha-version of SlipstreamVX 2.0 and thus the smoke motion isn’t quite perfect in this video.”
I don’t know the folks at Meindbender, but I’d like to. What gorgeous work! They really show off what the Maxwell renderer is capable of, and the artwork is top-notch.
More random fairly recent stuff…
Well, another siggraph has come and gone. As I await my flight in LAX, I might as well post some initial thoughts. The journalists will cover the changes to products and the like, so I’ll focus on overall experience and impressions.
First, the trivial… The weather was cool, which was a bit startling. And siggraph 2011 is going to be held in Canada. Wtf, we seem to have broken the long standing tradition of baking siggraph attendees in desert or tropical heat. Adding to the surreal feeling, the exhibits area was once again smaller, perhaps because Autodesk has consumed half the industry…
Speaking of Autodesk, this year their area was dominated by a pretty mediocre and endlessly repeating spiel about “virtual production” which basically tied together a hypothetical production workflow nobody actually uses but which gave them an overly polished way to show some basic new features of Maya and Mudbox. XSI and Max were, well, not really visible in the slightest. While I’m sure some lip service was given them, you sure couldn’t tell from a casual survey of their booth. And since there was no Softimage User Group event, siggraph pretty much was XSI free. Heck, lightwave was front and center by comparison. The only real mention of XSI was the announcement that it’s part of the basic bundle, phrased in such a way that ICE seemed like the only reason it was included at all. Thanks for the snub, Autodesk. I use Maya in production, sure, but frankly its showing its age, so why cram it down our throats when XSI is so robust?
(Edit – Some folks at autodesk disagree with my assessment. Sorry, but I watched demo people tweak the weighting of a character rigged in maya over and over on the big screen but didn’t see xsi anywhere. I know there is great work being done by the softimage folks – but marketing matters, and I’m reporting what I saw… which was that XSI was lacking visibility. That may step on taboos or be unmentionable in Autodesk circles. Tough.)
The show was far more interesting at the smaller booths, where stereo, 3d printing, and GPU rendering were all engaged in healthy competition. AMD was home to Mach Studio which was showing off it’s exciting new shader construction tools, and nearby pixel farm was showing off it’s rather bizzare companion to PFtrack, which adds a node-based workflow (cool) but which lacks some of the core power of PFtrack (wha?). Desktop 3d printers were everywhere, including the makerbot which was cleverly if less visibly off the exhibit floor and hanging out near emerging technologies with some other delinquents like the gigapan. How did that happen?
Emerging technologies was its usual combination of really cool stuff that doesn’t quite work, stupid stuff with no practical application beyond provoking thoght to a greater or lesser degree, and some eye popping technology that had me muttering “we wants it my preciouss.” Foremost in that latter category was the 3D volume display presented by Sony. Remember the 3d volume displays of a few years back that relied on spinning plates of leds? The ones that contained murky glimpses of CG objects you could walk around and wish were actually working? Well, they work now. Really well, in fact. As in they feel ready for market. Nice work, Sony, when you guys aren’t awash in marketing droids and hype you can still make some amazing stuff.
The papers and course presentations were quite good, which are as far as I’m concerned the living, beating heart of Siggraph, and I’m happy to say it’s still strong. There were the usual crowd-pleasers like an excellent panel on Tron which had the added benefit of showing us 8 minutes of unseen footage (it’s looking great.) But more importantly, the more academic presentations were still there, sharing and pushing the state of the art. I particularly enjoyed a half day course on volumetrics.
Disney had a highly visible and impressive showing on all fronts, from excellent and impressive presentations on procedural hair and trees in Rapun-oops”Tangled” to the Tron presentation, etc. They did a good job of re-establishing themselves in my mind as leaders in the industry, both artistically and technically. MPC, DD, Tippet and the Mill also brought their A-games.
The parties were parties, techies, geniuses and academics were abound, and students still want to get hired… all in all I’d say that while Siggraph is still the incredibly shrinking con, it was just as valuable as ever where it counts – in getting a feel for the state of the industry and the technology, in seeing colleagues and friends who are rarely in the same place at once, and in sharing and extending the techniques, tools and insights so vital to computer graphics. I plan to continue attending, and suggest that anyone serious about computer graphics shoulddo the same. Remember people, judging siggraph by the size of the showroom is missing the point entirely – we don’t really need sales pitches, but you won’t find any other venue where other studio professsionals and academics mingle and share like they do at Siggraph. See you there next year!
Mark Shoennagel posted some good news on his blog on the Area a few days ago. XSI’s sales have been quite good of late and the dev team is likely to expand. Why is this a good thing for the industry as a whole? Because let’s face it… Maya is showing it’s age.
I have to admit, I’ve got a love/hate thing going on with Maya. It’s an industry standard. It changed the world. It broke new ground. And it… well, kinda sucks.
Look, before you get out the pitchforks and torches, Maya fans hear me out. You have gotten used to coping with things you shouldn’t have to worry about. Every dedicated maya user I know has a cornucopia of tricks, scripts, workarounds and fixes just to get the basics done. Want to constrain an object on a curve? Sure, you can. Kinda. If you know the trick, and are willing to think about it, or have a script handy. How about editing the animation curves on an animated texture? Visually? Make particles flow on a deforming surface? The answer is always the same – yes you can. But it’s not going to be straightforward….
Did some more work on a basic realtime toon shader for XSI (and maya, it’s CGFX.) Here’s a sample…
Functionality is pretty basic at the moment: Ink threshold, 2 levels of paint and a hard spec hilight, overall color control, a single point light source. I still need to introduce diffusion and spec mapping, possibly some reflections and bump/normal. Remember, if you see an agent, run.