Thursday, March 31, 2005

Light at the end of the tunnel



After working 20 + hours over the weekend and another 17 hours yesterday my animation is almost complete. So after spending day and night working on this serious project, I am now craving something more lighthearted and fun. As such, I am officially challenging Patrick (thats right, you) to a Robot duel. Here is how it works, there are no rules, all you have to do is make a robot character and send the maya file to me. I intern, will do the same. We then import each others robots into the same file as our own and animate them kicking each others asses. I don't plan on spending a lot of time on this, and you don't have to create a melbot or anything, just thought it would be fun to have a quick, silly project that would be enteraining enough to actually finish. By the way the movie poster is from one of my favorite robot movies, Silent Running with Bruce Dern. He is an enviromentalist with two little robot buddies, why can't I get a job like that?

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

While Jason is away...

Hello, Maya fans! Erin here, standing in for Jason while he works his butt off on a crazy 3D project. He'll probably be staying most of the night at work, and we'll see how much headway he makes. Right now he tells me he's working on light linking. I don't know what that means, but I found a link to it (I think). So I can't say too much about the project, but it looks neat and he's working very hard. He should be back in a few days.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Hmmm pretty cool

Death Fall is back up. Check this animation out. Begining is kind of lame but stick with it. Back to work or sleep.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Intensity Curve


Happy Easter all. While others were hunting for plastic eggs I was at work hunting for a way to control decay settings on spot lights. The good news is I figured it out. Light decay has been one of those mysterious and frustrating settings for me since I started Maya. For those who don't know, decay describes where the light stops and how it fades out (useful for things like headlights). The preset options for decay have always resulted in no light at all for me. So out of frustration I began messing with the Intensity curve options and I got what I needed. This image is illuminated by a light with varying decay. It is intense, then subtle, then intense and finally negative light is cast. There obviously needs to be a tutorial on this as I could not find one anywhere. I will write something up when things slow down.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Inner Space


Check out these cool medical animations, from Hybrid Animations. They remind me of the movie Inner Space with Martin Short.

Friday, March 25, 2005

JB is back

No, not Jason Bailey, Jason Buzby patron saint of 3D animators and creator of 3D Buzz. 3D Buzz has had had a complete face-lift and looks great. The site appeared to be stagnant for the last few months but it appears that was just in preparation for the rebirth of a sleeker 3D Buzz. There is even a 3D radio program. Thanks again to Pat for taking the torch while I am in the work camps. Also thanks to Erin for picking my ass up from the airport at 3:30 in the morning. That’s all for now, back to the grind. All work and no play make Jason something... something....

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Today's Homework

FroZone
Well, it appears that Jay is still gone, so I offer you this short homework assignment. Your task is to review Pixar's RenderMan software. Apparently the cool kids who make all sorts of money use this software.

If you read further, they appear to have a little ditty that works with the Maya software program.

And, since I'm a nice substitute teacher, I'll let you watch some movies until Jay gets back. Made with Maya? Who knows? Cool? Oh yes.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Where has Jay poly gone?

This blog is lonely while Jay is off doing his traffic survey thing. I hope his frequent posting returns soon! I have no idea what his work project is, but it will do doubt be cool. Maybe he's trying to create a 50-car pile up in Maya. Luckily lots of people drive Honda Civics, so you can just use the ol' Duplicate and Transform to shave a few minutes off your modeling. Lots of Civics people.

robotsssss

Speaking of modeling, and cars, I've momentarily given up on modeling my celica, as it's just redonkulously complicated and a little beyond me right now. I'm instead focusing on modeling a robot, which will hopefully steer my in the right direction.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Wow, That's Slick



Great job on the upgrades Pat! That's just the kind of shot in the arm this site needed. I especially like the use of the XYZ translator. Mayaloge actually has some style now. You the man.

They announced the new FX challenge over at CG Talk. The challenge is to animate a space craft mission to the moon (how cool is that?). I am especially interested because they have divided the challenge into a fantasy category and a more realistic category for animations based on hard science. I will probably be following the threads for the more realistic animation entries pretty closely. An animator by the name of Daniel Maas was recruited to help judge the accuracy of the scientific submissions. Here is a link to his animation of the Mars Rover. I would say he is a qualified judge.

Play in Traffic


Hey all, so I have a crazy new 3D project at work that requires me to fly to the city of brotherly love and stand in the middle of a busy highway at 4:30 in the morning and take pictures. Per usual I can't say much more than that but it should keep me pretty busy, night-and-day for the next 2 weeks (I will only be in Philly for 2 days). I may not be able to post with the frequency I have up until now. I know what your thinking, you just can't go 2 full weeks with-out hearing about PDFs, .FBX, MPRs and how much I want to buy Z-Brush. I will do my best to add posts when I can, maybe if I learn some Maya tricks on this new project, I can share them here. Coincidently, I have made Pat D an administrative member of mayaloge. So in addition to his occasional posts I have been shamelessly leaning on him to spruce up the site a little (cause he got skills).

Thursday, March 17, 2005

More links

I am adding some links on the side bar to sites I either forgot to link to earlier or recently discovered. Among the new links are a new blueprint site, a link to Death Brains Nurbs Tutorials, a link to the main Alias page and a permanent side bar link to the PDF Books. I would also like to point out that 3D buzz have made a ton of learning videos for Motion Builder available at their site. Now that you can get a learning addition of Motion Builder for free it is probably worth grabbing some of those.

I have been reading through the Nurbs PDF and I think I am starting to make some real progress with Nurbs. I am hoping that between modeling the IMAC and the Audi in Nurbs I will be fairly competent in using Nurbs in about a month or so. All of the modelers at my work use Nurbs and I have been using primarily Polys, which is partially why I am so eager to gain skills with Nurbs.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

FX Challenge

Not a lot to talk about today. I have been busy pouring over my recently acquired Maya PDF's. I did check out the winner of the latest FX Challenge at CG Talk. The FX Challenge is a contest to use special effects to simulate things like avalanches, Roller coasters and volcanoes. The first FX Challenge was to build a trebuchet. I starting to make something to enter but I had zero knowledge of dynamics and quickly realized I was out gunned.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Crazy New Zealand


Update: In addition to Pat, I have the Elam School of Fine Arts to thank for my recent Maya windfall. Apparently copyright laws hold no ground in New Zealand as their educational institutions see fit to electronically distribute volumes of books over the internet. In addition to making all this information on Maya available they also provide material on other software, such as Aftereffects, DVD Studio Pro and Final Cut Pro. It is all probably out of date but may be useful.

Holy Freakin Crap!

When I was a kid, me and my brothers use to dream about winning the Toys-R-Us shopping spree. We would discuss the finer points of how to get the most toys in the shortest period of time, how to optimize the space within the carriage to accommodate the most stuff and so forth. Alas, we never had the chance to implement our well crafted plans. Tonight may be the closest I ever come to making that dream a reality. Pat found the "Mother Link" to the nurbs guide I posted about earlier and my God is there a lot of stuff there. I am talking about thousands of well written pages on everything Maya has to offer. From character animation to rendering and subdivision modeling. You could honestly spend over a thousand dollars at the bookstore and not get half of the info I just spent the last hour downloading. I am not really sure where to start reading, I guess I will just use it as a reference for anything I would need to find out about. At first I thought maybe it was just a PDF version of the Maya help menu but it is way to useful to be that. It appears to have been published by Alias, maybe it was made available before Alias decided it could rip off Maya users by charging a ton of money to explain how there software works? It is slightly out of date, the files are dated 2002 and it is written for Maya 4.5, for Mac OSX. However, most if not all of the content should still be relevant. Im going to stop writing now or else might never stop talking about how awesome this is.

Free nurbs guide



I found this link to download a PDF on nurbs modeling. It may actually be a PDF version of the Maya help for nurbs, I will check on this, but it is still very helpful and the most complete explanation of nurbs in Maya that I have come across. Most importantly it is free.

This PDF is a perfect example of why Mayabloge is a good thing. I found the same PDF months ago and forgot to book mark it. Now that I am modeling in nurbs more frequently I thought "hey, where did I see that PDF on nurbs?". Now I know I can find it at Mayaloge if I ever need it again.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

In Soviet Russia, Maya sucks you



Stay strong Jay. All design software sucks at different times. I cite Quark, Freehand, Director and Photoshop. Yes you Photoshop.

Here's a down and dirty render of a Celica Rim I through together from that Focus tutorial.

Maya Sucks



I just got back from spending 3 hours on a Sunday at work trying to make progress on a big project. There is a total love/hate duality between me Maya. The program is capable of so much that it can be impossible to get the one thing done you really need to accomplish. I won't blab too much, but here is the problem. I was trying to create a texture for a quarter mile stretch of roadway and the problem was that it needed to look clear both far away and close up. If that's not bad enough, the same texture needed to look clear when a small section of the roadway is printed 40" x 60". After working at building the texture for a few hours I realized that the texture would have to have a print size of like 400 + inches to cover the entire stretch of roadway. So maybe its not so much Maya I hate as it is this project I am working on. And just like that I have forgiven Maya.

Yesterday was the first day I did not post on Mayabloge since I started about a month ago. We lost power and when it came back on I was lazy. Friday I went to see Robots with Erin, Pat and Kate. It was fun hanging with Pat and Kate but the movie could have been better. There were a lot of cool animated effects, maybe too many. You know its a bad thing if a 3D geek like me thinks there are too many animated effects in your movie. The story line was boring and predictable, the characters lacked personality.

Lastly, I did get a chance to work on the Audi yesterday. I decided to start a Nurbs version. I figure I will develop the Poly version and the Nurbs version simultaneously.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Addendum

Erin and I would love to have people join us at the movies tonight. Just let us know via phone, email, blog, fax, courier pigeon or bicycle messenger, yodel, smoke signals, Morse code, interpretive dance (please, only one of these options per person).

TGIF


Its Friday, and I am ready for the weekend. I think Erin and I might see Robots, the animated movie tonight. Not a lot to talk about today but I wanted to put a link to Hiroshi Yoshi who makes some crazy 3D characters. They are simple looking but very fresh looking for 3D. They remind me a little of Jimmy Maidens work from Boring 3D. They also remind me of Takashi Morikami with a slightly more Nintendo meets Hello Kitty feel.

If I get a chance, I hope to work on the Audi model this weekend. I may have to go in to work and finish a work project so we'll see how keen I am to work on 3D when I get home.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Kudos to Alias (Maya)


Remember when I posted that Alias/Maya had purchased Kaydera and now had the rights to the .fbx format? Well yesterday, Alias announced that the software development kit for .fbx will be free to anyone who wants it. Initially I was worried that Alias would stifle the use of .fbx by making it a proprietary format but they have done the right thing here. Anybody who has to bring 3d files across different software platforms should be really happy about this. In addition to freeing up the .fbx format, Alias announced the release of a personal learning edition (PLE) version of Motion Builder. Motion Builder also developed by Kaydera and acquired by alias is a sophisticated motion capture software that allows you to animate based on data retrieved from real life. This sort of animation is used all the time in Hollywood most recently in the Polar Express (Yeah, Iknow that movie sucked). I will be downloading the PLE this weekend, I will post more thoughts then.

I feel like my posts have become a little to tech-oriented so I thought I would add a link to a dancing Robot to keep folks interested. That’s right, read the boring stuff and then you get to see the dancing robot.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Airbag


I didn't model this car or this figure but I did make the airbag. I actually have been thinking about how to animate an airbag for a while. I couldn't find any tutorials but I think the the technique I developed on my own works pretty killer (no pun intended). first I created a sphere and turned it into a soft body. Then I applied gravity to the soft body and animated it scaling from a small sphere into a large sphere. When the soft body hit the figure it molded to the his shape but it was reall ragged looking. To smooth out the edges and give myself more controll over the animation I set up a blend shape comprised of several stages taken from the dynamic simulation. OK, that doesn't even make sense to me and I am writting this. Maybe I will write out a tutorial on this one when I get some more time as I think it is a fairly original concept. Anyway, here are two playblasts of the animation movie 1 movie 2

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

.fbx to the rescue

So after looking for the better part of this morning for a viewer that allow people with out Maya to view 3D files, I found a solution. More accurately we (my boss and I) found a solution. Maya/Alias recently purchased a company called Kaydera known for amongst other things developing the .fbx format. This format allows you to bring files back and forth between all major modeling programs. They also developed an .fbx viewer plug-in for Quicktime and it works awesome. You can completely navigate your 3D file with zoom, pan and orbit features. You can even turn on and off wire-frame modes and jump from camera to camera. This will revolutionize the way I do my job. It's pretty dam cool.

3D file viewer


I was finishing up a project at work yesterday when one of the Engineers told me he wanted to be able to navigate the 3D model I built him with as much freedom of movement as I have in Maya. Having heard about third party viewers I decided to investigate but I didn't come across anything that looked really solid. Everything is either too exspenive like Polytrans from Okino, too cheap like Quick 3d, or lacks good documentation like Deep Publish. I tell ya, sharing files is not Maya's strong suit. I have yet to bring in a file from Autocad, Rhino or 3D Studio cleanly. Anyway, if someone knows of or finds a viewer that can display huge files in a Maya exportable format let me know.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Update


Here's and update on my polygon Audi A4. I am using this tutorial on modeling a ford focus for a refference. Ultimately I think I will re-model the car in nurbs to see if I can achieve more accurate curves. This tutorial for building a nurbs Subaru WRX looks very detailed and usefull.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Audi A4


One of the biggest challenges in designing my restraints presentation will be building a 3d vehicle complete with interior. I had a hard time deciding which vehicle to use. I knew I wanted a current car that performed well in safety testing. I was hoping to model a Ford as the company I work with has done work for them before. The thing that really made me choose the Audi was the availability of solid blueprints and photo referrence material. I have tried to model a car before and it was not easy. Here is what I have so far.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Restraints


Erin is looking at wedding dresses with our Moms and her Sis right now so I decided to stop into the office. I opened a project I haven't touched since last summer on restraints that I want to canabilize for the Science challenge project. The models are all right but I think they need a lot of work. When I made them I had not yet done much with texturing, lighting and animation and I think they would look better if I made them with nurbs instead of poly's. The first model is a typical seat belt locking mechanism. In the animation it shows an exploded view and then closes and latches.The materials look too similar and fake-ish but I think it gets the idea across well. The second piece is what is called a tensioner. The tensioner is what keeps your seat belt from giving out any slack during an accident. It is actually a pretty simple device, there is a weight connected to rod with a plate on the opposite end. The enertia from a sudden stop causes a weight to swing forward the plate engages and stops the gears from spooling any more slack. Again the model and animation get the idea across but I think they could look a lot better. The last assembly I modeled is called the pre-tensioner. Like the tensioner, the pre-tensioner stop the seat belt from spooling during impact. In the pretensioner a small explosion sends a plate into the gears milliseconds after the impact and effectively locks the belt. I am excited about cleaning up the pretensioner because I get to animate an explosion.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Mental Ray

Particle Morphing


Last night I was thinking about how it would be cool to morph the shape of hundreds of particles as they bounced around the screen. I have never read anything a bout using blendshapes (Maya morphing tool) on particles but I tested it out this morning and it works great. I made a playblast (quick and dirty animation using screen capture) of the morph and you can check it out here. The file is 100 k but shouldn't cause any problems. Hope to use this effect for something more interesting in the future.

I also had a chance to go through the MPR tutotrial. I could see how it would be really usefull if you were going to produce a lengthy animation but it seems like a lot of work for the stuff I make. essentially you go in and hand code attributes using mel scripts. You use two scripts for each attribute, one to turn on the effect and another to terminate it. If you consider an average scene has hundreds of attributes to key you are looking at a lot of time here. The advantage to all this is that you can adjust things like shadows and specularity inside a compositing program like After Effects instead of making those changes in Maya and having to re-render everything. If anyone wants to check it out and gets stuck let me know and I can help'm out.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

6.5

After installing another hard drive and a smidge more ram into my station last night, I decided to run the installer upgrade for 6.5. Man that thing took forevar to install! But once it was done, and I had finished entering the now-familiar codes and registration keys and activation code keys and registration activation key code keys, I was up and running.

I have no exciting photos to post yet, but started to play with the mental ray thing like Jay suggested. I noticed it takes an extra special long time for it to render with the mental ray, compared to the other rendering options. More to come soon for sure.

Paint Effects



It probably sounds like I want to buy some new software, plugin or book every time I write a new post (because I do). But I really need to find a way to get Z-Brush. I tried to get the demo version but they never sent me my activation code. Everytime I read an interview with a 3D artist they can't stop talking about how great Z-Brush is and how it is changing the industry. Here are some really cool videos featuring well known artists explaining the sweetness that is Z-Brush. Check outs Meat's Video if you only download one.

I finally found an easy way to solve my flowing water problem. After messing with particles and plugins I tried using a simple animated paint effect and it it looks really convincing. I will build a non-project version when I get time and post it for others to check out.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Katamari Damacy


For like the last 3-weeks I have been the first person out of the game at Dennis's Tuesday night poker game. Once again, I was the first person out last night but it gave me a chance to play Katamari Damacy for PS2. From what I understand, you are like this intergalactic prince who rolls everything on earth up into a ball to send to his parents to make stars or something? So I mention it on Mayaloge because it was fun to play and although fairly simple, the graphics were really phat. Especially when your ball picks up children and fishing rods and stuff.

Congrats to Pat on getting the $800.00+ upgrade from Maya 6 to 6.5 for FREE. I have a copy at work but I envy that you have it at home.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Welcome Casey


Casey finally signed up as a member of Mayaloge. That makes three official members, and at least one or two other people that stop by and check out the pictures. Casey hooked me up with my home copy of Maya 4.5, for which I will be foreever gratefull. He also gave me some advice on graphics cards. So if your out there reading this Casey you should feel free to post anything you find that may be of interest. Same goes for you Pat. As I have allready noted, yesterday kind of sucked in terms of maya. However, I did find some cool stuff on the web last night. Here is a free tutorial on MPR (Multi-Pass_Render) that uses the same plug-in that was mentioned in the $60 tutorial I wanted to buy for my birthday. I think I will Check out the free one first. I also decided yesterday that I am going to enter the Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge. I want to focus on vehicle safety restraints and try to explain the inner workings of seat belts, airbags etc.. I have already done a lot of this kind of work in support of the restraints experts at my work so I should be able to leverage some existing graphics and knowledge. I will be able to post updates on this project as it is nor directly for a client or litigation. Not sure if I will finish in time for this years contest but I am excited about putting something together.