Autodesk announces their 2010 product line

loocas | 3ds Max,Maya,opinions,software | Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

Following the announcement, Autodesk revealed the 2010 product line.

Hands down, the updates are really not about new big features at all, this time. Well, maybe except for Maya 2010, which’ll, for the first time in years, come in one version only, just Maya 2010, no Unlimited or Complete (which was confusing anyways) and will include Toxik (altough called Maya Composite) and MatchMover.

I still haven’t seen any presentations of these new features, but I’m really looking forward to that. Even though I really dislike the idea of having Toxik inside of Maya by default. I never liked that compositor, always felt very “Flame-ish” and therefore “odd” to me, being used to Fusion or Nuke. But still, I’ll save my judgement after I see a demo.

Autodesk also announced a 3ds Max 2010 SP1 release, which is always good, if it wasn’t for “subscribtion customers only”, which is, in my opinion, bullshit!

Then Softimage 2010 with some minor additions and bugfixes. Notably f-curve editor really needed that sweet touch and Scintilla, which I really felt in love with after it was included in 3ds Max, is also a very nice additon.

They’ve also announced digital production Suites, which seem to be a great idea, possibly taken from Adobe, that you’ll be able to buy a bundle of 3ds Max/Maya, Motion Builder, or even 3ds Max/Maya, Motion Builder, Mudbox. If the prices are “reasonable”, I’m sold!

As I’ve said, I’ll wait for tomorrow’s demos to pass my judgement on these new releases, so, stay tuned…

dotNET sweetness for Maya

loocas | Maya,Python,technical | Thursday, September 11th, 2008

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When I first started developing some tools, to speed up and aid our pipeline, in Maya I was furious to find out about Maya’s implemented GUI tools and methods. It was extremely unintuitive, very badly documented (especially regarding examples of the given object etc…) and heavily limiting. What I’d love to have in Maya was something similar to Max’s GUI objects I was used to.

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Connecting to a MySQL database from CG applications.

loocas | 3ds Max,maxscript,Maya,Python,technical | Saturday, August 9th, 2008

I’ve been recently doing some R&D on MySQL databases and connection through Python in Maya as well as Python in Max (through blurPython library), but I couldn’t seem to have found a way to connect to a MySQL database via ODBC. The problem lied in OLE methods as they’re not both much documented in MAXScript reference and they’re tied to the operating system, not Max directly. But thankfully, I bumped into a solution today, out of a blue :)

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Transform conversion successful!

loocas | 3ds Max,Maya,technical | Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

Just a quick note about my latest, successful :) , transform conversion in a real production environment. If you’ve read my last article about the transformation matrices and how they can be used for manipulating object positions, rotations and scale, you’ll remember I also wrote about an example of converting 3ds Max object transform matrix into Maya’s xform matrix. All I needed was some real-world scenarion where I could successfully test out this method as it was, to me, untested territory. It finally came on the project we’ve been working on at UPP. I have several characters set-up and rigged in 3ds Max that I then transfer between various software packages we use here (mainly Maya and XSI). Obviously, the problem is the Up axis that is different in 3ds Max, which is the Z axis, in Maya and XSI it’s the Y axis. The problem isn’t the translation of objects, that’s easy, the main problem is the rotation of objects that needs to be converted to the different axis scheme.

Max to Maya matrix conversion

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The transformation matrix is very useful, when understood.

loocas | 3ds Max,maxscript,Maya,technical | Monday, June 2nd, 2008

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The matrix in a 3D space has nothing to do with Neo’s hassle with sentinels, no, instead these are extremely useful and helpful vector arrays that make up a position, rotation and a scale of any object in your scene. Recently I’ve been re-inventing the wheel when I needed to write a system that’d allow me to instantly and without any user input transfer objects from Max to Maya and XSI. The reason for matrices in this case lies in the convenience of the whole matrix storing the object’s entire transformation information, which is, essentially, all that you need in order to accurately describe object’s exact position, rotation and scale in a 3D space.

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Scripting in Maya through Python? Get used to a lot of string operations.

loocas | 3ds Max,maxscript,Maya,Python,technical | Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

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I find myself scripting in Maya more and more often. As I’ve expressed many times already, I really love and appretiate Python’s way of dealing with things, so having this language available in Maya is a blessing. The most beautiful part is when software actually does all the hard and annoying work for you ;) Scripting in Maya using Python hadn’t been designed the way it should be. Unfortunately, Python only serves as a “wrapper” around MEL commands and MEL architecture. Fortunately there are attempts at simplifying Python scripting in Maya, such as PyMEL from Luma Pictures (which is a studio I feel honored to cooperate with on The Nutcracker: The Untold Story), which is a fantastic “plug-in” for any Maya TD! which was, not surprisingly, done solely through Python itself :) A fantastic demonstration of Python’s power. However, PyMEL isn’t the topic for this short post, maybe later, when I get more familiar with it and gain more experience using it.

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Serious technical limitations of proprietary languages.

loocas | 3ds Max,maxscript,Maya,opinions,Python,software,technical | Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

The more time you spend developing some more complex tools and code, the more you start appretiating all the open-source tools and add-ons you can get. Thankfully, Max and its MAXScript language is very widely used throughout the CG community, so, some times you don’t even have to start developing your own tools from scratch, you can get either the whole package from sites like ScriptSpot or at least build your tools up on somebody else’s script. However, there are certain limitations that even a huge community, such as the one Max has, won’t be of much help.

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I’m loving Python!

loocas | 3ds Max,maxscript,Maya,opinions,Python,software,technical | Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

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Interestingly enough, when I started looking into extending my technical skills and knowledge beyond 3ds Max itself at first I got a bit frustrated. The reason was I thought (as probably many other technical artists out there, based on many discussions I read) that I spent years developing some scripting and technical skills to find out they were useless and I’ll have to learn something entirely different in order to stay at the cutting edge and still being competitive. Now while 3ds Max isn’t a factor here, it’s just a platform anyways, I dived into Maya recently and faced a, seemingly, difficult decision: do I go the MEL way or do I learn Python (available in Maya since 8.5)? The decision turned out to be petty simple! I’ll learn both! As I devoured the user reference files, some tutorials and some books, I found out that once you learn one scripting language syntax and logic, picking up any other (similar) language is quite easy.

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