Dividing matrices is possible and quite useful.

loocas | 3ds Max,maxscript,technical | Saturday, July 12th, 2008

I was trying to solve a problem when I had an object (a point helper) in a scene that was part of a hierarchy (in a rig) but I wanted the object to transform in a different object’s space than was its parent! Essentially, this means transforming objects in “AUX” pivots’ space (if you know MotionBuilder, you know where I’m going with this).

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Intermediate wheel rig.

loocas | 3ds Max,maxscript,technical | Thursday, June 26th, 2008

A friend of mine asked me how I’d go about rigging a wheel so that it spins no matter which direction it travels and stick to a ground as well. At first I thought this’d be a piece of cake as all I really needed was a direction vector and its magnitude to add to the rotation of the wheel. Well, the solution turned out NOT to be that simple in the end.

(the video lags a bit, but the entire rig is actually faster than real-time)

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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

Matrix banner

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

Maya hypergraph banner

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

max_maya_python.png

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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