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…

The journey to Siggraph 2009 begins…

loocas | miscellaneous | Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

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That’s right, folks! ;) I’m coming this year!

I’ll make a quick, 3 day, stop in New York first, but then I’m all New Orleans! My plane is leaving tomorrow at 11:15am from Prague to JFK.

I’m especially looking forward to the digital workflow and pipeline presentations and products. Then I’m going after entertainment and advertising systems and, of course, Eyeonline’s and The Foundry’s new additions to the compositing mill. Maya 2010 migh also be fun.

So, anyways, if you’re going to visit Siggraph this year, stop by Cebas’ booth #3207 and say hi, or just enjoy the demos of finalRender we’ll be doing at the booth ;)

I’m finding Nuke quite interesting

loocas | opinions,software | Friday, May 8th, 2009

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As I’d mentioned, this year is a year of changes and expansion for me, so, naturally, I’m looking for ways of expanding my postproduction pipeline, namely, compositing. I’ve been using Eyeon’s Fusion for a few years now and I find it very powerful, fast and realiable. However, I’ve been looking into other areas as well.

While I own a copy of After Effects CS4, I don’t find it that flexible and suited for my particular needs. I certainly want to go the “node-based” way. Don’t get me wrong, After Effects is a great package with a huge userbase which means tons of plugins and tutorials are available for it, but, as I said, I don’t want to go this, linear, route. So, I have a few options that are within my financial reach: Fusion, Nuke or Toxik. I certailny don’t want to invest in a brand new product on the market with dubious future, especially when owned by Autodesk, which potentially rules out Toxik, however, I’ll see how well it plays with 3ds Max and Maya (downloading the trial as I’m typing). I’ve been using Fusion for some years and I love it, so that certainly makes it a hot candidate. However, I’m always open to new possibilities, better, smareter or quicker workflows. Basically, anything that helps to improve my work in any way, ultimately in quality, will be on my highest priorities list.

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Can’t wait for Max’s new kitty

loocas | 3ds Max,opinions,technical | Sunday, January 18th, 2009

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Great news, at least some, that came from the Autodesk aquisition of Softimage is that it plans to include CAT in the upcoming 3ds Max version (3ds Max 2010), which I consider being fantastic!

CAT will finally mean a lot of time and effort saved when dealing with character rigging, setup and animation. The layering system is fantastic as is the rig itself. I don’t know how far will Autodesk push the interoperability of the rig and MotionBuilder or Biped for example, but knowing Autodesk, that’ll most likely be up to us, the end users and TDs. I’m planning to base my complete character pipeline around CAT, of course, only under the single condition that CAT works the way it should! and tie everything up to MotionBuilder rigs, possibly Biped (but probably not as I don’t use Biped at all), and other modules and areas of 3ds Max. The next step will be interoperability with Maya, which’ll allow me to utilize Maya’s fantastic cMuscle and nCloth.

I have the tools pre-planned here mostly on paper. The overall pipeline will be revolved around XML and MySQL, as much open source as it gets. So the core, proprietary components that are CAT and other pieces will have to work perfectly in order for me to go into this venture. But the fact that every seat of 3ds Max 2010 will have CAT is a very solid and good foundation. I like this idea, it’ll definitely save me tons of work and time, which is crucial. It’s the one and only new feature I’m actually very excited about.

But, if all fails and Autodesk (again) proves itself incompetent, arogant and stupid, there’s always a fantastic solution from Kees Rijnen as he announced his amazing Puppetshop to be available for commercial use for free! He’s awesome!

In the mean time, get to know CAT and learn it in and out as that’s gonna become the one and primary solution for complex character animation work in the near future. I believe it, you should too! ;)

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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Siggraph 2008 is coming!

loocas | miscellaneous,opinions | Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

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I can’t wait to finally see what’s been cooking in the industry for the past year. I was lucky enough to attend the last year’s Siggraph and see it for myself, but, unfortunately, I’m unable, due to work, to attend this year’s exhibition in LA, which is a real pitty as I’d love to see LA and the biggest CG event that gets even bigger in LA.

What I’m most interested in, obviously, are the progresses of Autodesk and Softimage, but I’m also interested in MoCap evolution as well as various other areas: rigid/soft body simulation, rendering technology, data interoperability etc…

Hopefully Max 2009 SP2? Or perhaps Max 2009.5 (as I don’t believe Autodesk would release software from a way too distant future, like Max 2010 :D ) will bring some sweet new features or at least a long-time wishes (i.e. bug fixes) to the table. Especially since ICE is making so much noise these days. Which is always good. I’ve heard some rumours about a complete core-rewrite of Maya, but who knows, this has been said about Max for years as well. We’ll see in a few days time what these software giants have to offer.

For the time being, if you’re interested, here are
some photos I took last year at Siggraph 2007 in San Diego.

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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