meshmixer is a free tool for making crazy-ass 3D stuff without too much hassle. Or boring stuff too. You decide. Watch the video below…then download it and give it a whirl
meshmixer03 was released on March 7, 2011. Follow future development on twitter: @meshmixer
Click image to watch movie (DivX)
Create a spider with bones and ik on the feet
and go to – Animate – Set driven keys -option box.
Set the rootjoint (or group) to be driver in translate z and the ik handles
of the feet to be driven in translate y and z.
Now key a step when Rootjoint is at 0 (feets down) and three more keys as
rootjoint moves along z axis. (Feets down, up, down to complete a step.)
Now if you drag the rootjoint the legs should make a step.
(Or rather a jump since they all are keyed the same.)
In Graph editor edit keys for the ik handles if you need and turn on
View infinity and set pre infinity and post infinity to cycle with offset.
Now do the same with root joint as driver in translate x axis and the ik handles translate y and x to make a sidestep.
Now you can offset the legs so they match the spider walkcycle info atwww.hash.com/users/threechickens/Spider.htm
To make it easier to use the spider leg offset chart move the spider the same distance as the number of frames in the chart. I.e 0.12, 1.2, or 12 depending on your scale.
I made the mistake of making the step 0.15 and had to recalculate the offset to get it right.
One note. Its important that the step is exactly the same lenght as the distance the rootjoint moves.
Thats it! The good thing with this is its working in realtime in the viewport so you get instant feedback.
Ctrl click the y axis to constrain movement in only x and z axis and start crawling around. Good luck!
Advanced Level: How does the Reconcile3D Node work
Advanced Reconcile3D: Stabilize Footage based on matchmoving data(source files included)
Nuke Customization: How to set up custom gizmos and default Knobs in Nuke
Stereo3D inside Nuke5: Create your own stereo 3D environment inside Nuke 5 (currently not available)
PYTHON Scripting Nuke5: Introduction to scripting in Nuke 5 (currently not available)
MPC has joined forces with Sky Creative to create a stunning stereo campaign to promote their film channel. Directed by Esther Wallace and Nick Tarte and produced by Sharon Kersley, the spot travels through different genres, unveiling epic stereo landscapes.
‘It is about escapism (explain the directors). This is our invitation to our audience to enter another world. We wanted to create a 360 pan around massive, epic landscapes populated by movie iconography. The journey takes us through a range of emotions – in a similar way that a movie would do. It’s a peek into movie moments.’
MPC was involved from an early stage, developing the Directors' vision with mood frames to create the right feel for each of the scenes. The five main genres were represented by different landscapes; desert for western, space for sci fi, city for romantic comedy, country for period drama and ice for family.
To unveil each of the genres, a 360 degree camera move was chosen, passing through the different landscapes. MPC was responsible for creating fully CG environments and rebuilding live action shots, all in stereo.
‘This was a job that required very specific timings and planning from 3D previz – explains 3D Supervisor Duncan McWilliam – If we could prove all the permutations worked in a previz accurate to real world scale scenarios then we knew the shoot would work…..give or take! We spent plenty of time here checking and double-checking, it felt like a NASA project. So when we turned up on set and it all worked and cut together just right the sense of satisfaction was great.’
A stereo camera on a circular dolly track was used to capture the live action footage on each of the locations. One of the main challenges was keeping the images sharp while moving the camera at a high speed. To achieve this, the footage was slowed to half the speed and later interlaced to avoid strobing.
Sourcing paired lenses and calibration after every transit was essential as the alignment had to be so accurate. McWilliam comments ‘If there’s once really big thing I’ve learned from the stereo VFX supervision, it’s make sure you take a LIDAR scan of every location. The old ways of running around measuring the set no longer cut it and to track stereo back at the post house is bloody tricky without know dimensions of nearly everything.’
2D Supervisor Matthew Unwin explains; ‘Tracking all the scenes in stereo with a 20 second shot plus transition duration was proving challenging. Creative briefs were constantly being updated so the team settled to develop the matte paintings and assets for the cg scenes. Now with real plates we were able to update our previs edit and solve the transitional issues.
The scale of each scene was the same physically but the creative scale needed to be different. The brief was to have an epic scale but in scenes such as space-scape the scenes looked flat in stereo. An impressive epic painting in the distance was all very well but in stereo it required foreground elements. We had spaceships but added swirling motion trails and then a foreground canyon edge with interactive dust to solve the problem.’
Stereographer Chris Vincze explains; ‘As the stereographer on the project my job was to create a 3D stereoscopic environment that matched the directors’ vision, giving the landscapes an epic quality that matched the movie references. The challenge was to strike a balance between having enough depth in the scene to make the 3D interesting, while keeping the scale feeling right. I wanted it to feel like looking out of a window at a real landscape. The challenge was to maintain consistency of depth throughout five different landscapes which were shot in different locations and make it feel like one changing landscape, so I worked extensively with the previs team to set an interaxial distance (the distance between the two cameras) that would work over all the landscapes.’
During the shoot, Chris Vincze worked with the camera rig tech to ensure the minimal amount of rig alignment errors and make sure that everything in the scene fit into the ‘depth budget’ defined by our stereo camera set-up, so everything would be comfortable to watch in the final film.
After the shoot, the plates had to be corrected to balance out any remaining camera rig alignment errors, and any differences between the two lenses. They also had to be colour corrected to account for the difference caused by the mirrored 3d rig.
This process was done in the Foundry’s Ocula plug-in. Keeping the right scale meant that almost everything was set behind the screen, so to enhance the 3d effect MPC worked with the directors and cg teams to add in additional foreground elements.
For example the light trails on the spaceships, dust clouds, butterflies and pigeons were all added in to balance the ‘depth budget’ and make the scene more interesting in 3D. This was especially important in scenes such as the spacescape where the buildings in the city were huge and distant, so you wouldn’t see any parallax difference or real depth in reality.
The country landscape
The country scene was the first to be shot at the gardens of Blenheim Palace in England. Real conifers and bushes were placed to enhance the real transition and cast practical shadows over the picnicing family in a period drama scene. The landscape and lake was to be replaced. Having found a city location which was to precede the country scene, the challenge was to find a New York street with specific criteria. Most of the dramatic locations have high towering buildings either side, which meant most of the action would be in shadow and not open to the countryside.
A location was found with 1 storey buildings to one side. The shot would need to be flipped with all signage corrected. MPC setup a 3d previz of the shot using google maps for reference. Once signed off the tech rec was done with precise stills and measurements which was integrated into the evolving edit. The team headed to New York with the limitations of height due to mayors office restrictions. A specific tilt angle had been set and this was now slightly compromised. The choreography of the street we had about an hour to shoot with the correct light due to flaring and loss of long shadows for the noisier romantic feel of the genre.
The cityscape was a real challenge due to the height regulation issue which we knew would come back to haunt us. The transition to countryscape looked like the street was below the level of the lake so we needed to provide a solution. In Nuke, all the buildings were projected around the street and the first two transitional shot structures. We were able to cheat the perspective and lower the buildings then create a European cafe lakeside scene with jetty. The lake was actually raised slightly to blend at the correct level. In mono this is all relatively straighforward but in stereo all had to be checked constantly. However, recreating the entire scene enabled the creatives to develop a city for signoff while we were setting up the transition. A real wall structure was replaced in cg and added foliage, shot in country lake location on bluescreen with the correct lighting helped soften the structure.
The shoot team carried on to monument valley, where an intense wrangling of horses over a huge distance was shot.
The move of the camera on a dolly track had to be done twice. Once linear for the loop and in-between scenes and secondly for a slowdown transition where the same linear entrypoint would transition to a move which slowed to a stop with a ten second living hold. This meant choreography of action was crucial. That said wrangling a group of horses with these instructions with riders was rather limited. Interactive dust and horses travelling close to camera were added.
The depth budget was tricky in this case as the foreground riders were pushed in stereo but then the buttes (rear canyon formations), which were 1km away, were flat. Slight depth was forced but then we were travelling into space-scape where the depth wanted to be in the distance. The foregorund elements were added in space as previously mentioned but the transitions we realised in each case had to be constantly tweaked for depth consideration.
The icescape and planetscape both were evolving creatively up to the end which was possible as they were completey cg scenes. The difficulty was solving the scale issues from the cg world to real world items which needed to feature. Over the transitions picnic people, fairies over cracking ice, a galleon ship , penguins to horses. These all had to work together both in the loop and in their individual genre holding scenes for 10 seconds.
‘ We were embarking on a project that we knew would be challenging both creatively and technically. So it was extremely important to us that we found a post house that was prepared to be collaborative from the word go.
MPC helped us obtain our goal – to create our magical movie world!
Their knowledge & experience in the commercial & film world was crucial to help us provide an ident that has high production values. Every member of the team’s skills were utilised. It was testing. It was a pleasure working with MPC!’
Esther Wallace and Nick Tarte – Designer/Director
Client: Sky Network Marketing / Sky Movies
Agency: Sky Creative
Agency Producer: Sharon Kersley
Executive Creative Director: Clare McDonald
Creative Directors: Esther Wallace, Nick Tarte and Craig Marsh
DOP: Magnus Auggustenn
Post Producers: Justin Brukman, Gen McMahn, Michael Stanish, Vittorio Giannini
VFX Supervisors: Matthew Unwin and Duncan McWilliam
VFX Team: Chrys Aldred, James Bailey, Jason Brown, Remi Cauzid, Maurizio De Angelis, Lacopo diLuigi, Michael Diprose, Dominic Edwards, Adam Elkins, Darren Fereday, Ahmed Garraph, Andreas Graichen, Michael Gregory, Liam Griffin, Alex Harding, Joey Harris, Richard Hopkins, Nicholas Illingworth, Spiros Kalomiris, Carsten Keller, Adam Leary, Duncan McWilliam, Jorge Montiel Meurer, Prashant Nair, Maru Ocantos, Vicky Osborn, Mikael Pettersson, Christophe Plouvier, Fiona Russell, Jim Spratling, Janak Thacker, Charlotte Tyson, Matthew Unwin, Fabio Zaveti
Autodesk® Maya® 3D computer animation software delivers an end-to-end creative workflow with comprehensive tools for animation, 3D modeling, visual effects, 3D rendering, and compositing on a highly extensible production platform. Autodesk® Maya® 2012 software delivers new features and toolsets for previsualization and games prototyping, extended simulation capabilities, and improved pipeline integration. It delivers viewport and sequencer enhancements, node-based render passes, editable motion trails, and a new library of 80 Substance procedural textures.
Viewport 2.0 Enhancements
Node-Based Render Passes
Editable Motion Trails
Substance Procedural Textures
Craft Animation Tools
Enhanced, Multi-Product Animation Workflows
New Simulation Options
For the first time ever, Autodesk announced new versions of their creative applications in a single global launch. There are new 2012 versions of Flame, Smoke, Maya, 3ds Max, Softimage, MotionBuilder, and Mudbox. We’ll highlight some of the key new features of the releases, but as a bit of background there were some organizational changes in Montreal that are already paying dividends in the 2012 release. This is actually a very big change in the way things are done…and perhaps bigger news than the actual releases themselves.
Development Team Reorganization
I’ve been involved in various beta testing teams for Discreet and Autodesk for more than ten years. This includes the first releases of Fire/Smoke as well as the entire (what I would call) troubled development of Toxik. Flame and Smoke were applications that were developed inside Discreet in Montreal before the company was acquired by Autodesk. There was a very strong “Discreet” culture that evolved over the years…a culture that paid dividends in a new approach to compositing and post.
The various 3D applications under the Autodesk banner did not come from this heritage in Montreal. 3ds Max (previously 3D Studio Max) was originally an Autodesk software — actually, their Kinetix devision. Maya, Softimage, Mudbox, and MotionBuilder were all acquired by Autodesk over time.
Due to their separate roots, the development teams for the products were effectively islands — you could even gather this from the outside with their separate release dates. While understandable from a historic standpoint, this prevented a higher level of interoperability between the products. The promise of FBX exchange between even the in-house Autodesk products has never really reached its full potential…and since they’re under one roof, it is safe to assume this would have happened years ago.
A slight exception to this was Toxik (now Maya Composite), which had some tight workflow integration with Maya’s render passes and camera. Toxik, in fact, was designed to work closely with Maya to improve the 3D compositing process. However, this bond seemed to happen to the detriment of the flagship Flame and Smoke products…which didn’t get these new features and tools as Toxik was being developed. As users, we wanted to see developments on various products being shared between them, as opposed to being kept to a single app. The fact that Maya wouldn’t work well with Flame and Smoke was especially a sore point among users.
This background isn’t meant to rehash the past, but to provide a bit of perspective as to why last year’s structural changes at Autodesk are such a big deal in a positive way. For the first time, all of the product dev teams effectively report to one person in Montreal. There is much greater communication between the various teams. Of course, there are still cultural differences and rivalries between the teams…it’s only natural. In fact, you would want a bit of healthy competition between teams to drive innovation. And some features will remain only in certain applications. However, the key is that features and tech are now clearly cross-pollinating between products.
The folks at Autodesk have put a structure in place to help make workflow easier for artists. It’s obviously a natural thing to do since they develop many of the top 3D applications. You can see in the 2012 releases that there’s been a new focus on interop and sharing tech where it is useful. Some examples:
- Single step interop: One menu click to share data between 3ds Max/Maya and MotionBuilder Softimage ICE and Mudbox. No need to export/import FBX between the products
- Flame/Smoke using Softimage geometry technology to improve subdivision on text and gmask geometry
- Flame/Smoke, Maya, and MotionBuilder all share the same stereo camera rig
- Unified F-curve editor between 3ds Max, Maya, MotionBuilder, Softimage ICE and Mudbox
- Far better FBX support in Flame/Smoke
- Substance Textures being used in both Flame/Smoke and Maya
- Smoke on Mac supports the 15″ MacBook Pro screen size
One could consider these to be minor starting points, but it is a very welcome sign to see these types of sharing of tech. In discussions with Marc Petit, Senior Vice President Autodesk Media & Entertainment, it’s clear that they are very focused on taking advantage of more interop in the future. I’m paraphrasing here, but he seems genuinely focused on making sure that artists and facilities are given the creative tools they need as well as solid workflows to get projects done faster and cheaper considering the tighter budgets on projects today.
Putting on my Flame/Creation Suite owner hat for a second, this is actually something that they *have* to do to be successful. Several years ago, Autodesk switched to a subscription method for software upgrades. Basically, as an owner one buys an annual subscription and then you get all software upgrades during the year. In order for this to be of value for me so that I’ll spend the money, I need to see significant improvements in both creative features and workflow. In other words, Autodesk needs to deliver. So far, in my opinion they have. Over the three years I’ve owned Flame, I’ve paid the subscription fee to stay current.
Obviously, there’s a ton of work that needs to be done to further improve the products and we’re a long way from creative and workflow utopia. This includes adding new features, sharing tech, and make interoperability better. But the key takeaway is that it seems that Autodesk now understands this and have taken steps to improve the development process.
The releases of the software are expected to happen in April. We’ve detailed key highlights of the releases below and will be covering them in more detail in the coming weeks.
Key Flame 2012 Features
Our recent fxguidetv episode #103 covers new features in Flame Premium with Lead Product Designer Philippe Soeiro. We also have the un-edited, full length feature videos available on our site. It is an incredibly impressive release, especially considering the fact that it has been less than half a year since the extension release. There are solid workflow improvements as well as new creative features.
- New lights in Action – Area, Ambient, Directional, IBL (Image-Based Lighting)
- Cast shadows in Action – includes self-shadowing options
- Lighting Effects in Action – 3D lens flares with occlusion, 3D light rays
- 3D Gmasks – new Action object
- 3D tracker improvements, including point clouds
- Shape tracking in Action
- Flame FX
- Improved FBX
- Gateway Clip format: multi channel OpenEXR files in batch
What features are in Flame and what’s in Smoke? Some of that is still up in the air, but of the main new features, the 3D tracking Analyzer workflows and the new Gmask in Action (with shape tracking) are the most significant features to remain Flame only. The new lighting tools (Lights, Lens Flares, and Rays) and Flame FX are in all of the applications. On Smoke on Mac, there are some hardware limitations due to the OS X gfx drivers and limitations on 4500/5500 boards. Theare are no 3D cast shadows – only 2.5D limited to 512×512 resolution.
In all the Autodesk press releases and web overviews, one thing that might be read between the lines is arguably the future of the systems product line. In all of their marketing materials, there isn’t something called “Smoke Advanced”, “Smoke on Linux”, or Lustre to be seen. It’s become clear that Autodesk is now effectively focusing on three products: Flame Premium, Flare, and Smoke (on Mac). One could argue that they might simply end up with the simplified three product line in the future — especially as we see more and more features shared by the Flame and Smoke Linux products. However, for the time being, Smoke on Linux and Lustre are definitely still available for new customers and old. One product has actually been dropped from the line for new customers and that’s Flint.
Editable motion trails in the Maya viewport
Key Maya 2012 Features
- Viewport 2.0 Enhancements – Now offers full-screen effects: motion blur, depth-of-field and ambient occlusion, component and manipulator displays, batch rendering capabilities and a high-performance API (application programming interface).
- Editable Motion Trails – Edit animation directly in the viewport, without the need to switch context to the graph editor.
- Substance Smart Textures – A library of 80 dynamic, animatable and editable resolution-independent Substance smart textures and filters with a tiny disk space footprint. Textures can also be converted to bitmaps for rendering or baking purposes.
- New Simulation Options – Incorporates the multithreaded NVIDIA PhysX engine* for static, dynamic and kinematic rigid-body simulations directly in the Maya viewport and the Digital Molecular Matter plug-in for shattering simulations from Pixelux Entertainment.
- Node-Based Render Passes – Ability to create and edit node-based representations of render passes and render the composited output directly using the mental ray renderer.
Key 3ds Max 2012 Features
- Nitrous Accelerated Graphics Core — Leveraging accelerated GPUs and multicore workstations, Nitrous enables artists to iterate faster and handle larger data sets with limited impact on interactivity. Advanced scene management techniques, along with multithreaded viewport scene traversal and material evaluation, result in a smoother, more responsive workflow.
- mRigids Rigid-Body Dynamics — mRigids is the first module released in the new MassFX unified system of simulation solvers. Artists can use the multithreaded NVIDIA PhysX engine to create more compelling, dynamic rigid-body simulations directly in the 3ds Max viewport.
- Artists can now save and load brush settings to quickly toggle between favorite presets and choose a source for the Clone brush from anywhere on the screen when painting bitmaps in the Viewport Canvas.
Key Softimage 2012 Features
- CE Modeling — Nondestructive geometry creation, based on rules, conditions and parameters that facilitate topology operation creation, particle meshing, custom primitives and geometry fracturing while preserving UV attributes.
- Syflex on ICE — More flexible node-based workflow of ICE enables artists to use Syflex cloth to create and edit highly realistic cloth effects.
- Lagoa Multiphysics — This simulation framework helps artists create realistic simulations of the dynamic behavior of liquids, cloth, foam, plastic and soft body collisions, as well as incompressible fluids, inelastic, elastic and plastic deformations.
Key MotionBuilder 2012 Features
Stereoscopic in MotionBuilder
- Stereo Support ― Author and view stereoscopic content in MotionBuilder, with the new in- viewport stereoscopic display and camera rig. Camera data can be exchanged with Maya, Autodesk Flame 2012 and Autodesk Smoke 2012 software via Autodesk FBX 2012 asset exchange technology.
- HumanIK Unification ― A unified interface and solver for HumanIK character animation middleware offers more consistent workflows and improved interoperability between the products, and updated Character Controls and Characterization tools. Customers who use the HumanIK 4.5 or 2012 will benefit from enhanced consistency between MotionBuilder and their games engine.
Key Mudbox 2012 Features
- UV-Less Painting ― Texture artists can now eliminate or reduce the time-consuming and often difficult task of creating UVs; even complex assets comprised of multiple meshes can simply be loaded, and painted right away.
- Large Texture Datasets ― Now it’s possible to paint and manage large texture datasets, in order to create the very detailed, high-quality assets required by today’s demanding productions. Thanks to a new texture and tile management system, artists can display and paint hero assets with hundreds of texture maps consisting of billions of texels.
- Multiple Joints ―Create, manage, and weight multiple joints to quickly and easily deform and pose full-figure models. Artists can now create symmetrical pairs of joints, while joint hierarchies can be created automatically based on influenced vertices.
When ptex uvs are created, Mudbox looks at the shape and size of faces *at the highest level*. The reason for this is that, as you know, subdividing a mesh has an averaging affect on the positions of vertices that causes face sizes to even out and face shapes to square up. For example, in a situation where a large face is adjacent to a skinny face (as is common in hard surface objects), subdividing these faces will cause the skinny face to double or triple in width and the large face to shrink in width. So it’s important that the UV space allotted for these faces represent the shape and size of these faces at rendertime (ie. subdivided). So if a mesh is intended to be rendered as subd, the user should subdivide the mesh a few times before setting it up for ptex.
One way in which Mudbox-3ds Max/Maya interop is superior to GoZ is that the scene is updated with changes from Mudbox, not replaced with Mudbox data. So if your 3ds Max/Maya scene has hierarchies, layer assignments, custom attributes, any special scene setups, these are all retained through the roundtrip with Mudbox. Whereas roundtrip through GoZ, on the other hand, just blows all of that away – your scene is reduced to just mesh data coming from Zbrush.
Paint layers can have multiple layer masks and these masks can be blended together using blend modes.
The “Adjust Color” function is quite powerful and can reproduce many/most of the color adjustment operations in Photoshop and Mari. Operations like Color Balance, Invert, Posterize, etc. can all be done using the Curves and HLS controls in the Adjust Color window. (We wanted to add some presets to the window, but ran out of time)
The hotbox and other marking menus are supposed to be customizable by the user, by modifying xml files on disk. Users are also supposed to be able to create their own marking menus (by adding new xml files to the same directory) and assign hotkeys to them in the hotkey editor.
Painting blur with a large brush on a high resolution texture is several times faster in Mudbox than doing the same in Photoshop – there’s no comparison.
The edge bleed has been dramatically improved for Mudbox 2012. it’s superior to the pixel-stretching techniques used by Mari and other paint programs. The edge bleed is actually painting the detail beyond the boundaries of the UV shell – and doing this in realtime in 3d (not as a post-process).
FlareFactoryPlus is a tool I wrote that fills a big gap in Nuke…preset Lens flares. Typically in Nuke when you need a lens flare for a shot, you have to just spend the time to make one by hand. But sometimes that’s a tall order when a deadline is looming! That’s where FlareFactoryPlus comes in. Load it up, then all you have to do is select your preset flare and you’re 90% there. You can then customize the flare with a series of controls such as the opacity, size, position, color, brightness, and even chroma shift.
A built in automatic tracker is included as well for integration. Just hit ‘Go’, and watch MaxTrack track the brightest pixel in your scene.
Download FlareFactoryPlus and check out the 16 presets I’ve used for a number of studio projects over the past 2 years!
Studio tested, mother approved.