autodesk maya 2009

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                                                                             switching between component types.              Tool. Faces loops and partial face loops
                                                                             I found it to be useful, but noticed that       are also now easier to select. Double
                                                                             NURBS or Subdivision surface tools didn’t       clicking a face, then hitting shift and

MAyA 2009
                                                                             have a Multi-Component mode feature             double clicking another face will select the
                                                                             as well. For those of us working in the         faces in between them. However, I noticed
                                                                             games industry this may not matter,             this seems only to work on quadrilateral
                                                                             but for CAD users I’m certain NURBS tool        meshes, and not triangulated meshes, or
                                                                             enhancements would be a welcome                 on a mix of triangles and quadrilaterals.
By Bijan Forutanpour                                                         addition as well.                               Still, selection is more efficient, and once
                                                                                The next improvement in the Selection        a partial face loop is selected, using the
                                                                             tool is the introduction of the soft            arrow keys to select the full face loop
                                                                             selection feature. This comes in handy          allows for pick-walking the face loop along
                                                                             mostly in organic modeling, in changing         the model.
                                                                             proportions, or creating bulges using the         One “new” feature to the Move Tool
                                                                             usual transformation tools, with a smooth       is the Preserve UVs option. This option
                                                                             blending back to the rest of the model.         used to be part of the Maya Bonus Tools,
                                                                             Soft selection is based on a radius, which      but has made its way into the standard
                                                                             can describe either a volume or a surface.      release. Preserve UVs allows for vertices,
                                                                             There is also a Global mode, in which the       edges, and faces to be translated while
                              I mIss the good old days when                  vertex selection is not limited to vertices     maintaining the overall look of the
                              software had version numbers, and when         on the currently selected object, but can       texture mapping on the model. Usually
                              even the fractions in the version numbers      also include vertices on other objects as       modifying model geometry after UV
                              had meaning. Today software seems              well. Choosing a radius setting is easy with    texture coordinates and textures have
                              to be marketed like automobiles, with          a press of the B hotkey, which displays         been assigned results in the final result
                              year, make, and model names. The lines         a resizable circular radius cursor and          looking distorted. The Preserve UV feature
                              become blurred when RX7 is a sports            provides live feedback of the effects by        attempts to avoid this distortion by
                              car and CS4 is software. Without further       color coding the model’s vertices.              automatically recalculating new UV values
                              pondering of the wisdom of marketing              Another setting is a falloff curve that      for the newly transformed vertices. For
                              professionals, lets begin our test drive of    specifies the “weights” assigned to the         the most part the feature works relatively
                              the 2009 model of Maya, which I would          vertices selected. It can be edited, and        well, but it cannot really account for all
                              like to nostalgically refer to as Maya 10.0,   includes curve profile presets and the          scenarios. For instance in the case of
Autodesk                      or Maya X for Mac users.                       ability to create new profiles. It was          discontinuous UVs, where one vertex
                                                                             immediately reminiscent of Mudbox’s             has multiple UV coordinates, there is
                              THE BIG PICTURE                                brush controls. This made me ponder             only so much that can be done, short of
                              True to its history, Maya continues on its     Maya’s other organic sculpting tools,           automatically changing the texture’s pixels
                              development path with new features and         namely the Sculpt Geometry Tool. The            to compensate. Another small detail to
Autodesk, Inc.
111 McInnis Parkway
                              functionality. Some are geared towards         Sculpt Geometry Tool has remained               note is that even though in the desirable
San Rafael, CA 94903          efficiency, some focus on managing scene       mostly unchanged for many versions, and         case of continuous UVs, the end results
http://usa.autodesk.          complexity, and others offer completely        it could really stand to benefit from the       aren’t pixel perfect either, and there is still
com                           new functionality. The new developments        user interface and display features added       a small amount of distortion visible. It
                              in the 2009 version display a global view      to the soft selection tool, as well as adding   can be a huge time saver, but may require
$1,995 Maya Complete          at Autodesk, with a crossover of features      a few new features like pinch and bulge.        some paintwork to clean up some details.
                              and ideas from Autodesk’s other products          Another enhanced feature to the Select
PRos                          into Maya. With regard to their recent         tool called Drag Select gives users the         IMPROVED UV
1 Powerful new
  animation layering
                              acquisition of Softimage, I’m sure the new     ability to paint a selection of faces. This     CREATION WORKFLOW
  feature.                    baby is in good hands.                         is a raycast version of the existing Paint      One interesting new feature in Maya is
2 Good polish on                                                             Selection Tool, with an option for culling      in the area of UV creation. Selected UVs
  polygon component           IMPROVED                                       backfaces. It does in fact work better than     can now be interactively unfolded or
  selection tools.
3 Improved Maya Asset
                              MODELING WORKFLOW                              the Paint Selection Tool, which requires        relaxed for more control of the final result.
  system.                     Maya 2009 has introduced a set of              an appropriate radius to easily overlap         The amount of unfolding or relaxing is
                              workflow improvements intended for             with a face’s centroid and work correctly.      controlled by how much the mouse has
Cons                          speeding up modeling, by focusing on one       However, the Paint Select tool also works       moved, like a scrollbar. Unfolding can also
1 Face loop selection         of the most common tasks, namely model         with vertices and edges, which the Drag         be constrained to a single direction by
  does not work on
  triangles.                  and component selection. The first of          Select does not. It would be nice to see the    holding down a modifier key. This gives
2 Multi Select mode           these is the new multi-component mode,         Drag Select and Paint Selection tools be        more control to the user so that when the
  should exist                which allows for preselection highlighting     merged into a single, more robust tool.         UV layout is good enough it is possible to
  for NURBS and
  subdivisions as well.
                              of faces, vertices, or edges. As the cursor       The Select Tool has added some               stop iterating new UV values.
3 Sculpt Geometry tool        is moved along the model, the underlying       edge and face loop selection workflow             There are other UV workflow
  needs to be developed       edge, vertex, or face is highlighted before    enhancements. Double clicking on an             enhancements as well, such as
  further.                    the actual selection is made. This saves       edge now selects an edge loop without           prescaling UVs for multiple meshes
                              the step of using a hotkey or menus for        having to explicitly invoke the Edge Loop       such that their world space size is taken

32        JANUARy 2009    |   GA M E   D E V E LO P E R
ouR RAtIng system :
           exceptionAl                           GReAt                      FAIR                   PooR                    UNFoRtUNAte

into consideration. This helps texture         be published, thereby being exposed in          directly have been reviewed in greater
assignment so that there is some               the Attribute Editor for that Asset.            detail, leaving less time to discuss the
consistency in texture pixels per world           Although this feature existed before         less relevant.
space unit.                                    Maya 2009, in this edition of Maya it
   Yet another option in creating UV           has been greatly expanded to include            WHAT'S LEFT?
layouts is Placement Settings, which can       better creation and publishing options,         Perhaps the biggest feature not yet
help when a single texture is being used       hypergraph improvements, and is said to         discussed is the continued development
for multiple objects. And finally, some        have better performance. For instance, in       of Maya Nucleus, the new advanced
general UV editing improvements have           2009 there are user-editable XML template       unified simulation framework. Available
been made for when individual or sets of       files that can be customized. Different         only in Maya Unlimited, Maya Nucleus is
UVs need tweaking.                             attributes can be presented to different        at the heart of Maya nParticles, nCloth,
                                               users of the same Asset, based on their         and nRigids. Cloth, particles, and rigid
ANIMATION LAyERS                               individual needs. For example animation         bodies can all interact under Maya
As Mel Brooks once said, “Its good to be       controls for animators, rendering controls      Nucleus, from collisions and stickiness,
the king.” Given that MotionBuilder also       for technical directors, and so forth.          to cloth tearing and liquid simulation.
lives under the Autodesk umbrella, it          These container nodes can be exported           One fact to note is Classic Cloth is not
was inevitable and much needed that            into an asset library, which encapsulates       available in 2009.
technology from MotionBuilder would            information about the original author,             Another area of development is the
make its way into Maya. Any attribute          original asset and file name, creation dates,   improved IPR (Interactive Photorealistic
can now be layered, and animation layers       and notes. Asset management systems             Rendering) for Mental Ray. Objects and
can be reordered, merged, grouped, and         can now provide a finer granularity of          lights can now be moved, duplicated,
blended. The animation-layering engine         project and production management.              and instanced. More light types are now
allows for import, export, and reuse of                                                        supported, including shadow maps and
animations, allowing different animations      RENDERING                                       area lights.
from different characters to be combined.      For the film and visual effects industry           Last but not least is Maya Muscle, an
Different types of animation can be            Maya has been updated to provide all the        expanded muscle and skin deformation
combined as well, such as cycle animation,     intermediate rendering passes involved          toolset that allows animators to create
keyframed, constraint driven, or simulated     in the final image creation. This allows        muscle and skin motion on their
animation. There is the ability to turn off    for precise control and fast iteration          characters. The muscle system now
or mute animation layers, or isolate a         in the production pipeline by allowing          offers NURBS-based muscles in addition
layer and mute the remaining layers. This      2D compositing packages to combine              to their previous muscle types. Other
allows for experimentation with different      the render shading elements. There              controls added include jiggle, wrinkles,
takes, or different versions within a single   are over 50 production level passes             sliding, stickiness, and collisions.
scene. Animation layers may also override      available, such as refraction, reflection,
conflicting animations that are below them     translucency, motion vectors, coverage,         MILEAGE MAy VARy
in the animation stack.                        and custom render passes.                       If Maya 2009 were a sports car I would say
   Maya has had its current Trax Editor           Another new feature in Maya 2009 is          that it has gained some good performance
for quite some time, which is also used        the ability to create stereoscopic renders.     enhancements, and a few new engine
for editing and compositing animation          The 3D viewer now supports a three-             upgrades. From the new MotionBuilder
tracks. Again, I would encourage a unified     camera setup for left eye, right eye, and       animation layering technology, to Maya
system that provides the best solution.        center, and renders the final stereoscopic      Nucleus, it also handles complex models
I believe the new animation layering           image. This allows for quick previewing         nicely with Maya Assets. The 5 speed
technology meets the needs of most             without the need for final renders. When        manual transmission gives you better
animators, although time will tell.            it comes to creating the final renders, the     control over UV creation and editing, and
                                               render layers needed are automatically          the new Select Tool features with Soft
MAyA ASSETS                                    generated to produce the separate images        Selection and Multi Component mode
As 3D scenes become more complex,              for the left and right eye. Finally, in the     provide a smooth, fast ride. Sometimes
efficiency in managing all the scene data      interest of rendering speed, stereoscopic       there are too many controls, and some of
can become an issue. To help manage            multi-camera renders are optimized in           them seem to do the same thing, but no
complex data, Maya introduces the              Mental Ray so that computational results        car is perfect. With so many cars in the
notion of Assets. An Asset is a package        are cached and reused. These include            Autodesk garage, we know the mechanics
that contains other nodes and provides         render time tessellation, final gathering,      have a lot of work ahead of them. But then
a custom interface that exposes only           global illumination, light maps, and            again, these cars are fun to drive.
the necessary controls. This helps with        shadow maps.
organization, sharing, and using multinode                                                     BIJan FoRUtanPoUR is a senior graphics
objects in an easier way. Typically the        MORE MORE MORE                                  programmer at Sony Online …ntertainment in
interface exposed would be animation           There are actually many more features           San Diego with 16 years experience in the visual
controls, but is not limited to animation.     and enhancements to Maya 2009 than              effects and games industries. He is also the
Shading and rendering controls, visibility     those mentioned here. For the purpose of        author of Enzo 3D paint for Photoshop (www.
controls, blend shapes, physics simulation     brevity, the enhancements and features …mail him at bforutanpour@
controls, or any other type of attribute can   that relate to game production more   

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