Friday, December 7, 2012

Ionic SPH/DEM solver enters open beta!

Tony Amblés released an open beta version of his GPU accelerated SPH/DEM solver for Maya. It will be free until the end of the year, so be sure to download and test it while you have the chance! There is also a forum that can be used for bug reports, feature suggestions and the like.

(DEM solver simulation)

(SPH solver simulation)

According to Tony Amblés, both simulations were created using a Nvidia GTX 670. I think the results and performance look pretty promising and it would just be awesome to have a GPU accelerated fluid solver integrated into Maya.

Just downloaded the beta and will hopefully have some time to test it on the weekend. Cheers Mr. Amblés! Great work - keep it up! :)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Demolition Master by Eloi Andaluz

Awesome blackbox collection for TP called Demolition Master by Eloi Andaluz:

These blackboxes let you achieve demolition effects quickly and easily with little to no TP knowledge. But the even bigger value is: they are perfect study material if you want to get more into TP! I definitely recommend to buy the full version. It's just 25€ and you'll get a lot of TP know-how (dynamic sets and example scenes) for just a few bucks - plus: you'll get free updates by email!

I had actually planned to build something like that myself, but since I'm not that experienced with TP yet, it would've probably taken me a while. Now, thanks to Eloi, I can explore these dynamic sets and learn a lot quicker.

Another great treasure chest full of TP knowledge is Hristo Velev's Thinking Particles live blackbox collection on Dropbox as well the TP tutorials on his blog.

Thank you guys for making this stuff available for free (or cheap) and giving me (and others) the opportunity to learn by example!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

FBX Export for Camera Matching in 3dsmax

Here is another tool i developed for RTT some time ago. It's a hybrid script utilizing MEL and MAXScript that automates the process of camera matching (still images) by integrating 3dsmax's Camera Match into an existing Maya pipeline. It was meant to speed up the whole process, establish a unified workflow and relieve the artists of all the tedious task (like browsing for files, adjusting settings, etc.) that ate up time or could've been error sources in the past.

Automated tasks:
  • export selected geometry as FBX (bypassing the FBX export dialog)
  • run 3dsmax (works with 2009-2012, automatically runs latest version you have installed)
  • import FBX geometry into 3dsmax (bypassing the FBX import dialog)
  • set render settings in 3dsmax (according to size of given image file)
  • set backplate in 3dsmax (matching render output)
  • configure Nitrous viewport (3dsmax2012 only)
  • configure units and snap settings (3D snap to vertex)
  • maximize perspective viewport and frame imported geometry
  • save 3dsmax scene file
  • switch to CamPoint tool so you can start working right away
  • one-button interface in 3dsmax for FBX camera export (bypassing the FBX import dialog)
  • import camera into Maya & create image plane with the given image
 (click to enlarge)
The tool is being used on a regular basis and has proven to be a real time saver in production.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Tool for Automated Dust Trails

I've got permission from RTT to present some of the tools i wrote for them over the last years. I'm not allowed to supply any script files for download but i can show their UI and functionality.

This one is called "Automated Dust Trails". Its a nParticle based dust trail tool that was optimized to work with RTT's car rig. I wrote the tool in 2009 when we prepared for the Lotus Elan spot, but it was used in many other productions since then.
The system uses dynamic hair follicles to read the speed of each wheel. The speed influences emission rates and density of particles. All relevant parameters (color, size, lifespan, density/opacity, emitter attributes, shading, etc.) are adjustable through a convenient UI, so even other operators with little to no experience in dynamics can generate dust trails easily.

Language: MEL 
Size: ~6500 lines (incl. UI)

Main features:
  • automatic detection of RTT car-rigs
  • automatic dust trail creation for any number of cars
  • wheel velocity drives nParticle density & emission rate
  • closestPointOnMesh / closestPointOnSurface nodes and in some cases colorAtPoint expressions are used for terrain specific dust trail options (e.g. to get the trail color from the terrain texture)
  • use of a volumeNoise on the blobMesh channel of the particleCloudShader is based on a technique described in detail on djx blog, but goes further by controlling more shader attributes on a per-particle basis
  • load and save presets option in menu
  • all relevant attributes adjustable through a custom UI
  • only few expressions, most of it is node-based to optimize performance

 (click to enlarge)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Video Demonstration for Voronoi Texture Fracture

I added a short video demonstration for my Voronoi Texture Fracture tool. The workflow for fracuring by image source is pretty much the same. You just need to specify an image in the UI instead of creating a voronoi shader.
If you go for smaller pieces, make sure you also increase the "Fracture Map Resolution for Voronoi Textures" in the tool's settings menu (default is 512x512).

Original post HERE.
Download the script HERE.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Custom Image Plane and Correct Aspect Ratio

When i read this post on cgTalk i remembered a tool i wrote some time ago for a friend that needed a custom mesh based image plane. So i dug out the script and made a little tool from it. 

The setup is fully node based (no expressions, fully interactive) and calculates the corners of the image plane from camera aperture and focal length. Locators are placed at these calculated positions. The scaling of the image plane is then calculated from the distance between these locators.
There's an attribute on the camera shape called "Image Plane Distance" which lets you - as the name implies - adjust the plane's distance from the camera. Another attribute ("Use Film Offset") lets you define whether the image plane should be offset with the cameras film offset. A shader with connected file texture is also automatically created (and assigned) to the image plane as well as a display layer.

For the system to work, the camera's Film Aspect Ratio (the aspect ratio of the aperture) must match the Device Aspect Ratio (the with/height ratio of the rendered image). When creating a custom image plane, the tool will automatically adjust the cameras aperture for matching aspect ratios. To ensure that your framing is maintained, the aperture can only be adjusted in certain ways depending on your setting for the Film Resolution Gate (Film Fit). 

Here are the rules for adjusting the aperture and maintaining the framing:

// adjustment depends on difference between device aspect ratio and film aspect ratio
   // if film aspect ratio > device aspect ratio --> adjust horizontal aperture
   // if film aspect ratio < device aspect ratio --> adjust vertical aperture
  // adjust vertical aperture
  // adjust horizontal aperture

// adjustment depends on difference between device aspect ratio and film aspect ratio
   // if film aspect ratio > device aspect ratio --> adjust vertical aperture
   // if film aspect ratio < device aspect ratio --> adjust horizontal aperture

You can also use the script to only adjust the cameras film aspect ratio (without creating the image plane). It's advisable to do this before exporting your camera (e.g. to Nuke or Fusion) to ensure the camera will match the footage.

You can download the tool HERE.

Known issues:
This system only works for square pixels because it does not take the Pixel Aspect Ratio into account. It would be possible to integrate, but i never render anything but square pixels.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Voronoi Texture Fracture

Tool has been updated multiple times since this post. Fixed bugs, added features. More stuff to come ...

I'm currently taking the Advanced Maya Dynamics - Breaking Ground class at CGWorkshops taught by David Alexander. The stuff we went through in the first week inspired me to write this little tool

Voronoi Texture Fracture GUI
It can fracture flat objects based on an image or by using voronoiTexture3D. The voronoi texture can be created and adjusted through the GUI as well as the options for the texture to geometry conversion.

Fractured and extruded pieces generated from a poly plane (click to enlarge)

- create and assign a (SOuP) voronoi shader (+sets hw shading options)
- auto convert shader to image 
- fracture geometry using (this) image
- separate texture2geometry output by object ids (SOuP)
- remove redundant edges (any but border edges)
- extrude all fractured parts
- create shaders per piece
- center pivots of fractured pieces

You will need to have the SOuP plug-in by Peter Shipkov installed and loaded for this script to work.

Download the script HERE.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Magnetic nParticles

Some time ago I've been trying to achieve various magnet related particle effects. The first one was having particles form magnetic field lines around a simple bar magnet (or later any other object).

The particles are almost entirely expression driven (hermite, smoothstep and the like) with the help of some custom vector per-particle attributes. There are some additional attributes on the magnet controller which let you turn the magnet on and off, change its size and range as well as the number of field lines.

The field lines are still kind of static. There is a noise option (see image) but it's really basic and not adjustable for the time being (turned off in the video). As for now the particles are spread evenly over all field lines. But I'd love to have them accumulate at the start and end of a field line first, before they build the full shape. So I might update it when i find the time ...

Orient By Velocity

Just uploaded a small script that that i wrote in my spare time. It can orient an object in its direction of travel - or in other words: its velocity - like the name indicates ;) ...

It's just something i put together real quick when i got tired of readjusting keys after changing the length of a motion path. I use it in conjunction with editable motion trails in Maya 2012. Now i can animate the translation in freeform and still have the advantage of a motion path like auto-rotation. Little extras are an animatable reverse attribute and a little speed HUD.

Download HERE.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Exploded View Rig for Audi Showroom Movie

Another youtube find: A project for Audi I worked on last year at RTT. I developed the explosion rig (fully node-based), wrote a tool to create and animate the rig, animated most of the explosion shots as well as camera and car in some other shots.

I hope I can post a demonstration video of the rig and tool some time soon. Will have to clarify the legal situation (copyright-wise, concerning the model and tool) with RTT first though ...

Dust Trails for Lotus Elan Movie

I found this on youtube today. It's a project for Lotus I worked on at RTT in 2010. I was responsible for most of the effects (mainly dust trails) as well as animating some shots (car and camera). I developed a nParticle based tool using MEL, which I used to create all the dust trails. Only for the dust in the pack shot I used Maya Fluids.

More info on the dust trail tool will follow in a later post. I'm working on video tutorials for all the tools I wrote for RTT during the last years and will post them here with the permission of RTT - hopefully ;) ...

"Hello World"

I started this blog to share things i work on (animations, vfx, scripts, r&d, etc.) as well as interesting cg-related stuff i find on the net. Hopefully i'll find enough time to update it regularly. If you have further questions to any of my posts or simply want to say "hello", feel free to contact me through any of the social network links listed on the right ... Cheers! :)