Maya 11 – a sit down with a pro

The other week I sat down with a professional 3D artist at Warner who graciously answered a lot of my Maya questions and showed me some great tricks…

I learned:

For shading, to clean up the material library go to ‘edit’ -> ‘delete unused nodes’. Within the node graph we can press tab to quickly search/add the ‘aiStandardSurface’ node rather than pull it from the library as I’ve been doing so far. Try to not change the specular color much (keep it at white) and only adjust the specular weight to determine brightness of reflections. The lower the IOR value the more dramatic the difference between the edge reflection and straight on reflection of an object. One sometimes needs to use a gamma node to match the colorspace of an object. I’m still not completely sure how this works, but from what I understand even when one has the correct RGB number value, it can look washed out because the colorspace is linear. But if one uses a gamma set to a lower value (say 0.54) it will correct the color to match better.

For lighting, we can look through selected lights to see exactly where it is pointing. It’s also typically to map a soft box texture to lights to give a bit of roughness to it (especially in reflective objects). One can add the texture in the hypershade graph of the light with the ‘aiimage’ node. Make sure to use HDR images for the texture though which will give a broader range of values than 0-1. Also! One can turn off the specular for lights which hides it in the reflection of objects (that’s so cool!!!). Note: if Arnold gets confused when changing these lights one might need to restart render view to see updates.

MASH is a tool built in Maya to array objects. This allows us to set ID’s for objects which can be used to randomize which object is used.

To link together attribute values with the ‘connection editor’. This solves my issue earlier with changing the samples of multiple lights at the same time!

Typically we shouldn’t parent objects, but rather make our scene structure out of object groups.

One last random concept I learned: alembic files only have mesh data, which can be good when passing files on to lighting artists who wants to start from a more blank canvas (and not deal with the temp lights of previous artists).

Neat stuff!

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