Backburner Tribulations - Update

 More changes to the performExportToBackburner.mel file! Thanks to Francois Maree for the suggestions :). A couple parameters were added.

Auto Threads – Automatically use available threads

By Frame – Render frames in increments of this value. Render settings must be set to render out a sequence of images

Francois let me know that there was a change in the Maya 2013 mel that caused an error with versions 2012 and 2011 and probably versions earlier than those. It was trying to find a procedure that wasn't included, but all is well now. There are now two different versions in the download.
To be honest, I'm really considering making a custom tab in the render settings for this, I don't know why it's not there in the first place.

Edited on 12/22/2012
There was an error saying the byFrame control could not be found. Now fixed.

Backburner Tribulations

Have you ever contemplated stepping in front of a bus after dealing with Backburner all day? Have you ever left something to render only to come back some hours later and find a lame, cryptic error? Well I have, repeatedly! And I have to say, the “Create Backburner Job” window in Maya leaves a lot to be desired.

Something that many have dealt with is the "timeout" issue, that is, you leave a job running and an hour later the job aborts and restarts because evidently, sixty minutes is the default amount of time set for Backburner to take such action. Yes, it's possible to change the value with the "-timeout" flag in the code generated by the the custom command, but that would quickly become annoying every time you send a job. Wouldn't it be nice if this had a control in the UI? And how about controls for verbosity, and render threads and memory limits, right there on hand? The Backburner window seems kind of tacked on, so I decided to spruce it up! :3

I've modified the performExportToBackburner.mel file and added five parameters to the job window:

Render Thread – Specify the number of CPU threads right there when you send the job and not in another window!!

Verbosity – Level of detail in render progress messages

Auto Memory Limit – Dynamically calculate memory before each render

Memory Limit - Soft cap for memory used by MR

Time Out – Amount of time before job aborts and restarts

If the custom command is used, the flags will be added automatically as well. Even if you choose “from the scene file” instead of “mental ray” from the renderer dropdown, the appropriate flags will be sent because the script runs a check for the current renderer.

If the defaults for the custom parameters need changing, just change the value for the optionVars. Look for this code:

////////////////GENNY T 11/30/2012
/////////////////// optionVar for Timeout,Verbosity,
///////////////////////////////////Thread Number, Memory Limit

if (!`optionVar -exists "bb_Timeout"`)
optionVar -iv "bb_Timeout" 600;

if (!`optionVar -exists "bb_Verbosity"`)
optionVar -iv "bb_Verbosity" 3;

if (!`optionVar -exists "bb_Threads"`)
optionVar -iv "bb_Threads" 4;

if (!`optionVar -exists "bb_autoMemory"`)
optionVar -iv "bb_autoMemory" 1;

if (!`optionVar -exists "bb_memoryLimit"`)
optionVar -iv "bb_memoryLimit" 1024;






Random Render: You Better Buy

We've all seen them, the pre-built computers standing together on the store shelf, depressed and ashamed after being fondled then ignored day after day. These machines tend to have one good (sometimes not that good) component that is used to beat the consumer about the neck and face and the rest of it is just mystery meat. I know not everyone is inclined to learn about the components of their computer. It doesn't matter as long as it does what its supposed to do, right? That's fair enough, but it sure doesn't hurt to be an informed consumer!

I kept thinking of all the PCs I see people purchase, the various builds, how much they've overpaid and this image was born. And I apologize to anyone who bought an Aurora R4 :P.

Scene info:

Mental Ray physical sky and some mia materials.  The glass for the store front is using a gradient in it's transparency since I wanted to show just a little of the interior so it doesn't look totally empty but it's a quick scene so I didn't want to model all that.

genProxyPlop version1_0

New Script!****

The genProxyPlop (don't you dare make fun of the name lol ).  It's a script that automates the creation of mip_binarproxy nodes, low poly stand in objects that envelope the high res model and creates the necessary connections for them to work. It just relieves the tedium of working with mip_binaryproxies in Maya.

The script creates a poly cube as the low poly object and if the high resolution model has more than six shaders assigned, the low res object will be split to create more faces to accommodate the shader assignments.  All shaders will be assigned to the low res object in the exact order they're assigned to the high res object (your leaf shader won't appear on your tree trunk!). Of course this option can be disabled.

The write feature auto renders a frame at a temporary low resolution (it'll warn you in case you want to decrease quality settings) and writes out the .mi files to the specified directory. This can also be disabled just in case you want to handle that manually.

Copy the mel file to your user scripts folder and the warning icon to your user icons folder (details are in the 'read me' text file if needed) .  Source it in your userSetup mel file for convenience. If you're on Windows and you've made a userSetup file but it's not working, check this out.

Use this code to call the script:


Then simply browse for the folder where you'd like the .mi files to be written out.
Whatever you have selected will populate the list you call the script, you can refresh the list with a new selection by hitting the "load" button.
Unless you want to manually assign shader to the low res objects, it's recommended that "assign shaders" is checked.
Make sure "write" is checked and  hit "generate proxies"!

Greek column model is from the freebie section of Turbo Squid.


PMM Update v1.6.3


* Added texture filter options

* Added node selection window for existing photographic exposures and portal light shaders when using the create camera or portal light features

* Minor tweaks and fixes

* Double checked, it works in pre-QT Maya versions

EDIT:  Fixed issue where 'gamma correct selected' was broken!


Interior Lighting with Mental Ray Physical Sky

This post has been in the back of my mind for a while now and I figured why not jump in and start my ramblings. Ever since I've discovered linear lighting, I haven't looked back.  I've settled into a workflow with which I'm pretty comfortable (I do find myself tweaking it of course) and I figured I’d assemble my heap of random notes into something coherent...kind of.   It might help someone get on the road to making some of those Ikea like shots.

Technical Difficulties: PC Down

This weekend is going so great! It all started when I gutted my PC to do some proper dusting, which is a labour of love, every fan blade, every nook and cranny is cleaned. I reinstalled Windows, which is such a fun and exciting process, I mean who wouldn't be overjoyed with such a task. O.k that last bit was sarcastic. Had no problems, she was running fine, installed drivers, security software, some common utility software, you know the stuff that gets a new install rolling. I had to step away for a while so I powered her down. The case is still open and sitting on my desk, I turn it on and seconds later, a plume of acrid smoke comes rushing out at me, I shut it down and yanked the power cord so fast that I didn't realize I was shrieking wtf in a pretty steady stream. I was mortified and kinda relieved at the same time, it seems to have come only from the power supply but who knows if it damaged anything else. I tested it (the power supply) and it was shot to shit, oh well. I already ordered a new one from Newegg, but I'm stuck on my iPad for now yay!

Back from Hiatus

Wooh, it's been a while.  I've been 80% busy, 20% lazy (yeah those numbers are super accurate hehe).  I find myself having to tweak my PMM tool, you learn things, you grow, you can even be a dick about it.  Still working on it and I'll upload soon.  I'm really thinking of implementing a popup that let's the user choose which portal node they want to use when using the create a portal light feature.  Kind of like the little window that pops up when you create new sss shaders asking if you want to reuse the lightmap(S). Plus I will be tackling Jay's Surfing Alien modeling tut and I'm kinda excited to dive into organic modeling so yay :3