maya plugin info
Project 2: An Animated Production!
Note: one of the days in class during the week of March 4th will be devoted
to a discussion of this project. We will look at some past projects for
ideas, and give people a chance to talk about what they are interested
in to help forming groups.
Your mission in this project is to produce an animation.
The animation should be 1-3 minutes long, and involve two characters
that interact closely (fight, contact dance, ...). There should be a story.
You should use Maya. If you'd like to use another animation system (like
Blender or 3D Studio MAX), you must let us know by March 11, We might
try to talk you out of it.
The main thing in this project is the "technical" part - you
are supposed to build tools to help you create the animation. Your grade
will be (primarily) based on this. There must be sufficient challenge
in what you choose to do (more on that later).
The artistic aspects of your project must be "good enough."
Clearly there must be enough artistry to show off your technical prowess.
For this project, really great technical prowess can make up for artistry.
The final project will be due on April 12th. There are many intermediate
deadlines (note, these are described in more detail later):
- March 8 - Checkpoint 0: You must send email to the instructor
and TA saying who will be in your project group.
- March 15 - Checkpoint 1: You must provide us with a "plan"
of what you are going to do.
- March 22 - Checkpoint 2: You must provide details of your animation,
including a story board. You must also have provided "signs of
life" on the technical issues.
- April 5 - Checkpoint 3: Review. You must show that your technical
pieces are working (maybe not done, but working). You must also have
some images to show.
- April 12 - Animatics: You should have an animatic (or at least
the frames that would go into an animatic, and at least a draft sound
file. At this point, all that should be left is rendering and (post-production)
- April 19 - Project Due! You will have to turn in your final
animation and post your documentation web page.
Ideally, project groups would have 4 members. Since we have 19 students
in the class, one group will only have 3 members.
Your project partner for project 1 cannot be part of your project 2
Managing a group project with 4 participants is difficult. I strongly
suggest that you figure out how to divide up the work.
Because there are (at least) two main characters in the animation, a
logical way to divide up the work is to have each pair of people be responsible
for one of characters.
You must describe your division of labor as part of Checkpoint 1.
Each group will receive a "group grade." Each group member
will also receive a personal grade. The group grade will count for 3/4
of the overall grade.
Each character must have at least one "custom technical piece."
Each group member must be "lead" on at least one technical
piece (e.g. there must be at least as many technical pieces as group members).
Some examples of technical pieces:
- complex scripts
- complex sets of expressions or control rigs
- stand alone programs that produce animation data or manipulate scripts
There is a tradeoff between how technically challenging a piece is, and
the required level of artistry. If you do something really complicated technically,
we will have lower expectations in terms of the artwork.
So, putting these together...
- Writing plugins is harder than writing scripts or writing C++ code
to manipulate scripts.
- Dealing with raw motion capture data is harder than dealing with
skeletal data. If you do something that uses raw marker data and applies
it to a character, we will have lower expectations of what that character
looks like than if you use skeletal data. (Even if what you do is process
the marker data into a skeletal form yourself).
- If you use raw marker data, it will be impressive even if you do
the processing as a stand-alone C++ program that communicates with Maya
by writing scripts or data.
- Building some simple motion editing tools as Maya plugins is impressive,
even if what these plugins do is simple.
- Building a complex character control rig as a set of Maya scripts
and expressions is more impressive than simply making a complex model
and animating it with "normal" methods.
- Making use of the raw marker swing dance motion (available in /p/graphics/public/Data/Motion/Apple/Raw_Motion_Data/DG)
is impressive not just because it is raw motion data, but because it
is data I have a particular fondness for. Making use of the "raw"
medieval fighting motions is also impressive since its cool data.
This is not to say that merely drawing little squares where the markers
are is fine because you are doing something with raw markers. You need
to do something interesting.
The purpose of Checkpoint 1 is to make sure that everyone picks something
reasonable to do. We will devote some time in class to helping people
come up with ideas.
In terms of artistic resources (images, models, motion, music, ...), you
can appropriate whatever you find. You MUST document where you found it
(on your project documentation page). Any scripts, plugins, or code-fragments
that you find from other places you need to describe and give proper attributions
In terms of computing resources... You have access to the CS instructional
machines. I will try to provide after hours access to B240 around the
deadline so that you can render frames overnight. No guaruntees. Please
give me a disk space request by April 3rd. 400M of AFS space is almost
We will be able to provide you with some access to video editing facilities
in the graphics lab. However, we cannot provide you with much training.
You might want to pick your group such that there is someone who knows
how to use premiere and/or storm edit, or has access to something else.
- March 6 - Checkpoint 0 - Group Selection
- You must send email to the TA and Professor saying who you will be
working with. Each group need only send one message
- March 15 - Checkpoint 1 - Plan
- You must provide a list of the technical pieces that you are going
to do, and a description of the animation you plan to produce. You must
describe what your division of labor will be, and provide a schedule
of how things will be accomplished. We will provide feedback at this
point to try to steer groups such that they do a sufficient amount of
technical work, but do not try anything overly ambitious.
- March 22 - Checkpoint 2 - Signs of Life
- At this point, you must provide a detailed description of your animation,
including a story board. (if your story board is on paper, we will help
you scan it). Also, before this date, you must demonstrate "signs of
life" for each technical piece. For example, if you are writing a plugin,
you must show that you can successfully load a plugin that you have
written. While the pieces do not need to be done, you must describe
enough so that we believe that you can pull it off.
- April 5 - Review
- This is a nearly final checkpoint to make sure everyone is on track.
At this point, you must provide a frame or two from the animation (so
we can see how it will look). Your technical pieces should be done (otherwise,
you will have a tough time finishing)
- April 12 - Animatics
- An animatic is a series of still frames with the timing of the movie.
Creating one lets you make sure that you can produce frames, understand
how long rendering is going to take, and to see how the story "plays
- April 19 - Final Deadline
- You will turn in your final video, as well as posting all of your
documentation on the web.