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Maya support


WorldBuilder 3.x for Maya/NT:
Import-export and Composing Utilities

Note: For Maya 4.x you need to download and install a new plug-in which is available here

Supported features:

  1. Import and export of camera with animation.
  2. Export of animated polygonal meshes from Maya into WB. The feature can be used to generate shadows and reflections from Maya objects inside WB scenes.
  3. Z-buffer composing, based on the IFF file format.
  4. Import-export of lights (spot, point and parallel) with animation.
  5. Automatic support for 'up' axis. When WB imports data from Maya it automatically rotates all importing geometry to fit WB z-up settings.

Installation

After running the standard installation for upgrade you have to complete the installation for Maya. You will need to set awbImpExp.mll plug-in for auto load in Maya as described below. The plug-in has to reside in Maya/bin/plug-ins.

  1. Install the plugn.
  2. Start Maya.
  3. Go to Window --> Settings/Preferences --> Plug-in Manager dialog and set plug-in awbImpEx.mll for auto load.

WB animation

If the installation was correct, you will find the new export format in Maya: awbanim. This type of file covers camera and light animation and can be imported in WB by the File --> Import --> WB Animation command. Import and export of awbanim files works in both directions.

Export of camera and lights animation from Maya into WB:

  1. Select File --> Export All command and select awbanim file type.
  2. Press Export.

File with the extension awbanim will be created.

Export from WB to Maya:

  1. In WB use the Export --> AWB animation command.
  2. Name the file, press 'Save' and then select objects that you want to export. Press OK.
  3. In Maya use the Import command and select the awbanim file type.

Z-buffer composing

After importing the camera with its animation, you can use z-buffer composing to bring the Maya and WB parts of the project together.

  1. Preview quality z-buffer composing.

    Render the Maya part of the scene into iff files with depth channel turned on. Rename the sequence into the format namexxxx.ext where the file name goes first, then go four digits of the frame number, and finally the extension - iff. Use these images as a background in Image Composer for the Camera in WB. The preview quality will have visible artifacts on the edges of most of Maya objects and some WB objects.

  2. Edge antialising.

    To obtain a higher quality, render the WB scene without the Maya objects. Use these images in the image plane in Maya. You can use medium quality WB images for this kind of background. This trick eliminates most of edge anti-aliasing artifacts.

WB PolyMesh

Currently only the export of polygonal meshes and animated polygonal meshes from Maya into WB is supported. File format awbmesh is used for this. You can export static and animated meshes as well. Note that a separate mesh file is saved for each frame so a considerable amount of disk space will be required for long animations or for big models. The only purpose of the mesh export is to generate shadows and reflections in WB from Maya objects, so simplified meshes can be used instead of hi-resolution models.
Note: For proper rendering of imported PolyMeshes add Phong Photometry to their Material.

Animated Polygonal Meshes: export-import from Maya to WB

Static meshes

  1. Prepare a simplified polygonal model in Maya. There are no limitations on the mesh animation type: all mesh deformations are supported.
  2. Select the meshes and run the script to export the meshes for a single frame as in the example:

    WB_MeshExportCmd -file "c://tmp//my_mesh" -frame 12;

    In the example note that you need to use double back slashes in the file name and you do not have to specify the file extension. You can skip the frame option for static meshes.

    Animated meshes

    For the export of animation, again select all the meshes that you want to export and run the script as in the example:

    for ($i=1; $i<50; $i++)

    {

    currentTime $i;

    WB_MeshExportCmd -file "c:\\tmp\\my_mesh" -frame $i;

    }

    In the next update we will include the script that exports group of meshes. And later all these scripts will be available as menu commands or file translators.

    To import meshes into WB use the Import|WB PolyMesh command.

    To use the imported mesh for shadows only you have to hide it in the scene and uncheck the option "exclude hidden objects" in the shadow options. The same applies for reflections.

    WB PolyMesh files are imported as an animated mesh if they have a numeric extension with a frame number. The animation will start at the current frame at the moment of the import operation. So, if you import a 20-frames-long mesh animation while WB is in the 30th frame, then you will obtain an animated mesh that is static in frames 0...29 and in the 30...50 frame range it will play the animation that you saved from Maya. You can adjust the keyframes for file names in PolyMesh settings in the same manner as for the pixel-map files.

    Note that WB can interpolate in between two phases of the same animated mesh, so you can scale the animation in Maya and export only sparse keyframes. Since interpolation in WB is linear, you have yet to keep enough frames to avoid visible artifacts. To use this feature you need to re-scale the mesh animation in Maya to a smaller number of frames or use the re-scale in the script above while exporting meshes. Example:

    for ($i=1; $i<50; $i++)

    {

    currentTime 3*$i; //we export every third frame

    WB_MeshExportCmd -file "c:\\tmp\\my_mesh" -frame $i;

    //however file extensions will run with step 1

    }

    Import the meshes into WB and re-scale the animation to make it 3 times longer. You can save a lot of disk space for long animations with this trick.

Up axis

The up direction will be preserved automatically in all import-export operations. For example if Maya had 'y' as the vertical direction, then, while importing into WB, the entire geometry will be rotated 90 degrees to fit WB settings.

Shadow Mask

As a special tool for post-process composing WB offers shadow mask filter. It can be used to save shadow masks for the composite scene for later use in other composing packages. The shadow mask filter excludes the shadow from the image itself and saves it into a separate file. The shadow mask image can be used in third party products to control the shadow's color and depth and for shadow composing in the video production.