An Automated Pipeline for Generating Run-Time Rigs

On account of getting the flu at GDC, and then having to catch up on all of my work that wasn’t getting done, I’ve been a little behind, but I wanted to make sure I got up a write-up for my main conference presentation from GDC this year.
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AM Tools 1.05 and Unity Maya Extensions!

Although I still need to do a formal write-up for my GDC presentation, I do finally have all of the source code ready to go (or at least I think it’s ready enough), so I wanted to make it available for download now. Here’s a brief summary of changes:

  • All of my Python stuff is officially copyrighted under the MIT License now.
  • Since I know a fair number of people out there rely on decent API examples for learning, I refactored all of my plug-ins to conform to better practice.
  • As part of the plug-in refactoring process, the AM_HipConstraintCmd and AM_ShoulderConstraintCmd plug-ins are now deprecated, and the commands are contained in the same plug-in files as the nodes.
  • Math has been dramatically simplified in both the amHipConstraint node and amShoulderConstraint node. In the case of the latter, the results you get should be identical to before, while the former will yield some minor different results when out of the lateral plane of rotation.
  • All of my comments have been reformatted so that Doxygen can generate more useful information for the online documentation.
  • All tool help menus now link to the online documentation to bypass text formatting issues with maya.cmds GUI in Qt.
  • Added files module with utilities for batch conversion of files to FBX, or for downgrading Maya ASCII files. (Note it is pretty hacky and not tested especially thoroughly, but I included it in case anyone might find it helpful.)
  • Added unity sub-package with utilities for modifying files to work in conjunction with my Unity Maya Extensions.

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Using Multiple AssetPostprocessors

In working on my asset pipeline for my current Unity project, I stumbled across something handy today I hadn’t needed to use before. As such, I figured a short post might help me remember and spread a useful tip. Specifically, the AssetPostprocessor class contains a function GetPostprocessOrder(). I didn’t find the documentation to be immediately obvious, so here’s a quick example.

A couple of weeks ago, I posted up an example video for an automated Blend Shape extraction tool I made for Unity and Maya. Moving this tool back into Touch KO 2.0, I needed it to work in conjunction with another big AssetPostprocessor script that sets up my boxer prefabs. Basically, I needed to make sure that my blend shapes were all set up on the character before I start building the prefab, so that I can link them up as needed.

My first thought was to make my prefab setup script inherit from the blend shape importer, call the base method, and then call all of my setup stuff. This approach would work, provided that my base method appropriately contained controls to avoid reduplication of information. Then I stumbled across this function. All I had to do was add it to my AssetPostprocessor class that sets up my boxer prefab.

 * Ensure this script executes after blend shapes have been set up
 * */
public override int GetPostprocessOrder ()
	return 100;

Unity Asset Store Updates

Some recent Unity Asset Store updates of mine have gone live tonight! There’s a new version of the Biped Editor (1.03) with some new library code and minor bug fixes, as well as a package of Custom Handles that I showed at Unite. Custom Handles includes handles for shapes, configurable joints, discs, arcs, helices, and more, along with some examples like a helical particle emitter and a helical mesh ribbon. Have fun!

GDC and a New Year’s Resolution

Well, 2010 is now done, and I think I’ve selected some important goals for myself this year: learn to say “no” to interesting projects, and finish my own stuff! I have a TKO update forging ahead behind the scenes, and in the process I’ve built another tool I wanted to show, as it will be part of my Complete Maya-Unity tools release coming soon.

Alongside the TKO update, I’m promising a 0.1 release for the Maya-Unity tools by GDC! The board has finally approved a submission from me, so I’ll be doing a session on Automated Pipelines for Generating Run-Time Rigs. I want to have a version of the tools ready to go by then so people will be able to download them and have a look if interested. My GDC session will basically be a higher-level, expanded, and much more detailed look at some of the stuff I showed during my talk on advanced editor scripting at Unite 2010, for anyone who was there.

Unite is actually a good segue into the video I have to share today, too. At the conference, I had showed some examples I had of using editor scripts to generate sparse blend shape data offline. The point was to demonstrate the usefulness of editor scripts in reducing run-time computation, but I unfortunately didn’t have a good pipeline for it yet. So I put together a decent first pass on native blend shape support this week. It, too, will be part of my 0.1 release for my Maya-Unity workflow, so hopefully a couple of you out there will be looking forward to it. Have a great 2011!