Dec 21, 2006

The importance of cleanliness

I didnt really want to start off this blog with a "techie" post, but recently its become very clear to me how important a good clean visual workspace is, and I wanted to post something up that people will find useful. By the way, I don't mean making sure you wipe those coffee rings, or vacuum the crumbs out of your keyboard, I'm talking about visual clarity in all that clutter that fills your screen when animating.

Game animation comes complete with a worrying, but unavoidable lack of emphasis on silhouette. Practically every game today is set in a 3D environment, and characters and events are often seem from almost every angle you can imagine, as well as from vastly differing distances. Because of this I've nearly always animated without a camera reference or a set "shot" that is designed from layout or storyboard, working merely in a perspective panel and orbiting constantly around my character as I create poses and movements. Due to working in this manner, I've never really animated in a 'pose to pose' way or spent much time thinking about it.

Then of course, when you start to animate a shot from a pre-determined viewpoint, the power and absolute necessity of silhouette, staging and composition hit you like a train wreck. I noticed that Maya has no real "animation viewport" and found that working in tear-off panels, or trying to mix and match different views within the program was messy and confusing:

mess !

To remedy this I bought another monitor and wrote the "animation viewport" I feel is crucial to working on a cinematic shot. I have one screen setup as the interactive viewport where I rotate around freely and manipulate the character controls, and another screen almost entirely devoted to a single clutter free and clean representation of the shot I am working on. It works wonderfully. I find because of this I am much less hindered by things being "in the way" and switching between different views and states with Maya... that ultimately gives me more brain time to concentrate on the performance. ( by the way - you don't have to fork out and go dual LCD. I have two 20" CRT monitors, and yeah they take some space but they cost me under $200 for both, and work like a charm. )

much cleaner and more workflow intuitive ( the script creates the large window with the black borders )

I have put this tool online so you can download it and use it if you like. The link has more info on some of the features. You can grab it here:

shotView for Maya

If you're anything like half as messy as me, this will help you out a treat.


Anonymous said...

Great post! Downloading the script now ;) Cheers!

g1toons said...

thanks for all this great information i have so far just schemed through it and already i have learned a lot i shall be he often thanks

Anonymous said...

Love the shotview, it totally rocks!! one question though, how do i make the navigator work?

I can zoom in, but is that little rectangle supposed to move and frame whatever part of the screen i want?


Nico. said...

thx for this great melscript. Same question thant Animando, how do you pan after zooming in navigator view? (maya 2009/Xp).


Cameron Fielding said...

hey Nico..

You can use the navigator control by scaling and translating the red square. If you select the small cross in the middle of it ( a selection handle ) you can scale it smaller to zoom into your shot, and translate it to pan around the image!

Hope that helps and thsnks for checking it out.

Anonymous said...

Awesome, i was trying to make it work and gave up, never thought of using the manipulators to scale and move, duh! thanks man

ronviers said...

This looks great but is there a way to get it to work with PLE? I get:

// Error: The "system" command is not supported by Maya PLE. //

I do not know what to replace the system command with.


Cameron Fielding said...

Hi Ron,

Im afraid I have no idea about how this would work with PLE maya.

I think, if I remember correctly, Im using the system command to check if the config files are write enabled.. thats pretty much it. You could try removing any lines of code that use the system command ( you`ll probably see things like +A or ATTRIB in the same lines ).

sorry I cant be of much more help. I could look into a PLE release when i get some time.

ronviers said...

Thanks for taking a look:)
It was no problem to comment out the system command that executes the dos attribute command but the system command in svExplorePlayBlastLocation() and svViewRecentBlast() were more confusing.

No problem, I just thought it looked interesting and might be fun to check out. I am having other, more serious, problems right now, so there is no hurry.

Jae said...

Wow this is so awesome !!!!!! Thanks for sharing such an awesome tool!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Cameron, i tried to download shotview and motionTrail but it does not seem to be available anymore on the new highend3d site ( other places i can find it? i reeeeeeeally need them...Thanks a bunch!

Josh Bowman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fes said...

Hey Cameron,
Any chance you'll be updating shotView for Maya 2011? Thanks.