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Creating Visual Effects in Maya

Book Description

Produce mind-blowing visual effects with Autodesk Maya. Gain the practical skills and knowledge you need to recreate phenomena critical to visual effects work, including fire, water, smoke, explosions, and destruction, as well as their integration with real-world film and video.

In Creating Visual Effects in Maya, Maya master Lee Lanier has combined the latest studio techniques with multi-chapter, hands-on projects and professionally-vetted workflows to bolster your CG toolkit. Engaging, full-color tutorials cover:

  • Creating foliage, fire, and smoke with Paint Effects
  • Growing Maya Fur and nHair on clothing, characters, and sets
  • Replicating water, smoke, sparks, swarms, bubbles, and debris with nParticles and nCloth
  • Controlling scenes and simulations with expressions and MEL, Python, and PyMEL scripting
  • Adding dust, fog, smoke, rippling water, and fireballs with Fluid Effects containers
  • Creating damage with Effects presets, deformers, and animated textures
  • Matchmoving and motion tracking with Maya and MatchMover
  • Creating complex destruction by combining rigid bodies, nParticles, nCloth, and Fluid Effects
  • Setting up, rendering, and compositing mental ray render passes with Autodesk Composite, Adobe After Effects, and The Foundry Nuke

The companion website ( features a treasure trove of Maya, MatchMover, After Effects, and Nuke project files, image sequences, texture bitmaps, and MEL, Python, and PyMEL scripts, allowing you to immediately apply the techniques taught in the book.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. Half Title
  3. Title Page
  4. Copyright Page
  5. Table of Contents
  6. Introduction
  7. Chapter 1: Adding Foliage, Fire, and Smoke with Paint Effects
    1. An Overview of Visual Effects
      1. Optimizing Your Work Flow
    2. Planting Foliage with Paint Effects
      1. Painting Paint Effects Strokes
      2. Reviewing Paint Effects Nodes
      3. Adjusting Paint Effects Attributes
      4. Copying Attributes between Paint Effects Brushes
      5. Casting Paint Effects Shadows
      6. Converting Paint Effects
      7. Rendering Paint Effects with mental ray
    3. Setting Fires with Paint Effects
      1. Working with Paint Effects Dynamics
      2. Improving Paint Effects Render Quality
      3. Adjusting Paint Effects Textures
      4. Using Reference Material
      5. Matching Real-World Fire
    4. Adding Paint Effects Smoke
  8. Chapter 2: Growing Short Hair, Long Hair, Grass, and Electric Arcs with Fur and nHair
    1. Growing Fur
      1. Working with Render Layers
      2. Attaching a Fur Description
      3. Reviewing Fur Nodes
      4. Adjusting the Growth of Fur Hairs
      5. Adjusting Fur Shading Attributes and Baking Maps
      6. Rendering Fur with mental ray
      7. Prepping UVs and Painting Fur Maps
    2. Converting Fur to a Field of Grass
      1. Adding Variety and Randomness with Fur Noise
      2. Using Depth Map Shadows with Fur
    3. Growing Long Hair with the nHair System
      1. Creating an nHair System
      2. Reviewing nHair Nodes
      3. Altering nHair Attributes
      4. Styling nHair
      5. Adding and Deleting nHair Follicles
      6. Altering Lengths of nHair and Positions of Start Curves
      7. Rendering nHair
    4. Converting nHair to Electric Arcs
    5. Final Rendering of Project 1
      1. Using Material Overrides to Fit Layers Together
      2. Optional Project 1 Steps
  9. Chapter 3: Creating Water, Smoke, and Sparks with nParticles
    1. nDynamics versus Dynamics
    2. Creating a Liquid Mass with nParticles
      1. Setting Up an nParticle Emitter
      2. Reviewing nParticle Nodes
      3. Adjusting nParticle Attributes
      4. Forcing nParticle Collisions
      5. Controlling nParticle Movement with Fields
      6. Test Rendering nParticles
      7. Converting Blobby nParticles Into a Surface
      8. Creating an nParticle Surface Material to Emulate Water
      9. Recreating Water
    3. Billowing Thick Smoke with nParticles
      1. Parenting nParticle Emitters to a Character Rig
      2. Adjusting an nParticle Material to Emulate Smoke
    4. Generating nParticle Sparks
      1. Attaching Emitters with the Paint Scripts Tool
      2. Shading nParticles with the Particle Cloud Material
  10. Chapter 4: Generating nParticle Swarms and Bubble Masses with Expressions and MEL Scripting
    1. Controlling nParticles with Expressions
      1. An Introduction to Expressions
      2. Working with the Expression Editor
      3. Reviewing Basic Expression Syntax
      4. Employing Per-Particle Attributes with Texture Emission
      5. Applying Bubble Materials to nParticles
      6. Emulating Soap Bubbles
    2. Adding nParticle Variety with MEL
      1. Working in the Script Editor
      2. Reviewing MEL Syntax
      3. Using Variables in MEL
      4. Controlling nParticles with MEL Scripts
      5. Planting nParticles and Creating Goals with MEL
      6. Instancing Geometry onto nParticles with MEL
      7. Randomizing nParticles with More Complex MEL Scripting
      8. Examining the Particle Tweak MEL Script
  11. Chapter 5: Simulating Semi-Rigid and Rigid Debris with Python, PyMEL, and nCloth
    1. Adjusting Nodes with Python and PyMEL Scripting
      1. An Introduction to Python
      2. Reviewing Basic Python Syntax
      3. Using PyMEL
      4. Using Python and PyMEL to Alter Object Names
      5. Organizing, Identifying, and Altering Nodes with PyMEL
      6. Seeding Random Geometry with Python
    2. Producing Semi-Rigid Surfaces with nCloth
      1. Creating and Altering nCloth Objects
      2. Reviewing and Deleting nCloth Nodes
      3. Varying nCloth Motion with Dynamic Properties
      4. Assigning Fields to nCloth
      5. Texturing nCloth
    3. Final Rendering of Project 2
  12. Chapter 6: Producing Dust Puffs, Fog, Trailing Smoke, and Fireballs with Rigid and Fluid Dynamics
    1. Dropping an Object as a Rigid Body
      1. Converting Surfaces to Active and Passive Bodies
      2. Reviewing Rigid Body Nodes
      3. Fine-Tuning Rigid Collisions
    2. Placing Dust Puffs with 2D Fluid Effects
      1. Using Caches and Fluid nCaches
      2. Creating a 2D Fluid Container and Emitter
      3. Reviewing Fluid Nodes and Fluid Textures
      4. Working with Fluid Properties
      5. Adjusting Fluid Shading
    3. Adding Fog with 3D Fluid Effects
      1. Setting Up a 3D Container
      2. Working with Fluid Textures
    4. Trailing Smoke with 3D Fluid Effects
      1. Parenting and Animating a Fluid Emitter
      2. Using a Volume Fluid Emitter and Graph Ramps
    5. Exploding a Fireball with Static 3D Fluid
      1. Creating a Static Fluid Mass
      2. Texturing Fluid Color, Incandescence, and Opacity
      3. Using Fluid Self-Shadowing and Built-In Lights
      4. Animating Fluid Attributes
      5. Looking at Explosions
  13. Chapter 7: Animating Fire, Water, and Damage with Effects, Fluid Effects, Deformers, and Textures
    1. An Introduction to the Ocean System
    2. Altering Effects Menu Presets to Create a Burning Fuse
      1. Applying and Adjusting the Create Fire Preset
      2. Reviewing Other Effects Presets
    3. Rendering Effects with Multiple Cameras
      1. Adding a New Perspective Camera
      2. Adjusting Pre-Existing Fluid Effects
    4. Filling a Puddle with the Pond System
      1. Installing a Pond
      2. Creating Ripples with Pond Wakes
      3. Floating Geometry on a Pond
      4. Texturing and Rendering a Pond Surface
    5. Adding Localized Damage with Animated Deformers and Textures
      1. Animating Damage with a Blend Shape
      2. Animating Damage with a Lattice Deformer
      3. Animating Damage with a Texture
    6. Final Rendering of Project 3
  14. Chapter 8: Building Reference Models and Motion Tracking with Maya and MatchMover
    1. Investigating Visual Effects and Compositing Software
    2. An Overview of Motion Tracking
    3. Manually Tracking a Camera in Maya
      1. Building Reference Geometry
      2. Determining Dimensions
      3. Working with the Maya Film Back
      4. Animating a Matched Maya Camera
    4. Motion Tracking with Autodesk MatchMover
      1. 2D Tracking in MatchMover
      2. Importing a MatchMover Camera into Maya
      3. Manual 2D Tracking in MatchMover
  15. Chapter 9: Combining nCloth, nParticles, and Fluid Effects to Create Complex Destruction
    1. Destroying the Geometry with Shatter and nCloth
      1. Preparing a Model for Shattering
      2. Preparing a Mesh for the Creation of Shards
      3. Applying the Create Shatter Tool
      4. Shatter Plug-Ins
      5. Recombining and Scaling Shards
      6. Texturing and Lighting Shards
      7. Converting Shards to nCloth Objects
      8. Exploding Shards with Fields
      9. Determining the Speed of Debris
      10. Adjusting nCloth Attributes to Emulate Bricks
    2. Creating a Trailing Dust Cloud with nParticles
      1. Attaching nParticle Emitters to nCloth Bodies
      2. Shading nParticles to Emulate Explosive Smoke
    3. Combusting an Explosion with Dynamic Fluid Effects
      1. Installing a 3D Container with High Quality Settings
      2. Adding an Emitter and Working with Fuel and Temperature
      3. Colliding Fluids with Surfaces
      4. Optional Steps for Fluid Set-Up
  16. Chapter 10: Preparing, Rendering, and Combining Render Passes
    1. Using Dynamics and nDynamics Caches
      1. Working with Dynamics Caches
      2. Working with nDynamics Caches
    2. An Overview of Render Passes
    3. Setting up Render Layers and mental ray Render Passes
      1. Setting Up Render Layers
      2. Creating mental ray Contribution Maps and Render Passes
      3. Common Render Passes
      4. Test Rendering mental ray Render Passes
      5. Setting up a Shadow Render Pass
      6. Applying Render Layer Material Overrides
      7. Adding a Matte Surface to a Fluid Render Layer
      8. Preparing the nCloth, nParticles, and Fluid Simulation for Batch Rendering
      9. Mixing Resolutions
    4. Batch Rendering Layered PSDs and OpenEXR Files
      1. Rendering Render Passes as Layered PSDs
      2. Reviewing Renders with FCheck
      3. Rendering Render Passes as OpenEXRs
      4. 16- and 32-Bit Depths
    5. Compositing Render Passes
      1. Basic Layered PSD Compositing in After Effects
      2. An Introduction to OpenEXRs and Autodesk Composite
      3. Advanced OpenEXR Compositing in Nuke
    6. Wrap-Up
  17. Index