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Maya 7 vector rendering to .swf set up

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mascania
Maya 7 vector rendering to .swf set up
on Nov 23, 2005 at 7:57:19 pm

Hello.

I am a Maya elder and a Flash junior...my experience is more with animation and all that that implies, especially facial and lip sync animation...and I've just gotten into Flash 8 Professional.
My problem has to do with rendering.

Here's the deal:

I have a fully rigged human character in Maya 7 all ready for shading and texturing ( polymesh ).
I want to animate her then put her in Flash 8 with a bunch of other 2D animation.
SO I want to create a .swf "2D" render to import into flash.

do I apply shaders and lines from the Toon menu?

do I apply regular blinn/lambert etc shaders as if to render in Maya?

Will it render the standard materials to appear as toon shaded?
( like the .swf examples in the Maya 7 help pages )

Will the vector renderer render a toon shaded model?

Any step by step advice?

I have done a few tests that work technically ( alpha channel just fine, resizing no problem, layering in Flash okay ) but the actual look falls into the "unexpected results" category. usually horrible outlines or line work...( fine as solid colors )...

There is a rather nasty clock ticking on this one and all the genius TD's around here are still deeply immersed in mental ray games and haven't looked at the vector shader yet...so any and all help will be hugely appreciated!!!!

thanks






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Butch007
Re: Maya 7 vector rendering to .swf set up
on Jan 28, 2006 at 5:58:30 am

I hate that I can't be of any assistance here, but I'm having the same problem. There's very little information available on how to actually use the vector renderer even though Alias has .swf demo files on their site that look pretty good to show that it can be done just no info on how to actually do it and trying to look at the erain site isn't really helpful either. If anyone has any info on this I definitely want to find out about it too. Thanks.


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Chad Briggs
Re: Maya 7 vector rendering to .swf set up
on Jan 28, 2006 at 3:00:52 pm

do I apply shaders and lines from the Toon menu?

You do not apply the lines (or even the shading really) from the toon menu. The toon menu is used when you want to render out a toon look, but using the maya software render (and mental ray, but you can't render PFX using mental ray). All of the "toon" style shading for flash comes from the settings in the vector render globals. They do have detailed settings on all these shading styles in the maya help files.

do I apply regular blinn/lambert etc shaders as if to render in Maya?
yes, you will use regular/blinn lambert shaders, and then you will tell the vector render engine how complecated to shade the gradients and so forth.

Will it render the standard materials to appear as toon shaded?
( like the .swf examples in the Maya 7 help pages )

if you mean the standard, shading groups and file nodes, yes, to a certain degree. Remember, its not an easy task to vectorize complex images/textures and keep the filesize down. I'll touch more on this in a second.

Will the vector renderer render a toon shaded model?
yes, but you need to decided if you want it to be vector toon shaded or software toonshaded. again, i'll touch more on this in a sec.

Any step by step advice?
best way to test the toon shader (or any new technology) is to use a simple scene. Make a sphere, throw a few lights in the scene, do some test renders with the vector render engine and play around with the settings. look at the description of the help files for each setting. You'll get a handle on it pretty fast.

The big decision about using the vector render is that you normally only use it when you need an actual vector image. Problem is, it shades on a per polygon basis and doesn't smooth like a software render would. So in other words, if you want a perfectly round sphere outline, you better have a ton of faces in that sphere, or you will see the outline around the sphere draw over the edge of every poly. Things that are solid colors can usually vectorize well, but if you have complex textures, the filesize will be huge and take a long time to spit out the vector render.
With flash8, a better route to go might be to render out your character in all it's glory using softare toonshading with MR or MSoftware and then take that alpha channel sequence and use that in flash, since flash 8 lets you do a lot with video and alpha channels. That way you don't have to worry about compromising the look of your characters. that being said, it will probably not be as small as if you did a vector character with simple colors in filesize.

hope that helps
-chad


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mascania
Re: Maya 7 vector rendering to .swf set up
on Jan 31, 2006 at 9:38:34 pm

Chad

Thank you so much for the detailed response, I appreciate the time taken to research the situation.

In the time since posting this question, I have acheived success with the Vector rendering process and creating the intended look in Flash 8. You are right, I had muddled toon shading and vector rendering into the same category and they are two entirely different techniques with a similar result, sort of....This not to say there wasn't compromise.

My character was very human design and rig with a beautifully crafted facial expressions and controls. The intention was to create a comic book look with a full,rich 3D performance.

The compromise came when "presenting" facial features.
First, I animated the character at a fairly low rez without any shaders ( one basic "grey"). After the animation was done and reasonably spectacular, I smoothed the polys to a degree shy of choking my workstation into a coma.
Then I colored the character with with lambert shaders, no textures, ramps, highlights or whatever.
Now here's the catch, in order to define eyelids and lips, I shaded those poly faces directly.
I used the very basic vector set-up, one color and include outline. Remember that the outline function will put a line around any change in colors, so there was an outline around the eyelid and lips. I let the renderer use it's own default point light which was just enough to create a line to define the nose.
The final output was flat but nicely saturated color over the performance that was easily imported into Flash 8, and dropped over a 2D BG. ( ya gotta love that alpha channel capability).

At this point, I could take advantage of the benefits of vector imaging and play with the scale of the animation and other cool distortions offered in Flash. It also didn't take up a lot of real estate.

So I was able to achieve my living comic, but I agree that much more exploration is called for when it comes to character rendering. Mechanical models, props and environments will work just beautifully and for that matter, Swift 3D should be just fine instead of Maya. It's the same renderer.

So that's my story and I'm stickin' to it. I'll provide more updates as I continue to explore this process.





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