Thursday, February 25, 2010


Continuing in the vein of my previous few posts.... PROBLEM SOLVING!

Probably the most exciting part of solving problems for me (other than the thrill of finally fixing a tricky issue) is research. I'm a self-admitted information junkie, and I love learning new stuff. Anyone who knows me can attest that I spend a lot of time browsing for new techniques, cool tricks, or just stuff I want to know (I've gotten into a bad habit of reading Wikipedia articles on food when I'm hungry). One of the side effects of this is I've gotten reasonably good at targeting searches and finding elusive information. The sad reality is, though, that just because I'm looking for information doesn't mean that it's there to be found. This has been especially true in the case of Maya Character Sets and Trax information.

Since I'm creating my film to be exported to Epic's UDK for realtime render and using their Matinee editor to put everything together, I want a way to easily organize my various animation clips and test out various setups in Maya before I export. The way Matinee works, you can assign animation channels to a skeletal mesh (like a character) and tell it to play one or more animation clips, allowing you to blend or add clips together. My rudimentary understanding of Trax is that it does essentially the same thing. Unfortunately, the official documentation is woefully inadequate, and there is precious little information online. Maya's documentation is little more than an explanation of how to create Character Sets and how to create Trax clips, but there is no adequate explanation of exactly what a Character Set it, what it's doing, how it works, and any "best practices" for implementation.

Being relatively adventurous with technology, I've taken a dive into the world of Character Sets and Trax with the goal of understanding how to properly create sets, how to organize them into sub-sets, and how to use them with Trax. I'm approximately finished with my first attempt at creating a hierarchical set and will be doing some preliminary animation tests to see if my understanding is correct. Once I feel I have a decent grasp of the system, my goal is to write some sort of explanatory document and tutorial on proper workflow so that there will at least be some reasonable resource to help others along.

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