VERTEX EVENT 2019

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Thinkinetic is proud patner of 2019 Vertex event which take place 8th March at Olympia Centre in London.

From games, VFX, VR, character conceptulisation, real-time creation and more,
boost your skills with leading industry artists and learn from the world’s best creative studios.

This year  conferences counts with speakers from leading studios such as Creative Assembly, DNEG, ILM,Jellyfish, Oculus, Rare, and more..

Dont miss it if you have the chance to be in London on that date!

Visit Vertex Event Official Site

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Pulldownit for Maya 2019

Pulldownit plugin is already available for Maya 2019,  you can download it from the users area if you have licensed the plugin or download demo version from the web site in case not. You can review latest features and demos of Pulldownit 4.5 here:

Pulldownit 4.5 for Maya new features

There was a great expectation about Maya 2019 because it was taken much longer than usual to be released, many users’ thoughts were about some big new feature was coming, but finally Autodesk has focused this release in usability of the tool and performance by presenting an impressive long list of bugs fixes and a few but important improvements when using the software in production.

The major enhancement in Maya 2019 is the new cached playback feature, by using it you can speed up the playback of complex scenes or get a sustained frame rate  directly in the viewport removing the need to playblast the scene to review  issues, in addition you can modify keys freely and the cache auto updates quickly taking in account the changes so you get indeed a faster workflow specially for animation. Cached Playback is intended to be used with keyframed characters or some types of cached animations so all the dynamics solvers inside Maya: Nucleus, MASH, XGEN etc.. doesn’t support it. The same happens with Pulldownit, you cannot activate cached playback while computing dynamics however after baking keys and delete all PDI bodies you can enable it to speed up the playback in viewport, in our tests with scenes including around 1000 fragments this new Maya cache double the viewport FPS running at near 70 FPS, and if you export the destruction to Alembic the playback is even faster reaching a speed to around 90 FPS in average. Here a quick tutorial about using  Maya 2019 cached playback with Pulldownit simulations:

 

There are other improvements regarding animation keys, two new filters has been added, Butterworth and Key Reducer, the first one is intended to clean noise in animation capture data and the second is useful to remove needless keys in the animation.

Besides the integration of Arnold Render in Maya is becoming deeper with each update, in version 2019 you can use Arnold render inside one Maya viewport or render regions directly in the viewport 2.0

Autodesk also claims complex scenes now load faster and interactions with viewport 2.0 are quicker, in our experience that’s true so far, so even if some people is disappointed for the lack of brand new features in other fields we think Autodesk has done it right making Maya faster and more reliable in this release, users should notice it in his everyday work.

Robot escape from the Port by Andres de Mingo

Andres de Mingo kindly explains us the making of some complex effects using Pulldownit and FumeFX in 3dMax for his appealing destruction shot.

This project was about destroying a brick wall with an animated robot, I had done similar things in the past using Pulldownit and not difficult but this time I needed to create a thin long crack in the stucco before making the wall to collapse and in addition this crack should follow the trajectory of an animated  laser beam coming from the hand of the robot, that was the main challenge.

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Making the laser beam crack

The laser is a simple thin cylinder in 3ds Max with the height value animated to make it grow towards the wall, besides the cylinder has a Octane material  with emission per blue color, in this way it can illuminate the scene and finally to make it shine I added glare and bloom to the cylinder as a post process with Octane render itself.

To fracture the wall in the shape of a circle I created a circle spline in 3ds Max and put it inside the stucco, then I used the path-based shatter feature of Pulldownit to create the fragments, with around 200 shards, but I wanted the center part of the wall to break later so I added a second local shatter pattern in the middle of about 70 shards.

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For making the crack following the trajectory of the light beam, I used a PDI cracker object attached to the circle path, then adding some keys to make sure the cracker had the same speed of the laser and by playing the simulation I got this appealing effect done in seconds.

Only problem was the center part of the stucco was falling to the ground after it became isolated, to solve it I attached the stucco wall to the bricks behind by selecting the option “Attach Nearest” of PDI Fracture Bodies.

httingthewallhead

Hitting the wall

The brick wall is made of small cubes attached together as a single object, I discovered this is important to get it broken in the shape of bricks in dynamics, otherwise the wall breaks as a continuous surface. I used a similar setup than the stucco, this time I created two concentric circle splines in both sides of the wall of same size, and shattered the wall in around 1200 shards with path-based pattern, then adding a local shatter pattern of around 600 shards in the middle, in this way PDI created small fragments in the contour of the circles perfect to crack them. Also to get the bricks as separated objects after shattering the wall I had to check the PDI shatter option “detect mesh-groups”.

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After getting the fragments created I made a fracture body for the whole thing including the stucco part and set it as static in PDI fractures options, also setting Clusterize to 0 to force the wall breaking only along the circle shapes.

I didn’t use the robot itself for this part of the shot, in its place I created a flat cylinder of the same size of the circle and animate it to hit the wall, so it pushed only  the fragments in the middle and hiding this object from rendering made the trick.

I rendered everything with Octane, because it is very fast and easy to use, maybe you have more features with other renderers but they takes much longer to get the final images ready.

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Adding dust

After the PDi simulation was baked I started adding dust with Fume FX, I generated a slight wake of dust following the laser beam by simply emitting smoke from the same cracker object I’ve used before, as this object was already attached to the circle path that was easy.

For adding smoke to the wall when collapsing, I used Particle Flow in 3ds max to attach particles to the stucco fragments but only along the borders, I set around 1500 particles for this, then I set those particles as source in Fume.

Dust is heavier than the air so it must fall eventually to the ground, I played with gravity and buoyancy values until getting the desired look for smoke.

addingdust2

For rendering dust, I used Arnold because FumeFx  doesn’t support Octane, however at first I wasnt able to render fume with Arnold neither,  finally I had to convert the smoke to openVDB format and use an aiVolume with aiStandardVolume shaders with it, after that everything was pretty automatic except I had to set some parts of the robot that were in front of the smoke as matte shadow objects to render it correctly.

Dust was rendered in a separate pass and composed later in Fusion in this way it gives you a second chance to modify color and brightness to improve the look of the smoke.

Conclusions

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It was a nice experience working with Pulldownit plugin, in this shot there were different stages for destruction, first the stucco crack, then the hole in the middle and finally the robot passing through the wall, maybe the most surprising to me was PDI can make all of this effects using the same set in one run, without having to resort to more complex setup like preparing and hiding partially destroyed models and replace them at some moment. PDi was pretty reactive allowing me to get the results in seconds, modify parameters and compute again, that was great.

Adding dust to fragments with pFlow and Fume FX was also quite easy and fast computing.

Thank you Andres for sharing your experience in our blog!

 

Running Maya Linux in Optimus Laptops

Autodesk Maya runs in Linux systems as a charm, fast and stable, you may have experiment it if working in some of the large studios which uses Maya Linux extensively, so let’s say you are used to Linux and decide to install Maya at home but if your computer has an NVidia Optimus GPU, and all modern laptops has this kind of card, you are going to get in troubles because NVidia hasn’t released a proper driver for Optimus GPUs in Linux and it seems they haven’t plans to release it, so what to do?

What is an Optimus GPU?

Optimus cards are actually a dual GPU, one card( INTEL) is welded in the motherboard and connect directly to the screen, this card is very limited, just able for 2D drawing and basic 3D features, not valid for using Maya,  specially it can´t support Viewport 2.0,  then there is another card( NVIDIA), a more powerful GPU which handles all the heavy 3D stuff, it is supposed this card auto activates when the system detect the application you are using needs demanding 3D features. The idea of a dual GPU is nice, because you save battery power by using only the basic card when running 2D applications or system menus and heavy 3D features are enabled by applications or games which needs it saving your battery and besides keeping the laptop temperature lower, all of this happens in Windows system but not in Linux because the lack of a proper driver by NVidia.

optmusPipeline

Making it work

There are two different strategies for making Optimus work in Linux, the simplest one is deactivating the INTEL card in BIOS so the system is forced to use the NVIDIA card always at the expense of your battery power, sadly only a few hi-end laptops allows to setup this feature in BIOS.

The other way is using a software bridge between both cards, at the beginning there was only BumbleBee, an independent software project which uses VirtualGL or Primus to communicate both GPUs,  there is a performance penalty when using these libraries and besides it doesn’t work with all applications, sadly Maya is one of them, in our tests using BunbleBee Maya launches with Viewport 2.0 but it crash by simple interactions with the keyboard, so no way.

Luckily in the middle 2016 NVidia itself fixed partially its Linux drivers to can do the switch between both cards in a fast way by using what is called NVIDIA-PRIME capabilities, this mechanism has a few limitations and needs an special configuration of your system to work which sadly it isn’t explained clearly in NVidia docs.

Installing NVIDIA-PRIME

We have been able to install NVIDIA-PRIME in an Optimus laptop with CentOS7 following this excellent guide by Ezequiel Mastrasso,

guide to install NVIDIA-PRIME in Centos 7

Some comments about our own experience with installation if this can help to someone:

In step 2 of the guide Ezequiel says a Xorg with ABI 24 is needed but according to NVidia ABI 23 is supported and actually our system is using elrepo kernel 4.19 which features Xorg ABI 23.

In step 18 of the guide our system turned black screen, but rebooting and skipping directly to step 19 did the trick, the rest of the guide worked perfectly for us.

Actually our system is a dual boot Windows 10 /Centos 7, this didn’t affect in anything the installation of NVidia-PRIME.

Finally before starting the Optimus setup we recommend to install and run nvidia-detect by elrepo, this little utility will shows up the exact NVidia driver your system needs and also check compatibility with your current Xorg server and displays its ABI number.

In our tests using this setup Maya Viewport 2.0 works perfect and Unigine benchmark seems not having any noticeable performance loss by using NVidia-PRIME .

Nevertheless, as Ezequiel mention this configuration is pretty sensitive to system changes, for example in our case NVidia-PRIME mechanism got broken just by installing the mesa-lib-GLU library, but luckily reinstalling the Nvidia driver again fixed it instantly, anyway it is a good idea to make a system backup when you manage to get it working just in case.

Hope this article helps you to enjoy Maya linux and of course Pulldownit plugin in your brand new Optimus laptop!

mayaRunningwithOptimus

 

 

Evermotion Challenge 2018: A Day in the City

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Thinkinetic is proud sponsor of this year “A Day in the City” challenge by Evermotion.

 We invite our participants to take a look at the city and all it offers for inhabitants and tourists. Restaurants, amusement parks, wonderful buildings, busy streets, shopping malls – city is living and evolving all the time. This We believe that this theme will be versatile enough to bring many great arch-viz works to life.

You can summit your work until 16th of January, 2019

Pulldownit Pro license is one of the valuable prizes and there are plenty of them, those interested can check rules and prizes here:8

https://evermotion.org/challenge/rules/2018