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Maya 2012 Node Editor Quick Look and Tips

So the Maya 2012 Subscription Advantage Pack is out and it’s pretty sweet. Apart from the OpenCL-accelerated Bullet Physics and Alembic, the big feature is of course the new Node Editor panel. Many people would agree that this was long overdue for a procedural node-based program like Maya, and the Hypershade just wasn’t cutting it anymore. You’ll be happy to know that it’s deep (I’ll only almost scratch the surface here) and it’s been well thought out. I’ve seen this mature during the last year in beta testing and rest assured it’s not just something that they tossed in without integrating a lot of feedback. One of the things I was really happy to see mature was tab name completion, similar to Nuke or a terminal – you just type hit tab to bring up the node creation input and enter text until you get something to either select with the mouse or arrow keys, or you can hit tab twice to complete the name at the top and then okay it (edit - I just looked and I used enter in the video - lol. Anyway it works with two tabs.):

The great thing about this text-based workflow is that you can use it will utilities like TextExpander to make node creation even easier. Don’t want to scroll through a bunch of VRay nodes to get to V-Ray Ptex? Just use a shortcut with an app like TextExpander and type “_ptex”. Also, you’ll notice from the video that the Node Editor works with V-Ray materials and nodes without any extra API updates on the V-Ray end. This will automatically work with all existing plug-ins and nodes.

For those of you who already have access to the 2012 SAP and the Node Editor, read the docs because there are tons of shortcuts and workflow tips that are essential to know how to work with it efficiently. One thing I have already done to speed things up is make a shortcut for Node Editor’s graph up and downstream connections operation:

The code for that is “nodeEditor -e -frameAll -rfs 1 -ups 1 -ds 1 nodeEditorPanel1NodeEditorEd;” without the quotes.

I think it’s safe to say this is ths beginning of Softimage’s ICE for Maya. Now that the workflow and interface is there, we’ll be seeing a lot more of the Node Editor in the future.

PS - for those that didn’t see my tweet, V-Ray for Softimage went into public beta. Check it out here if you’re interested.

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