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Everyone is biased to what they use so it’s going to be hard to get honest feedback for this question. I use Maya on all three OSes often and learned Maya in Windows back when it wasn’t available on OS X and then switched to the Mac version. But the “everyone uses X” is actually a lie. The majority of independent Maya users are on Windows but if you work in the 3D for film/VFX industry, that is dominated by Linux. Technically speaking, that’s a majority of users on PCs but that’s not a reason to pick a platform. Maya plug-in availability is better on Windows but it sounds like you’re learning and you should try to avoid solving problems with plug-ins while learning because it creates a dependency on them and sometimes they stop getting updated. That’s one of the reasons I’m looking forward to V-Ray support for XGen – waiting months and months for Shave and a Haircut update for the latest Maya version is a pain in the ass.
But the Parent Master script you mention works on all platforms and scripts don’t tend to break with new Maya versions like plug-ins do, so go ahead and use it and other scripts. If you see a script on Creative Crash that says “Windows” as the only supported platform, that’s probably untrue since it’s very hard to make a script that doesn’t work on all three platforms. It’s just that the person who wrote the script only tested it on Windows, so they don’t want to write “works on OS X and Linux” without having tested that.
But use the platform that you want to use. If you like OS X, use OS X because you’re going to be a lot unhappier using Windows as a Mac user than you are going to be as a Windows user with a few more plug-in and hardware options. If you want to build a PC to help with final renders, go that route and use the Mac for your workstation/host machine. I did that and there is a guy on Creative Crash doing exactly that here
I have a Linux render slave box that doubles as a Windows gaming machine and V-Ray’s automatic asset transfer in recent nightly builds means that I don’t have to care about sharing texture directories (this is coming in the official 3.0 release). V-Ray Slave licenses are also free. After tedious issues with using Windows as the slave OS (fans constantly spinning up and spinning down like a man catching his breath), I stopped running it in Windows and only run that for games. So this is what my desk looks like right now:OS X at the left, Linux at the right.
Every platform has it’s strengths and weaknesses.If you read my article on creating the ultimate creative content OS from parts of Mac OS X, Windows and Linux, you’ll get an idea of the strengths and weaknesses of each platform. Linux and OS X are far better at multitasking than Windows (you can work while you render without having to drop process priority or give a CPU core to other tasks), Windows has more 3D programs but, if you need to use a Windows-only 3D app infrequently, a virtual machine works fine. My Max model conversions for Turbosquid are built and rendered in a Parallels Desktop VM.
If you want to learn about what is used in the industry, that is easy. If you work in game development, it is completely dominated by Windows, but even Windows 3D game development people curse that dependence:
If that guy had the option to do game development on OS X, he probably would. A Unix OS like OS X will actually be closer to what they use in larger companies in the VFX industry, which is completely Linux dominated. If you learn how to do shell scripting in OS X’s terminal, that will translate directly into Linux knowledge without having to do the crap that Linux is bad at: like manual editing of grub configs or solving audio issues. Every time my Linux machine wakes from sleep, I have to disconnect and reconnect its Wacom tablet or it won’t work. The Mac’s hardware options are more limited but you get a lot of peace of mind that you don’t get with Windows or Linux. You can work with very little getting in your way. Under a tight deadline, that is worth more to me than a couple more plug-in options.
One of the tricks I learned as a photo retoucher back in my university days was that, if you wanted to tile a texture or extend a background, the fastest way is to duplicate the layer and then flip it. When you align the edges, there will be a match at the edges, which is usually easier to clean up than a messy clone job. Well, Maya’s texture nodes let you mirror your U or V texture so that this is done for you without having to head to Photoshop. For something like a plywood reference texture, it works really well:
Obviously, that seam is going to be a little obvious but I am using it as a painting reference, so I don’t need to clean it up. Other textures may be less obvious when mirrored.
A while back, I wrote a post about fixing Z-fighting in Maya for viewport 1 and while the same fix is still needed for viewport 2, the newer viewport also suffers from unculled edges that bleed around the object. I work in pseudo-orthographic/long focal length views a lot so the fix – increase the camera’s near-clipping value – needs to be much higher for viewport 2 to address the edge problem:
Hopefully that will save you from being distracted by those weird edges.
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Sometimes you want to see a texture as unlit to check seams and stuff but viewport 2, which use as the default viewport now, has no “unlit texture” mode. But there’s a workaround – use a temporary ambient light:
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When you start tweaking a cage mesh that has a displacement texture in Maya, it gets really tricky to predict what is going to happen when the displacement kicks in after you’ve edited the base mesh. Luckily Maya has a displacement to polygons filter in the Modify/Convert menu that facilitates these edits. Duplicate and smooth your base mesh and then apply the filter and you’ll get an idea of what your tessellated and displaced mesh looks like at render time. It isn’t perfect since it doesn’t smooth UVs but it gives a pretty accurate rendition:
I’m using a simple script that I’ll be adding to V-Ray Tuner but it works with any renderer. Here it is:
string $meshy = `duplicate -rr`;
move -r 0 0 -10;
polyPerformAction "polySmooth -mth 0 -dv 1 -c 1 -kb 1 -ksb 1 -khe 0 -kt 1 -kmb 1 -suv 1 -sl 1 -dpe 1 -ps 0.1 -ro 1" f 0;
You’ll probably notice that my displacement is not following the 1 gain / -0.5 offset alpha settings. I have tweaked it manually so these settings have changed.
So I am working on something that needs some tricky UV and vertex tweaks and, if you’re a V-Ray user, you probably know that viewport 2 is fast but V-Ray’s default baked previews in Maya are really low res – I don’t even think that 64x64 pixels qualifies as “low res,” it’s so bad. Luckily, after getting in touch with Chaos Group about it, they let me know that there is a workaround to get high res previews. Jack up the resolution in viewport 2’s “Bake Resolution for Unsupported Texture Types” setting, save and reload the scene and you’ll have a high res preview:
Thanks again to Chaos Group for the exceptional support. After years of struggling with all the problems and dearth of support for mental ray, it’s so refreshing to have such good support in V-Ray. They never cease to impress me.
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One of the big things you need to get used to with Mari, if you’re coming from something like Mudbox, is that a lot of tools need to work with the paint buffer. Where you can smudge any applied texture in Mudbox, you can only do a slerp (Mari’s smudge) to the active paint buffer in Mari. There is a workaround to get baked textures into the paint buffer though: use the clone tool and clone right on top of itself, so that you have zero offset between your source and your clone. This basically lifts the cloned area right into the paint buffer so you can use something like the slerp. Check it out:
If you need to script the V-Ray Framebuffer, there are a series of options that are shown when you enter “vray vfbControl;” in the MEL command line.
While there is no way to query current settings, you can turn them off with something like:
vray vfbControl -exposure 0;
vray vfbControl -curve 0;
It’s good to turn off the exposure and curves setting when doing stuff like wireframe batch renders that can be messed up by contrast and exposure controls.
So, after a discussion on CGSociety about a viewport lag that was introduced in Maya for OS X after version 2011, it seems that the culprit is the Help Line. Until this bug is fixed, you can give Maya 2012 and later a slight bump in FPS on OS X by hiding the Help Line. Now someone needs to find out how to fix the f, [ and ] hotkeys that stop working – that plagues all platforms and it’s super annoying.
Update: fix for Maya 2014 released: grab it here.
Just a small warning about OS X Mavericks that should hopefully prevent some unwelcome headaches for people running Autodesk 3D apps on OS X. I am running Mavericks now and did some testing with the betas and, while all previous versions work fine (2013 included) there is a critical issue with Adlm (the license software) and the 2014 Autodesk products that prevent them from activating. It’s fine if you upgrade an existing OS X install that has the programs already activated but it will fail to activate new licenses for Maya 2014 or Mudbox 2014, etc. This has to do with how the FLEX license manager does weird stuff to try and hide licenses from your OS in a partition, from what I understand. It’s a hack to allow demos that time out. Autodesk knows about it and is releasing a fix any day now – I’ll update this post when it’s released.
Otherwise, I would say that, if you are fine with your system now, you might want to wait a few weeks because there are a lot of changes to OpenGL in Mavericks that could affect your system or apps. You get a warning that the Adobe Creative Cloud software isn’t supported yet but Photoshop CC works fine on my end. Anyway, I need Mavericks for Mari and AMD support on OS X. It’s a solid release and has some amazing tech in it – read here for all full rundown and review. I would just be careful before fixing what isn’t broken until the kinks have been worked out. I know that Mari tessellation preview for AMD cards, for example, is in need of a bug fix that’s coming soon as well. I’ve also heard of one Nvidia user having issues with ZBrush but it works fine for me. But I definitely recommend the upgrade. OpenGL 4.1 is finally included and the upgrade is completely free. If you’re on a mobile machine, the extra battery life is great and pros will benefit from better multi-monitor support, SMB 2.0 inclusion and tag metadata, to name a few things. But, if you want to be extra safe and prevent the new OS’ power saving features from tinkering with your graphics apps, consider turning off App Nap in the program’s Get Info panel:
As I mentioned before, the Library folder for your home directory can now be re-shown in the Get Info panel for the Home folder too. If you have applications like Windownaut that depend on Access for Assistive Devices, that has been moved to the Security and Privacy preference pane:
Anyway, stay tuned for my eventual Xeon E5 V2 Mac Pro 2013 review for Ars Technica. Apple said that machine is coming in December.