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It’s Your Maya Script Birthday! V-Ray Tuner 3.0 and Facer 2.8

So, after finishing up some jobs and adding some features to these while working on those contracts, I have rolled in some new things to both V-Ray Tuner and Facer. There’s quite a bit that’s added in each and I’ve included some features of one script in the other just because it made sense for things like UVs, which affect both modelling and rendering.

V-Ray Tuner 3.0 new features:
  • Material Copy Dropper in Materials menu. This is similar to the Material Dropper script that lets you apply materials from the first selected object to all the subsequently selected objects but this applies the copied shader from a “Duplicate Network” operation so you can use the source material as a starting point for your next object’s material:
  • Stored Texture Reloader. I got tired of having to dig down to a file node when doing external tweaks on a texture file, so I added this. It lets you store the working texture file and refreshes it when you select the menu item again. Select a new File node and it will replace the stored texture as the one you want to refresh:
  • Gamma Correct Me now has an interface to select the type of thing you want to degamma for a linear workflow: colour swatches of your selected material(s) or selected texture(s). This way, you can just avoid gamma correct nodes, set your swatch colours and just do all the gamma correction in one step with this.
  • Gamma Correct Me script for textures now uses V-Ray attribute for File node to avoid black textures in viewport. It uses a Gamma Correct node for everything else and works with ramps, blendColors, etc. Here’s a demo of those last few features in action:

As you can see from the way I start a linear workflow scene from scratch, this lets you click the LWFMe button to initialize all the right parameters for a linear workflow but then you disable the LWF toggle to work with manually linearized swatches. The Gamma Correct me script for swatches currently only works on V-Ray Materials (not FastSSS2, Light Mats, etc). I’ll add support for those later.

  • Added Brute Force/Brute Force and Light Cache/Light Cache presets to GI modes dropdown.
  • Added Transfer UVs script to Utils menu. Select source first and all targets after that and run script to transfer UVs.
  • DaveBake420 script now automatically enables texture baking render settings and then disables them on completion
  • Select Missing Textures script added to Materials menu. Checks if any of the links to file nodes are missing links and selects them if they are.
  • Added 200% upres option to the R% render preview size. I’ve found I wanted this occasionally. This doubles the actual resolution, not just the preview resolution so it will ask for confirmation. See these last two demoed:
  • Better UV Checker tool in Materials menu. See below.
Facer 2.8 new features
  • Better UV checker tool. I made a custom colour UV grid and the script will prompt you to download it automatically if it can’t find it in your home script path. Because Windows lacks a command line download tool like curl, I had to use Python and it might need a couple tries to grab the file. See it in action:
  • UV Snapshot tool to launch a temp snapshot file. I find I never want to keep this file, I just want to open it in Photoshop to put on another texture, so this saves the snapshot to your OS tmp folder and opens it in whatever app is set to open PNG files.
  • Cull Toggle, toggle normals, toggle face centres and toggle BBox now disables or enables normals for all selected objects instead of simply flipping the individual object’s normal state (leaving you with a mix of normals on/off):
  • Added options dialog to Replace All With Last Selected script. Lets you use instances instead of copies and select scale of copies to keep source or target scale.
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Often when you work, you’re lazy about using instances to save memory so this lets you just do it all in one step for big memory savings at render time. When you render a bunch of those heads with copies, it takes over 6GB of memory (click for high res):

Use the script to replace those copies with instances and your render memory usage drops to 1.6GB (click for high res):

So, I hope you enjoy these updated scripts – the download links are in the new feature headers for both. If you get a lot of use out of them, maybe consider picking up a copy of the ePUB, Kindle, iPad iBook or PDF version of 101 Autodesk Maya Tips, which is still only $2.99. In the words of Yakov Smirnoff – IS BARGAIN!

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V-Ray Tuner 2.7.1 Posted For Download

Version 2.7.1 of V-Ray Tuner is up and has a few new features and a bug fix that might be affecting certain Windows users:

  • Fixed sleep command for Linux - needs to run with sudo on RHEL distros. You’ll need to enable your user to run pm-suspend without a sudo prompt: http://polygonspixelsandpaint.tumblr.com/post/29222395621
  • Added a Add Round Edge script to utilities menu for giving round edges to multiple selected objects
  • Added the ability to use a copy of the selected object as the object for Material Worker Layer. Select your mesh, enable “Use selected” and hit Material Worker Layer button.
  • Changed parts of script that used “RedoPreviousIPR” to “RedoPreviousIPRRender” because it wasn’t working in some Windows configs.
  • Added ability to render a single selected light for per-light rendering. This gives you the ability to update one light pass render without having to re-render all lights. Select your light and run PerLightRender from button or menu.

V-Ray Tuner’s reached 4000+ downloads and counting and it’s got 4.5 stars as a rating on Creative Crash. Glad people people are enjoying it and find it useful.

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Tip for Linux V-Ray Tuner users: Use the Sleep After Render Features

V-Ray Tuner has a “sleep at end of render” script that works on all three platforms but I realized recently that most Linux distros require that you run pm-suspend as root, nullifying the script. This can be addressed by letting users run pm-suspend without sudo. Just use visudo to add these lines to your user’s sudo permissions to prevent a prompt for password when using sudo:

username ALL=NOPASSWD: /usr/sbin/pm-suspend

Until I post an update, Linux V-Ray Tuner users will have to find and replace “pm-suspend” with “sudo pm-suspend” in the V-Ray Tuner MEL script.

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V-Ray Tuner Gets Some Big Updates in Version 2.7

If you have been following V-Ray Tuner for a while, you’ll know I use the per-light render feature quite a bit to make flexible composites that can be rendered once and adjusted in post. While working on my last job for Reader’s Digest, I added per-light render support for the self-illumination values of V-Ray Materials. The self-illumination value in the V-Ray Material can be an uncorrected colour swatch, a gamma correct with anything plugged into it or it can be a file texture. I made sure that this script works fine with a mix of meshes with V-Ray Light Materials and meshes with V-Ray Materials with self-illumination:

It took some work to set that up but it’s bulletproof from what I can tell – it’s only noisy because of the quick render settings I used. I’d like to eventually add the exposure tweaking feature to material-based lights but that will have to wait. The workflow is straightforward: select your meshes that have either type of material, run PerLightRender and you’ve got a very flexible set of images for compositing and your scene is left untouched. Keep in mind that you should be working in a linear workflow for those to add correctly in Nuke or Photoshop.

The other updated feature of V-Ray Tuner 2.7 is to the RT Multi-frame Render script, that lets you use V-Ray RT as an animation renderer for quickly previewing animation renders. I’ve added an option to use the Max Paths Per Pixel option to determine the max render time. This will give you more consistent quality across frames vs. using the RT Max Time Parameter:

There is now an “RT max paths per pixel” slider in the V-Ray RT Settings foldout of V-Ray Tuner so this is easily tweaked and you can change that at any time during the animation render.

Other small changes:

  • Changed Optimize button to make smaller buckets if distributed rendering is enabled
  • Removed GI Contrast slider. Just not commonly used enough to warrant the space

Here’s the V-Ray Tuner download link.

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V-Ray Tuner 2.6.2 Posted for Download

I think a lot of people will like the new render utility preview added in V-Ray Tuner 2.6.2:

When you build complex shaders, it becomes increasingly difficult to tell what a stage looks like by looking at the end result, so that’s why I made the render utility preview. I recommend using the non-OpenCL RT for this feature since RT GPU has very limited support for shader network types. The facing ratio used above is one that doesn’t work in OpenCL mode.

The render utility preview works with pretty much anything you throw at it (utility or procedural texture) if V-Ray RT supports it. It just maps the utility to a surface shader, which has no shading properties so it shows you just what the utility looks like, unshaded. As usual, all temporary surface shaders, render layers and objects are removed on hitting the Cleanup Material Elements button. This won’t make garbage in your scene that you have to manually remove.

Other changes in 2.6.2:

  • Material Worker Layer no longer makes a folder in your temp images when you hit IPR Render button (use the palette IPR button). If you use the render view’s IPR button, folders will still be made
  • When you remove the Material Worker Layer, it puts the camera position back to where it was before you started tweaking the material
  • Added Car Paint material support to Material Worker Layer
  • Added Distributed Render Settings to Utilities menu for quick toggling of DR slaves

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Material Worker Layer Updated in V-Ray Tuner 2.6.1

Maya’s material previews are pretty much useless. V-Ray’s are single-threaded so they are brutally slow – how many times have you tweaked an SSS shader and waited 10 seconds for an update that doesn’t really help? This is why I designed the Material Worker Layer in V-Ray Tuner 2.6 – to give you something actually helpful to look at when previewing materials. This would ostensibly let you turn off the preview swatch rendering and never waste time again:

I just updated this feature to give the preview shapes better lighting and I have more more preview shapes available for your test material:

I also put a Distributed Rendering (DR) checkbox in the place of the “World Scale for Light Cache” (WS) toggle. I think there are a lot more people who are going to want to toggle that frequently than there are people who want to toggle WS. It works great - no more opening the Settings render panel for enabling DR, something I’m using more frequently now that my laptop is beastly. Here’s the V-Ray Tuner download link.

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V-Ray Tuner 2.6 - Two New Features: Tiled Rendering and Material Worker Layer

Today I’m releasing a new version of V-Ray Tuner and it has a few things that should appeal to a lot of people:

Material Worker Layer

This script creates a temporary render layer with the selected V-Ray material mapped to a 1-metre sphere so you can tweak it with a basic lighting guide while evaluating it with V-Ray RT. Hit the Cleanup Elements button and the render layer and temp objects are gone:

Yes, I realize I set the IOR below 1, which is stupid but it was just to show the point of the worker layer. I will make the lighting a little more sophisticated in the next release and add options for object type and size.

Tiled Command Line Rendering

I’ve seen a few people ask for this for times when they have to render giant posters which cause memory problems. So I implemented a tiled rendering batch script that will use the command line, so you’re using as little memory as possible. It has options for two, four or nine tiles:

As you can see from the video, Photoshop’s “Load Files into Stack” script works perfectly to assemble the images. Tip: when rendering very large scenes, you should generally use Brute Force (Primary GI) and Light Cache (Secondary GI) to reduce memory usage versus Irradiance Maps.

Other small tweaks:

Added Linux support for sleep after render and Optimize button no longer changes dynamic mesh setting to static. V-Ray 2 fixed the problem with slower dynamic mesh rendering. Here’s the download link again. Enjoy and, if you find V-Ray Tuner useful and you’re looking for some Maya tips, maybe considering picking up my 101 Autodesk® Maya® Tips ebook that is getting very good reviews. This ends the mom-like guilt portion of my post.

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V-Ray Tuner 2.5 Posted for Download

Grab it from the usual location on Creative Crash.

Changelog:

  • Made command line render scripts Linux compatible, with exception of those with sleep commands. Tested in CentOS 5.6
  • Per-light render script updated to work with spotlights and directional lights.
  • Added a Make Reflector Card script to utilities menu. Select object and run script to make a plane that is aimed at the selected object. The plane has primary vis and shadows off for use with creating reflections. Still affects occlusion though, so you’ll need to turn that off for AO passes.
  • Added a Toggle Env Texture script to utilities.
  • Per-light render script updated to work with spotlights and directional lights.
  • Added a Toggle Env Texture script to utilities.
  • Some additional options in Utilities menu for per-light render workflows
  • Fixed per-light rendering to recognize enabled flag turned off for V-Ray lights so it doesn’t just render a blank image

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V-Ray Tuner 2.2 Posted for Download

While I wait for my ZBrush 4R2 update email and a render to finish, I figured I’d post this V-Ray Tuner 2.2 update with the recent additions. From the changelog:

  • Added a “Strip pasted__ from names” script to Utilities.
  • Updated GI dropdown menu so it accurately reflects current primary and secondary GI config.
  • Added a batch render file utility for all OSes. Writes a command line render to a shell script file on your desktop. Appends batches to that file for multiple jobs and this works on all OSes:

  • Also added “Append Sleep Command to Render File on Desktop” command so you can make a set of jobs in batch file on desktop and then write the sleep command at end so machine sleeps after batch job completes.
  • Created an “Per-Light Render Exposure Tweak” to utilities for per-light rendering round-trip workflow for adjusting exposure. Nuke workflow:

Photoshop workflow:

Have a good weekend and to all those who are enjoying ZBrush 4R2 before me, you’re not allowed to download V-Ray Tuner because I hate you.

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Coming in V-Ray Tuner 2.2: Exposure Round-Tripping for Fast Lighting Tweaks

Some of you have probably seen me using the per-light rendering features of V-Ray Tuner, since it gives me a lot of control over a complex light setup without having to re-render, similar to Maxwell Render’s multilight feature. But, seeing it in action, you probably also thought to yourself “that seems slow and impractical for animation.” Well, I’ve finally implemented something I’ve been meaning to do to enable you to roll your exposure settings back into Maya from Nuke tweaks so that you can do a draft per-light rendering, hone your light balance and then take those exposure settings from Nuke or Photoshop and then input them to change each light’s value in Maya. Then you render a single final image that has perfect lighting. If you work on product shot type things, this workflow will save a ton of time in the long run:

In Nuke, you set the Exposure values to Stops to emulate F-stops, then adjust your exposure to make the lighting exactly as you want it and then, once you have a balance of lighting that you like, go back to Maya, select your V-Ray light and then run the Per-Light Render Exposure Tweak script from the Utilities menu and enter each exposure value into the field with the respective light selected.

As I mentioned above, it also works in Photoshop. Pick your per-light images in the File/Scripts/Load Images Into Stack dialog and they will all load into a layered document:

Set each layer to Linear Dodge (Add) and add a clipped Exposure adjustment to each (by alt clicking between the layer and the Exposure adjustment):

And the workflow is much the same as in Nuke:

That has the exact same exposure settings as the Nuke exposure and looks just like our final flat render. The cool thing about the Photoshop method is that you can flatten your Exposure tweaks into each layer and do another round of exposure edits without having to render out more per-light passes. Obviously, you need to use 32-bit renders for this to work effectively since 8- and 16-bit ones aren’t floating point and degrade with exposure edits.

I just need to update it to work with meshes and V-Ray Light Materials. Thanks go out to Will Earl who helped explain the math of the exposure conversion to me.

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