360 ◾ 3D Animation for the Raw Beginner Using Maya
THE INTER-APP WORKFLOW DILEMMA
ere are a small set of somewhat widely used data format standards. COLLADA, which
stands for Collaborative Design Activity (and is an XML-based exchange format), and
FBX, a proprietary format owned by Autodesk, provide some generic interoperability.
Both of these standards focus on the goal of moving entire models or scenes, complete
with geometry, materials, and animation. But using these formats in a workow is tricky
at best; oen it is highly unpredictable. An older format that is good for moving polygon
wireframes around is OBJ; because of its low level nature, it tends to work quite well, and
so it is widely used.
Plug-Ins That Work Pretty Well
We are going to assume here that Maya is the “home” application, the place where the ani-
mator is putting together all the pieces of a scene. Outside applications will be used either
as a source of input to Maya, or only used in the later stages of the animation process,
notably for rendering. ere are a handful of plug-ins that I have found to be very useful
and reasonably stable.
ere are two places where plug-ins generally get installed in the Maya interface. Most
of them appear as new tabs on the Shelf. In Figure14.1, we see several of these plug-in tabs.
We’ll take a quick look at a few of them. ere is also a plug-in in Figure 14.1 that installs
directly into the Main Menu; it is called Vue xStream and we’ll look at it, too.
Regardless of how they appear in the Maya interface, you usually have to go to the Maya
plug-ins window and activate them (go to Window, select Settings/Preferences, and then
Plug-in Manager); they generally do not activate by default.
Specialized Modeling: Bipeds
One of the most common reasons for using a Maya plug-in is to leverage the specialized
modeling capabilities of other applications. If what you want is a complete biped built
reasonably quickly, Poser is an application you might consider. Figure14.2 is a composite
image showing the Maya interface on the right and part of the Poser interface on the le.
You can import a Poser model into Maya, and then whenever you want, you can go back
FIGURE 14.1 Plug-ins in tabs.