Maya & Scene Management

While Maya gets more bells and whistles with every release it is still pretty useless in a production if there is no one, caring about all the data management. The problem is, if scene/cache imports, exports and versioning is done manually we tend to produce a big ugly mess. Especially if we are in a hurry. Nobody wants to spend time typing in data, prepare scenes, or even worse, clean scenes up. We just want to grab the latest version of whatever we need and get going. I always tried to remember this when designing stPipelineTools. This is why 90% of the UI elements are just buttons. And I'm relatively proud of that. You just choose a prop, material, set, shot, camera or a light and push a few buttons. Everything else is handled automatically.


Exploring LEGO Material Part I

LEGO is – without a doubt – the best toy in the world. The problem is: sitting on the floor the whole day hurts, big time! Luckily, with all the modern 3D tools and thanks to ldraw and mecabricks I’m still able to play with it digitally. Up to now, I’ve made two brickfilms already. A stop motion one and a CG one. At the time of making those movies, I was pretty proud. From today’s perspective, of course, they both look visually and technically not thaaat great anymore. This is why I decided it’s time to take it to the next level. The major problem with today’s LEGO CG imagery is the shading. Most of the time the bricks look like perfect geometry with a simple reflective shader applied to it.

The problem is: a real LEGO brick material is fairly complex and the geometry has lots of tiny imperfections. This is why I decided to study LEGO bricks and the main goal of this blog post is, trying to really understand the LEGO material. With this newly gained knowledge, I’m hopefully able to create great looking shaders, matching the real life thing as close as possible.

Continue reading

Ford Thunderbird & The Painted Ladies



Finally, I found some time to create a scene inspired by Steiner St with the beautiful Painted Ladies. I love the Thunderbird and Victorian Architecture, and I thought this would work together nicely.

This is my first Redshift rendering. “Ludicrously fast production quality rendering” – so they say. And they are not exaggerating. Even with my ancient GTX 670 I can iterate pretty fast and final frame speed is great. :)

Probably more to come.

Wacom tablet and Photoshop CC pressure sensitivity

With Photoshop CC 2014 Adobe introduced the stupidest “feature” Adobe has ever introduced. (And that’s saying something!)

From now on Photoshop uses Microsoft’s Windows Ink API, which simply doesn’t work. There are odd circles appearing around your cursor, right click doesn’t work reliable and pressing alt (to pick a color for example) takes ages to temporary switch the tool. Luckily it is possible to disable this Windows Ink thing.

Continue reading


modify normal map intensity in maya

I have never been a big fan of normal maps. It’s difficult to manipulate them, it’s hard to guess how they might influence your shading and – probably the worst part – it’s not possible to modify their strength in maya. This is why I avoided them most of the time in favour of bump maps even though normal maps can look a lot better.

Luckily, I found this thread where NextDesign posted a solution to enable normal map strength editing right inside of maya. It’s a bit tricky and it would be quite a pain, to wire everything together, everytime you want to use a normal map. This is why I decided to write a script for that. You just need to select your file node, run the script and you are ready to go. Now you can use the bump depth slider on your bump2d node to modify your normal map contribution – just as with your old school bump map. Isn’t that awesome?

Continue reading


Das ist kein Hexenwerk

There it is. Our short film “Das ist kein Hexenwerk”. Word for word translated it means: “that is no witchcraft”, but actually it’s a german saying with the same meaning as “It’s not rocket science”. This is supposed to be funny (not really after I had to explain it…) because in fact this short is about a witch… never mind, let’s move on.

Willa the witch wants to pass her final exam: she has to brew an invisibility potion. The examiner, a dead bored frog doesn’t like the clumsy, spontaneous witch and really hopes that she fails to pass.

Continue reading


Beautiful Grain


There are different types of grain nodes in nuke, but the problem is, while they may accuratly emulate specific types of filmgrain, they make your image – to put it mildly – really ugly.

This is why I decided to create a “beautiful” grain gizmo. The key thing in my opinion is, that noise shouldn’t modify chroma, but luminance. I exposed knobs to control intensity and grain size (just a blur essentially). There is also a threshold to keep bright areas clean and another to produce extra noise in dark areas. No voodoo involved, but maybe you find it useful anyway.

Download beautiful grain gizmo

Happy noising!


How to nCloth

A few months ago, I took a closer look at maya’s nucleus.  I learned a lot and I thought it would be a good idea to write everything down. This is not intended to be a step by step tutorial and I’m not going to discuss every single parameter. I just wanted to throw together all the “wow, now I got it!” moments and I hope that this is maybe a good starting point, if you are new to maya’s nucleus (or ncloth in particular).


Continue reading