As part of the previz team in UTS ALA one of my responsibilities was to organize and clean up the set environment. Unfortunately at the beginning of the project, assets were just imported randomly without following any naming conventions and placed haphazardly across the environment. The workflow that was adapted was:
1. Fixing the asset files
- Centre pivot then move to the bottom of object. (hold D to move pivot) (hold C to snap to bottom edge using the middle mouse click) so that when populating scene later on it can snap to the ground plane.
- Follow a naming convention in the outliner: eg. “GEO_hollowlog01_001”
- Freeze transformations
- Delete history! (many assets that had been made had a crazy amount of history :/ )
- When possible, make sure its combined
Also in the settings (running man icon with cog wheel) check:
- Linear is set to meters
- time is set to 24fps
under timeslider tab
- update view=AllFinish by saving the asset in the working folder with the version name eg. hollowlog01_v008 and when done in the publish folder with the simple name eg. hollowlog01.ma
2. Clean the base ground geometry
The environment is an outside forest glade and there are multiple ground planes, cliff faces and rocks. This was cleaned to get rid of all the unnecessary prefix information and rather than having many groups within groups, simplify to be a single group. As well as simplifying the actual mesh geometry that was a mess on its own… giving me a headache thinking of all the ngons and inverted faces that were in the cliffs but that is a problem with modelling not to do with scene population.
To fix the outline there were two things that had to be done:
- Windows>General Editors> Namespace Editor. Once in here it is simplified by selecting then Delete then Merge with Root (this will fix anything named by the file in the namespace that is separated by a “:” )
- For prefixes separated with a “_” another method was used. Modify>Search and replace names. Once here then the unnecessary prefix is typed (make sure its spelt properly!) then type what you want to replace anything containing that with.
Both of these methods save a lot of time in cleaning up the outliner since you don’t have to click one by one and change each name you just do them all at once.
3. Populating Scene
Referencing! before today I was not aware that Maya had a referencing system and I am so happy to have learned about it. So as the previz environment progresses the trees that were cylinders and spheres changed to be a bit more organically shaped but it is a pain to reimport every element that keep on changing. With referencing Maya will basically do it for you like referencing Illustrator documents in Indesign.
- File>Reference Editor
- To add a reference click on this icon > select your asset from the published folder (this is the master version of that asset) and boom it is referenced. If you change the original asset then all you have to do in the reference editor is click on your reference and click the “Reload” button. The changes made will update
- EXTRA: the workflow I was told to do if I wanted to duplicate that referenced asset was to duplicate reference in the reference editor then move it to the desired position but this seemed to clog up the reference editor unnecessarily and was too long. So as a solution I tried a different workflow which is once you have the referenced asset in your scene, select it> Edit> Duplicate Special [option box]. Change geometry type to Instance and apply. This way there is one referenced item and all the duplicates are instances of it meaning that if the original parent is changed all the instance children will also be modified and since the parent is referenced to the asset file, if a change in the actual asset is made (eg a new branch on the tree) all the children will update with it. 🙂
- Then populate the scene to your hearts content knowing that if a model is updated by one of the modelers it can be updated in the master file fast and effectively
After having to work through this whole process one can see why its beneficial at the start of the project to set the workflow rather than do it later midway. Even if people want to jump straight into modelling, taking time to set this properly at the beginning will save a lot of time in the future.