ISFMM – Houdini expressions, Rendering from Maya (Arnold)


  • Following this tutorial on growth in Houdini and need to smooth certain points
    • Group node no longer has “Filter Expression” — need to enter in Point Wrangle node
      • ex/ i@group_GroupName = (@Cd.r > 0.2);
  • Can only export alembic in Houdini with Indie/FX/Core
  • More complex tutorial using VEX (code) to create a more fungal growth, but is fairly straightforward


  • .tiff files were entirely transparent
    • Turns out any object with transparency will be rendered as an alpha if you render as a .tiff (and all of my objects had some level of transparency so that’s why the whole thing was blank)
      • Skip Alpha in Render Settings > [✓] Skip Alpha
  • For foggy lights:
    • Render Settings > Arnold Renderer > Environment > aiAtmosphereVolume
      • This makes all the lights foggy, but in the Attribute Editor > Visibility, turning the Volume slider to 0.000 will get rid of fog for the individual light

Thesis 04.06.21 – Animation, Rendering, Compositing

  • Started color correction, DOF, and beauty in Nuke
    • Most fun so far
    • Learned how to use Cryptomatte
  • Still animating and rendering
    • Walk cycles are the worst
    • The ground for some reason is rendering at a slightly lower position than where it is in Maya so certain scenes were challenging to animate because even though they looked alright in Maya, the renders looked like the characters were floating
    • nCloth needs around 100 frames to settle

Thesis 02.25.21 – More Modeling & Texturing, Rig Fixing, Animation Roughs (60%)


  • Forgot to model some assets such as the chair and flower so those were added
    • Tried Arnold mesh light to make the flower petals glow — need to play with not only the light settings but also the emission and transparency of the object’s texture so it looks like it’s glowing because it seems like the mesh light is just a light source in the shape of the object
  • Discovered a rotation error in cat rig
    • Ended up rebuilding the spine and tail using a ribbon method (old spine was from a previous class tutorial and tail used clusters)
  • Rough animation and timing
  • Made some simple travel posters for the world

Thesis 02.02.21 – Rigging, Staging, Hand-drawn Animation


Handheld camera technique in Maya

  • Group camera to itself — so you can apply animations safely
  • Hypershade > 3D Textures > Solid Fractal (Volume Noise is ok (Time is unlimited)) > check Animated > animate Time by setting keyframes at 1 and around 300 (I found that allowing more time yields for less jarring/rigid movements)
  • Make sure the animation curve is linear (go to Graph Editor to change the tangents)
  • Connection editor solidFractal (outAlpha) from->to camera_GRP (translateXYZ and rotateXYZ)
  • Lower Amplitude, Ripples, and Depth to get desired result

General animation

  • Step tangent if you want something to switch on/off (instead of keying multiple times)

Thesis 01.12.21 – Texturing (Robot), Rigging

  • Textured robot — might have to go back and add more scruff and scratches for an older, beaten-up look
  • Robot rig — tried to follow some ribbon rig tutorials for the arms so the middle parts could also bend but they only half work so I’m trying to troubleshoot this so it completely works
    • Spine and the important parts of the arm+fingers seem to work alright
    • Double transform in the arm ribbons+follicles
  • Cat rig — followed some pretty handy tutorials on how to rig a quadruped but the tutorials stopped after the base driver skeleton and the IKs for the hind legs, so I kind of had to apply what I learned and try to do the front legs myself
    • Also ended up learning about clusters for the tail
    • Tried to add clusters for the whiskers but that didn’t work with the head CTRL so I think I might have to leave the whiskers to the soft body dynamics
    • Have not painted weights yet, but the setup seems like it should work?
    • Root CTRL almost works entirely except for the spine — it looks like a double transform?

Thesis 12.06.20 – Modeling, Texturing (Interior)

  • Learned how to properly UV map objects — takes time but it’s very rewarding
  • Exported objects as FBX files to import into Substance Painter for more detailed texturing, then exported texture maps to plug into the Maya texture
    • Dragging a 1×1 PNG into the Alpha tab allows that image to be used as a decal/sticker
  • Used layeredTexture node combining ramp color and a file of a pre-existing rug to make the rug look like it has more stitches and variating colors to simulate a more knit look
  • Using a black and white image for a texture in the Geometry > Opacity (with Thin Walled checked) can make cutouts from the mesh
    • Make sure Renderer > Viewport 2.0 > Transparency Algorithm is set to Alpha Cut

Thesis 12.02.20 – Modeling (character)

Cat character modeled and UV mapped in Maya, handpainted in Substance Painter.

Changes made from v.1 to v.2:

  • Completely reworked pelvis area and upper thigh for a better understanding of how the robot moves
  • Overall body shape is less curvy for a more androgynous look
  • Remodeled hand to look less like a human hand and more like a robot hand
  • Added clothing
    • nCloth test has been applied to the cape/poncho

Next steps:

  • Separate limbs and add separate geometry for the joints
  • Add some kind of geometry around the eye area to aid with emoting (i.e. eyebrows)