Bring your Maya animations to Blender’s Cycles

Ever had to animate in other software, but wanted to go back to your comfy blender so you could render in our beloved Cycles?… or maybe you’re a Maya Animator that really doesn’t want to pay for an Arnold licence to get beautiful renders for their reel?… well here is the solution to all your problems.

Well It’s indeed quite easy.

So here we have this animation excercise I animated for an assignment during Pepe-School-Land I animated in Maya, In which I chose the Malcom Rig courtesy of Anim School, rendered in Blender with the Cycles render engine (this same process will also be very similar if not the same when EEVEE is ready for it.)

You like it?, hope you do, if so show the love on vimeo, comments, share, etc…

In any case, I’ll tell you what I’ve learned from this workflow.

To make it clear I used Maya 2017, and Blender 2.79 night build (by the time you get this 2.79 is probably gonna be the standard).

Create your Maya scene, choose your rig, have some fun!.

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After hours and hours of touching up your animation, you’ll probably get something better than this, but this example will do for now:

Okay, now to the things you need, there is two main ways to export your animation from Maya to Blender via Alembic, the first one, the easy one, is to export the entire scene to alembic, which many would recommend and for most simpler rigs it will suffice…

Though with more complex rigs like malcom I find it annoying because he has a lot of clothings and hair types hidden for you to be able to customize him a bit, and so by comparison, when I exported this entire scene the alembic file (.abc) would be 700mb wether i would only pick what i needed it would be just 30mb… so a bit of a difference, this also making the second one export much much faster.

So we’ll go to that… select only the mesh objects you need and the camera:

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You really don’t want to have to remember exactly what you exported if you need to export again, so go on Create > Sets > Create Quick Select Set…

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And hit “Add to shelf”… now you got yourself a button to select all of what you needed to export each time if you need to iterate in the exporting… ( i did it a bunch of times because after rendering you tend to need to come back and fix things ).

So now we’re ready to export.

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When you go to export alembic you get a huge window, for the most part you really don’t need to do much besides “Write UV Sets” if you want to use the UV’s that come with the character or that you have worked so hard to make in maya.

after this is set, you’ll get a “” file.

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yeah… I exported the ABC for this one more than 25 times, way more… but I stuck with the number 25 because I realised it was easier to replace that same file so I didn’t have to start all over in blender each time… a bit more on that later.

So now, start a new scene in blender, delete everything (most likely), and go to File, import Alembic (.abc)

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Go select your file…

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Voila it’s all in, camera, character animation and everything, yet blender can’t really recognise mental ray or Arnold materials via alembic but who cares, we’re going for cycles.

So good thing is that you really can just focus on setting up your illumination now, go select the cycles render engine up top

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And now you can ready to go and cycle away!, add a few lights, a few materials, and harness the whole power of cycles!

Do you want to know more about how I lit and finished this shot?, let me know and I’ll do a write up on that too!



Glen Keane – teaser

After Annecy, i’ve been hard at working through the end of pepe-school and then also had a small trip to italy and also attended mundos digitales, a fantastic conference held in a coruña, spain, of which i will talk about in a future post.

Because i want to transcript the whole interview and gather some images for it, its taking a few more days, but i just wanted to let you all know, that its gonna be here soon, so here is a little clip from it.

Tumblehead Animation Studios

Hey guys, I just wanted to feature this studio, I love their work they’re a part of Arsenalet an initiative by the animation workshop to incubate animation related studios.

I gladly had the chance to meet 2 of the guys running Tumblehead about 7 years ago when they where at school. You could already see the talent they had when they released Elk Hair Caddis, their final project film at the animation workshop.

During Annecy was able too also to meet Mette Tange, they’r incredibly talented animator.

Even though seem pretty small they really do fantastic work, this is one of the pieces that caught my eye a couple of years ago:

Lucky to us, they made a bunch of  little making of short videos, that I found very inspiring and that helped me a lot on getting ideas on how to approach cartoony rigging and animation for lollypopman.

check them out!

General Making of:

Tour de Rigging:

Tour de Animaation:

Tour de Rendering:

Tour de Compositing


Also don’t forget to check their Instagram to follow what they’re developing

ANNECY: I’m Back!

I’m back from a magnificent week, wanting to let you know that I’ll try to Split this experience into a couple of posts to come.

It was a really nice experience, probably the best so far for me.

I’m also very excited to tell you that I had the chance to Interview the wonderful Glen Keane, I’ll post that soon, so stay tuned.

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In the mean time, enjoy this magnificent intro short made by students from Gobelins school for the festival, there are more, but this is totally my favourite, you can find the others in their Vimeo or in Catsuka

Agent 327 – Feature Film Teaser.

–  For all of you who follow blender, this is probably old news, in any case, I couldn’t leave it behind  –

About 3 weeks ago the Teaser for the Feature Film of the agent 327 was released through vimeo, youtube and facebook, many big animation news sites have featured it already because of how good it is.

Agent 327 is a James Bond/Maxwell Smart-like Dutch secret agent who fights for “Righteousness and World Peace”;  Often partnered with Olga Lawina (an agent of the Swiss Secret Service), his adventures take him around Europe and the rest of the world as he battles numerous villains, both fictional and parodies of real people.

The whole idea of this teaser is to show the power of blender and the artistic quality that the team of the newly branded Blender Animation Studio can achieve and that way be able to find funding partners to produce a whole feature film based entirely in the power of Blender also aiding it’s further development.

As a member of the “Blender Cloud”  (platform that they have for showcasing materials, tutorials, assets, etc) it was really nice to be able to follow most of the process, from early storyboards, to final renders, and finish up seeing such a powerful and compelling result like this.

I not only encourage you to check out the teaser right here, but also to join the Blender Cloud platform and support further development of this great tool and also all the great films they’re making.

Tangled – “unnoficial commentary”

In my journey through the inter web, I was really really amazed by one of the very best findings I’ve ever made, a podcast episode about the Disney Animation’s masterpiece: Tangled.

This is a podcast that was hosted by Clay Kaytis a veteran animator that had a great Idea, to put it in his own words:

“Show 32 is a departure from the regular format. It’s an experiment. After Tangled was released, I heard so many people wondering why there wasn’t any audio commentary on the DVD or Blu-ray, so I got all the animators who were available to join me in watching Tangled to talk about the experience of making it. Here it is: the UNOFFICIAL Tangled Animator’s Commentary made by the biggest group of animators you will probably ever hear in one room.

Here’s the plan: queue up your copy of Tangled to frame 1 of the actual film (before the castle logo) and hit pause. When we count down 3-2-1-PLAY, you un-pause and hear us talk through the film. Like I said, it’s was an experiment and we may not always talk about what’s on screen, but it’s a great opportunity for you to hear many of the voices behind the film.”

So go grab your copy now, and get ready because here it is:

Hope it never gets taken down, if that happens, let me know, I’ll try to keep a copy around.

Dante’s Lunch

I know i’m a bit late to the party, but at least I’m here.:

Dante’s Lunch is a little promo short for Pixar’s Coco, that portrays a stray dog that found his Lunch and chases it around town, funky and beautifully animated this 2 minute pieces probably has nothing to do with the movie itself, but sort of introduces us to the setting and environments we’ll see in the movie, which is gorgeous.