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.

2017-07-17 00_34_22-alembic.png

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!



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.

Pose Breakdowner – Improvement

Remember one of my first posts abou the Pose Breakdowner, today I’m exited to announce that it has great new features!

Thanks to Joshua Leung, one of the core developers of blender mostly focused on everything related to development for the animation side it, in a couple of days improved the Pose Breakdowner, a whole lot!

So let’s talk about these features.

  1. You can now just breakdown one single transform / property set.2017-03-12 11_03_47-Blender_ [K__Dropbox_PSL_Entregas_Animacion_Tarea_032 - saludo_Saludo_007.blend]

So we have GRS (Grab, Rotate, Scale) independently now if you wish to break them down, let’s say you’re making a breakdown of a hand between two poses and you only want to breakdown the rotation, there ya go hit R and now you’re only touching rotations.

And also, you have B and C, B for interpolating the Bendy Bone’s properties, and C for whatever custom properties are in that Bone.

Pretty great Huh?.-

2.You can also constrain those transforms to one single axis.2017-03-12 11_09_17-Blender_ [K__Dropbox_PSL_Entregas_Animacion_Tarea_032 - saludo_Saludo_007.blend]

Not much more to say around this, but the great thing is you can go all the way from breaking down a full pose to just one axis of one transform of one joint, which in turn aids animators in faster posing

For now to get to use these features you have to download a Daily build from: or wait for blender 2.79

You can follow the amazingly talented Joshua Leung on twitter and catch up with his latest developments.


This animation I made for PSL was made with the aid of the new and improved Pose Breakdowner, also many of my classmates are using it already!

Happy pose breakdowning!


The business of animation is big business, not in the states, but all around the world, though most european movies are quite smaller on budget than the ones from the US, they have their own distinctive mark, it’s not better, nor worse, it’s just different and gives it it’s own flavour.

Cartoon Movie is happening right now in Bortdeaux, France showcasing a bunch of different feature films in different stages of production, If you want to find financing, or coproduction, etc this is one of the most important places to go in europe.

An other reason to mention this, is that the guys from MAD Entertainment (Italy) who presented some of their work and contribution to Blender last year at the Blender Conference where interviewed by Cartoon Brew, one of the most important animation blogs (probably the most important one), so here it is the trailer for their movie Gatta Cenerentola

And here the full interview from Cartoon Brew

If you’re interested in the feature film animation business, I would recommend you to go to twitter and follow the hashtag #CartoonMovie to see what’s happening minute by minute.

Mr. Carton – Realtime Rendered TV show.

French Television recently published on their website this fantastic tv show called Mr. Carton, a tv show not only special by the fun beautiful pieces of animation but also because it’s the first aired tv show rendered realtime in Unity.

With a combination of 3D studio and Blender the artists created assets and then put it all together in Unity, also camera, lighting and post effects were made realtime in Unity


More and more is available for artists to create in a more independent way, with pipelines like this producing an episode could be fairly easy and you can do productions that take less than a week on making a whole episode.

And to be honest I love the aesthetic level that they pushed.

So go and watch the first episode here: