USD workflow Maya anim to Houdini

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We do our rigging and animation in maya, export that anim as a selfcontained usd file and reference into solaris.
Now, had we done the anim in houdini, we would be using a manifest and a layerbreak before the anim publish, and sublayering the anim into the correct place.

Since Maya is... well... maya. There doesnt seem to be any way to use a usd manifest file and output your anim as part of that structure. Or am I missing something?
Edited by AndreasWeidman - July 20, 2021 11:26:46
Andreas Weidman
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hi, what file format is the anim coming out of maya? alembic?
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Maybe there's a better 3rd party usd plugin for maya that would facilitate that.
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USD. So what we do today is that we just reference that in. But that doesnt really jive with the optimal workflow we can use within houdini.

The optimal way would have been (simplified version):
- manifest.usd with the structure and all asset names.
- Some_model_asset.usd exported (name matching the manifest)
- These and other layers are linked in scene.usd
- Anim brings in scene.usd which automatically has the model. Rigs it. Animates it. Publish usd
- Light brings in scene.usd which now has the anim on the model (anim.usd + model.usd + manifest.usd).

But since maya doesnt seem to have a way of placeing things into a usd structure unless exporting it first, you would not be able to rig the model and keep it in the same structure. Or importing the model and placeing it in the structure even.

In other words. Maya seem only to be able to 1. import a usd structure and move/change things already there. But not add custom geo or anything to it. 2. Only way to export non-usd stuff to usd is to export the full non-usd stuff rather than just the changes/overrides that you actually want.

Drives me nuts. Just counting the days until we can go full on with kinefx
Andreas Weidman
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You don't have to export the whole scene geometry in animation.
When you bring in the scene.usd you can rig and animate a single asset and publish only this asset as anim.usd. In a post process you update the scene.usd to add the anim.usd as a sublayer. The anim.usd contains only a single animated asset, but when lighting imports the scene.usd it will have the whole scene with all the other static assets.
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