Damn it, Maya. Just… Damn it.

Maya Hates Me

Maya Hates Me: mental ray Doesn’t Load

The Problem:

We’ve all been there.  It’s annoying as all hell, but about a third of the time, Maya just won’t load the mental ray plugin, no matter what checkboxes you click in the plugin manager.  And since the standard Maya renderer is about as effective as a fart in the wind, mental ray really ought to be the default renderer anyways.

The Solution:

So far as I can tell, there really isn’t one. Sometimes Maya just decides it doesn’t like to load your plugins.

The Workaround:

The good news is that plugins are still handled within the framework of MEL, which means that it’s very easy to put together a simple script to load mental ray when you need it.  Just type the following code (and watch the capitalization) into the Command Line in maya:

loadPlugin Mayatomr;

Highlight the text, and middle mouse drag it to an empty spot on a shelf.  Hey-presto, you’ve got a one-click solution for loading mental ray whenever you need to.  No more hunting down the plugin manager and checking stupid boxes that Maya ignores anyways.

-Ed

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Maya and mental ray Hate Me: The Linear Workflow

Today, we’re going to dive into the murky waters of the linear rendering workflow in Maya and mental ray.  Hold on to your hats, because it’s going to be a bumpy ride.  Much, much more below the fold.

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Maya Hates Me: The Best Way to Learn MEL… maybe.

MEL, Maya Embedded Language, is the backbone of the Maya system.  In fact, almost all of what we call “Maya” (the interface, the menus, the buttons and gizmos)  is generated by MEL.  The actual application of Maya is essentially just a MEL interpreter.  You could completely rewrite the Maya interface using MEL.  Everything you model, animate, or configure in Maya, no matter how complicated, could potentially be replicated through a MEL script.  This makes MEL quite possibly the most powerful tool in the toolbox of a dedicated Maya artist.  You can automate repetitive tasks, and procedurally generate models and animations that would otherwise take hours or days to achieve — if not be impossible to do so at all.  As I continue to learn MEL, I’ll be posting some tips, tricks, annoyances, and the like.  Might even throw in my scripts as a philanthropic gesture.

So, the question is… what is the best way to go about learning this stuff?  Honestly, I don’t know.  But if you’re keen on teaching yourself, here’s some advice.

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ATEC Hates Me: I don't have the right Maya version

PROBLEM: I Don’t Have the Right Version of Maya

At some point, the smart folks at Autodesk decided it would be a good idea not to make any of their software backwards compatible. However, if you’re willing to accept the risk of some data corruption, you can work around this limitation.

Solution 1:

Make sure to delete all history on your scene in the newer version, then open the older Maya. In the File menu, click on the check box next to “open”. Then, check “ignore version”. This will allow you to open many older files without too much data loss.
If this doesn’t work, try importing the scene using File – Import.

Solution 2:

If you’re working on only a few models, you can export them as OBJs by loading the “obj exporter” plugin. To do this, go to Window – Settings and Preferences – plugin manager. Now, when you go to file – export you will have the option to save as an obj file. You can also combine all the geometry in your scene, then export it all as one obj. This technique has gotten me out of some very tricky situations.
Then, you can export your shaders from the Hypershade and import them later. This is a tedious workaround, but it works most of the time.

Solution 3:

If you save your file out as an MA instead of an MB, it will create an editable text document defining your scene. This also includes metadata that contains the version of Maya it was created in. Just hit Ctrl-F and search for 2009, 2008, 8.5, or whatever, and change the number to the version you want. Maya WILL try to load the file if you do this properly, but if it can’t handle the data, it will crash.


Mental Ray Hates Me: The Blank Render Panel

Sometimes, if you move between computers or between versions of Maya, you might get this when you go to your render options:

Seriously.  WTF.

Seriously. WTF.

Absolutely nothing.  This is caused by the new panel layout for Mental Ray in 2009.  Whenever you move to another version, Maya freaks out because it can’t find the panels.

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Maya Hates Me: Mental Ray Runs out of Memory

I am by no means an expert, but I hope this helps.  If anyone DOES happen to be an expert, please let me know where I’m wrong, and please offer whatever advice you have.

If you’ve been using Mental Ray for any length of time, you’ll probably be familiar with this message: “Got 8 satellite CPUs… Rendering with Mental Ray… Mental Ray is out of memory… Mental Ray is out of memory… Cannot allocate 223000 bytes… Go eat bleach and die, because Mental Ray hates you”

Well, maybe not the bit about bleach.  But the Mental Ray Memory Grinder is a true annoyance.  The problem is flushing.  No, really, that’s the term that programmers use, and the analogy is pretty apt.  The way that Mental Ray is set up by default is like having a toilet that doesn’t flush.  The poo (in this case your scene and textures (no offense)) just keeps piling up until the smell can kill household pets.  Then Mental Ray commits seppuku and you’re left with a cryptic message and an excuse for Todd Fechter that just won’t fly.  Keep reading to find out how to make the damned thing work.

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Maya Hates Me: Your tool is tiny / your tool is huge

Skipping for the moment the inevitable “that’s what she said” joke, this can be a pretty annoying problem if you don’t know how to fix it.  Sometimes, your tool manipulator (that’s what it’s called.  seriously, I can’t make this stuff up) is way too big or way too small:

impress the females with your large tool

impress the females with your large tool

Aww, how cute.

Aww, how cute.

SOLUTION:  Quit leaning on the number pad
The default hotkey for changing the size of the tool manipulator is the plus and minus keys on the number pad.  If they don’t work, try looking up IncreaseManipulatorSize and DecreaseManipulatorSize in the hotkey editor.   … that’s what she said.


Maya Hates Me: The View Cube

Gather round, children!  I thought I’d start this blog off with the solution to a pretty common, but pretty annoying problem many of you might have encountered.

PROBLEM: Where the hell is that navigation thingy in the corner?

The little navigation thingy in the corner of the screen is called the “viewcube”.  In case you’ve never used it, you can click on the six faces and eight corners of the cube to see your project from different preset angles.  I don’t use it much, but some people do.

Occasionally, the view cube will up and disappear, for no particular reason.

SOLUTION: To get the view cube back, you can go to  the Preferences menu under ViewCube in 2009 and 2008.   Just click the box marked “show the ViewCube”.

In Maya 8.5, this widget is known as the “view compass” and can be found under “view – camera settings – view compass” in the panel menu. ( No, not the main menu bar, the one inside each view panel. )

I’ll post pictures as soon as I figure out how to do it with wordpress.  Oh, and if anyone wants a tutorial or help on anything, just let me know, and I’ll make a post about it if I can.

More to come!

Check out my website if you’re bored! 

http://www.whetstonevfx.com