Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Troubleshooting Shelf Tabs in Autodesk Maya

Autodesk Maya has many useful tools, some of which don't always work the way you want them to.  One super-useful tool is the Shelf Editor, which allows animators to select parts of an animation rig quickly and efficiently.

But a common problem occurs when you import an animation rig into a new shot, and all your carefully created Shelf Tabs don't work anymore.

So, what is the solution to this annoying problem?

What is the problem with the Shelf Editor in Maya?

When you import a animation rig into your shot, Maya will change the name of the rig if there is a pre-existing rig of the same name in the shot, the reason being that Maya cannot tolerate two objects of the same name. This means the shelf tabs for the second rig will no longer work - because the names have changed. The only solution to this is to rebuild the shelf tabs.

Or is it? Animation Apprentice student Phil Loeffler has identified a better solution. Here's how it works.

  1. When you create shelf tabs or selection sets it is a good idea to create them on in the original Rig scene you first downloaded.
  2. When you import a rig into a scene there is a setting you need to change before doing so. Under File > Import > Import options Box - you will see 3 options under the namespace options in the Import options window
  3. Check the third option 'Merge into selected namespace and rename incoming objects that match" - and click import.
  4. This allows you to import objects and rigs without changing the name within its hierarchy, meaning that the tabs that you had created for the rig will find the namespace and work on the imported rig. The cool thing is, when you import a new rig from the same file, duplicate objects are incrementally suffixed with a number. For the new objects you will have to create new shelf and selection sets.

Thanks to Phil Loeffler for contributing this post!


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