Monday, 4 April 2016

How To Make a Playblast in Maya

Autodesk Maya
Sooner or later every student of animation needs to know how to use the playblast tool in Maya. A playblast is a way of playing back your animation so you can see it play back in real-time. 

But why not just press play in the timeline? Doesn't that do the same thing? Unfortunately, we rarely get real-time playback of our animation in the Maya timeline, especially when we are using complex production rigs. So, to see how our animation is working (or not) we really need to know how to use the Playblast tool.

Here is how it works.

What is the playblast tool for?
Mostly, you don’t get real-time playblack when you press play in the Maya timeline. Why? Because the rigs we use are often heavy and complex. Not so much the training rigs we use in the beginning, but this is especially true of production rigs, which tend to be very heavily engineered, full of complex features which slow them down.

The solution - playblast it
So what we do is use the playblast tool, which creates - in effect - a desktop render of your work. “Rendering” is the process of turning 3D objects into a flat 2D image – in this case a movie file.

How to make a playblast
To make a playblast, select your camera view – ideally you will have created a shot camera for your renders by now.  When we animate a scene, we almost always (except in the Games industry) animate to camera. That is to say, we decide early on what the audience will see, and create a camera for this view.

In your viewport, under the show tab, turn off everything apart from polygons – so we can see only the polygon geometry in view. 

Under the display menu, turn on current frame so that you can count the frames off as you play back your video. Hit the space bar so that your viewport is nice and big. Playblast will render in more detail if the window being rendered from is nice and big to start with.

Playblast options
Now go to Window/playblast. In your playblast options, turn on ornaments. Under format, select avi or qt (Quick Time). It’s best to use QuickTime for playback because this will allow you to play your playblast back one frame at a time. QuickTime allows you to “step through” your animation frame by frame.

Under Encoding, select png. Under Display, select "from window". This tells Maya to render the window that you last selected. Quality: set to 70. Click on “save to file” – this will save a copy in your movies folder in Maya. 

Opening a playblast
If Playblast doesn't open a playlist video automatically, you will have to navigate to your movies folder in your Maya project (for this to work, you must have set your project correctly, else Maya will not know where to put the movie file). Find your Playblast movie file, right mouse click on it and open it up with QuickTime.

Now you can see your animation play back in real time, and make adjustments to the timing and spacing of your work.

To find out more about Animation Apprentice, click here for a link to Frequently Asked Questions. To sign up for our next classroom at Animation Apprentice, follow this link.

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