Saturday, 24 January 2015

The Free PAIE Plugin for Maya - How It Works

Autodesk Maya is a powerful piece of software, free for students to download, and now the industry standard for 3D animation around the world.

But Maya does have its weaknesses, and one of them is the difficulty of copying and pasting your animation from one rig to another. Got some great animation you want to copy on to a new rig? Computer says no.

But now the free PAIE plugin by Jacob Weiner has made it all much, much easier.  Here is how it works.

What does PAIE do?
The Paie interface
PAIE (Python Attribute Import/Export) is a Maya based animation transfer tool which lets you save out animation or poses to a file and import them again onto same or similar characters/object.

PAIE allows you to transfer animation freely and share it between colleagues. PAIE will export animation as well as poses, and export from multiple namespaces.

Where can PAIE be found?
PAIE can be downloaded free from Creative Crash

How do you install PAIE?
To use the tool, place "" file in your Maya scripts folder. eg: "../[username]/maya/2016-x64/scripts

Now re-start Maya and run PAIE by typing:
"import paie;paie.GUI()"
in the python commandLine/scriptEditor

Use your middle mouse button to drag the PAIE command into your shelf editor to create a new shelf tab. Name the new shelf tab: paie.  Click on your PAIE tab and Maya should activate the screen interface above.

How can you use PAIE?
PAIE works by exporting data from your current selection. It will export data and also import by matching to the original names unless you import based on selection order.

Data is saved by writing a file in PAIE's own filetype called ".xad" where all the attribute values are stored.

The Interface consists of a top row with a switch between an import and an export mode, a refresh button to refresh the file list, an 'add tab' and 'remove tab' button which enables you to have several tabs pointing to each of their directories. This means you can have, for example, one tab pointing to face poses, another to hand poses, another to your local animation library and then maybe one pointing to a global library where you can share poses/animation with fellow artists.

Export Mode - exporting your animation
To export your animation, follow these steps:

  1. start by selecting the objects you want to export. 
  2. Click on the PAIE interface, and select export. 
  3. Make sure that you have set to your project correctly. Check the directory path to make sure you are saving your PAIE export to your scenes folder
  4. Under filename, name your file. 
  5. Under Export Type, select either animation or pose. 
  6. Either set your active timeline according to what animation you would like to export or uncheck 'timeline only' to export all animation on objects.

Note that all namespaces within the selection will be exported and only unique object-naming is allowed.

Import Mode - importing your animation
Importing a file works on your current selection as well imports either to your current frame or at the animations original frame position depending on the 'Apply at Origin' checkbox.

To import your animation, follow these steps:

  1. Select the file you want to import from, 
  2. Select the namespace you want to use (Note: You can only import from 1 namespace and onto 1 namespace at a time)

When you import a file PAIE will by default match your import data names to your current selection and only add animation to objects that have the same name as the source (namespaces excluded).

This enables you to easily import data form one rig to another rig having two different namespaces but the same naming. You can also choose to import your data according to selection order by checking the 'select order' check box. This will make PAIE consider the order in which you selected the initial objects when exporting and apply data to your current selection in the same way, disregarding naming.

Development and License - Who created PAIE?
PAIE was developed for Radar Film & Disco worms Aps and is published as open source under the LGPL.

Are there any known bugs?
Yes! - When using Animation Layers, there's an unresolved issue where rotation values don't come through.

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. For more information on finding work and surviving in the animation and visual effects business, read our post on how to find a job in the animation industry, and check out our post about what not to do at a job interview. Also see our post on starting your own small animation business, learn how to create an invoice, and see how we are helping our students find work through our film co-operative Nano Films.  Download the free Escape Studios Careers in VFX Handbook. Take a look at how can help you find a job, and read our piece about how to survive as a freelance animator. Also, find out what Cinesite look for in a student's demo reel, and read our post on setting up your own animation business. Also see our post about freelancers and taxes


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