Monday, 4 August 2014

How to use the free Parent Master plugin for Maya

The Parentmaster - a free Maya plugin
Autodesk Maya is free to students, and a result of this it has a huge user base around the world. Many Maya users have sought to improve the software, developing free plugins that can (as the name suggests) be plugged in to your free copy of Maya, adding to its usability and helping to solve some of the trickier problems associated with digital animation.

The ParentMaster is a plugin created by Paolo Dominici which greatly simplifies the business of attaching and un-attaching objects in Maya. Say you want to animate a character picking up a ball and then dropping it. This free tool will make your life much, much easier.

What is it for?
The free Parentmaster plugin is a way to attach and un-attach objects in Maya.

What do you need to do?
By following this tutorial you should be able to:
  1. Import a free plugin into Maya – the ParentMaster - and install it successfully.
  2. Learn how the Parent Master works by attaching and un-attaching objects in Maya using the free ParentMaster factory Maya file
  3. Use the ParentMaster to animate a character picking up a ball and then dropping it.

PART 1 – Import and install the plugin

a) Import the plugin
You can find the free plugin here: http://www.creativecrash.com/maya/script/zv-parent-master
You will need to register with Creative Crash and then log in.

b) Installation
  1. Import the ParentMaster plugin and open it up.
  2. Find the Read me document inside and follow it carefully
  3. Place "ZvParentMaster.py" in your scripts folder in Maya. Navigate through documents to find your Maya folder. It should look something like this: 
    1. Win XP: "C:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME\My Documents\maya\scripts"
    2.  Win Vista/Win 7: "C:\Users\USERNAME\Documents\maya\scripts"
    3. Mac:"/Users/USERNAME/Library/Preferences/Autodesk/maya/scripts
  4. Place the "zv" folder in the same folder (If that doesn’t work, try placing it in the icons folder instead)
  5. In Maya, open up the Script Editor and go to the Python tab, copy and paste these two rows: 
import ZvParentMaster
ZvParentMaster.ZvParentMaster()

Once you have done that, follow these steps:
  1. Highlight the text in the Python tab and click on "Save Script to Shelf...", specify a name for the shelf (eg PM) and click "OK".
  2. You should now see a tab on your shelf labeled PM. Click on it, and this symbol should appear in your view port:
  3. If you have any problems with installation, go through the process again.
To see Paolo Dominici demonstrate how it works, check out the demo below:

If you want to install it on a Mac, try this video below:



PART 2 – animate the ParentMaster factory.
Your goal is to complete the exercise so that the parcel moves through the factory, attaching and un-attaching as it goes.

  1. Open up the Maya scene file that comes with the ParentMaster – it looks like a little factory. Create a project, and set to it.
  2. At the frame where you want to attach the parcel to the blue pusher, select the box, select the pusher, and click on the attach button
  3. At the frame where you want to un-attach the parcel from the blue pusher, select the box, select the pusher, and click on the detach button.
  4. Keep repeating the process until the parcel box moves through the factory.

Technical Notes

How to edit Parent Master constraints and adjust the timing in the Graph Editor:
  1. Go to the Parent Master menu bar and select the 5th icon down labeled “Select constraints and snap groups”, and click on it
  2. This will show your ParentMaster key frames in the Graph Editor
  3. Adjust the timing of the key frames just like you would any keyframes in Maya

PART 3 – Use the Parent Master to animate a character picking up and ball and dropping it.

  1. Import the character rig Morpheus. Google “Morpheus rig maya” to find and download the rig.
  2. Import a table (find one at www.turbosquid) into your shot
  3. Create a ball. Create/polygon primitives/sphere
  4. Set Morpheus’s hands to IK.
  5. Under Preferences, set your animation to stepped curves
  6. On stepped curves, animate Morpheus picking up the ball and dropping it, using the Parent Master.
Problems

Note that the Parent Master does not work with referenced files. Or, rather, it can be made to work - but it is difficult.

---Alex

For more tips and tricks in Maya and other free tutorials, follow this linkTo see the books we recommend for the study of animation and visual effects, click here.  For more on the experience of studying at Bucks New University, come and visit us at one of our Open Days,  take a virtual tour of one of our animation studios, check out what our students think of our course, and see why we're ranked in the top 12 creative universities in the UK. Find out why we're giving free laptops to all our students, and why we give all our students free access to videos at Lynda.com. Also, see what financial assistance might be available to you. Learn which is better for animation, a PC or a Mac? Get hold of a copy of a map so you can find your way around campus, and learn about motion capture at Bucks.


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