Maya Motion Trails Rock

Ok animators, how many of you have drawn on your screen with a dry erase marker?… Yes, it may sound weird to the normals out there, but it’s a pretty common and useful practice for seeing the motion curves of parts of a body, etc in an animation.

…And then I found out about “motion trails”. I think the feature’s actually been around for a while, but, of course, as Maya has about 6 billion features, it’s easy to overlook many of them, and judging from asking around, not enough animators know about this.

All you do is click on a part of the rig you want to track, such as a foot or hand controller, then click “create motion trail” from the “animate” menu. BOOM. Now you have a motion trail that exists in 3d space, updates every time you make a change, and doesn’t leave any marks on your screen.

A big thanks to Sue Campbell for that tidbit. 🙂

Healthy Resolutions

For the past decade, I have been following my father’s lead by not drinking alcohol in January. The idea is never to give it up entirely, but to simply withhold for a month as a “check-in” with one’s self-control. Over the years, I have inspired some folks to join in on no-booze January in addition to making additional rules for myself, such as Meatless March.

It turns out that Buster Benson has had the same yearly tradition, and has turned it into a monthly online game called Health Month. The site is currently in beta, but the idea is simply to give yourself a set of rules, (no booze, 30 min of exercise / 8 glasses of water a day, etc) that you want to try to follow each month. You check in daily, and it provides statistics, reminders, and encouragement. I only started using it during the last 10 days in January, but I’m a big fan of data visualization and the idea of turning the mundane into a game…. and I really need to work out more. So at the risk of creating another digital distraction, I’ve started using Health Month.

But I still hate going to the gym, not that I’m a member of one anyway…

That’s where the second piece of the healthy resolution puzzle comes in: Still only in alpha, and started by a geeky sports enthusiast friend of mine, Gain Fitness already looks like it’s going to be great. At it’s core, (currently) Gain creates customized workout plans that take into account factors such as your sex, what type of workout you are looking for, what equipment you have on hand, and how long a workout you want. Each exercise is coupled with helpful diagrams (videos on the way) in a very clean, attractive layout. The coming beta will see updates that allow the site to track a user’s progress and make future recommendations.

Between Health Month and Gain Fitness, the tools for keeping your New Year’s resolutions year-round have never been better.
Now only if there was a way to download more time & willpower…

Calling all 3D Modelers!

I remember seeing my first 3D printer at SIGGRAPH in 2002 and thinking to myself “Holy crap, this is going to be huge”. The ability to simply “print out” digitally designed objects in a single pass is already a clear boon to prototyping & manufacturing, but it’s still going to be a while before we have 3d printers atop every desk, ready to create for us whatever part, toy, or mug that we decide to download or create.

However, there are now two companies that are bridging the gap from “3D printing? What’s that?” to a fabricator in every home: Shapeways and Sculpteo allow users to upload virtual objects and order them as physical 3D objects. Additionally, both sites allow modelers to upload & sell their creations to be printed by others. Sculpteo is currently limited to white plastic and a color compound, while Shapeways adds the ability to print in glass and metal, such as the octopus ring on the right.

So to all you modelers out there: Start sellin your models as 3D objects for the world to enjoy…and feel free to send a print to me if you actually start makin some bucks doing this. 😉

No, I've never been called "Silver" before. Why?