[SItoA] Disabling camera motion blur


Starting with version 2.8, SItoA no longer supports the Softimage motion blur property. Instead, you use the Arnold Parameters property to control transformation and deformation motion blur.
arnold_parameters_motion_blur

However, you cannot add an Arnold Parameters property to a camera (at least not using the SItoA custom menus, which will tell you that a camera is “is not a valid Object to add Arnold Parameters to”). Here’s a couple of ways to work around that:

  • Create an Arnold Parameters property on a polygon mesh, and then in the Explorer, drag that property to your Camera.
  • Select your camera and run this Python snippet:
    cam = Application.Selection(0)
    cam.AddCustomProperty( "Arnold_Parameters" )
    

Creating object mask AOVs that include opacity


  • Create a custom RGB AOV.
  • Use aiWriteColor to write the object mask to the custom AOV. The Input color of the aiWriteColor is the mask color, and you have to enable Blend to get the opacity blended into the Input.
    mask_opacity_aiWriteColor
  • Connect the Out Color of the aiWriteColor to the Color of a Standard shader. That sends the aiWriteColor beauty to the Standard.
    mask_opacity_Nodes
  • Make sure Enable AOV Composition is turned on in the Render Settings.
    EnableAOVComposition

I don’t think this set up works if you plug a Standard into the beauty of the aiWriteColor (eg Standard > aiWriteColor > Standard). With that set of connections, I could never get the opacity right in both the Beauty and the Mask AOVs.

[SItoA] Stopping procedural textures from swimming


The Noise shader can access the Pref coordinates to prevent swimming. But for other procedural textures, you’ll have to take a different approach (unless you whip up [a relatively simple] shader to get the Pref coordinates). Here’s one way, using ICE to store UVWs in a CAV, and then a Vertex Color node in the render tree.

First, create a Spatial projection and a Color at Vertices (CAV) property on your mesh.

Then build an ICE tree that gets the projection UVWs and stores them in the CAV.
stop_swimming2

In the render tree, use a Vertex Color to get the UVW information from the CAV, and feed that into the texture coordinates of the procedural texture.
stop_swimming1

Switching between different versions of MtoA


If you have several versions of MtoA, you can switch between them by editing your Maya.env and mtoa.mtd files before you start Maya. These two files are located under your MAYA_APP_DIR folder.

For example, C:\Users\SOLIDANGLE\Documents\maya\2013-x64\Maya.env.

MAYA_RENDER_DESC_PATH = C:\solidangle\mtoadeploy\2013.0.22.0
PATH = %PATH%;C:\solidangle\mtoadeploy\2013.0.22.0\bin

And C:\Users\SOLIDANGLE\Documents\maya\2013-x64\modules\mtoa.mod:

+ mtoa any C:\solidangle\mtoadeploy\2013.0.22.0

The mtoa.mod file is put there by the MtoA installer.

The MtoA installer always wants to remove any other installed version, so if you want to keep multiple versions around, you can do one of the following:

  • Extract the files yourself (for example, using 7zip)
  • Make copies of each MtoA version before you uninstall them.

For example, if you have MtoA 0.21 installed in

C:\solidangle\mtoadeploy\2013

copy that folder to

C:\solidangle\mtoadeploy\2013-0.21.0

Then install MtoA 0.22 (during the install, you may want to change the default install folder to something like C:\solidangle\mtoadeploy\2013-0.22.0).

After that, you’ll have both MtoA 0.22 and 0.21, and you can switch between them.

AOV Composition and opacity


AOV Composition allows opacity and transparency to carry forward into AOVs. It works only for RGB AOVs, so you won’t see it in the render region (because the xsi display driver always outputs RGBA AOVs).
aov_composition

For example, suppose you have a textured grid with an opacity map:
noicon_grid_w_opacity_map
In the render region, the Main AOV is fine, but the Arnold Direct Diffuse doesn’t have the opacity, even if you enable AOV Composition:
main_vs_direct_diffuse1
However, if you render out the image (with AOV Composition enabled and the Direct Diffuse format set to RGB), you’ll get what you expected:
arnold_direct_diffuse_aov_composition

Pref coordinates and bind poses


The Noise shader can use different coordinate systems when it evaluates the noise.

  • Object space, where points are expressed relative to the local origin (center) of the object.
  • World space, where points are relative to the global origin of the scene.
  • Pref, which isn’t really a space, but rather a reference to a bind pose, which in Softimage is the top of the Modeling region. Pref is really a point in object space, but it’s a reference to the geometry at the top of the Modeling region. In constrast, if you use Object space, you’re getting point position coordinates from the very top of the whole operator stack.

Noise_Coords

The name “Pref” is easier to understand if you think of it like a variable name. So, when it comes to noise, P is a point in world space, Po is in object space, and Pref is in “reference space” aka the “bind pose”.

For the Noise shader, the advantage of using Pref is that it prevents the noise from swimming over the surface of the object as the object deforms (as long as the deforms are above the Modeling stack). As the object deforms, Po is a point on that deformed geometry, so Po is constantly changing. In contrast, Pref is a point on the geometry that came out of the Modeling stack. So the noise sticks to the “bind pose”.

Note the difference between Pref and the two other coordinate systems (World and Object).
BindPose