There are lots of team wide tips in the Animation Handbook so please take a moment to read that as well.



Character Rig Plugin:
When you are assigned a shot with a lead character in the scene you will need to install a plugin for your system setup from here:
Note that the 32bit/64bit labels on the file downloads refer to the version of Maya you have, not the version of windows. This plugin is not required if you already have Face Machine installed.


After accepting an invite for Dropbox and the folders you will need (to your standard personal email address). Please install the Dropbox program as instructed and when it asks you, re-direct the sync folder to this location on your PC:

Please also look at these to help setup the correct folder structure:

The files will then begin to download and they will stay in sync with the rest of the team as long as you are connected to the internet and allowing Dropbox to run in the background.


Step by Step Guide

1) Finish animation in Maya 2009

a.      Turn on dynamics and bake them.


b.      Turn on Jiggle controls (differs on each character)


c.       Check for intersections

d.      Add any necessary custom deformers

e.      Save file with new version number and initials and label Final


2)      Clean up animation scene in Maya 2009.

a.       Remove all assets that aren’t animated from the reference editor.


b.      Optimize the scene (Tick Unknown nodes but not Unused skin Influences, makes the file larger).


c.      Replace references for chairs to

d.      Toggle off the proxy pupils from the hip controller.

e.   Save as C:\Devils_Angels_Dating\My Dropbox\030_Lighting\shXXXX_SceneName\


3)     Open Master Render scene in Maya 2011 from C:\Devils_Angels_Dating\My Dropbox\030_Lighting\Master

a.       Reference the animation scene into the Master render scene


b.      Set the frame range to match the animated scene.

c.       Save as C:\Devils_Angels_Dating\My Dropbox\030_Lighting\shXXXX_SceneName\


4)      Setup Render Layers

a. Run the "lighingSetup" script from the Script Menu

(or C:\Devils_Angels_Dating\My Dropbox\assets\scripts\lightingSetup.mel)

This will make most of the layers, link the lights and create custom layer over-rides. But it can only account for the most common situations and you'll need to adjust the rest of the scene from there. If you have any problems with the script please visit this thread for help.


b. Add and remove layers as needed for the shot.


c.      Ensure only the lights that are needed per layer are in each layer.


d.      For most new layers you create manually requiring final gather add the sky dome to the foreground layers, then add a layer override to turn off primary visibility.


5)      Setup Render Globals

a.       Choose which layers need motion-blur and create a layer over-ride.


b.      Set the start and end frame range.


c.       Select the main render-able camera in the Render Globals.


6)      Setup Light Linking

a.       Chair, props and character are lit by just the character light group of the same name.


b.      Check light linking from object mode.


7)      Reposition lights to match any changes needed for the shot.


8)      Save your file.


9)      Import the Clouds from the reference editor.


10)   Save your file with a new name.


11)   Activate the layers you want to render.


12)   Start batch render.


13) Setup the Pixie Dust from the scripts menu


     a. Hardware render the Pixie Dust


Sample Pixie Dust settings:

Emitted Particles - 3000
Size - 100
Lifespan Min - 100
Lifespan Max - 100
Pixie Dust Size Min - 0.1
Pixie Dust Size Max - 7.0
Volume Scale - 0.6

Turbulance On
Magnitude - 15
Attenuation - 0.5
Frequency - 25

Geometry Mask On

Full Image Resolution On

Extension - name.0001.ext
Image Format - Tiff16
Alpha Source Off
Resolution - HD_720


Multi Pass Rendering On

3 x Render Passes

Anti Alias Polygons

Edge Smoothing 1.0

Motion Blur 0.5

Views: 1338

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Here's a helping hand for the particle tail on Cupid.


Here's some help for new team members:

This will also help with file structures:

Tips on lighting Cupid's Tail.



1) Setup a render layer exclusively for Cupid's tail.

2) Make sure the dynamics are visible in a view port (B in the diagram).

3) Play the timeline from -25 to past frame 1 with the playback speed set to "Play every frame".

4) Add any geometry that masks the tail and apply a "Use background" shader to them on that layer.

5) Select the "cupidShader_particles" (A in the diagram) and add them to the render layer.

6) Select the "cupidShader_fluidShape" (C) assigned to the "cupidShader_particles" in the Hypershade.

7) In the attributes for the "cupidShader_fluidShape" scroll down the "lighting" (E).

8) Match the Ambient settings in this image (E). You will notice that in Maya 2009 (D) (used for animation and asset creation) the settings don't exist, which is why they could not be applied to the asset by default and need to be added in 2011 (E) (which we are using for lighting).

9) Set Light Brightness to 0.1,

Set Ambient brightness to 0.05,

Set Ambient Diffusion to 2.0,

These are the colour values for the Light Colour:

R 0.678

G 0.699

B 0.843


These are the colour values for the Ambient Colour:

R 0.5

G 0.91

B 1.0


Don't link any lights to the tail or the render layer.

On the Cupid Tail layer reduce the render samples to min -1, max 1. This will speed up the render times. Make sure to only do this as an override for the tail layer so that it doesn't affect other layers.
Lighting and Rendering Recomendations

This table is a list of common setups that we recommend most lighters refer to when they are linking lights in the master file and assigning things to layers for rendering. It will be updated regularly as we discover best practices.

Lighting and Render Recommendations - Click to see Table

To discuss this table or make changes use this thread.
Submitting to the Render Farm
I have a small (3 to 4 computer) Render Farm at home that can be made available to lighters with limited rendering capacity. I would recommend most lighters plan to render their own shots as that allows for corrections as you go along. But if it's very well tested and visually approved by discussing it in the shot thread sometimes it can be faster to submit it to me to render. If this happens please ensure the Maya file is completely ready to render (we won't open the file in most cases, so no checks will be in place). Then run the "layerLister" script. This makes a text file. It specifies a list of the exact names of each of the Render layers in Maya (if you spell any wrong they won't render). Please also make a note or a text file of the frame range you want rendered per layer. If the render range varies per layer feel free to break it down in the text file and I'll interpret and setup the render job appropriately. I've uploaded a couple of examples here.

If not all the render layers contain assets in all frames (for example when they go out of frame), please provide a list that specifies the frame range per layer. It won't be automatic, but I'll interpret it to setup the render job as efficiently as possible and it could avoid many render hours creating empty frames. Try to order the list so that similar frame ranges are together, I'll fire off a separate job per frame range, with all the associated layers listed.
This is an example of the frame list.
Compression for HD Final output.
The Final output used to master the film will come from lossless files created out of After Effects locally. These files are far to big to sync across Dropbox, but we do like to keep a version that's good enough quality for everyone to use as reference and for animators to use in their reels. These files go in the Finals folder, but they need to be compressed with care to get the best results. Use these tips but adjust for HD by using between 2000 and 3000 KBits/sec

Compression Tips
Death Close-ups

Death in close up for some mid shots can get a little flickery around the glasses. To avoid this increase the Final Gather quality settings (as a layer over-ride). This will cause longer render times though.

Render Settings > Indirect Lighting > Final Gathering >
Accuracy: 300
Point Interpolation: 50

Render Settings > Indirect Lighting > Final Gathering Quality >
Filter: 2

Reply to Discussion


Links & Social Media

HD Teaser Trailer

This is the development website showcasing the work done on a zero-budget, volunteer team based short animated film directed by Michael Cawood.

Networks - Join us at:

Podcast - Subscribe or Play

eMail when there's film news

Customise subscription

Supporting our Short

Join in with the creation of a CG character animation short film.

© 2016   Created by Michael Cawood - Director.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service