Tumbleweed Tango was a collaboration between 3DS Max, Maya, Mudbox, ZBrush and Nuke.
It was directed by the talented directors team Hydra(Sam Stephens and Christopher Mauch) and produced by Humble here in New York City.
We had 2 fantastic Maya Animators, Eugen Sasu and Andrew Boccio who did an amazing job breathing life into the characters.
Eugen and Andrew Animating in Maya while I handle dynamics, textures, materials lighting and some of the modeling in Max was an interesting challenge to overcome. Zeth Willie, who created the Maya rig made a fantastic stretchy bone rig for the dogs with some interesting and complicated constrains. For anyone who tried, you know that FBX is not a big fan of complicated rigs so we had to find another way to get the characters into Max so that we can pop them into the scene.
Because I did not need the rig within Max, really only the animated mesh, we decided that exporting a point cache would be a great option. This brought up a hole set of problems on its own, b/c the mesh needed to be combine and each time it was, the order of the vertex index within the mesh would change so one would need a new FBX for each export and it was just a time consuming situation. We had over 40 scenes and we could not spent hours on every export when ever a change was made to an animation. So I wrote a Mel Script called “Maya Loves Max” which automated 90% of the process. All Eugene or Andrew had to do was, select a directory folder, check if or if not it needed a new FBX and BOOM! get back to animating. While I did invest close to a week making the script it ended up saving us a lot of time, frustration and allowed us to focus on creativity instead of anguishing about the fact that another export was needed.
The script was very specific to the project and hard coded but if you know a little bit of MEL you can alter it to work for your project as well or make it universal. Another project at humble which was animated in Maya and needed to be rendered was exported with the script after I just changed a few lines in the code. Feel free to contact me if you are interested in this script.
Sam Stephens: Director/Writer/Compositing
Christopher Mauch: Co-Director/Character Design/Layout
Kevin Harper: CG Lead/TD/Generalist
Andrew Boccio: Animation
Eugen Sasu: Animation
Zeth Willie: TD/Rigging
Chang Kim: Modeling/Textures
Jake Guttormsson: Modeling/Textures
Joe Miuccio: Sound Design/Mix
Erin Berkowitz: Executive Producer
Persis Koch: Executive Producer
Andrea Papazoglou: Producer
Bridgette Spalding: Producer