Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Mudbox Plug-in Release: 'BlendWiz'

I'm releasing 'BlendWiz' as of ...well the moment I post this really....yep yet again it's a freebie.  It is a cut down version of a very small (but important) part of my MASK facial mocap system.  It does one very, very simple job, and even if I do say so myself, it does it rather well.

Let me explain with a bit of background...

When you are using any Blendshape facial mocap workflow Mudbox is the one case where to be honest it makes the most sense.  Mainly as you can sculpt your blendshapes on different layers and then send to your host app and have your morpher system  / Blendshape system already automatically set up for you.   That part is very fast and a big time saver, however it has one great big time sink that eats up time.... making and giving correct names to every layer so that in your host app it is all setup for you.  Making between 70 and 300 layers that conform to a given naming system can take a looooong time.

Try it.... go on I'll wait....

Ok so 99% of you didn't try it.... but if you had it would have taken you a long time and you probably had to correct names a couple of times at least.  The larger the amount of layers, the longer that time takes and the more mistakes creep in. BlendWiz does a very simple job of creating the layers you need in less than a second, thus freeing you up to sculpt your blendshapes and vastly speed up the workflow.

While the version I have for use with my MASK system has its own special requirements, I've spent a little time expanding BlendWiz so it is far more useful for everyone else as let's face it...the only person with MASK is me until such time as the patent goes through..which could take an ice age lol. (If I hadn't it would have been the worlds most useless plug-in!)  So it ships out of the box with layer presets for FACs (facial animation coding system) based facial animation  / mocap, the Preston Blair Phoneme set, and even little old Faceshift that some people like to toy with. 


It also ships with the ability to use a custom layer set...and also edit any layer set, even the presets on the fly while Mudbox is running. (Thus meaning that you don't need to restart it.)  So if you do plan on doing any blendshapes based facial animation whether it by motion capture based or old fashioned key frame animation based this simple plug-in will save you a lot of time.  Wether it be at a pro or hobby level.  While not an especially complex plug-in to write, it is a bloody useful one.    It means that a production can lock down all Blendshape names without fear of anyone inserting a typo by mistake and screwing something up further down the pipeline.

If you don't ever plan on messing with any facial animation, then chances are you won't need it .  The Mac version was supposed to ship at the same time as the PC version, but that's been put to one side until such time as a workaround can be found for a nasty little bug with the Mudbox SDK on the Mac.  It also would have shipped a Linux version but my laptop with Linux installed sort of blew up... as it was a ancient relic lol.  But they will come as soon as I can. 

Coming not long after this (unless I get a sudden slew of  intense work!) will be MudWalkerX2 which will have one totally unique feature that was slated for MudWalkers very first version, but I needed the ability to test it in a hardcore pipeline environment before I could confidently add it.  I did from September  last year to March this year while working on the film Last Days on Mars and it has passed every test thrown at it.

BlendWiz can be downloaded at my code site for Mudbox 2014 (PC version at the moment)