Sun, Apr 17th, 2016
posted by jjburton 07:04 PM

On yet another rabbit trail of problem solving on Morpheus 2.0, I came across an issue where wrap deformers weren’t working as needed. Namely transferring blendshapes from one mesh to another when the shape of the target mesh wasn’t like the original. Even geo changes in regions no where near the ‘to bake’ geo were affecting it.

So did some googling and came across a concept I’d not used before – namely using a mesh to deform another with a skinCluster.

Neat, so how do we do it?

  1. Get your target and source mesh ready
  2. Create a joint and skinCluster your target mesh to it
  3. Add the driving mesh to the skinCluster with the useGeometry flag ( sample code for this line below).
    1. polySmoothness flag. This controls the smoothness of the mesh deformation of the target mesh.
    2. A polySmoothness of 0 is the closest to a standard wrap deformer
    3. In my initial testing I found that this flag could only be set consistently on creation. Editing the flag could push the smoothness up but not down (in 2011 at least).
  4. Make sure the useComponents attribute on the skinCluster is set to True. If you don’t see the deformation doing anything this is the likely culprit.

I wrote a script to set this up but it’s still wip. It’s a function found here: cgm.lib.deformers.influenceWrapObject. Because of the issue noted in step 3.2, I added the polySmoothness as a creation flag.

This method of wrapping is much more localized than wrap deformers when the mesh isn’t close AND provides an easy way to paint weights for the deformation.


Sat, Feb 6th, 2016
posted by jjburton 10:02 PM

As I’ve been closing in on finishing Morpheus 2 I found myself in need of a distributable skin data system to be able to apply skinning information to Morphy meshes after they’d been customized and no longer matched up with the base mesh. Not being able to find a good way of doing it in natively to Maya and not finding any open source options, writing our own was the only way forward.

Thanks to Alex Widener and Chad Vernon for some tech help along the way.

Before delving in here, here’s some lessons learned along the way.

  • mc.setAttr — found this to be a unreliable method of setting weights via the ‘head_geo_skinNode.weightList[0].weights[0]’ call convention. Just didn’t seem to set properly via any call but the api.
  • mc.skinPercent — call is hopelessly slow and should never be used for intensive work. A query loop went from 78 seconds to run to 1.3 simply using an api weights data call even with having to re-parse the weights data to a usable format.
  • weights — speaking of, this was an obtuse concept to me. This is regards to the doubleArray list used with  an MFnSkinCluster. In short the easist way to get to a spot in this data set is as follows:
    • weights.set(value, vertIdx*numInfluences+jointIdx)
    • weights — doubleArray list instance
    • value is the given value you want
    • vertex index * the number of incluences + the joint index = the index in the array
  • Normalizing skin data — You usually want your skin values to add up to 1.0, so here’s a chunk to help

The initial list or requirements for the functions were as follows:

  • Readable data format — decided on configobj having used it with some red9 stuff and finding it easy to use.
  • Export/import data sets
  • Work completely from the data file for reference (no source skin necessary)
  • Work with different vertex counts if similar shape
  • Used indexed data sets for easy remapping of influences

With that being said. Here’s the demo file link and you’ll need the latest cgm package to follow along. Open up a python tab in the script editor and try these things one line at a time.

This is a first pass on this thing till Morphy 2 is done.


Sun, Feb 15th, 2015
posted by jjburton 01:02 PM

While doing some optimization on Morpheus 2 and incorporating some of Red9‘s latest stuff I noticed an odd bottleneck in the code.  So I decided to dig in to it.

For those short of time, the short of it:

  • Maya’s duplicate command get’s slower based on scene complexity – regardless of manually calling or doing it through the interface
  • Maya’s duplicate command (and perhaps others) get slower based on how long you’ve been doing stuff in maya

I noticed that a relatively simple step in one of my joint chain functions was oddly slow and delved into it. In a empty or lite scene it was pretty instantaneous but in a regular scene got really slow. Dug in and came to just being duplicate being slow. That was my theory at least , so I wrote series of tests to verify. The first of those being a test that given a number of times to iterate and a number of children joints, the test will 1) create a joint chain of y joints and 2) duplicate that root joint iterating on the provided number. 

The results showed a pretty linear line of increasing speed as the scene added more objects. The more objects, the longer things got. Interesting but not enough to go on.

The second series of tests I wrote my own simple joint duplicate function using mc.joint and matching positioning, rotateOrder etc. I also checked some other items to eliminate those as possible hindrances or see if they affected speeds:

  • Undo – No difference whether it is on or off
  • History – No history on joints
  • Connections — Only connection on any tested joints in inverseScale
  • Flags — Tried all combinations on the duplicate command I could think of to no avail
My rewrite is always the same speed regardless of complexity, mc. duplicate get’s progressively slower as it goes on. Here are some results:

Breakpoint is the iteration at which my rewrite is faster than mc.duplicate for that run. Method 1 is mc.duplicate and Method 2 is my own.

How about some code you can play with yourself with a simple locator duplication?

Here are some results of this standalone for me at least:

Note – the 2015 run was a fresh open of the software and my experience doing this testing would see that getting slower.

If you run the test you’ll see for yourself the slow down. Now, what do we do with this?Working through this I created my own duplicator for curves, joints and locators. For now, I’m only going to use the joint one for Morpheus building until I can do some more testing and maybe get a better handle on it but it’s certainly an oddity.

Odder yet is the longer you do stuff in Maya, duplicate gets slower still. This I tested after noticing that after being away a bit that Windows had rebooted and suddenly duplicate was posting much better results. After a while, that slowed down. So I rebooted myself and yup, it’s faster after a reboot.  I have no idea on this one other than maybe a memory leak or..I dunno, I’m a hack at this stuff and that’s the best I got:)

If you’re interested, let me know what you find – different conclusions?

For now, Bokser told me I have to move on:)

Wed, Jan 2nd, 2013
posted by jjburton 02:01 PM

Hey Morphean stylists! Ever walked out of the barbershop not pleased with your cut and was too shy to admit it? WELL THEN! Hide no more dear friends! For tonight we dine in HELL! (sorry wrong quote) For tonight we control of the scissors! *cue explosions* That’s right! Time to put the pens and pencils on the paper (or fancy tablets) and style our Morpheus up with a fresh coiffure! That’ll teach that barber! *cue more explosions*

Morphy2HairTemplate_male Morphy2HairTemplate_female


  • Try to draw the hair in its neutral position (not in movement).
  • If your hair style is somewhat complexe please provide some general notes. You can scribble those on your template (dont overlap the drawing too much).
  • The styles will be split into 3 categories: Short (above shoulders), Medium (shoulder level) & Long (below shoulders) so please try your best to be clear on the length.
  • You don’t have to submit sparkling clean designs. Clear sketches are more than welcome.
  • No submission limits.

Template files


  • Submit in PNG or JPEG.
  • Naming convention: YourName_HairCustomize_v00.ext (the versioning is not for WIP numbers but for your designs).
  • Submition deadline – January 24th at midnight.

To submit your work, you can send it to my email: alexei.bresker (->at<-)…sorry, for the spam bots inconvenience.
(subject: Morpheus Rig 2.0 – Hair Styles)

-Alexei (Morpheus 2.0 Design Producer)

Thu, Oct 4th, 2012
posted by jjburton 02:10 PM

The past few weeks…

It’s been a hectic few weeks at CG Monks. David and I have been working hard finishing a crazy deadline commercial gig. ~2 minutes of content in about 2 and half weeks. Yeah, nutty. I had a lot of fun on my own segment though, of course, wish I’d had more time  to polish. When you have a week and a half to animate 30 seconds with a continual movement shot comprising  4 main characters, a couple of birds, sets popping in and out of place, a crowd of ~100 and all on a spinning ‘world’ some corners have to get cut:)

The team did a great job and for what we had to work with in the time we had, it’s a nice bit of work. Bokser acted as the project lead on our end, we shared TD hats and I acted as animation lead.

Morpheus 2.0…

The ball is rolling. We have our project in for Kickstarter for review and expect it to be ready for Monday. If not, we may have to delay a day or two but it’s out of our hands. Our pal, Martin is doing our edit for the Kickstarter vid and he did a great job – especially with a talking Josh who talks like he’s  had an double shot espresso…Venti.

Support Platform…

Ryan has been working away on getting our community platform up and running and we’re looking to start opening up for testing soon. If you’re interest, connect with us on our testers page. As it’s the vehicle we want to use for both our own tool and rig support and potential place for others, we wanna get the kinks out before we get too much traffic.


Production is a great finder of bugs and oh did I find some bugs in the cgmTools. This week I’m trying to get a handle on them to avoid repeating some of these issues in the future and preparing for starting Morpheus 2.0 development.

Fri, Sep 21st, 2012
posted by jjburton 01:09 PM

We have a rather big ball to get rolling. Hope you’ll join us!

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