Dumb max tip of the day : lost time slider


Arg I lost the time slider, it took me 15mins to find it again… deadline panic..

It seems to happen when opening the mini curve editor and switch to the dope sheet.

To recover the time slider go into the menus

  • Customize > SHOW UI
  • tick on track bar
  • Lastly click on the ‘mini curve editor’ button twice. ( far left on the time ruler )


There’s a few MaxScript commands that many help.

Open the MAXScript listener and type

timeslider.setvisible = true

if you lost the trackbar as well, then use

trackbar.visible = true.

Maya UI refresher and Rendering tips

Maya UI refresher and rendering tips.

Some things that trip me up when I jump back into Maya after a break

UI Refresher

View Camera or lights POV from the outliner

  1. shift o  to open the outliner
  2. Middle click and drag a camera or light into a viewport. This will set the POV of the panel.

Node Editor:

Create a new node – press TAB to bring up a search box, type in the name of the node you want to find  (ie. bump) then click on a node in the drop down list. Press TAB (or ENTER ) again to create the node.

Create a link. (see Autodesk Manual )

method 1 – expand the attributes of the source node, Click an output and drag over the input of the target node.If you mouse over a compound attribute, the Node Editor automatically expands to expose its children to which you can make a connection

Method 2 – select the node you want to connect TO . middle click a node and drag the box onto the property in the attribute editor

Assign material to object

Select object in scene. Right click on shader in the node editor, swipe up and choose ‘Assign Material to Viewport Selection’


Middle click on a material to drag it from the shelf to the work area.


use space to swap between a multi-panel view and single panel view


Enable Mental Ray Production Shaders:

To expose the mip shaders cut and paste the following script into the MEL command window.

 optionVar -intValue "MIP_SHD_EXPOSE" 1;

After restarting MAYA the mip shader nodes should be exposed.

Setup Linear workflow

To set up a Linear workflow in Maya I need to be conscious of inputs and output colour spaces.

Textures need to be set Linear or Gamma colour space by the user. The Default Input Profile can be set to sRGB for textures but

In render settings:

MayaColorManagementEnable color management, and set the output color profile to Linear

Render view:

Display > color management > set the Image Color profile to Linear sRGB

AO Pass

Use the surface shader to create an AO pass

Maya Motion vectors


Sometimes if you add a 2D motion vector pass to a render layer, the output render will be slipped in time. e.g. if you make a render for frame 10 it will do a render for 10.5

In Maya 2014 you need to adjust the motion blur settings to affect when the motion vector is calculated.

  1. turn ON motion blur in the render dialog ( this exposes the settings and stops them being greyed out )
  2. set the motion vector to start frame
  3. turn OFF motion blur in the render dialog

Image Based Lighting

IBL_DialogIBL is cool but when using render pass I need to remember to turn it off correctly. Simply hiding the object in the render pass doesn’t work. It needs to be turned off in the IBL dialog.

Rendering Overscan

If you need to match an existing image with an overscaned version of the image then do this.

Based on a multiplier, you take your format (e.g. 1920 x 1080). Then multiply it by the percentage you want to overscan.

For example to overscan a 1920 x 1080 plate by 20%.

  • Calculate the new frame size.
  • 1920 x 1.2 = 2304
  • 1080 x 1.2 = 1296
  • Put this into the render settings dialog
  • Finally add the 1.2 value into the camera scale in the attributes editor.


Mental ray Sampling tips


Useful Tips and short cuts for inking in Illustrator

Adobe-Illustrator-logoMost illustrator tools have a bunch of extra features only accessible using short cuts.

Here’s a selection of tips and shortcuts useful for inking images.


Live Trace

Import your bitmap (scanned) artwork on the art board by using (File > Place). With the artwork selected got to (Object > Live Trace > Tracing Options…). There are several presets within the Tracing Options window, or you can use the controls to fine tune your own settings.

  • Check the preview check box to see your settings applied in real time.
  • If its a black and white image check the ignore white checkbox in Trace Settings. This will prevent unneeded white filled paths from being created.
  • When you are satisfied click the Trace button.

After your object is traced click (Object > Expand) to turn your artwork into editable paths.

It’s also useful to (Object > Ungroup) a few times

Preserve stroke settings while creating several paths with the pen or pencil tool.

Illustrator_stroke_settings To stop the stroke settings reverting to basic with each new path.

  • open the Appearance panel ( Window > Appearance),
  • select the fly-out menu
  • deselect New Art has Basic Appearance.

Ctrl s to quick save.

This is a reflex action for me now. … I hate losing work from a crash…

If strange things happen because of corrupt settings

See this article describing how to Move the folder and reset the Illustrator preference.


  • Go to File » Document Color Mode and check RGB.
  • Select everything in your document and go Filter » Color » Convert to RGB.

Layers TabAi_layers

Move selection to new layer

In brief… if you select multiple paths on the artboard you can then click on the small coloured square in the layer view to drag that selection to a new layer. (e.g. In the image the above, click and drag the top right green square ). There is a more detail explanation here .

Dim the image.

When tracing an image its easier if it’s faded. Double click the Layer to bring up the Layer Options dialog. click on the ‘Dim Images To:’ check box and the type in a value for the percentage. Note double click the Layer NOT the image


ctrl click a Layer Eye icon to set that layer to outline mode

Alt click a Layer Eye icon to hide everything but that layer.

With the selection tool (V) double click to enter isolation mode.

Tool shortcuts.

Tool settings

Double click a tool in the tool bar to bring up its settings dialog.

Selection tool (V)

Double click to enter isolation mode

Direct selection tool (A)

  • hold alt then click to break a handle

Pen tool (P)

There’s a lot a features in the pen tool depending on where and when you click on stuff…

While drawing with the pen tool you can:

  • Choose the ‘Direct Selection Tool’ first ( the white pointer) then the pen tool. While using the pen tool hold ctrl to use the direct selection tool.
  • While dragging out anchor points – hold space to move the knot – hold alt to break the handles
  • While drawing click then drag on the last endpoint to adjust the Bezier Handle for the next path segment. You can also hold alt to break the handles or simply click  and let go to make the next line straight.

Extending Paths with the pen tool

Instead of using the ‘Direct Selection Tool’ (white pointer) to select the end point, you use the regular Pen Tool to select the endpoint first, then you can keep drawing like usual!

Eraser tool (shift E)

hold Alt and drag – creates a rectangular selection and erases everything inside it.

Width tool (shift W)

  • escape key to deselect a width point
  • hold alt to only adjust one side of a width point
  • hold alt and drag to copy a width point
  • use Shift to select multiple width points
  • use the Delete key to remove width points
  • double click a wp to access the Width Points Edit dialog.

To edit a path with width, it can be transformed into a closed vector fill. Select the curve and go to Object > Expand Appearance

Shape Builder Tool (shift M)

  • alt to subtract
  • drag a line to select multiple shapes
  • shift drag – drag out a marquee and select multiple shapes

Blob Brush tool (shift B)

Outline mode (ctrl Y)

Toggle outline mode on or off by pressing ctrl Y. Useful when selecting points becomes tricky

Note: ctrl click a Layer eye icon to set that layer to outline mode

Smart guides (ctrl U)

Toggle smart guides on or off by pressing ctrl U

Faking Reflections on set.

It’s all smoke and mirrors.

This came up recently because there was no glass in the window of the set. All the reflections were to be added in post from photos…. but when the actor stood at the window the Director wanted to see his reflection.

This is a simple trick for a locked off shot. The action is filmed with two cameras one for the main image and a 2nd camera for the refection.

You can find the position of the main camera simply by reflecting the main cameras position in the mirror plain.

  • Both cameras are equidistant from the mirror and targeted at the same point on the mirror plain.
  • A line connecting the nodal point ( focal center ) of each camera is perpendicular to the mirror ( at 90° )
  • both cameras should have the same FOV.



Max Tip: Check for scale transforms on your cameras

If a Camera or it’s parent node has a scale transform it will effect the way SSS looks in Mental Ray.


It’s common practice to rescale the root node to place camera motion from tracking software like pfTrack.

BUT … This will give you inconsistent lighting result with materials that use ‘real world’ scale.

til I figured this this out … I Lost a few hours today scratching my head. ..