To start, have you heard about the new Autodesk Forge platform? Forge is a place that gathers many new cloud service APIs into one place for consumption by developers. Forge includes the platform technology, a program for supporting partners (think ADN open on a broader scale), including a developer conference coming in June, and a fund where startups can apply for an investment by the Forge fund.
What does this have to do with Maya programming concepts? Well, there are a number of reasons to start this conversation. The Forge services support Maya in various ways. The View and Data API for example, can view 3D models in HTML 5 enabled browsers and apps – a nice way to share your models online for example, using your own custom websites or tools. The ReCap service provides 123D Catch style photogrammetry reality capture into your custom workflow. Or maybe you want to exploit the A360 rendering service outside of Maya with your own tools? A360 Rendering API coming soon! Even more, Maya I/O in cloud will also come to be a member of Forge family in near future. With that service, you can handle tasks in the cloud, for example, asset translation, rendering, distributed simulation,etc. Stay tuned for more exciting news.
Anyway, to give you a quick example of View and Data API, I used a MotionBuilder sample character named Mia. I converted it to the View and Data API format for viewing on the web. I used a great sample created by a colleague, Philippe Leefsma using node.js and angular.js. The sample is a working online website, and also has full source code available. The sample shows how to process the model through the View and Data API translation service and then makes it viewable on the web in a full 3D interactive way. A screenshot is below to give a taste, but I encourage you to try it out directly here: Mia. Also check out all the other models in the gallery. There is also a nice interactive demo here as well: http://lmv.rocks/
How to get the model into the viewer format? Well, the translation service does not yet support the Maya native format (*.ma or *.mb). For now you can export to one of the other formats. The FBX format is supported, but is not ideal for including materials and animation at the moment. The DWF format is best for supporting materials out of Maya. I use 3ds Max as an intermediate product to convert to DWF, in this example to get the texture materials to come across.
And for the Recap Photo service, this morning, I took a series of photos for a horse sculpture in my home with my cellphone, and you can see the pictures as following. I use the Recap 360 web application to generate the 3D model. You can use one of our samples, and the source code are also provided on github for your reference. Even more, you can create your own application to integrate the Recap Photo service within your pipeline. BTW, I also uploaded the model with our View and Data service, so you can view it live here.
If you are interested to learn more about the Forge platform, we can offer you a discount code to the Forge DevCon coming in June. Autodesk is offering “around-the-corner” readers a 30% discount to the Forge Developer Conference. Simply use the code ADN_ME30 when registering. Register using this code before April 22nd and you can combine it with the early-bird discount (so that’s $349 instead of $599 for a standard pass). Note that students can register for free with your education email address. Because conferences are always better with friends, you can also contact us for details on a special “Refer a Friend" offer for even greater savings!
If you do plan to attend, and would like to meet, just let me know… I’ll be there as well! Hope to see you there.