So it’s almost bank holiday weekend and your old pal Ash is gonna give you another one of his awesome tips before you spend the next three days drinking your body weight in alcohol and watching The Avengers… seriously, how awesome is that film?!
Today we're going to talk about exporting cameras from Maya to NUKE. There's a hundred different reasons for taking a camera with its movement into NUKE; rig removal using projections, some forms of roto, creating full 3D environments with projections and so on. I'm not going to list all of them here, but you get the gist. This is something that would probably happen towards the end of your pipeline, or even more likely if you're passing your work onto a compositor.
When using a program like 3D Equalizer you'll find there is an option to export your solve as a .nk file that NUKE can read easily. However if for some reason you can't get your 3DE file - because you've lost it, deleted it by accident or had your hard drive stolen by a crazed hobo - have no fear, we can still get hold of that camera from your Maya scene.
First of all, open your scene. The first thing we need to do is make sure the FBX plug-in is enabled. You can do this by going to Window > Settings and Preferences > Plug-in Manager, to make sure fbxmaya.mll is checked. Selecting just your camera, go to File > Export Selection, then open the option box.
Choose FBX export from the 'File type' menu. Now, you will see under the tab 'File Type Specific Options' there's one big button saying 'Edit Preset'. Now, your preset is essentially all the options concerning the export of FBX files. It looks like a huge menu but don't fret, we only need to tick a few boxes. One the left, make sure EXPORT is highlighted - it should be already. On the right, under the 'Animation' tab, make sure you tick the box that says 'Bake Animation'. This means the movement of the camera will be included with the export.
Now, we come to the one and only caveat of the process. The problem with FBX files is that FBX is created by an external company, not built into Maya; this is why you need a plug-in to use it. And, like most software, FBX gets updated once or twice a year. This could mean that your version of Maya can be running the 2010 version of FBX, and your version of NUKE could be using 2011. This leads to compatibility problems, and the whole process falls apart.
Fear not true believers, there is a solution! Under the 'Advanced Options' tab on the right, there is another tab named 'FBX File Format', which includes a 'Version' menu. From here, choose an older version of the FBX file to export with, for example, 2010, or 2009. This should hopefully solve any compatibility problems that might have occurred. Now you can click on 'Save Preset' at the bottom of the menu (it will ask you to name your preset - call it whatever you like) and then click export selection.
Now I won't go into loads of detail on NUKE, as I'm certainly no compositor, but here's the general idea. You create a camera node, and tick the 'Read from file' button. Then, in the 'File' tab, navigate to the FBX file you just saved. And that's literally it! If your file saved out correctly, when you return to the 'Camera' tab in the 'Camera' node, the translate and rotate attribute will be bright blue. Blue is for winners. Now you can press TAB over the viewport to enter 3D mode, and see your awesome exported animated camera.
Done! The steps are actually pretty easy. Please bear in mind that this blog was written with examples taken from Maya 2011 and 2012, and NUKE 6.2v1. Using different versions of these or any other programs may cause other issues that I'm not aware of and don't care about. Now have a great bank holiday, and go watch The Avengers again!