Maya 2013 Extension: Scene Assembly Workflow

Posted by STLR, 14 August 2012 1:11 pm

Hi everyone.  I fully intended to do a pre-Siggraph post but I got a little swamped with preparation for the conference and never got around to it.  So here instead is my post-Siggraph post :)   It was a good show... hectic and crazy, but good.  It was back in LA this year, after a year away in Vancouver.  It was my 13th year of attending Siggraph.  After seeing it consistently shrink for many years, it appears to have finally stabilized in size.  There were somewhere in the neighborhood of 20,000 attendees.  We had a very active booth and drew full crowds for pretty much all of our presentation.  We also had a very active online virtual booth via The Area, with a good mix of customer presentations as well as internal product and workflow demos.  If you missed any of the presentations they were all recorded and posted ->

If you happen to be in the Boston area, I will be speaking at the Boston AAUGA event this Thursday night (Aug 16th) where I plan to present a recap of some of my Siggraph presentations.

Boston AAUGA Event - Thursday Aug 16th @ 6:30pm

As you may have heard by now we announced the new -> Maya 2013 Extension (Formerly known as SAP or Subscription Advantage Pack) at Siggraph.  There are 3 key features in the Maya 2013 SAP including support for DirectX 11, the new File Path Editor, and the Scene Assembly workflow.  In the movie below I focus on Scene Assembly.

What is Scene Assembly? 

Scene Assembly consists of two interdependent nodes, assembly definition and assembly reference, and a system for loading alternate forms of production assets called assembly representations.  Scene Assemblies make managing the loading and manipulation of complex scenes simple and intuitive.  Overrides on Assemblies can be tracked with a revamped Edits system enabling collaborative workflows across production departments.  A complete API allows the creation of completely proprietary user solutions.

Maya 2013 Extension – Scene Assembly

Note:  In the demo I show a new version LayoutTools working with Scene Assembly.  This is currently a prototype but I plan to make this new version of LayoutTools available soon, along with some example scene files that you can use for experimenting with the workflow presented in the demo movie.





Posted 14 August 2012 9:31 pm

Very nice! I can definitely see good use of this.

One cool addition, if I may suggest one, would be to let the user define which one of the definitions would be renderable.

So that when you hit render it automatically swaps to (at render time and not in the viewport before the render) the "detail" version for instance.


Posted 15 August 2012 3:24 am

Can you describe this new File Path Editor you mentioned?


Posted 16 August 2012 1:18 pm

doffer - yes this is a very common request and something we are definitely looking into. No guarantees on timing of something like this but I've had this conversation with the designers and they are definitely aware of the interest in such a workflow.


Posted 16 August 2012 1:19 pm

3DMonkey - I will probably post a short demo of this at some point, but it is basically a simple editor that will list all of the various file paths in a Maya scene (e.g. textures, references, audio clips, etc...) If there are any unresolved or missing items it will show you and give you a mechanism for resolving the path and/or searching for the files. There was a similar BonusTools script for this but after all of these years this is the first time we'll have a built in tool.

LightininG McQeeN

Posted 2 October 2012 6:52 pm

Could any one give me a good blog for intermediate level in maya.
That well be great thanks :-)


Posted 11 December 2012 5:00 am

Mmmmaya, how I loath thee!


Posted 9 April 2013 3:55 am

I'm currently really confused as to what prop management system to use in Maya now.

Do we use traditional file references, Maya Assets? Scene Assemblies? Which one will be the preferred method moving forward? All three? Or just Assemblies? Have assets now been superseded?

It'd be nice to have it explained somewhere which is appropriate to use and when. At the moment its a little confusing for plebs like myself.

So far though, assemblies are infinitely more stable than file referencing but I'm not sure on what Assets purpose is anymore.


Posted 17 May 2013 7:27 pm

@HamburgerTrain - I missed this somehow when you first posted so sorry for the very late reply. I agree that it has gotten a bit confusing. I will try to delineate as best I can.

1. Traditional Referencing - This is not going away any time soon. It is still quite powerful for character/animation pipelines where you need to chain or nest a series of files where one is dependent on the other (e.g. skeleton->rig->anim->master). Scene assembly can not handle this kind of dependent nesting. Where traditional file referencing breaks down is scale. You simply can not efficiently referene 1000's of objects into a scene.

2. Scene Assembly - SA scales quite well and allows you to bring many assets, and many representations of those assets into a scene. This is ideal for large scenes, particularly environments. We have added some basic constraint support for character swapping but it does not handle nesting the way that traditional referencing does. Another key aspect of SA is that it is all open source and built on top of an API so that anyone can freely modify it to suit their own needs.

3. Assets - these can be used with referencing but aren't dependent on referencing. They could also be used with SA for that matter. I have posted some demos showing how they could be used with referencing but they don't inherently do any sort of referencing themselves. They are really more about simply consolidating and simplifying complex node structures.

Hope that helps.

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