Direct Connect - Visualizing CAD data in Maya

By - - Maya
2 mins
Last modification: 16 Sep, 2017

Well I'm back from my week in Toronto and I'm happy to report that all is well on the Maya dev front.  They are defintiely working on some cool new stuff for the next release and beyond.  Of course I can't say anything about it just yet.  I would use the old line "I could tell you but I'd have to kill you," but honestly I'm kind of a pacifist and that just doesn't feel right.  Heck, when I play Grand Theft Auto I actually try to see how long I can go without running over anybody :)

But I can show you a couple of pics from the Toronto office though.  Here's a shot of the building/entrance and the reverse view of the main lobby... 

And here is lovable old Oscar... 

He was awarded to Alias back in 2003 for Maya's "significant and dominant impact on the motion-picture industry"

And lastly, here is a google maps street view shot of Cory Mogk (Maya Technical Product Manager) walking down King Street on his way to the office.  Luckily the pic was not taken 30 seconds sooner as he had aparently just finished picking his nose :)

So moving on...  let me preface the rest of this post by saying that I am by no means a CAD expert.  In fact this latest project was really my first foray into dealing with CAD data.  It is a personal project of mine (a kitchen remodel) but there were some interesting things that came up along the way that I thought would be worth sharing.  In this first short movie I'll simply discuss how to bring CAD data (DWG files) into Maya as a starting point for some basic architectural visualization.  The next few related posts will then cover using PSD files with layers as construction reference images, as well as using LayoutTools for blocking out the basic layout and structure of the space.


Learn more about -> Direct Connect


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  • Maya
  • Modeling
  • Tips and Tricks
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| 4 years ago
It was helpful, thanks! I'm using Maya 2015 and i'm new with it.I could import my file to maya but then i tried to extrude and it didn't work. I can move, rotate...but i can't do any modification. The lines aren't NURBS. When i select them, the name that appears in the chanel box is transform531 and under that there is "curveShape531". I wish i could upload a capture from the chanel box. P.S: I apologize for my bad english.
Edited by dqd8YaiT 4 years ago
| 10 years ago
Hi SreckoM - Sorry but I'm not sure what's going on there. Sounds like a problem for support :(
| 10 years ago
I have problem, even I have DC enabled as plugin, it does not import, just reports that it can not find translator??? Also have Maya 2010, on 64 bit OS.
| 10 years ago
well that's what I knew rivit or a cluster would work . . .?! I also do some architectural viz within maya. I usually take the create poly tool and than split my ngons. how do you cope with the ngons. I found out that its impossible to do boolean operations (to get the window-openings) with non clean geometry. I've heard of a set of scripts called koshigava to extend the maya's built in modeling tools. but i fear they are not that usefull for these jobs. perhaps some mel could help. i.e. you get the bounding box dimensions . . . perhaps that's the way to extract an object's dimension?! sorry for hijacking this thread :)
| 10 years ago
You can not parent a node directly to a vert actually. The way I did it in the movie was to parent the measurement locator to the actual object so that the scale would offset the locator and in turn the measurement. There are a couple of tricks for getting a locator to follow a vert directly but that will have to wait for another post because there are several steps involved. That's a good idea though and I will add it to my list of tips and tricks for a future blog post. Stay tuned for that :)
| 10 years ago
hello everyone . . . I tried to parent the measure tool to a vertex - but it doesn't work what do I miss? plz help
| 10 years ago
Hi JimBean - That does not sound normal and I have never seen it, but again I don't work with CAD data extensively. What format were you using where this happened?
| 10 years ago
Per my last comment. Update: It worked fine in pieces, I was originally concerned with overlap, as there's no real way to prevent this, but in this case... who cares if there's selection overlap.
| 10 years ago
As someone who has to work with CAD data in Maya. Is it normal for polygon faces to come into the Maya environment separately? What I mean is, every time I've brought CAD data in, I've had to merge vertices. This operation is currently failing to happen on a 1.5 mil vert mesh. Be great if there was a CAD option, that I'm just missing to check on/off or something. Thanks
| 10 years ago
Response from one of the dev guys... Direct Connect 3.0 (DirectConnect2009) is installed with Maya2010 on OS X. This also installs with Maya2010 on Snow Leopard and will import STEP files on Snow Leopard, if the plugin is loaded through the plugin manager. Direct Connect 2010 will not install on the Mac as this point. The DirectConnect that works with Maya2010 on OS X is included in the Maya2010 installation. If you want to download and install it separately, try the DirectConnect 3.0 or DirectConnect2009 installation.
Edited by XRJvVZHQ 10 years ago
| 10 years ago
Aksel - good question. I did notice that there is a DMG file for the Mac OS on the Direct Connect page. But right above that is states "The import of DWG™/DXF™ files into Autodesk Maya using Autodesk Direct Connect is only supported on Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional and Windows® XP Professional x64 Edition operating systems." So I'm not sure what that means. I don't typically work on a Mac myself but I will look into this and see what I can find out.
| 10 years ago
Branden99 - yes a bidirectional measurement tool would be very useful. I'm wondering how easy this might be to script? Hmmm... I'll add that to my long list of ideas for a bonusTool :) FYI - you can clean up the look of the measurement number by changing the precision of measurement. Select the distanceDimensionShape node and look under ExtraAttributes. There you'll find a precision attr. It defaults to 6 but I usually set it to 2 and it looks a lot cleaner and easier to read that way.
| 10 years ago
One question regarding DirectConnect: i put it to quite heavy use when importing client's Step-Data into Maya. I am working on MacOSX, which required ie in Maya 2008 to seperately download DirectConnect in order for the step importer to work properly (in Win it was always included). Now, running Maya 2010 on MacOSX 10.6, the seperate download on the Autodesk Website tells me my OS is 'too new' to install. This basically breaks my pipeline. Is this something being worked on, or are you dropping CAD-connection on the Mac platform at all? Other than that: Kudos to (if working) DirectConnect and Maya Nurbs, best solution i saw up to now!
| 10 years ago
Great tutorial, Thanks! One simple wish about the Maya measure tool, is to be able to over-ride the length between the two locators, by a specific typed in value. eg I want 20m, I type it in, bang 2nd locator, would automatically distance itself 20 m from first locator (or whatever units you are working in). I could then snap my extrusions, or custom polygon shapes to these locators. I have had one experience doing a CAD to 3D project, and it dealt with a large area, over a km in length, but also involved many custom forms only cm in size. This was a nightmare to deal with, having to manually drag the 2nd locator, until the text display said the appropriate number, this is very difficult and you end up with numbers like 2.5666774 or something, very distracting to look at, and clients wonder whether your work is properly to scale. I could think of some more ambitious measuring systems, such as floating measuring tool tips, including angle display whilst modelling...Something like Modo
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