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Maya Plugin (alpha)

Note that this software is in early access (alpha) - we're still refining the user flow and there may be stability issues.

Last updated: December 17, 2020
Version: 0.1.0-alpha
Coming soon!

Installation

For users who are a part of our early access program, you should have received LookinGlassMayaPlugin.zip. Inside that, you'll find a file called Maya_Looking_Glass_Installer.exe. Run this executable with administrative privileges and wait for it to open a graphical user interface (GUI) with a red "Setup" button at the top. It may take several minutes. Once this GUI opens, press the "Setup" button. You should see a Windows pop-up that notifies you that the installation was complete.

Installer

Open Maya 2020. Go to "Windows" → "Settings/Preferences" → "Plug-in Manager". Ensure that LookingGlassMayaPlugin.mll has "Loaded" and "Auto-loaded" checked. Close the plug-in manager.


Using the Plugin

Before using the plugin, ensure that HoloPlay Service is running on the machine.

Setting up your camera

With the plugin installed, you'll see a "Holoplay" button at the top of the Maya window. Select "Create Camera" to create a Holoplay camera object in the scene.

Create Camera

You'll see a camera gizmo with a modified frustrum with three rectangles in it. These are the near clipping plane, the focal plane, and the far clipping plane. The area between the near clipping plane — the rectangle closest to the camera icon — and the far clipping plane encapsulates what will be shown in the Looking Glass. The focal plane, between the two, indicates where content will appear the sharpest, the most in-focus. You should always aim to have this focal plane intersect the content you most want the viewers attention to be drawn to. See our design guidelines for more.

Clipping Planes


Modifying the Camera

There are several ways to customize the Holoplay camera. To access these, select the camera using "Holoplay" → "Select Camera". In the Maya Channel Box, select the "Attribute Editor". Click the "Extra Attributes" drop down, and you'll see several options to customize the camera.

Attribute Editor

Camera Capture Parameters

These settings determine what is captured within the camera's capture box.

  • Camera Size will set the size of the capture box. Objects will appear smaller in the Looking Glass as the size increases, allowing you to see more of your scene.
  • FoV sets the field of view of the camera. By default, 14 degrees gives good visual results, but in certain cases — especially when there is a lot of depth to your scene — it can be good to increase the FoV.
  • Near Clip adjusts how far forward content can appear in the Looking Glass before being discarded by camera frustrum culling.
  • Far Clip adjusts how far back content will be captured in the Looking Glass. This, like the near clip, has its default set to a reasonable amount — extending it farther will lead to artifacts on objects far away.

Depth of Field

Depth of field is a useful tool to improve the visual quality of a scene, especially one with objects far from the focal plane. It will not remove the artifact caused by having content off the focal plane — rather, it makes this artifact more visually appealing.

  • Depth of Field toggle enables or disables the depth of field effect.
  • Focus Distance sets how far from the center of focus is for the depth of field effect. The default is set to the focal plane.
  • F Stop determines how much of the scene is in focus and how intense the blurring effect is. Lower numbers mean more blur, higher numbers mean less.

Other Settings

  • Holoplay Background Color sets the background color for renders.
  • Quilt File Save Location determines where quilts are saved to. If you want to access the quilts output from Maya on your hard drive, navigate to this path in your File Explorer.
  • Quilt Preset sets how high the resolution of your capture is for both renders and previews. This is automatically set and shouldn't need to be adjusted. If, however, you do want to customize your capture resolution, you can alter this. When you change it, however, you will need to re-create the camera by deselecting the Holoplay camera and going to "Holoplay" → "Create Camera".

Visualizing Content on the Looking Glass

Rendered Content

There are several ways to create renders for the Looking Glass. The primary method of doing so is to select, in the Maya Menu, "Holoplay" → "Render on Demand". This will take whatever renderer is currently enabled and render a 3D image to visualize in your Looking Glass. You can always clear your Looking Glass display by moving your mouse over to it and clicking on the 3D image. You can return the previous capture by selecting "Holoplay" → "Show Last Quilt".

Rendering

Batch rendering creates a background process to create the 3D image, so you can continue using Maya for other purposes while the 3D view is composited. To create a batch render, change your Maya Menu Set to "Rendering" and select "Render" → "Batch Render".

Once the batch render is finished (as indicated in the MEL command line console), select "Holoplay" → "Build Quilt from last Batch Render" to visualize it in the Looking Glass.

Render Previews

Depending on the complexity of your scene and your renderer, taking a capture can take several minutes. As such, it may be a good idea to preview what you're going to be capturing before commencing the render. There are three ways to do this — showing a render preview, rendering a snapshot, or toggling on the real time preview.

A render preview gives you a 2D representation of what you will see on your Looking Glass after a full render is performed. To view a render preview, select "Holoplay" → "Render Preview". This will open a preview window with the 2D representation. You can also modify which renderer you're using from this window — Maya Software, Maya Hardware, or other rendering pipelines like Arnold or VRay.

When using different renderers like Arnold, be sure to confirm that your pixel aspect ratio is set to 1. It occasionally defaults to other values. You can find the pixel aspect ratio under at the bottom of the "Render Settings" window.

A snapshot render is a simplified 3D image that indicates what will be shown after a full render without the nice materials and lighting. To take a snapshop, you can select "Holoplay" → "Render Snapshot on Demand". This will create a simple wireframe 3D image on your Looking Glass. This can be useful to help you correctly set your framing and focal plane positioning before you do a 3D capture.

Real Time Preview

The real time preview is an advanced form of preview that re-creates the Maya view port in 3D on the Looking Glass. Unlike the render preview or the snapshot render, it doesn't require the use of the rendering pipeline and it isn't bound by the near and far clipping planes of the Holoplay camera object. To enable it, go to "Holoplay" → "Toggle On Real Time Preview".

Real Time Preview

Instead, this real time preview, once toggled on, will update any time something in the scene is altered. It typically takes a few seconds to do so, but once it does, it provides a recreation of the Maya view port that matches the view port settings. If, for example, your view port is set to "wireframe on shaded" mode, this will be reproduced in the Looking Glass via the real-time preview.

Because the real time preview draws directly from the Maya view port, the aspect ratio of the view port affects the 3D image on the Looking Glass. If your real time preview ever looks squished or stretched on the Looking Glass, try adjusting the size of the view port to better match the aspect ratio of the Looking Glass display.

Be aware that the real time preview will, when toggled on, will dominate what is displayed in the Looking Glass. If you want to view a render, be sure to toggle the real time preview off before rendering.