Maya Entertainment Creation Suite 2012 Review: Greater Interoperability
Mudbox is the one tool I wish had more reason and time to use, but with the new updates it has made me make some time for it. While my experience in the past was positive I had some display problems and a few other bugs that made working in it not as smooth as it should be.
This update was not without its problems from what I was reading on Twitter, but for my system it has been great. I did a clean install and applied the hot fix 1 for it before testing it out. Right away the new Send to Maya allowed me to quickly round trip a mesh and quickly worked the first time. I was able to use the new interactive split tool in Maya to adjust and add some edge loops to my mesh then send those changes back to Mudbox 2012 and kept on sculpting.
I can't stand dealing with Uvs (though I like working with textures), so enter Uv-less painting with Ptex. Ptex lets me start painting without having Uvs on my mesh, and I can paint across multiple meshes. To stay Uv free, you can export directly to Ptex files, or if you're not rendering in RenderMan and need maps for a game, you can bake them out to imagemaps and Uvs on the model.
However, now the modeler can build and weigh an entire skeleton for his rig in Mudbox to get better deformation and even store full poses that will allow for better sculpting and painting of detail. No more arguments over what T pose to model in to give the Character TD, They both can use whichever poses they need, and before export to Maya, the modeler can apply the rigging pose.
Maya Entertainment Creation Suite 2012 is a packaged set of tools almost too good to be true. There are a few catches, though, and some things to consider in upgrading anytime there are this many changes. The big one is, of course, if you're looking to take advantage of the one-click send function. It uses .FBX, so reading the notes and limitations for the current version of the format is a must. Some workflows or pipelines could be limited by the way .FBX handles the data. I also found that some of the presets that the FBX file format are sending data back and forth with could be better, and there were a few send as update bugs I hit when sending to Mudbox 2012 from Maya.
What started out strong in 2011 with improvements to skinning tools has been left mostly untouched. However, some serious crash bugs in my favorite tools such as "weight hammer" and "smooth skin weights" were addressed. I hoped they would default the skinning tools back to interactive normalization instead of post as it currently is, since it does not work well for anything but the capsule method, but it is easy to fix if you know it is there.