eduardo simioni

Tag: tips

right click signal in PyQt/PySide

by on Jun.10, 2014, under Maya, MotionBuilder, pyqt, pyside, python

It’s extremely easy, if you know it’s called customContextMenuRequested:

As for example:

btnLeft.customContextMenuRequested.connect( lambda: self.RMB(btnLeft, oModel) )

It also has QPoint as default value returning the pixel where right click/contextMenu was requested:

btnLeft.customContextMenuRequested.connect( self.asd )

def asd(self, pos)
    print pos
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Python, modules and static objects

by on Jan.17, 2014, under python, Uncategorized

There’s this little caveat about python I recently learned that would have helped me understand some of its concepts much more clearly if I was told this earlier on:

A module is a static object.

That means, and please someone correct me if I’m wrong, but maybe with the exception of global variables (which you should avoid anyway), you can treat a module as a static object. So instead of creating a static class for some tool functions you can just group all those functions into a separate .py.

One of the best things in python is how easy and robust is to work with modules, do take your time to get to know how they work. It will help tons to organize your tools and re-use code.

Another thing to remember: is used by the python interpreter to treat directories as packages. And a must read literature on the subject is Python documentation on Modules.

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sharing files between 3dsMax and Motionbuilder

by on Oct.28, 2013, under 3ds Max, ini, maxscript, MotionBuilder, pipeline, python, xml

Here’s a small tip on where to quickly put files (ini or xml for example) that you can easily fetch from both Max:


And Motionbuilder:

import os

Both will return “C:\Users\USER\AppData\Local”. And if you ever wondered what’s the difference between /AppData/Local and AppData/Roaming this might shed some light on it:

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xml with dotnet on maxscript

by on Apr.25, 2011, under 3ds Max, pipeline, xml

Paul Neale has a very good tutorial about dotnet and maxscript, specially reading and writing xml, but I decided to add some more information from a slightly different approach. First, let’s translate an XML to dotnetesque:

    <element1 />
    <element2 attributeName="attribute content">
        <element2.1>innerXML of this element</element2.1>

And the entire document is a XmlDocument (instance of dotNetObject “System.Xml.XmlDocument“)

There are many ways to read and write XML with dotnet. If you need to read the whole document first, probably the most optimized is by using XmlParser, but it can be a bit of a pain. If you are using Maxscript you are not doing it in realtime, so a couple miliseconds won’t make that much of a difference.

Anyway, if you are looking for specific information inside tags you can easily do it using .GetElementsByTagName:

	XmlDoc = dotNetObject "System.Xml.XmlDocument"
	XmlDoc.load "D:\\Characters\\Rider\\exportEMFX.xml"

	-- I know <baseCharacter> has only one entry, so I get the first one
	tagBaseChar = XmlDoc.GetElementsByTagName "baseCharacter"
	baseCharacter = (tagBaseChar.item 0).InnerXML
	-- I don't know how many <file>s there is, so I get them into an array
	tagFiles = XmlDoc.GetElementsByTagName "file"
	fileList = (for i=0 to (tagFiles.count-1) collect (tagFiles.item i).InnerXML)

To read something like:


Note that GetElementsByTagName doesn’t care about hierarchy, it just finds the element you are looking for, no matter where in the tree it is or how many times it’s repeated. If you have a “file” under “filesToLoad” and also under “filesToSave” it won’t differentiate between them.

If you have a tree/graph structure and you don’t know each tag name one solution is to recourse through it all loading them on a dictionary or array.

Say you have an hierarchy structure you want to save, together with their layers, into an XML. You can store the data in two arrays with:

this two are recursive functions to return the hierarchy in a single array
fn GetHierarchyTree lParent =
	toRet = #(
	for o in lParent.children do
		append toRet (GetHierarchyTree o)
fn GetLayerTree lParent =
	toRet = #(
	for o in lParent.children do
		append toRet (GetLayerTree o)

this is just an example, you shouldn't use globals like this
global parentTree = #()
global layerTree = #()

gets the data into parentTree and layerTree
fn getData =
	for o in objects where o.parent == undefined do
		append parentTree (GetHierarchyTree o)
		append layerTree (GetLayerTree o)

To save this into an XML you also go with recursion:

fn recurseTreeToXML baseNode xmlDocNew pTree lTree =
    for i=1 to pTree.count do
		-- if it's a leaf, there's data, so we append
        if (isKindOf pTree[i] String) then
            curNode = xmlDocNew.CreateElement pTree[i]
            curNode.SetAttribute "layer" lTree[i]
            baseNode.appendChild curNode
            baseNode = curNode
        else -- it's a branch with more data underneath
            recurseTreeToXML baseNode xmlDocNew pTree[i] lTree[i]
fn saveDataOnXML =
	-- you cannot append elements to an xmldoc
	-- you have to append elements to a single root element, child of xmldoc
    xmlDocNew = dotNetObject "System.Xml.XmlDocument"
    xmlRoot = xmlDocNew.CreateElement (getFilenameFile maxfilename)
    xmlDocNew.appendChild xmlRoot
    recurseTreeToXML xmlRoot xmlDocNew parentTree layerTree ("C:\\temp\\test.xml")

And also to read an XML:

fn recurseXML docElement =
	tempPTree = #(
	tempLayerTree = #(docElement.getAttribute "layer")
	for i = 0 to (docElement.childNodes.count - 1) do
		tmp = (recurseXML docElement.childNodes.itemOf[i])
		append tempPTree tmp[1]
		append tempLayerTree tmp[2]
	return #(tempPTree, tempLayerTree)

global parentTreeXML = #()
global layerTreeXML = #()
fn readXML =
	xmlDoc = dotNetObject "System.Xml.XmlDocument"
	xmlDoc.load ("C:\\temp\\test.xml") 
	docElement = XmlDoc.documentElement
	-- if we don't do this here we end up with the root node on parentTreeXML
	-- which can be worked out in anoter way also, of course.
	for i = 0 to (docElement.childNodes.count - 1) do
		tmp = (recurseXML docElement.childNodes.itemOf[i])
		append parentTreeXML tmp[1]
		append layerTreeXML tmp[2]

Remember, besides dotnet help website, showproperties and showmethods are your best friends. You can also copy this code and paste on maxscript editor or jedit or somewhere with a syntax highlighter to better read it.

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reading/writing xml with python and maxscript

by on Mar.09, 2011, under pipeline

If you know where to find the information it becomes quite straight forward if you are not doing anything complex. With python you can use xml.dom.minidom, while with maxscript you can use either .NET Object “System.Xml.XmlDocument” or Class “System.Xml.XmlReader“.

With python you create a root element and append child elements from there. A very good sample can be found on: To read you have getElementsByTagName on both python and dotnet XmlDocument. XmlReader might be a bit faster, but you have to parse elements by yourself.

There’s an issue with minidom’s toprettyprintxml, it adds whitespace and tabs between tags, around textNodes. And they are obviously read afterwards. A couple of different solutions are discussed on Ron Rothman’s blog, the easiest one using xml.dom.ext.PrettyPrint.

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exporting mirrored animations from Motionbuilder

by on Mar.06, 2011, under MotionBuilder, pipeline

It’s quite easy. Basically you need to:

  1. plot to the skeleton;
  2. save one animation;
  3. turn on Mirror Animation for the character;
  4. plot back to the control rig, which then mirrors the animation;
  5. rotate the Character Reference model 180 degrees;
  6. plot back to the skeleton;
  7. save mirrored animation.

The tricky part is just number 5 where you need to do some matrix rotation. Python for this would be something like:

from pyfbsdk import *
app = FBApplication()
char = app.CurrentCharacter
savePath = r"C:\"
filename = app.FBXFileName
skeleton = FBCharacterPlotWhere.kFBCharacterPlotOnSkeleton
ctrlrig = FBCharacterPlotWhere.kFBCharacterPlotOnControlRig

# plot to skeleton, see bellow
plotAnim(char, skeleton)

# save left animation
sOptions = FBFbxOptions(False) # false = save options
sOptions.SaveCharacter = True
sOptions.SaveControlSet = False
sOptions.SaveCharacterExtension = False
sOptions.ShowFileDialog = False
sOptions.ShowOptionsDialog = False
app.SaveCharacterRigAndAnimation(savePath + "\\" + filename + "_L", char, sOptions)

# activate mirror and plot
char.MirrorMode = True
plotAnim(char, ctrlrig)

# get reference model
refModel = FBFindModelByName("Character_Ctrl:Reference")

# rotating 180, the tricky part
rotateY180 = FBMatrix()
rotateY180[0] = math.cos((180*0.017453292519943295769236907684886))
rotateY180[2] = math.sin((180*0.017453292519943295769236907684886))
rotateY180[8] = -math.sin((180*0.017453292519943295769236907684886))
rotateY180[10] = math.cos((180*0.017453292519943295769236907684886))

refMT = FBMatrix()

refModel.SetMatrix( MatrixMult(rotateY180, refMT) )

# plot back to skeleton
plotAnim(char, skeleton)

# save again
app.SaveCharacterRigAndAnimation(savePath + "\\" + filename + "_R", char, sOptions)

The plot and multiplication functions are:

# This is from Neil3d:
def MatrixMult(Ma, Mb):
    res = FBMatrix()

    for i in range(0,4):
        for j in range(0,4):
            for k in range(0,4):
                sum += Ma[i*4+k] * Mb[k*4+j]

            res[i*4+j] = sum
    return res

def plotAnim(char, where):
    if char.GetCharacterize:
        switchOn = char.SetCharacterizeOn(True)

    plotoBla = FBPlotOptions()
    plotoBla.ConstantKeyReducerKeepOneKey = True
    plotoBla.PlotAllTakes = True
    plotoBla.PlotOnFrame = True
    plotoBla.PlotPeriod = FBTime( 0, 0, 0, 1 )
    #plotoBla.PlotTranslationOnRootOnly = True
    plotoBla.PreciseTimeDiscontinuities = True
    #plotoBla.RotationFilterToApply = FBRotationFilter.kFBRotationFilterGimbleKiller
    plotoBla.UseConstantKeyReducer = False
    plotoBla.ConstantKeyReducerKeepOneKey  = True

    if (not char.PlotAnimation(where, plotoBla)):
        FBMessageBox( "Something went wrong", "Plot animation returned false, cannot continue", "OK", None, None )
        return False

    return char    

If you are exporting the character to a game, pay attention to the root node rotation. If you used it in the characterization, chances are it might also be rotated, and you might not want that to happen. You can also establish a convention on the name of the files, and easily detect if the animation currently open ends with _L or _R, and adapt the filename correctly.

FBApplication().SaveCharacterRigAndAnimation() is the equivalent of the Save Character Animation on the Character Controls window, which saves only the animation, without mesh. I prefer to use this when exporting only the animation from Motionbuilder to some other software, since it’s cleaner, faster and file sizes are smaller, but you could use any other function also.

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installing python modules on Motionbuilder

by on Feb.25, 2011, under MotionBuilder

It’s quite straight forward, once you have the correct package. Here is two places worth looking for 64 bits modules:

If you install the module it rests under C:\Python26\Lib\site-packages. You just need to copy it to a sys.path from Motionbuilder’s python. A good choice is: C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Autodesk MotionBuilder 2011 64-bit\bin\x64\python\lib\plat-win

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retargeting animation, howto/tutorial/whatis

by on Feb.06, 2011, under Uncategorized

I think a couple more words for new animators might be helpful.

Retargeting is just the process of “copying” the animation from one skeleton to the other. As you probably know, the simple cut and paste of keyframes between characters do not work. The joints might have different names, might have different rotations, different zeroed rotations, positions, etc etc. Some real time engines are able to do this with very strict rules of how the skeletons must be made, most of the time the difference are just and only the proportions, where just the rotation of the joints (except the root node) are used between skeletons that are mostly equal.

When characters have different skeletons, even with different hierarchies, you have to use some sort of tool, like Motionbuidler. The way it does is to have two characters in the scene, and copy it from “one control rig to the other”. If you haven’t, you should familiarize yourself completely with Motionbuilder’s characterize tools, since they are essential to fully use the software. Characters in Motionbuilder can have many inputs, like an Actor from mocap software, the control rig, which is used to animate or edit the animation of a skeleton, or another character, to “retarget” the animation from this character to the current one.

Getting into more detail, to do this, you import or merge both skeleton hierarchies into one scene. You characterize each one of them, correctly. They need both to be on tpose, and ideally should have all their bones above ground (above 0 y). Refer to Motionbuilder help for this, it’s thoroughly explained there. And this is one of the tricky parts, to use the retargeter script, each animation to be imported must be on tpose on frame 0. You don’t actually need to create a control rig for each one of them, after both are characterized, you just need to select the input type of the new character to the old character, and activate it. Animation on both characters should then be synched, regardless of differences in hierarchies or proportions.

The retargeter script just automates this process, loading a folder containing .fbx or .bvh animations over the new character. It does characterize the animations if needed, but they need to follow either Motionbuilder nomenclature or 3dsMax Biped to be correctly characterized. If they are not, you can just edit the Motionbuilder one inside the script, changing the right column to match the names on your skeleton. You don’t need to change all of them, just the ones present on your skeleton (if you don’t have finger animations don’t bother, for example).

You can, for example, get all or some of the 2600+ mocap files from Carnegie Mellon University Motion Capture Database at, which has .bvh’s and .fbx’s with a tpose on frame 0, and with the retargeter script quickly retarget them over your character.

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