Projects

Outline

This page describes upcoming projects. The introduction tells who I am, where I have previously worked and what my skills are.  The Business Outline provides the objective of my venture as well as details such as demand, supply, resources.  Finally Projects will outline the work for the coming period, starting with the anBuoy project. This page will evolve over time. 

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Introduction

My name is Rene van de Poel. I am of Dutch origin, but currently living in France where I am registered at the Chamber of Commerce as a software-developer/technical-director. ANNEXNINE is a working title that I use to run my business. 

Previously I worked as Technical-Director/Software-Developer in the global Visual Effects and Motion Pictures industry (Weta Digital, Wellington, New Zealand). Prior to that I worked in the Animation and Motion Pictures industry (Disney Animation Studios, Los Angeles, USA). During those 10+ years I received film credits for Chicken Little, Meet the Robinsons, Bolt, The Princess and the Frog, Avatar, The Adventures of Tintin.  

I am specialized in writing Autodesk Maya plugins. My main skills are: Maya, Maya API, C/C++, Python, MEL, Qt, PyQt, OpenGL, CUDA, Object Oriented Design.

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Business Outline

  • General Objective - To provide VFX/Animation Industry with intuitive & efficient digital pipeline tools.
  • Commercial Objective - To develop Autodesk plugins and license the corresponding runtime libraries to interested third party clients. 
  • Clients - The VFX, Animation, VR and Post Production Industry.
  • Demand - I have received queries from the industry with regards to developing Autodesk plugins for their production pipeline.   
  • Expertise - The development of the plugins is based on my 10+ years of knowledge of Production Pipelines and Maya API development work in the industry. 
  • Resources - Software & Hardware
    • Software - I have submitted an application for a "Startup Autodesk Developer Network" annual subscription in order to get access to Autodesk Software Products/Release-Versions and their API libraries/materials. 
    • Hardware - Development will happen on Intel/NVidia hardware that is financed by myself.  
  • Distribution - The Plugin License will be commercially available online through either a Plugin Store or direct from this website. 
  • Releases - The product will be initially offered for alpha testing to a very limited group of users followed by a release to a wider audience. Subsequent releases containing bug fixes and/or new functionality will be made available over time.  
  • Support - Reported product issues will be addressed as best as possible and as soon as possible. Feature requests will be taken into serious consideration. 
  • Personnel - At first 1 person. To be extended over time, dependant on revenue, by means of collaboration with people with appropriate profiles.  

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Projects

For 2017 the plan is to launch one or more Autodesk Plugins that are aimed at the SFX, Animation, VR and Post Production industry. 

  • The first scheduled project goes under the name "anBuoy" and entails an Autodesk Maya plugin for riggers, character finallers and animators.
  • A second project named "anGeoCluster" may run in parallel to the "anBuoy" project and entails an Autodesk Flame plugin for the Post Production Industry.  
  • Additional Autodesk plugins for both Maya and Flame will be added over time dependant on resources and demand. 

Abstract
This project entails a single custom Maya deformer which behaviour is defined by an arbitrary number of handles. Each handle is attached to a point on the geometry. The geometry itself is deformed smoothly by pulling and pushing the handles by means of the standard Maya Move tool. The design is such that that any time each handle remains attached to the geometry's surface irrespective of the inflicted deformation by adjacent handles 1
This in contrast to the standard Maya Soft Deformer that does not have this capability. One could try to connect multiple standard Soft Deformers in series but then only the last handle in the chain would stay on the geometry surface while the ones earlier on in the deformation chain may float in space.

End Users 
This Maya plugin is aimed at riggers, character finallers and animators.
 
Benefits
  • This deformer provides riggers, character finalling as well as animators an intuitive and simple way to tweak geometry by means of multiple handle controls that remain on the surface of the geometry i.e. there will be no controls that float in space.
  • Animators can add handles at will to achieve a pose that otherwise would have required a rigging tweak back in the rigging department i.e. it gives the animator the flexibility to tweak geometry on a per shot basis. 
  • Industry feedback has shown that the intuitive and modular nature of this tool helps to reduce production costs e.g. crew members reach their quotas more easily & there is a reduced need to send a rig back upstream for adjustments.
Implementation
  • Nodes - This plugin contains a number of custom Maya nodes which together form a framework that allows the user to manipulate the geometry in any arbitrary way.
  • Parallel Processing - This deformer lends itself for calculating the vertex deformation deltas in parallel i.e. GPU parallel processing will speed up the deformation considerably by calculating chunks of vertex deltas in parallel threads and assembling the final result in one single update vector. 
  • Masking - Vertices with positions outside the deformation zone can be de-selected a priori by using the standard Maya paint tool so that their deformation deltas will not be calculated during the deformation process. 
  • Alembic - The final deformed geometry will be distilled into a non-procedural, application-independent set of baked geometric results by means of Alembic's open computer graphics interchange framework.
  • Licence Server - The plugin will interact with an existing Licence Server product in order to manage its product license.
  • Technology - Autodesk Maya, Maya API, C++, MEL, Python, NVidia CUDA, Object Oriented Design
Project Schedule
  • Total Development time - 5 month
  • Alpha Testing - 1 month
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Project "anGeoCluster"

Abstract
This project entails a custom Autodesk Flame plugin that incorporates deformation technology from the anBuoy project. It allows the user to tweak the shape of 2D or 3D geometry by simply moving just one single anchor point. All points within the anchor's region of influence will be moved by a displacement that is weighted by the distance between anchor and point . Additional anchors can be added to move other areas of the same shape. 

Benefits
  • Being able to manually art direct the shape of a 2D/3D geometry including point clouds
  • 2D/3D geometry can be tweaked within Flame without the need to export it back into another geometry manipulation package.

Implementation
  • Nodes - This plugin adds one extra node to Flame's existing node palette. Its input/output can be either a 2D or 3D shape or point cloud.
  • Controls - This plugin has controls for the anchor's position, region of influence and falloff. 
  • Technology - Autodesk Flame Premium, GLSL Matchbox, Wiretap SDK, C++, Python, NVidia CUDA  
Project Schedule
  • Estimated total Development time - 2 months
  • Alpha/Beta Testing - 1 month

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