Friday, 29 January 2016

The Free ParentMaster Plugin For Maya

Parent Master
The ParentMaster is an excellent free plugin for Maya. It was created by Paolo Dominici and it greatly simplifies the business of attaching and un-attaching objects in Maya - an essential part of the animator's toolkit.

Say you want to animate a character picking up a ball and then dropping it. Sounds simple, right? Well, in Maya, this can actually be a slightly tricky process.

But by downloading and installing this free tool, you will have made your life as a Maya animator much, much easier.

What is the Parentmaster for?
The free Parentmaster plugin is a way to attach and un-attach objects in Maya.

What do you need to do?
Importing and installing the ParentMaster should allow you to:
  1. Import a free plugin into Maya – the ParentMaster - and install it successfully.
  2. Learn how the Parent Master works by attaching and un-attaching objects in Maya using the free ParentMaster factory Maya file
  3. Use the ParentMaster to animate a character picking up a ball and then dropping it.
The ParentMaster "factory"
Import and install the plugin
You can find the free plugin here:
You will need to register with Creative Crash and then log in.

1. Import the ParentMaster plugin and open it up.
2. Find the Read me document inside and follow it carefully
3. Place "" in your scripts folder in Maya. Navigate through documents to find your Maya folder. It should look something like this: 
Win XP: "C:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME\My Documents\maya\scripts"
Win Vista/Win 7: "C:\Users\USERNAME\Documents\maya\scripts"
4.  Now Place the "zv" folder in the same folder (If that doesn’t work, try placing it in the icons folder instead)
5. In Maya, open up the Script Editor and go to the Python tab, copy and paste these two rows:

import ZvParentMaster
Highlight it and click on "Save Script to Shelf...", specify a name for the shelf (eg PM) and click "OK".
You should now see a tab on your shelf labeled PM. Click on it, and this symbol should appear in your view port:
If you have any problems with installation, go through the process again.
Video Reference
To see Paolo Dominici demonstrate how it works, check out the demo at

Animate the ParentMaster factory.
Test your understanding of how the ParentMaster works by completing the free animation exercise so that the parcel moves through the factory, attaching and un-attaching as it goes (allow around 10-15 mins for this).
  1. Open up the Maya scene file that comes with the ParentMaster – it looks like a little factory. Create a project, and set to it.
  2. At the frame where you want to attach the parcel to the blue pusher, select the box, select the pusher, and click on the attach button
  3. At the frame where you want to un-attach the parcel from the blue pusher, select the box, select the pusher, and click on the detach button.
  4. Keep repeating the process until the parcel box moves through the factory.

Technical Notes
How to edit Parent Master constraints and adjust the timing in the Graph Editor:
  1. Go to the Parent Master menu bar and select the 5th icon down labeled “Select constraints and snap groups”, and click on it
  2. This will show your ParentMaster key frames in the Graph Editor
  3. Adjust the timing of the key frames just like you would any keyframes in Maya
And to use the ParentMaster on a Mac (which is a little tricky) try this video helpfully recorded by Animation Apprentice student Alexi Balian:

Use the Parent Master to animate a character picking up and ball and dropping it.
  1. Import a character rig such as Morpheus. Google “Morpheus rig maya” to find and download the rig.
  2. Import a table (find one at www.turbosquid) into your shot
  3. Create a ball. Create/polygon primitives/sphere
  4. Set Morpheus’s hands to IK.
  5. Under Preferences, set your animation to stepped curves
  6. On stepped curves, animate Morpheus picking up the ball and dropping it, using the Parent Master.
Problems with referencing
Note that the Parent Master does not work with referenced files. Or, rather, it can be made to work - but it is difficult.


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