Quick Tips

Opening Multiple Instances of Adobe After Effects

Being a long-time After Effects user from back in the Cosa days before it was bought out by Adobe, this is a little trick that, even when I show it to some power users their jaw will drop in surprise. Yes, you can open and run multiple copies of After Effects on the same computer at the same time and it is so lame and easy to set up that it is crazy that it does not just do this out of the box.
after effects properties window
All you need to do is go in the properties window by right clicking on the icon and choosing properties (get info on Mac OSX). After the command to open the program append a -m which is the flag for multiple and you will now be able to open up several After Effects projects all at once.

Vertex Colors in Maya From a Houdini Alembic File

Since I have been using Redshift as my need speed, go to render engine when I just won’t have time for Mantra, I have been beefing up my Houdini to Maya Alembic pipeline. While straightforward, there are a few caveats. In this particular case, I was wanting to get my point/vertex colors from Houdini into Maya in order to render my geometry with the baked in colors from Houdini. A few notes, you will need to have a Cd attribute in Houdini of type vertex. In Houdini, Cd will usually be a point attribute, so a simple attribute promote will do the trick here. Just promote your Cd attribute from point to vertex and you should be good to go.
Unfortunately, the GUI Maya alembic importer does not do the trick, so we just need to import via the script editor with some very simple Mel. All you need to do is make sure you have the alembicImport plug-in on and type the following Mel command:
AbcImport -mode import -rcs “myPathToMyAlembic\”;
Obviously, you will substitute your own path and file name.
You should now see your alembic file in Maya with the vertex colors in the viewport.
Now that we have our geometry imported correctly and we can see the vertex colors, we need to set up our Redshift shader, though we are using Redshift in this example, this method works for Mental Ray and Vray.
In the modeling context, under Mesh Display you can see the Color Set Editor, which you can open to find the name of your color set. In our case, coming from Houdini, it’s just Cd.
Next, just create a redshiftVertexColor and under General, in the box labeled Vertex Set just add in the name of our color set, in this case, Cd. Now you just pipe out the outColor to whatever slot you want and hit the render button.