Maya Camera Rig Builder Script



Posted: 2022-10-21 | Updated: 2022-11-17

So this is going to be a bit more of a code based post. Although I am not going to diving into the code perse. At the time of writing, the plan was to copy the code right here into the post, but as I write this I think maybe linking off to my gitlab account might be the best idea. That way any updates I make to it will be immediately available.

Goal with the Script

The goal here was to build a very simple camera rig, that accomplishes as much as possible. Lets call it the Minimum Viable Product. It was intended to be used for a training course teaching beginners the ins and out of being a layout artist. I wanted something that mimiced closely what I like to use professionally, but with all the bells & whistles removed. It is intended to be pipeline agnostic and thus its pretty barebones.

That said, it is fully functional.

Install / Setup

The quickest way to use the script would be to create your own shelf and create a shelf tool. That way you just need to click it when you need to create a new camera in your scene.

Its very simple to add to your shelf:

  1. Copy the whole script (all the text) from this Link
  2. Click on the gear on your shelf and choose New Shelf and enter a shelf name.
  3. You will now have an empty shelf, click the gear again and choose Shelf Editor
  4. Under Shelf Contents on the right hand side, click the little plus button which will create a User Script, which you can rename to Create Camera Rig. Feel free to change the icon and change the tool tip as you like.
  5. Click the Command tab at the top, set it to Python and then below remove any text/code that exits and paste in the code from the script.
  6. You can now just close this dialogue box.

Thats it! Its setup and ready to use.

Usage

Click your new shelf tool! It will prompt you for a name and traditionally this would be a sequence number followed by a shot number. I generally use something like Cam_XXXX_XXX where the 'X' represents the shot number. Maya does not like asset names starting with numbers, hence the Cam_ at the start.

Once you press Ok, you will have a new camera in your scene:

Simple Camera Rig

It looks more complicated than you think, dont panic!

Controls

Lets run through the controls from the top of the Hierachy to the bottom

  1. The top level group with a namespace :camera - Best not to put any animation keys on this group. Treat it just as a group to house your new camera.
  2. local_ctl - this is a group with no visible controller, used for complex camera moves.
  3. COG_ctl - The Yellow Ring. Think of this as your Tripod. Use this to place your cameras starting position & rotation.
  4. dolly_trackctl - The Pale Blue Ring. This is for moving your camera forwards/backwards and sideways.
  5. crane_ctl - The Vertical Green Elipse. This is for moving your camera up and down.
  6. pan_ctl - The Inner Green Ring. Used for rotating left and right.
  7. tilt_ctl - The Red Half Circle. Used for rotating up and down.
  8. roll_ctl - The Dark Blue Ring. Used to rotate the camera onto its side. Used for a dutch tilt for example.
  9. renderCamera - Finally we have the camera itself. Here is where you would setup any lensing such as Focal Length, Focal Distance and the size of your Film Gate, etc.

Video Tutorial

Here is a quick intro video showing the installation & basic controls of the rig.