Help Getting Started With Pipeline Tools

Hey guys, I’m pretty new here, and I am a Technical Artist finishing up my studies at Michigan State University. I have primarily focused on Look Development, but I am also trying to get familiar with tool programming as well. I recently programmed my first Maya tool (basically a modified extrude tool), and I am trying to get started with programming pipeline tools. Quite frankly, I have no idea where to go for resources, since the term ‘pipeline tool’ means a million different things depending on the software packages.

I understand how vague of a request this is, but any guidance would be greatly appreciated. The software packages I am most familiar with are Maya for modeling and animation, Substance Suite for material authoring and texturing, and the Unity game engine. I’m familiar with Python and C-based languages as far as programming goes.

If anyone has any resources or advice getting started, I would greatly appreciate it.

Thank you! :slight_smile:

For me, the best way to learn any new tech is to keep trying to accomplish successive goals in it. There are great resources available online for accomplishing just about any specific task you might want to do, but few that offer progressive tutorials etc. I’ll let others comment on the various books out there that might be a better resource for that kind of learning.

So, probably not overly helpful, but I suggest finding the next task past the modified extrude tool and keep going…

there are quite a few threads on this forum discussing pipeline setup and distribution.

Like the other guys above said, I think just poking around the forums will be a good start. It would be hard to say “this need comes up in all productions” and try to build a tool or process around that to showcase your skills. Each production is different and the needs are constantly changing. Pipeline tools have to be adaptive and modular to production. Building a library of modules that handle such things moving/interpreting/extracting at the high level such as files and folders to such things that are at the micro level like scene data (joints, meshes, points and deformers).

I’d say from a high level, most if not all productions connect to some repository such as Perforce. When I started at my job there was no convenient way for artists to connect and manage their Maya scenes with Perforce. This was a manual thing for them but now they can checkout/revert/check status/submit all within Maya. So my advice would be to download Perforce (it’s free). There are free online hosting sites for Perforce too. So from a Pipeline standpoint, I’d become very familiar with Perforce and the commands.

Now I’ve just begun to help with getting our Substance Designer suite to play nice in our production and it’s been challenging to work with so that could also be a good place to start.

Artist accessing tools is another thing that comes up often. Shelves work great for tools but as production grows, the number of tools do as well. The number of tabs and tools that get thrown up there can get out of control quickly. Users and Artists are particular on how they want to access tools. Some prefer Shelves and some prefer menus. We’ve settled with a Tool Suite that is doc-able. The suite is modular and can expand easily as production needs grow.

So the take away here I guess is I’d begin your exploration at a high level. Artist want quick access to tools and these tools need to aid in their workflow. Pipelines that allow for quick access to data, allow to iterate fast and help them manage this data for them is one of the most important aspects of a smooth running pipeline.

Just my $0.02. Hope that helps some. It is a vague topic only because it cover such a wide range of needs for a production.

Cheers,
-Sean