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PEN Productions News and Updates as of July 19, 2013
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Pose Saver Released:

Pose Saver has just been released. Pose saver is a fast and simple way to store poses for any track of animation on any type of rig for 3DS Max 2009 or higher.

MX Driver 2 on Sale for $129.00:
Three Master Classes for the price of two!

Offer Extended!

Deal is only valid until Friday July 26th so sign up today!

Max Math Master Class: Wed, Aug 14th. 10:00am - 1:00pm (GMT-5)
Intro To Character Rigging Master Class: Wednesday, July 17th. 10:00am - 1:00pm (GMT-5)
Max Script 101: Tuesday, July 30th. 10:00am - 1:00pm (GMT-5)
3ds Max Mudbox Workflow: Thursday, Aug 1st. 10:00am - 1:00pm (GMT-5)
Interview with Paul Neale
Recently I had the pleasure of having Autodesks Fianna Wong drop by my office and interviewed me for area.autodesk.com

Here is what came of it.

Autodesk Unniversity
Autodesk University is held every year in Las Vegas Nevada. This year there will be a huge pressence from the Media and Entertainment side of the business.

Paul Neale will be presenting three master classes at the show. Come down and join us for the biggest Autodesk learning experience that you will find any where in the world.

Paul Neale's Master Class times and sign up.

Gwen & Dave the Animated Short
An Autodesk Production in association with Hatch Studios.
PEN Productions handled the character rigging and Brian Lamay did the original character design concepts.
Developing Scripted Plugins.
CLASS COMPLETED!

Developing Scripted Plugins will cover a range of possible plugins that can be created with Max Script. Creating custom plugin objects, modifiers, materials and others is an excellent way to meet production needs and simplify work flows for artists.

Scripted plugins can be used for a range of production needs. From creating custom objects to building animation pipelines for complex systems. At PEN Productions we have used scripted plugins to create mechanical and organic animation systems, facial control systems as well as custom objects and modifiers.

Max Script 101 Master Class:
CLASS COMPLETED!

A new Master Class has been added for 2012. Max Script 101

Max Script 101 is an introduction to using Max Script in production. This class is for students that have not yet learned Max Script and are interested in adding it to their production tool set.

Max Script is a powerful and versatile tool in 3DS Max and when used effectively can speed production workflow's and add tools that are not available in 3DS Max. Custom tools will help artists work faster by giving them shortcuts and methods of working that are specific to their needs.

Sign up today..

PEN Productions Master Classes featuring Paul Neale COMPLETED!
These classes have been completed!
Five new Master Classes have been added so far and will be held on Wednesdays mornings starting February 15 2012 at 10am. Sign up to your favorite class today.
Joystick Lite Alpha/Beta Starting soon:
If you have been waiting for the alpha/beta to start on Joystick Lite keep an eye out here or on one of the social media. Development of the tool is underway again and will be heading into late alpha as soon as I can get a forum up and running.

I will be looking for a select group of testers that will be able to push it through its paces and make sure that it is production ready. If you are interested in joining in drop me an email at Email: info@penproductions.ca letting me know what sort of work you do and how you would like to be using it.

Joystick Lite..

Developing .Net Tools In Max Script: Success!
Developing .Net Tools was the sixth Online Master Class pressed by PEN Productions and it was a resounding success. During the class we developed a Max Script/DotNet based animation joy stick control that can work with any number of controls and characters in a scene.

Here is a quick demo of what was created in the three hour class.

Master Class - Developing .Net Tools In Max Script:
Developing .Net Tools In Max Script Wednesday, Sept 28th. 9:00am to 12:00pm EST Sign up today to reserve your seat.

Please drop into the web site to see what other classes are being offered.

Master Classes..

Master Class - Master Class - Facial Rigging Blended Morphing:
Facial Rigging Blended Morphing Tuesday, September 21th. 9:00am to 12:00pm EST Sign up today to reserve your seat.

Please drop into the web site to see what other classes are being offered.

Master Classes..

Master Class - Character Skinning / Tips, Tricks and Refinements:
Character Skinning / Tips, Tricks and Refinements will be delivered on Tuesday, September 14th. 9:00am to 12:00pm EST Sign up today to reserve your seat.

Please drop into the web site to see what other classes are being offered.

Master Classes..

Master Classes:
PEN Productions and Paul Neale now offer Master Classes that will cover many topics including Max Script, Character Rigging and Mudbox. Many more will be added in the coming months.

Please drop into the web site to see what is being offered and read more information about the classes.

Master Classes..

MX Driver now has a new low price
MX Driver has a new low price of just $199 CAN.

MX Driver has been designed as an animators tool for working with Car, Truck and Trailer animations. It is not a vehicle simulator that calculates its own trajectory and rollover. It has automation built in that will aid in the creation of realistic and even cartoony vehicle animations.

Read more about it.. MX Driver 2

PEN Licensing System Now Only $99
I have reduced the price on the PEN Licensing system. It can now be purcased for $99 CAN. License all your Max script tools for just the price of one license.

PEN License System

PEN Licensing System available for 2012
The PEN Licensing System is a generic tool that can be used by any Max Script tool that needs to be protected. The system is easy to implement and simple for clients to use. A key generator is included that allows for tracking of generated licenses and license keys.

PEN Licensing system was developed to address the need for a quick, easy and secure way to license Max Script tools. Without a licensing system it is very easy for wares sites to provide free versions of the tools that you have worked hard to create. With this system any vendor can provide encrypted and secure licensing for scripted tools of all kinds.

PEN License System

Preset Manager: (New Script)
Gives the user the ability to save presets for nodes and modifiers so that on creation they use the presets. An example would be to always have Turbo Smooth added with the iterations set to 2 and isolineDisplay set to true.

Preset Manager

Tutorial: DotNet, Numeric Up Down
NumericUpDown
This was a real quick tutorial that shows how to create a numericUpDown work like a Max spinner.

DotNet NumericUpDown

Tutorial: Compositing in 3DS Max Composite
This is a series of three video tutorials that takes you through compositing a simple scene that has been rendered from 3DS Max 2011. The tutorial doesn't cover the steps taken in 3DS Max how ever and may be added to this tutorial in the future. At this time it will assume that you are comfortable with setting up render passes and render elements to be able to split each of the needed elements that are needed.

Compositing with 3DS Max Elements in Max Composite

Autodesk Master Class: Mechanical Leg Rig:
For Siggraph 2010 Paul Neale created a Master Class for Autodesk on the subject of rigging a mechanical leg in 3DS Max 2011. With many complex issues involved, such as, multi jointed, planer and spherical joints, dynamic tubing and flexible animation controls the rig shows many solutions to problems faced while setting up mechanical characters and systems.

This tutorial isn't just for the entertainment industry as it covers many tricks of the trade for any dealing with mechanical components in production.

Check out the Master Class at the-area.com or follow the direct link below.

Autodesk Master Class: Mechanical Leg Rig
Tutorial: Gears
In this tutorial I show how to set up gears using proceedural methods so they are easy to create and fast to setup.

tutorial gears

Bezier Curves:
A new tutorial has been posted that demonstrates how bezier curves can be derived using Max script and the theory behind how they are built.

Bezier Curves

WPF is here for Max 2011:
If you are a Max script developer it has been hard for you to resist learning how to implement Dot Net into you every day work flow. Dot Net has opened up doors that were not possible in Max script alone and made things possible that you would have other wise had to do in the Max SDK and C++.

One of the added capabilities of using Dot Net in Max script has been the GDI+ drawing methods. GDI (Graphical Device Interface) as allowed for more robost and customized user interfaces to be developed. PEN Productions has used it extensively in production tools and even used it to develope a animation control interface for mechanical systems.

Now that Max 2011 has arrived it is now possible to use the next generation graphical subsystem in Dot Net called WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation). Max 2011 has been updated to use Dot Net 3.5 so any development in the area of WPF is stricked to Max 2011 and up only. WPF works directly on DirectX which means that it is hardware excelerated and will be far faster then GDI+ for complex graphics on screen. It is also possible to use XAML for defining dynamic UI items.

James Haywood has posted one of the first Max script/WPF tutorials that I have seen on the web to date on his blog site here that covers how to implement a WPF interface in Max 2011.

PEN Watermark has been released:
PEN Watermark is a utility used for watermarking the Max viewport for demos, Camtasias or screen grabs. It is free for down load.

Watermark..

PEN Productions works with premier animation house Pasozebra Producciones:
Pasozebra Producciones resides in Valencia Spain and is currently working on a series of TV commercial spots for Actimel de Danone. PEN Productions is working with them on custom character tools and animation rigs.
Parameter Wire Copying by Mathieson Facer:
Mathieson Facer has posted a new tutorial on how to copy parameter wires in 3DS Max. If you have ever tried you would know that it is not possible through the UI and with Max script using the same metheds that would be used for any other controller will not work either. Mat shows us how it is done.

Parameter Wire Copying..

FFD Mirroring by Mathieson Facer:
Mathieson Facer has just posted a tutorial showing a very unique way to mirror an FFD space warp for use in cartoon eye setups without ending up with a negative scale or other issues. Visit his site for more information.

FFD Mirroring..

Mat joined PEN Productions as Senior Technical Director and Production Supervisor in 2009. Mats expertise from working on feature films, game titles and broadcast projects has allowed PEN Productions to provide even better service to our clients.

DotNet Form Tutorial:
A new tutorial on using dotNet forms and maxCustomControls.maxForm has been added to the tutorials page.

DotNet Tutorials..

An updated verison of Walter and Oliver:

An update to the Walter and Oliver rigs has been uploaded. There are small code fixes and the license file has been updated to last another year. Each year the license expires, this way I know that every one that is using the characters have the most up todate version.

Any one linking to Walter or Oliver should do it to the page and not directly to the download file as the version number will update from time to time.

PEN Animation Characters Download..
PEN Rigging Utils has been updated to support Dot Net and 64 bit.
PEN Rigging Utils has been updated to work with Dot Net and 64 bit versions of Max. Version 5.00 is ready for down load from the scripts page and will work on Max versions from 2008 and up. It should also work on Max 9, please let me know if you have any problems. Thanks goes to Kevin Ala-Pantti for updating the code for me, Kevin is a student at Humber College and will be graduating at the end of August 2010 and will be looking for work as a technical director. Please visit his site for more information.
MX Driver 2 and Animation Characters now run on Max 2010 Sp.1:
Service Pack 1 has shipped for Max 2010 and Max Design 2010. This now insures that MX Driver 2 and the free animation characters, Walter and Oliver, will load correctly on start up. To be able to run either of these tools from PEN Productions you will have to down load and install Service Pack 1.

Download: Autodesk 3ds Max 2010 SP1

Download: Autodesk 3ds Max Design 2010 SP1

Morpher Tutorial Posted:
A quick tutorial has been posted that covers how to use soft selections to control which parts of a morph target are used by the Morpher modifier. Using a method like this allows for creating a full face target and then creating several targets from it.

View the tutorial here

Roary The Racing Car Production Focus:
Roary The Racing Car is a Britsh production about a racing car and his friends. Chapman Entertainment, the creators of Roary and Fifi and the Flower Tots started the series in UK and it has now spread around the globe.

Read about the production and how PEN Productions worked with Studio Liddell to help create the second season of Roary The Racing Car.

Bioshock 2:
Jeff Weir talks about reinventing the under water world in Bioshock 2 in a CG Talk production focus written by Peter Rizkalla.

PEN Productions Inc. worked closely with 2K Marin and Jeff Weir to create the character animation tools and pipe line for handling the new characters in Bioshock 2. PEN worked on 17 of the characters for Bioshock 2 starting with Big Sister seen in the illustration above. The character system developed by PEN was a hybrid of the RAIC system used in many projects done for clients in the last two years. A facial animation system was developed as well that incorporated dot net joy stick controls and pose capture system.

Read the article at CG Talk where Jeff describes the process of creating the world of Bioshock 2.

Pinky Dinky Doo Production Focus:
Pinky Dinky Doo is a Sesame Workshop / Cartoon Pizza production about a young girl that likes to make up outrageous and bizarre stories. Sesame Workshop and Cartoon Pizza first created this project using Flash technology in a completely two dimensional world.

Read more about it.

RAIC System Information:
The RAIC (Referenced, Autonomous, Intelligent, Control) System has been developed by PEN Productions Inc. to help ease the animation process in character based productions. This system is not a character rigging system but a character control system that can be built into any type of character setup. Biped, multiped, basketball or a sack of flour, it doesn't really matter what the character is, RAIC will help make managing your character during animation easier and faster.

The RAIC system handles motion capture data, saving and loading poses, space switching and much much more.

Read more about it on the RAIC page.

PEN Animation Characters Ready for Download!:
PEN Productions Inc has released two in a series of animation characters designed for the budding animator as a learning tool.
Read more about it: PEN Animation Characters

With the new release to the public there have been several new bugs found especially when using Max 2010. Please read the bug list and report any others that you may find. Note the version that you have installed when reporting bugs and please let me know which version of Max (Max, Design, Version number, Service packs) and windows version that you are using. I'm not able to test on all possible combinations of Max and windows that are available so I'm relying on users like your self to help us at PEN to produce a product free to the masses that works as well as possible.

Current bug list: History / Bugs
DotNet Tutorial / Tab Control:
A new dotnet tab control tutorial has been added to the totorials page.

DotNet Tutorials..

Reset X Form tool has been updated to V:2.01.02R
Thanks goes to Jon Seagull for passing on a bug that was slowing down the searches with many objects. The update can be down loaded from the scripts page.

Reset X Form

Ryan Trowbridge site updated!
Ryan has been working on tutorials for Max and Maya on his site and has now added a one that shows how to setup and use Python in 3DS Max. Python is a powerful scripting language that is now an industry standard and can be used to tie Max, Maya, XSI and other packages together or build pipe lines for any type of production.

python-in-3ds-max

MX Driver 2 Released!
MX Driver 2 has now been released and will be packaged with the MX Driver bundle free of charge. Existing users of MX Driver 1 can contact us and have MX Driver 2 emailed to them. Version 2 is a whole new system and not just an upgrade to Version 1. It is easier to manually control on top of automation or with no automation. Ground detection methods have improved and more options added for setting up the system. Body dynamics are still being worked on but the system has been proven in production durren a new season of Roary the Racing Car, Fifi and the Flowertots and other broadcast work.
Happy New Year! 2009

Paul Neale
CEO.
PEN Productions Inc. is back for another year to provide the best possible 3D technical support, modeling and pipeline devleopment to our old and new clients.

PEN has a wide range of experience working with clients all over the world in almost every area of 3D out there. Currently PEN is working with multiple game companies and broadcast television companies on projects for kids to adults.

If you are interested in what PEN can do for you and your production please call us or drop us an email. Contact..

Hatch Studios and PEN Productions create eye catching Toblerone Christmas:
PEN Productions supports Hatch Studios on the recent Toblerone Christmas commercial. Read more about it here.
Hatch Studios does it again with Robin Hood!
Hatch Studios contracts PEN Productions to create the character rigs and facial system for the next installment of the award winning Robin Hood commercials. Read more about it here.
Dead Space 2008 / No Known Survivors
PEN Productions worked with Stuart Simms and team, including production guru Joe Gunn to create Dead Space 2008 / No Known Survivors trailer. PEN Productions created the character rig that would be used in multiple characters for two trailers. This rig incorporated some of PEN's latest character system tools, called RAIC, that allows for such things as real time motion capture conversion in 3DS Max from TRC files and a host of other tools for working with characters in complex animated shots and productions.

Technical write up has been posted here.

New wing rig demo videos up for viewing.
I have created three new demo videos of the wing rig that was developed for Eyeball NYC for the Bella Sara project. The first shows the animation work flow and has a brief description of how it works. The second and third are showing a simple animation test using the dynamics on the feathers.

Bella Sara and Wing Rig Demos..

PEN Reset X Form V:2.01 R 64bit
I have finaly updated PEN Reset X Forms to be compatable with 64bit versions of Max. I have also added a couple of new tools. Read more about it here.
Pete Addington now has a web site: lonerobot.com
Pete hangs out at CG Talk a whole lot sharing Max script and Dot Net wisdom to all that will listen. He has finaly launched a web site with great reference for Max script and Dot Net scripting in 3DS Max.

http://lonerobot.com

DotNet Tutorials: Button
Forth part of the DotNet tutorials is complete. A simple example of using a DotNet button control.

DotNet Tutorials..

DotNet Tutorials: XML Writing & Reading
The frist half of the DotNet XML tutorial is up. This covers the use of xmlDocument to write scene object data out to an XML formated file using the scene hierarchy.

The second half of this tutorial covers how to read XML files and recreate the data that was stored in the first half.

XML Writing Tutorial..
XML Reading Tutorial..

DotNet Tutorials..

DotNet Tutorials: TreeView
In this tutorial I cover how to setup and use a dotNet treeView control to display the hierarchy of objects in Max and select objects using the list.




DotNet Tutorials..

DotNet Tutorials: ListView
In these tutorials I try to explain how to use dotNet controls and objects in Max script to enhance UI design and functionality of scripted tools. I have completed the first tutorial on dotNet listView control and how to create, populate and access it.


DotNet Tutorials..

Facer FX:
This tutorial will show you how to get Z-Depth and fog in compositing out of the same render pass.

PEN Productions works with New York based Eyeball NYC.
PEN Productions worked with Eyeball NYC on several productions in 2007 working on character rigs and motion capture conversion tools.

The Bio Shock trailer done by Eyeball was in need of advanced rigs that would handle motion capture and hand animation. The base character rig used Puppet Shop from Lumonix and the muscle and deformation systems were handled with standard 3DS Max tools all driven with custom code and tools. Read more about it here or watch the full trailer here.

Bella Sara is a fantasy style commercial that was in need of a wing setup for the horse. PEN Productions created a solution that incorporated real time dynamics to drive the feathers that also had full manual control. Read more about it here.