View Full Version : ZBrush, LA SIGGRAPH, Lipsync plugin

02-12-2010, 12:07 PM

This past Tuesday the L.A. SIGGRAPH meeting was about the current state of digital sculpting.


It's amazing to see how much the CG and animation industry has been transformed by Z Brush in the past 3 years. Basically now people don't do 2D design work any more (unless you're old school like Pixar, and even they are slowly learning, you had to hear the story one of the speakers was telling. He spoke about how he quickly designed 3D charaters for a Pixar movie on the spot and was able to print them in 3D for approval. The Pixar guys who were looking over his shoulder were blown away. They were scrambling around to find some tracing paper to put on the monitor and trace over the character he had created, so they would have a 2D drawing of it.).

The developer of Shave and Haircut (Joe Alter) spoke and said he's working on a new plugin for Maya called Lipsync. It does what the LightWave version of the Lipsync plugin did and much much more.

Basically Joe realized that ZBrush is great for sculpting static figures but not so much for figures that have to be rigged and animated. The problem is that Maya can't handle the 100's of millions of polygons that a ZBrush model can have. The ZBrush folks have developed their own method of storing the polygons, caching them to disk, and their own way of displaying them. They don't just stream them to OpenGL and have it take care of things. So basically Joe has duplicated this capability inside Maya using his own system of polygon caching and his own interactive renderer. Now you can import a ZBrush model into Maya using the Lipsync plugin and do similar operations to it you could do in ZBrush. Things like painting, brush strokes, stencils etc. But the kicker is that your model can be rigged and animated. So you sculpt your character's arm in the bent position, then you extend the arm so that it's no longer bent at the elbow and now you continue to sculpt the folds of the cloths that would change as the arm is straightened out. I think he calls this "tangent space animation" or something like that. The tool set isn't as deep as ZBrush but it's a good subset. Again he uses his own window for rendering since the Maya OpenGL renderer couldn't handle the number of polygons involved. Right now Lipsync is in beta, I think he said he plans to have it out by SIGGRAPH.

In my opinion, this is a next generation type capability that 3D animation programs should have.

Best Regards,

02-13-2010, 09:02 AM
Well, it all depends onto how many polygons a 3d app can handle.
with a system similar to zbrush, maybe an app like Maya will have no more problems handling polygons and so, could come a time where even polyflow could be a thing of the past.

However, for now polygon handling is quite limited compared to what Zb can handle, and for animation an optimized meshboth in polyflow and amount of polys is just better for now.

As for sculpting, ZB, Mudbox and 3D Coat do their job quite well.
Maybe we'll see something like Mudbox integrated within Maya in the future ?