View Full Version : Question About Mel Scripting for Animators

04 April 2003, 12:27 PM
Hi all,

I have a a question to Mark, or anyone else who has read the book.

I have just gotten in to learning mel, and what I need to learn is how to automate some tedious stuff I do everyday.

Idealy I want to do something similar to the The Setup Machine, but using my own personal rigs, and I want to make this process as fast and painless as possible.

My goal is, I want the animator to setup the skeletal sksytem (with no animation controls, IK handles, consraints..etc), just plane old joints, and with the touch of a button or two, I hope to write some scripts that will make the constraints, Animation controls and so on an automated process through mel script, giving a consistent naming and node scheme to all rigs, in the line.

Will this book help me on my way to doing this? I am just getting into mel script, and hoping to achieve this goal.

04 April 2003, 01:39 PM
I´ve read the book, and also done many auto-setup scripts, pretty much like the way you´re explaining here. So.... the book won´t really help you with setup techniques, but reading it will give you a better general understanding of MEL syntax if you have no previous experience. There´s a brief section on character usage at the end, but if I remember correctly it only covers character selection UI and some very minor character controls stuff. Certainly not much that will help you specifically in building a series of auto-setup scripts.


04 April 2003, 03:45 PM
Well if you're really into learning MEL I think you could use Marks book as a basis and figure out the rest yourself.

I don't think it will be that hard once you finish his book.. Perhaps dig abit in A|W helpfile.. People tend to forget that such file exists :P

04 April 2003, 04:26 PM
It might help you to have a look at The JointFactory (, which does pretty much the same thing as The Setup Machine, but uses mel scripts rather than a plugin so all the code is exposed.

04 April 2003, 06:38 PM
Thanks very much dwalden74 and captain sam, that helps out alot.

I am not totally new to MEL, I have used Maxscript and C++, before, and have done some training with MEL, but nothing to the degree of a series of Rigging scripts, so I wasn't all that confident about doing it yet.

The joint factory helps out alot, I took a look at the code and that's perfect for what I want to do...looks great, thanks very much captain sam, hope you don't mind me hacking away at your nice scripts, thanks for sharing it on the net :)

Well, I already ordered the book, it's not stocked anywhere near where I am, so I have to order it online, which makes it difficult to thumb through it to see if it is what I want. But oh well, should be a great read, never hurts to read a good book :)

04 April 2003, 04:06 AM
Yeah, we don't really get into that aspect of character setup that deeply, and neither does David Gould's book, unfortunately.

The way to use our book to help with this is to use the examples to become familiar with how you create and attach nodes together in your scripts. Then, build characters by hand and examine what Maya's done to hook the nodes together. At this point you can start to build scripts that automate what you've done by hand.

We weren't really going for an approach that covered all the different node types and how to use them in your scripts -- instead we tried to use the examples to illustrate principles that would apply to solving any problem in Maya.

I think there's a tendency for people to say "Oh, these examples aren't exactly what we're trying to do" when the important thing to carry away are the techniques that are common to all of the examples, because those strike to the heart of Maya's design.

It would be wrong of me to say that the examples in our book would get you most of the way there, but if you pay particular attention to the discussions of node manipulation, node naming, dealing with the hierarchy, and so on, you'll end up with some tools that will save you a lot of time with what you're trying to do, although you'll have to fill in a lot of the gaps on your own.

Welcome to the life of a TD!! :D

-- Mark

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