Monday, September 9th, 2019 Posted by Jim Thacker

Download Toolchefs’ open-source Maya animation tools

Originally posted on 19 August 2019. Scroll down for updates.

Crowd simulation software developer Toolchefs has made several of its Maya character rigging and animation tools available open-source.

At the time of posting, the firm’s GitHub repository includes the source code for a Maya animation key reducer, a harmonic deformer, and a soft IK solver.

Open-source Maya key reduction, harmonic deformation and soft IK solver plugins
Founded by former crowd tools developers at MPC and Framestore, Toolchefs is best known for Atoms Crowd, its software-agnostic crowd simulation system, version 3.0 of which shipped last week.

The new releases make several of its smaller tools available to the public, including tcKeyReducer, a Python plugin for simplifying animation curves.

The tool reduces the number of keyframes in animation curves interactively, and is primarily intended for removing unnecessary baked-in keys from animation data.

Other open-source Toolchefs software includes harmonicDeformer, a freeform cage deformer for Maya.

The tool, which is designed to help pose characters more intuitively, is based on Pixar’s 2007 paper Harmonic Coordinates for Character Articulation.

Toolchefs has also released tcSoftIkSolver, a Maya soft IK solver plugin.

Described as an “advanced solution” for two-bone setups, it implements an elbow slide and elbow lock system to stop characters’ limbs ‘popping’ at full extension.

The solver can be added to existing rigs without creating new nodes or modifying the rig set-up.

Updated 10 September 2019: Toolchefs has released another open-source Maya add-on.

Camera Lattice is a camera-space lattice deformer, which can be used as a quick way to pose cartoon-style characters, as shown in the video above.

In addition, another tool, Rotation Interpolator, is available free from Toolchefs’ own website, although at the time of posting, the source code hasn’t been released on GitHub.

It’s a Maya node that performs an arbitrary number of rotations in quaternion space.

Toolchefs has also released a set of free tools for LightWave, again currently without source code, including a LightWave version of its harmonic deformer.

A second deformation add-on, V-Deformer, is intended for morph creation and styling characters’ hair; while Modeling Toolset comprises a lattice subdivision tool and two edge repositioning tools.

Updated 4 October 2019: Toolchefs has released Motion Path, its latest open-source Maya tool.

The add-on provides additional options for drawing and editing camera motion paths in the Maya viewport, including the option to copy and offset-paste position keyframes onto other objects.

Availability and system requirements
Toolchefs’ open-source Maya plugins, including tcKeyReducer, harmonicDeformer, tcSoftIKSolver, cameraLattice and Motion Path are available under the LGPL licence.

The LightWave plugins are available for LightWave 11 and 2015 running on Windows and macOS. They’re free, but not open-source.

Download Toolchefs’ open-source Maya rigging and animation plugins from the firm’s GitHub repository

Download Toolchefs’ free LightWave plugins from its own website