Friday, September 8th, 2023 Posted by Jim Thacker

Tutorial: Introduction to Ziva VFX – Volume 1 and 2

Originally posted on 7 May 2023 and updated for the release of Volume 2.

The Gnomon Workshop has released Introduction to Ziva VFX, a detailed two-volume guide to the Maya soft tissue simulation tool, recorded by Ghost VFX creature supervisor Madhav Shyam.

The workshop provides a total of 16 hours of video training, with Volume 1 taking new users to the point at which they can build a production-ready simulation rig.

Volume 2 covers more advanced topics for improving the speed and quality of character builds, including scripting, machine learning, and alternative simulation techniques.

Volume 1: a complete beginner’s guide to creating character rigs with Ziva VFX
Ziva VFX is a muscle and soft tissue simulation add-on for Maya, used in production by some of the world’s largest visual effects studios.

The workshop provides a detailed beginner’s guide to the software, and is intended to teach new users the skills necessary to build a production-ready Ziva simulation rig.

Shyam begins by exploring the fundamentals of creating a character ready to receive a simulation rig, including modelling, character rigging, and animation.

He then moves into Ziva VFX, revealing how to build an arm simulation from scratch, including how to use Python scripting in Maya to support the build.

The final sections of the workshop cover how to use Ziva VFX’s anatomy transfer tool to morph the free assets accompanying the software onto your own custom characters.

The workshop uses two demo assets: the free Mr. Ink asset available to users with Ziva VFX licences, and Sorceress Supreme, Marcus Whinney’s commercial character model.

Volume 2: advanced techniques for improving character builds with Ziva VFX
In Volume 2, Shyam completes the build of the Sorceress character from Volume 1, also exploring how to use Python scripting and the zBuilder utility to speed up workflow.

He then moves on to cover intermediate-to-advanced-level techniques to improve the quality of character builds, including leveraging machine learning, alternative simulation techniques, and more extreme anatomy wrapping to reuse and modify existing setups.

As well as the demo assets used in Volume 1, the workshop uses the Zeke the Lion model available to Ziva VFX subscribers, and Nicolas Morel’s commercial Bison model.

About the artist
Madhav Shyam is a creature supervisor at Ghost VFX, working on feature films including Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Troll and Slumberland, and broadcast series Star Trek: Discovery and The Dragon Prince.

Pricing and availability
Introduction to Ziva VFX is available via a subscription to The Gnomon Workshop, providing access to over 300 tutorials. Subscriptions cost $54/month or $499/year.

Read more about Introduction to Ziva VFX: Volume 1

Read more about Introduction to Ziva VFX: Volume 2

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