Maya Plugin Project - Complex Aggregates | Installation / Tutorial

Maya Plugin (MEL, C++, Maya API) - Created a Maya plugin tool based off of the siggraph paper:

Ramanarayanan, G., Bala, K., and Ferwerda, J. Perception of Complex Aggregates. Siggraph 2008. [PDF Here]

My tool allows artists to quickly and easily populate a scene with aggregates at the click of a button. I will be using the experimental results of the Complex Aggregate paper which determined that you can adjust the ratio of objects in a scene by specific amounts without people noticing the change. By adjusting the ratio of the objects in the group, you can save polygons by adding more of an object with fewer polygons and reducing the numbers for an object with a higher count.

The artist will be able to specify the maximum number of faces or objects for the aggregate. As described in the paper, based on the mesh resemblence of the two objects, the ratio will be adjusted while still maintaining the appearance of the user specified ratio. The aggregate density describes the compactness of the generated aggregate group, and the performance evaluation section provides the artist with feedback regarding the polygon savings.

The design document for our project highlighting all the specifics of the tool can be downloaded here.

To view the tutorial for the tool and more details, click here.

Video Demo - Here is a video demo that shows the tool being used. The first example shows the the basic function of the tool and populates the scene with the two selected objects. The second scenario includes the overlap feature to show the objects being populated but also overlapping with one another. This feature is useful for objects like trees where the leaves may need to overlap a bit to create a realistic forest. The third example shows the tool populating the scene with two geometrically similar objects. This is the primary strength of the tool where the ratio of the two objects can be adjusted radically so that one object is increased over another while still maintaining the perceived appearance of the originally speficied ratio.

In the final image, the scene generated represents the perceived appearance of a 1:1 split of the two objects. However, there is actually a split of about 2:1 of the objects. This can allow artists to save polygons if they have two objects, one of high polygon count and one of low, and adjust the ratio to favor the object that has the lower count.

Note: The demo edits out the wait time of the tool. Typically it takes a few seconds for the tool to finish the populating of the scene depending on the specified user constraints.

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