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Tlousky (9495)

Tlousky
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Journal of Tlousky (9495)

Tuesday December 01, 2009
10:06 AM

Perl and 3D animation software

[ #39968 ]

One of my most relaxing hobbies is playing around with graphics programs.

About a year ago, I started playing with Autodesk Maya, then learned some photoshop. Once I got more familiarized with opensource software, I naturally made a transition to playing with Blender and GIMP.

GIMP is a wonderful piece of software in my opinion. It has become my default image editor, texture creator and general purpose 2D playground.
I'll probably dedicate a post or several to it in the future, as I've been trying my luck with the GIMP::Fu module.

But when playing with 3D progs such as Maya and Blender, I came to discover that Perl isn't internatlly supported in most 3D animation programs. These usually have built-in support for Python, and often another language (like Maya's MEL), but no perl for the masses.

That's pretty frustrating if you ask me. With the all the excellent features of perl (CPAN being one of them), it seems odd to me that perl is ignored so completely by 3D animation developers.

If I want to write a perl script for Blender, I have to learn how to make a binding for it's source C libraries (and probably invest lots of time re-learning C to understand what I'm doing).
This is a worthy endeavour as it will create the necessary glue for writing perl scripts for Blender in general, and I have been contemplating this (together with a friend) - but it's probably gonn'a take time, a resource I have don't have much of lately.

In Maya, which is not an open source program, there's nothing for it but learning Python or MEL.

Sucks.

Not much here but venting. It's hard for me to complain too much about Blender, which doesn't cease to amaze me with its strength and sophistication, despite that fact that it's so lightweight (and of course, free!). But it would really be excellent if I could use Perl for Blender scripting.

Seems like I'm not the only one who thinks this is a good idea. Back in 2004, there was a discussion about this in the Blender Foundation's forums.
I decided it's been long enough since, so I brought this up again.

I Hope somebody listens :-)
And if someone might read this post and decide to add some supportive messages in that thread, be my guest!

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  • I actually built a Perl/Maya bridge many, many years ago. You inspired me to go dig it out and stick it somewhere https://svn.unixbeard.net/simon/Pel-Mel/trunk/ [unixbeard.net]
    • Pretty cool!
      I'll certainly give it a try later.
      I'd be happy to hear about some stuff you might have done with this in Maya.

      Sounds like it would be a lot simpler to use Perl (and a few specific modules like PDL) for complicated scripts such as automatic UV map generators for symmetrical polygonal models, and stuff like that.
      (Just something I scratched my head about this very morning)

      • Yeah - it makes it pretty easy to do some cool effects. For example I hacked up the climatic final scene of $big_summer_blockbuster so it had the headlines from the BBC scrolling behind the protagonists in giant, 2 mile high letters. It is, however, a giant hack. It communicates via a named pipe and some pretty hairy escaping but it seems to work well.
        • Nice one.

          Seems to me like a worthy CPAN release, if you decide to publish it, and perhaps the beginning of a stream - maybe from other contributors as well.

          I didn't know about Maya's commandPort until I caught a glimpse at your code, and it definitely inspires me and also XSAWYERX [perl.org] (a frequent accomplice of mine - or more often, me his) to think of doing some stuff in this area.