Maya USD Plugins
There are a couple of prerequisites to using the Maya plugins.
- Ensure that you built the Maya plugins, this is enabled in the build with -DPXR_BUILD_MAYA_PLUGIN passed as an option to cmake.
- Ensure that the following environment variables are configured. We'll refer to the install location of your USD build with USD_INSTALL_ROOT, this is determined in the build with the cmake flag, -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX.
|MAYA_PLUG_IN_PATH||This is a path list which Maya uses to find plugins.||$MAYA_PLUG_IN_PATH:USD_INSTALL_ROOT/third_party/maya/plugin/|
|MAYA_SCRIPT_PATH||This is a path list which Maya uses to find mel scripts.||$MAYA_SCRIPT_PATH:USD_INSTALL_ROOT/third_party/maya/lib/usd/usdMaya/resources/:USD_INSTALL_ROOT/third_party/maya/plugin/pxrUsdPreviewSurface/resources/|
|PYTHONPATH||This is a path list which Python uses to find modules.||$PYTHONPATH:USD_INSTALL_ROOT/lib/python/|
|XBMLANGPATH||This is a path list which Maya uses to find icon images.||$XBMLANGPATH:USD_INSTALL_ROOT/third_party/maya/lib/usd/usdMaya/resources/|
|PATH||Windows Only: This is a path list which Windows uses to find all the required dlls.||%PATH%;USD_INSTALL_ROOT\lib;USD_INSTALL_ROOT\bin;USD_INSTALL_ROOT\third_party\maya\lib|
For more information see our page on Advanced Build Configuration.
- Loading the Maya USD plugins
- The Maya Viewport and OpenGL
- usdExport command flags
- usdExport behavior
- Custom attributes and tagging for USD
- Setting site-specific defaults for UsdImport/UsdExport
Loading the Maya USD plugins
To import, export and reference USD files in Maya we provide a plugin called pxrUsd. The plugin can be loaded through Maya's Plug-in Manager, or by using the MEL command
in the Command Line/Script Editor.
The plugin creates two commands: usdImport and usdExport, and will also register USD import and export as MPxFileTranslator's, so that USD will appear as an option in Maya's "File > Export..." and "File > Import..." menu commands.
Some clients have reported errors when loading the USD plugins that result in the plugin failing to load. The errors look like:
dlopen: cannot load any more object with static TLS (pxrUsd)
The workaround, for now, is to disable auto-loading of the bifrost plugin. More details available in the usd-interest forum.
The Maya Viewport and OpenGL
Beginning with Maya versions 2016 extension 2 and 2017, the default rendering engine (at least on Linux) was changed from Legacy OpenGL to OpenGL Core Profile. However, currently parts of the implementations of both Hydra and the Maya USD plugin still depend on legacy OpenGL. We are working to remove this dependency, but for now if you encounter issues viewing USD in the Maya viewport with these or later versions of Maya, we suggest setting your rendering engine preference to "OpenGL - Legacy". This preference is available in the "Display" section of the Preferences editor, or alternatively it can be overridden when Maya launches by setting the environment variable MAYA_VP2_DEVICE_OVERRIDE=VirtualDeviceGL. Beginning with Maya 2017, it is also necessary to set the environment variable MAYA_VP2_USE_VP1_SELECTION=1 for viewport selection to work properly. More information about these environment variables is available from Autodesk here.
usdImport command flags
|Short flag||Long flag||Type||Default||Description|
|-api||-apiSchema||string (multi)||none||Imports the given API schemas' attributes as Maya custom attributes. This only recognizes API schemas that have been applied to prims on the stage. The attributes will properly round-trip if you re-export back to USD.|
If the import results in the creation of assembly nodes, this value specifies the assembly representation that will be activated after creation. If empty, no representation will be activated. Valid values are:
See "Importing as Assemblies" below for more detail on assembly node creation.
|-epv||-excludePrimvar||string (multi)||none||Excludes the named primvar(s) from being imported as color sets or UV sets. The primvar name should be the full name without the "
|-f||-file||string||none||Name of the USD being loaded|
|-md||-metadata||string (multi)||hidden, instanceable, kind||Imports the given USD metadata fields as Maya custom attributes (e.g.
|-p||-parent||string||none||Name of the Maya scope that will be the parent of the imported data|
Name of the USD scope where traversing will being. The prim at the specified primPath (including the prim) will be imported.
"/" means you want to import everything in the file.
If it is empty, it will first try to import the defaultPrim for the rootLayer if it exists. Otherwise, it will behave as if "/" were passed in.
Read animation data from prims while importing the specified USD file. If the USD file being imported specifies startTimeCode and/or endTimeCode, Maya's MinTime and/or MaxTime will be expanded if necessary to include that frame range.
Note that while some types of animation are currently supported, for example:
Others are not yet supported, for example:
Enable importing of Looks according to a defined shading mode. Allowed values are:
Imports geometry prims with time-sampled point data using a point-based deformer node that references the imported USD file.
When this parameter is enabled, usdImport will create a pxrUsdStageNode for the USD file that is being imported. Then for each geometry prim being imported that has time-sampled points, a pxrUsdPointBasedDeformerNode will be created that reads the points for that prim from USD and uses them to deform the imported Maya geometry. This provides better import and playback performance when importing time-sampled geometry from USD, and it should reduce the weight of the resulting Maya scene since it will bypass creating blend shape deformers with per-object, per-time sample geometry.
Only point data from the geometry prim will be computed by the deformer from the referenced USD. Transform data from the geometry prim will still be imported into native Maya form on the Maya shape's transform node.
Note that this means that a link is created between the resulting Maya scene and the USD file that was imported. With this parameter off (as is the default), the USD file that was imported can be freely changed or deleted post-import. With the parameter on, however, the Maya scene will have a dependency on that USD file, as well as other layers that it may reference.
Currently, this functionality is only implemented for Mesh prims/Maya mesh nodes.
|-var||-variant||string||none||Set variant key value pairs|
usdImport return value
This command will return an array containing the fullDagPath of the highest prim(s) imported. This is generally the fullDagPath that corresponds to the imported primPath but could be multiple paths if primPath="/".
Importing as Assemblies
If you use USD to construct aggregates of other models, then usdImport can preserve your referencing structure as assemblies. Typically, we want to avoid reasoning about the precise referencing structure of a scene. Instead, we use model hierarchy and
kind to decide what can be imported, and
to determine what to import. Your scene must have a proper model hierarchy for the importer to import a particular prim as a referenceAssembly: it is insufficient for the prim </World/anim/chars/Bob> to have
kind="component" - additionally, all of its ancestor prims must have kind that IsA
"group". We plan to make the import behavior customizable via plugin, but for now, it behaves as follows:
- If the
assemblyRepparameter is given a value of "Import", we do not create any USD reference assembly nodes.
- All USD assembly nodes created by an import will have their file path set to the file being imported. Their prim paths will be set accordingly based on their path in that file. This ensures that opinions in stronger layers doing the referencing will retain their effect on prims in weaker layers being referenced.
modeland we have
assetInfo['identifier'], we generate a new USD assembly node.
modeland we do not have
assetInfo['identifier'], we fall back to checking for any references on the prim. If a reference is found, we generate a new USD assembly node.
- In all other cases, we continue to import the scene description as if there was no kind specified.
Import and Playback of Animation with USD Assemblies
USD assembly and proxy nodes have a "time" attribute to support referencing USD that contains animation. When a representation of an assembly is activated, we create a connection from the assembly node's time attribute to the time attribute(s) on any/all of its immediate proxies. We do NOT, however, create a connection between Maya's global time and the assembly's time. While doing so is necessary for animation to be displayed with assemblies in Collapsed and Expanded representations, having large numbers of assembly nodes with connections to Maya's global time incurs significant overhead within Maya. As a result, these connections should be created manually if animation is desired for Collapsed or Expanded representations. The following bit of Python code provides an example of how these connections can be made:
Currently, edits on reference models do not get imported into Maya. We are working with Autodesk to get a better handle on this.
usdExport command flags
|Short flag||Long flag||Type||Default||Description|
|-a||-append||bool||false||Appends into an existing USD file|
|-chr||-chaser||string(multi)||none||Specify the export chasers to execute as part of the export. See "Export Chasers" below.|
|-cha||-chaserArgs||string(multi)||none||Pass argument names and values to export chasers. Each argument to -chaserArgs should be a triple of the form: (<chaser name>, <argument name>, <argument value>). See "Export Chasers" below.|
Specifies a compatibility profile when exporting the USD file. The compatibility profile may limit features in the exported USD file so that it is compatible with the limitations or requirements of third-party applications.
Currently, there are only two profiles:
|-dc||-defaultCameras||noarg||false||Export the 4 Maya default cameras|
Sets the default subdivision scheme for exported Maya meshes, if the USD_subdivisionScheme attribute is not present on the Mesh. Valid values are:
|-cls||-exportColorSets||bool||true||Enable or disable the export of color sets|
|-ero||-exportReferenceObjects||bool||false||Whether to export reference objects for meshes. The reference object's points are exported as a primvar on the mesh object; the primvar names is determined by querying UsdUtilsGetPrefName(), which defaults to "pref".|
|-eri||-exportRefsAsInstanceable||bool||false||Will cause all references created by UsdAssembly nodes or explicitly tagged reference nodes to be set to be instanceable (UsdPrim::SetInstanceable(true))|
Determines how to export skinClusters via the UsdSkel schema. Valid values are:
On any mesh where skin bindings are exported, the geometry data is the pre-deformation data. On any mesh where skin bindings are not exported, the geometry data is the final (post-deformation) data.
|-uvs||-exportUVs||bool||true||Enable or disable the export of UV sets|
|-vis||-exportVisibility||bool||true||Export any state and animation on Maya 'visibility' attributes|
|-mcs||-exportMaterialCollections||bool||false||Create collections representing sets of maya geometry with the same material binding. These collections are created in the "material:" namespace on the prim at the specified "materialCollectionsPath" (see export option -mcp). These collections are encoded using the UsdCollectionAPI schema and are authored compactly using the API UsdUtilsCreateCollections().|
Maya type names to exclude when exporting. If a type is excluded, all inherited types are also excluded, e.g. excluding "surfaceShape" will exclude "mesh" as well.
When a node is excluded based on its type name, its subtree hierarchy will be pruned from the export, and its descendants will not be exported.
|-mcp||-materialCollectionsPath||string||none||Path to the prim where material collections must be exported.|
|-cbb||-exportCollectionBasedBindings||bool||false||Enable or disable export of collection-based material assigments. If this option is enabled, export of material collections (-mcs) is also enabled, which causes collections representing sets of geometry with the same material binding to be exported. Materials are bound to the created collections on the prim at "materialCollectionsPath" (specfied via the -mcp option). Direct (or per-gprim) bindings are not authored when collection-based bindings are enabled.|
The name of the file being exported. The file format used for export is determined by the extension:
|-fr||-frameRange||double||[1, 1]||Sets the first and last frame for an anim export (inclusive).|
Specifies sample times used to multi-sample frames during animation export, where 0.0 refers to the current time sample. This is an advanced option; chances are, you probably want to set the frameStride parameter instead. But if you really do need fine-grained control on multi-sampling frames, read on!
The frame samples are computed after the frame stride is taken into account. If any of your frame samples falls outside the open interval
Note that, if you have frame samples > 0.0, additional frames may be generated outside your frame range (see below for examples).
Specifies the increment between frames during animation export, e.g. a stride of
Note that, depending on the frame stride, the last frame of the frame range may be skipped. For example, if your frame range is
Specifies the required USD kind for root prims in the scene. (Does not affect kind for non-root prims.) If this flag is non-empty, then the specified kind will be set on any root prims in the scene without a
The validation behavior understands custom kinds that are registered using the USD KindRegistry, in addition to the built-in kinds.
|-mt||-mergeTransformAndShape||bool||true||Combine Maya transform and shape into a single USD prim that has transform and geometry, for all "geometric primitives" (gprims). This results in smaller and faster scenes. Gprims will be "unpacked" back into xform and shape nodes when imported into Maya from USD.|
|-ro||-renderableOnly||noarg||When set, only renderable prims are exported to USD|
Specify which render layer(s) to use during export. Valid values are:
Set the shading schema to use. Valid values are:
|-sl||-selection||noarg||false||When set, only selected nodes (and their descendants) will be exported|
Model Hierarchy and kind
usdExport currently attempts to make each root prim in the exported USD file a valid model, and may author a computed kind on one or more prims to do so. In the future, we plan to support annotating desired kind in the Maya scenegraph, and possibly make further kind/model inference optional. The current behavior is:
- We initially author the kinds on prims based on the -kind flag in usdExport (see the USD export flags above) or the USD_kind attribute on individual Maya nodes (see the "Maya Attributes" table below).
- For each root prim in the scene, we validate the kind if it has been specified. Otherwise, we compute a kind for the root prim:
- If the root prim is specified to be an assembly (or type derived from assembly), then we check to make sure that Maya has not created any gprims (UsdGeomGprim-derived prim-type) below the root prim. If there are any gprims below the root prim, then usdExport will halt with an error.
- If the root prim has no kind, then we will compute a value for the kind to ensure that all root prims have a kind. We determine whether a root prim represents a component (i.e. leaf model) or assembly (i.e. aggregate model of other models, by reference) by determining whether Maya directly created any gprims (UsdGeomGprim-derived prim-type). If Maya has created gprims, model is a component, else it is an assembly.
- Once we have validated or set the kind on each root prim, we go through each root prim's sub-hierarchy to make sure that it is a valid model:
- If model is a component, but also has references to other models contained (nested) within it, override the kind of the nested references to subcomponent, since component models cannot contain other models according to USD's model-hierarchy rules.
- Else, if model is an assembly, insure that all the intermediate prims between the root and the locations at which other assets are referenced in get kind=group so that there is a contiguous hierarchy of models from the root down to the "leaf" model references.
UV Name Translation: map1 becomes st
Currently, for Mesh export (and similarly for NurbsPatch, also), we rename the uvset map1 to st. "st" is the primary uvset for RenderMan, so this is very convenient for a Renderman-based pipeline. We understand this behavior is not desirable for all, and do plan to allow this translation (or none) to be specifiable. The translation is reversed on importing USD into Maya.
Custom attributes and tagging for USD
UsdExport has several ways to export user-defined "blind data" (such as custom primvars) and USD-specific data (such as mesh subdivision scheme).
Maya custom attributes that guide USD export
We reserve the prefix "USD_" for attributes that will be used by the USD exporter. You can author most of these attributes in Maya using the Python "adaptor" helper; see the section on registered metadata and schema attributes below.
|Maya custom attribute name||Type||Value||Description|
All DAG nodes (internal for UsdMaya)
Internal to Maya; cannot be set using adaptors.
|USD_UserExportedAttributesJson||string||JSON dictionary||Specifies additional arbitrary attributes on the Maya DAG node to be exported as USD attributes. You probably don't want to author this directly (but can if you need to). See "Specifying arbitrary attributes for export" below.|
All DAG nodes (USD metadata)
These attributes get converted into USD metadata. You can use UsdMaya adaptors to author them. Note that these are only the most common metadata keys; you can export any registered metadata key using UsdMaya adaptors.
Equivalent to calling
Maya's "Hide Selection" GUI operation will cause
|USD_instanceable||bool||true/false||Equivalent to calling
|USD_kind||string||e.g. "component", "assembly", or any other custom kind||Equivalent to calling
|USD_typeName||string||e.g. "SkelRoot" or any other USD type name||Equivalent to calling
All DAG nodes (UsdGeomImageable attributes)
These attributes get converted into attributes of the UsdGeomImageable schema. You can use UsdMaya adaptors to author them. Note that these are only the common imageable attributes; you can export any known schema attribute using UsdMaya adaptors.
|USD_ATTR_purpose||string||default, render, proxy, guide||Directly corresponds to UsdGeomImageable's purpose attribute for specifying context-sensitive and selectable scenegraph visibility. This attribute will be populated from an imported USD scene wherever it is explicitly authored, and wherever authored on a Maya dag node, will be exported to USD. Currently has no effect on Maya's imaging.|
Mesh nodes (internal for UsdMaya)
Internal to Maya; cannot be set using adaptors.
|USD_EmitNormals||bool||true/false||UsdMaya uses this attribute to determine if mesh normals should be emitted; by default, without the tag, UsdMaya won't export mesh normals to USD. NOTE: Currently Maya reads/writes face varying normals. This is only valid when the mesh's subdivision scheme is none (regular poly mesh), and is ignored otherwise.|
Mesh nodes (UsdGeomMesh attributes)
These attributes get converted into attributes of the UsdGeomMesh schema. You can use UsdMaya adaptors to author them. Note that these are only the common mesh attributes; you can export any known schema attribute using UsdMaya adaptors.
|USD_ATTR_faceVaryingLinearInterpolation||string||none, cornersOnly, cornersPlus1, cornersPlus2, boundaries, all||Determines the Face-Varying Interpolation rule. Used for texture mapping/shading purpose. Defaults to cornersPlus1. See the OpenSubdiv documentation for more detail.|
|USD_ATTR_interpolateBoundary||string||none, edgeAndCorner, edgeOnly||Determines the Boundary Interpolation rule. Valid for Catmull-Clark and Loop subdivision surfaces. Defaults to edgeAndCorner.|
|USD_ATTR_subdivisionScheme||string||none, bilinear, catmullClark, loop||Determines the Mesh subdivision scheme. Default can be configured using the -defaultMeshScheme export option for meshes without USD_ATTR_subdivisionScheme manually specified; we currently default to catmullClark.|
Registered metadata and schema attributes
You can set the above attributes by hand, but an easier way is to use the Python "adaptor" helpers provided with UsdMaya. They provide an API that is similar to working with the USD API (but note that it's not 100% the same). For example, to set the "kind" metadata on a node in Maya, you can do the following:
And you can set USD attributes for a mesh like this:
Specifying arbitrary attributes for export
Attributes on a Maya DAG node that are not part of an existing schema or are otherwise unknown to USD can still be tagged for export using the User Exported Attributes Editor UI. Here is an example of how to bring up the widget in a style that looks like Maya's channel box:
Attributes tagged using this UI will be added to the Maya attribute "USD_UserExportedAttributesJson" as a JSON dictionary. During export, this attribute is used to find the names of additional Maya attributes to export as USD attributes, as well as any additional metadata about how the attribute should be exported. Here is example of what the JSON in this attribute might look like after tagging:
If the attribute metadata contains a value for "usdAttrName", the attribute will be given that name in USD. Otherwise, the Maya attribute name will be used, and for regular USD attributes, that name will be prepended with the "userProperties:" namespace. Note that other types of attributes such as primvars and UsdRi attributes have specific namespacing schemes, so attributes of those types will follow those namespacing conventions. Maya attributes in the JSON will be processed in sorted order. Any USD attribute name collisions will be resolved by using the first attribute visited, and a warning will be issued about subsequent attribute tags for the same USD attribute. The attribute metadata can also contain a value for "usdAttrType" which can be set to "primvar" to create the attribute as a UsdGeomPrimvar, or to "usdRi" to create the attribute using UsdRiStatements::CreateRiAttribute(). Any other value for "usdAttrType" will result in a regular USD attribute. Attributes to be exported as primvars can also have their interpolation specified by providing a value for the "interpolation" key in the attribute metadata.
There is not always a direct mapping between Maya-native types and USD/Sdf types, and often it's desirable to intentionally use a single precision type when the extra precision is not needed to reduce size, I/O bandwidth, etc. For example, there is no native Maya attribute type to represent an array of float triples. To get an attribute with a VtVec3fArray type in USD, you can create a "vectorArray" data-typed attribute in Maya (which stores an array of MVectors, which contain doubles) and set the attribute metadata "translateMayaDoubleToUsdSinglePrecision" to true so that the data is cast to single precision on export. It will be up-cast back to double precision on re-import.
Export chasers (advanced)
Export chasers are plugins that run as part of the export and can implement prim post-processing that executes immediately after prims are written (and/or after animation is written to a prim in time-based exports). Chasers are registered with a particular name and can be passed argument name/value pairs in an invocation of usdExport. There is no "plugin discovery" method here – the developer/user is responsible for making sure the chaser is registered.
We provide one such chaser plugin called AlembicChaser to try to make integrating USD into Alembic-heavy pipelines easier. One of its features is that it can export all Maya attributes whose name matches a particular prefix (e.g. "ABC_") as USD attributes by using its "attrprefix" argument. Here is an example of what that call to usdExport might look like:
The export chasers to run are passed by name to the -chaser option, and then an argument to a chaser is passed as a string triple to the -chaserArgs option. Each chaser argument triple should be composed of the name of the chaser to receive the argument, the name of the argument, and the argument's value.
Alembic Chaser Arguments
Exports any Maya custom attribute that begins with mayaPrefix1, mayaPrefix2, ... as a USD attribute. usdPrefix# specifies the substitution for mayaPrefix# when exporting the attribute to USD. The usdPrefix can contain namespaces, denoted by colons after the namespace names. It can also be empty after the equals sign to indicate no prefix. If the entire [=usdPrefix] component (including equals sign) is omitted for some mayaPrefix, the usdPrefix is assumed to be "userProperties:" by default.
This is similar to the userattrprefix argument in Maya's AbcExport command, where the userProperties: namespace is USD's counterpart to the userProperties compound.
For example, if attrprefix = "ABC_,ABC2_=customPrefix_,ABC3_=,ABC4_=customNamespace:", then the following custom attributes will be exported:
Exports any Maya custom attribute that begins with mayaPrefix1, mayaPrefix2, ... as a USD primvar. usdPrefix# specifies the substitution for mayaPrefix# when exporting the attribute to USD. The usdPrefix can contain namespaces, denoted by colons after the namespace names If the usdPrefix is empty after the equals sign, or if the entire [=usdPrefix] term is omitted completely, then the usdPrefix is assumed to be blank ("") by default.
This is similar to the attrprefix argument in Maya's AbcExport command, where the primvars: namespace is USD's counterpart to the arbGeomParams compound.
For example, if primvarprefix = "ABC_,ABC2_=customPrefix_,ABC3_=,ABC4_=customNamespace:", then the following custom attributes will be exported:
The interpolation of the primvar is based on the
The type of the primvar is automatically deduced from the type of the Maya attribute. (We currently ignore
Setting site-specific defaults for UsdImport/UsdExport
Suppose that at your site you always want to export with the flags -exportMaterialCollections and -chaser alembic and -chaserArgs ..., even when exporting using the File > Export All > pxrUsdExport menu item, where you wouldn't normally be able to set some more advanced options like -chaser that are only available via the
usdExport command. You can configure these options as the "site-specific" defaults for your installation of the Maya USD plugins by creating a plugin and adding some information to its plugInfo.json file (see the Plug library documentation for more information).
For example, your
plugInfo.json would contain these keys if you wanted the default flags mentioned above:
This also works for the
usdImport command and the File > Import menu item; use the "UsdImport" key in the plugInfo.json file to configure your site-specific defaults.