The BH Ghost Tool was created by one of my iAnimate students Brian Horgan. I encourage you to check out his website too for more tools.
The only issue with plugins vs mel scripts is many studios will not install tools on the machine for you. They do not want their image corrupted with plugins (especially those using java in any way). But leaning on these tools for your own films at home is perfectly acceptable.
Below, are the tools I use the most… for the complete list go to Lester Banks Blog.
14. MG Tools
by Miguel Winfield for Maya 7.0 and up – One day, somewhere out there, Winfield decided to cull all of his Maya tools together into one massive set and release it online. The result was the famously useful MGTools, which includes timesavers for just about every part of the workflow, including animation.
Possibly most noteworthy of the features is animRescue, which is a simple, lightweight method of backing up any and all changes to your animation, to be restored at anytime should your system crash.
Touted by industry professionals around the world, this one is definitely worth a look. Free and commercial versions available from MGLand
9. Ghost Tools
Ghost Tool, by Brian Horgan A very clever onion skinning solution for those of you fed up with Maya’s wonky built in Ghost feature. Brians Ghost Tools makes use of strokes to create easy to read line drawings. The tool is fast, compact, and loaded with features. Read the full article about it here. Free Download from Brians site
8. ABX Picker
ABX Picker, by J Adam Burke for Maya 2011 – 2013. A junior entry to the best GUI picker list, the strong selling points of this picker are the functionality and the rapid response from the tools developer. A highly rated, well supported user favorite. $20 on CreativeCrash
7. Snap Keys
Snap Keys, (various). This function got a few votes – whether using Maya’s built in snap key function or the custom Snap Keys included with MGTools – there’s also a very useful script over on the 11secondclub forums that prevents Maya from ever creating sub-frame keys.
6. Frame Counter
Frame Counter, (various). Many options are available if you want to add a custom frame counter to your playblast. Head over to this forum post to find scripts for both Max and Maya, or take the lazy route and just download The Frame Counter from CreativeCrash
Try Blue Pencil, or GPencilTool. More reading on other options over at this forum.
4. AnimSchool Picker
AnimSchool Picker, by AnimSchool for Maya and Softimage, all versions. This free tool has a lot going for it for Maya animators. Easy to use, easy to customize and a great depth of features.
Creating pickers is very simple, even adding multiple buttons at the same time is a snap, assigning sets and adding custom backgrounds is simple. But what really adds to the functionality is the ability to assign commands to buttons.
This tool is not only useful for picking controllers in a character rig, it’s also a catch-all solution for making all sorts GUIs.
Infintely faster than building UIs with mel, this tool is a must try for animators and technical artists alike. Free with signed waiver at AnimSchool.
3. Motion Trails
Motion Trail tools, (various). You can of use the built in Maya Motion Trail option, but if you ask the friendly folks at the 11second club, Mr Motion Trail, Arc Tracker or A Piece of Acetate Paper are all excellent alternatives. All free except the acetate, but if you’re like me you can use a dry erase marker right on your screen, what could possibly go wrong?
1. Pose Library
Pose Library, (various). Far and away the most useful and requested tool is the Pose Library. Whether it’s feature work, TV series or personal projects, there’s no substitute for an easy way to save and import your poses. I can’t imagine a production running smoothly without a way to import animation cycles, hand poses or face shapes. Invaluable to Maya animators.
If I didn’t have a pose library, I’d probably punch a baby elephant in the butt.
Here are three of the best tools for saving and importing animation data. PoseLib, Studio Library and PoseMan.