Sunday, March 27, 2011

Maya - Numeric expressions in the Channel Box

This tip is fairly simple, but is quite useful to know; I use this almost on a daily basis for various tasks.

Within the Channel Box, you're able to use simple math expressions, for example by selecting an attribute and multiplying it by 5. This also works on multiple selections of attributes, and in the Attribute Spread Sheet. Let's take a look.

As an example, let's say you want to scale an object up to twice its size, for each X Y and Z component, essentially doing a uniform scale. Aside from manually using a calculator (calc.exe in Windows), you might think of doing "Edit > Freeze Transformations", then selecting all the scale channels and entering "2". However, there's a more proper method, so let's try the math operators instead. Select all the scale channels and enter *=2 as shown below.

Now your object will double in size, uniformly multiplying each selected attribute by 2. From the Maya help file on attribute entry, here's the syntax and available options:

To enter a value relative to the current one:
  • Type +=n to add n to the current value.
  • Type -=n to subtract n from the current value.
  • Type *=n to multiply n by the current value.
  • Type /=n to divide the current value by n.
  • % as a suffix indicates a percentage-based operation (For example, +=10% adds 10% of the current value to each selected value).

Though the Status Line includes an option for "Relative Transform" entry, I find this method to be more flexible, as it allows you to operate on any attributes shown in the Channel Box, Component Editor, and Attribute Spread Sheet. Another example of how useful it is: Halving the intensity of a selection of lights that all have different intensities with *=.5

You'll use this more than you might think.


  1. Awesome, will use this for sure. Thanks!

  2. Cheers!
    Such a shame you cant use something like *=n * rand(100)

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