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Stand-ins allow you to keep your working scene light and workable by deferring the loading of geometry data until render time. It is possible to add huge levels of complexity to your scene with very little effort. In this introductory tutorial, we will show you the steps required to setup a complex scene, very simply, using stand-ins.

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So, with one instance of our stand-in geometry, you should have something like the following image.

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  • Now the fun part. Let's start instancing our stand-in. We will use Maya's Duplicate Special options in order to duplicate the stand-ins in a circle. First, we must set the pivot point correctly. Move the stand-in a few units away from the center and place its pivot at the 0,0,0 center of the grid.

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  • Select the stand-in and go to the Duplicate Special options. Make sure you select Instance. This is very important, as it will save you memory and your scene will render faster. Change the Y rotation to 10 and increase the number of copies to 36. You may need to change the rotation value according to the size of your model. Otherwise, otherwise your instanced stand-ins may penetrate each other. Make sure you delete the original stand-in. Otherwise, otherwise you will get duplicate geometry.

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You should now have two rows of the stand-in model. Using the same method, we have created another stand-in for the standing soldier. However, the number of copies has been increased to 72 in order to compensate for the larger circumference.

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Create and duplicate the standing soldier stand-in

 

Also, note that the standing soldier stand-in is intersecting the sitting soldier stand-ins. In this case, it does not matter as it is only his gun that is overhanging the sitting soldiers.

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It's worth pointing out that this introductory tutorial has only covered the basics of using stand-ins. For example, as well as using .ass archive files, stand-ins also work with pre-compiled custom procedural programs which you can provide in the form of a dynamic library, allowing you to use parameterized procedural geometry. Stand-ins can also be recursive, and you can defer loading of the procedural geometry until it is actually needed during rendering (i.e., the geometry is not loaded, and uses no memory, until a ray enters the object's bounding box). These techniques make it possible for you to assemble scenes in a modular way.

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