This page will help you to get up to speed with InstaLOD for Autodesk Maya.

What is InstaLOD for Autodesk Maya

InstaLOD for Autodesk Maya enables you to optimize 3D meshes without having to leave your favorite DCC tool.
The integration features a graphical user interface, supports complex batch operations and can be scripted with its MEL scripting-based API.
Great care has been taken to ensure a high degree of usability and productivity, even when using InstaLOD for Autodesk Maya for the first time.

Please refer to the InstaLOD Pipeline documentation for an overview of all features.

Table of Contents


With SDK 2020, InstaLOD for Maya doesn’t support Maya LT anymore.

InstaLOD for Autodesk Maya runs on both macOS and Windows.
The following versions of Autodesk Maya are supported: 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and later.


InstaLOD for Autodesk Maya uses InstaLOD Pipeline as backend for optimization operations.
InstaLOD Pipeline must be installed before you can start using InstaLOD for Autodesk Maya.
Please refer to the InstaLOD Pipeline documentation on how to install InstaLOD Pipeline on your workstation.

InstaLOD for Autodesk Maya supports authorizing licenses and displaying license info from within Maya.

Installing InstaLOD for Maya

Once you have installed and authorized InstaLOD Pipeline on your workstation, unzip the InstaLOD for Maya file distribution.
Maya installs third-party plug-ins into a platform specific folder. Installation varies depending on the version of Maya you are using and your operating system.

Maya Windows Installation

Copy the InstaLOD_MayaIntegration.mel file to your Maya script folder, normally found at \Users\your-username\Documents\maya\scripts.

Maya MacOS Installation

Copy the InstaLOD_MayaIntegration.mel file to your Maya script folder, normally found at ~/Library/Preferences/Autodesk/maya/scripts.

Getting started with Autodesk Maya

Once the integration’s script file is copied to your Maya scripts folder, you can start Maya.
To open the InstaLOD window, type the following MEL commands in the Maya Command Line.

InstaLOD_MayaIntegration; InstaLOD;

If you want to automatically initialize InstaLOD whenever Maya starts, create a file called userSetup.mel in your Maya script folder. Enter the following MEL command in the newly created file and save it:


More information on how to run MEL commands whenever Maya starts up is available on the Autodesk website.

If the InstaLOD window has been closed, it can be spawned again by selecting InstaLOD->Open Window... from Maya’s main menu.

On the first start of InstaLOD, it is necessary to point InstaLOD for Maya to the installation directory of InstaLOD Pipeline.
Click the Browse...-button and browse to the InstaLOD Pipeline installation directory on your workstation.

If InstaLOD Pipeline was found in the specified directory, the window contents will change.
If your machine has already been authorized for InstaLOD you can start using InstaLOD for Autodesk Maya now.
If your machine has not been authorized for InstaLOD yet you can enter your license information in the dialog to authorize your workstation.

Please refer to the InstaLOD Pipeline documentation for an overview of all features.

Optimizing a single mesh

To optimize a mesh select the mesh in the viewport or hierarchy. Select the Optimize-tab in the InstaLOD window and enter the percentage of triangles for the output mesh in the Percent Triangles text field.
Click the Optimize Selected Meshes button to optimize the mesh. Maya will export the geometry for InstaLOD and start the optimization.
Once the geometry has been exported, InstaLOD will execute the mesh operation asynchronously.

Both skeletal and static meshes are supported by InstaLOD for Maya.

The image above shows the UI of InstaLOD for Autodesk Maya docked to the right side of the window. The InstaLOD window can be docked and undocked like other native Maya windows.

Optimizing multiple meshes

Optimizing multiple meshes in a single operation with global optimization enabled allows the optimizer to consider all input
meshes when executing the operation. This results in the lowest visual deviation for the input meshes as a whole.
Global optimization is enabled by default, but can be disabled by unchecking the checkbox in the Advanced Settings found on the Optimize-tab.

Optimizing multiple meshes works identical to the optimization of a single mesh.
Select all meshes to be optimized in the viewport or hierarchy, enter the optimization target value, and click the Optimize Selected Meshes button to optimize all currently selected and visible meshes.

Creating batch operations

By right-clicking the mesh operation execution button and selecting Save as Batch-Profile..., the current mesh operation settings will be saved as batch profile inside the directory of your InstaLOD Pipeline installation. On the Batch-tab saved profiles can be selected and executed on the current mesh selection in parallel. This is a great way to create a complete LOD chain with a single click.

Deleting batch profiles

To delete a saved batch profile, open the Batch-tab. Right-click the Execute Batch button and select Delete Selected Batch Profiles to delete all selected profiles.

Exporting settings and batch profiles for InstaLOD Pipeline

To export a profile that can be used with InstaLOD Pipeline without modification, configure your mesh operation and right-click the mesh operation execution button, and select Export As InstaLOD Pipeline Profile....
Another great feature of InstaLOD for Autodesk Maya is the ability to create and export multi operation batch profiles for InstaLOD Pipeline.
To export a multi operation batch profile, open then Batch-tab and select all saved batch profiles that will be included in the multi operation.
Right-click the Execute Batch button and select Export As InstaLOD Pipeline Profile... to export the profile for InstaLOD Pipeline.

Profiles exported with InstaLOD for Autodesk Maya have a hard-coded profile name of Maya. When queuing files with InstaLOD Pipeline, the profile needs to be specified:

InstaLODCmd -profile ExportedWithMaya.json -file Data/SM_Zetsuda_130k.fbx Build/SM_Zetsuda_Optimize.fbx Maya 

Scripting InstaLOD for Autodesk Maya via Python or MEL

InstaLOD for Autodesk Maya can be scripted using both Python and MEL.
The integration’s callback system enables developers to prepare texture and geometry data before submitting it to InstaLOD for optimization.
One such example would be custom materials that are flattened and converted to layered Lambert materials during the pre-optimization callback and converted back into a custom material in the post-optimization callback.

Pre- and post-optimization callbacks

InstaLOD for Autodesk Maya provides two callbacks that are invoked pre- and post-optimization for each object used in the operation:

Callback Name Argument 1 Argument 2
instaLODWillExecute (string) operation type (string) object name
instaLODDidExecute (string) operation type (string) object name

The instaLODWillExecute callback will be invoked during an undo chunk, so it is recommended to perform operations only on objects that fully support undo.
As control returns back to Maya, the undo chunk will be rolled back, and the object will be reverted to it’s original state before running the optimization.

Optimizing via script

When using InstaLOD for Maya via Script (MEL or Python), it is necessary to invoke the MEL function InstaLOD_InitializeGlobals() prior to using any of the optimization functionality.

InstaLOD for Autodesk Maya saves all settings that are relevant to building optimization profiles in option vars.
The option vars used by InstaLOD for Autodesk Maya are listed in the InstaLOD_InitializeGlobals() method.
The naming convention for option vars is INSTALOD_ID_[type]_[field] where [type] is the mesh operation type and field is a corresponding settings field e.g. INSTALOD_ID_OP_PERCENTTRIANGLES.
The [field] names are matching the names of variables defined in the InstaLOD C++ SDK.

Initializes the integration.

int InstaLOD_IsCurrentInstaLODCmdPathValid()
Determines if the current InstaLOD Pipeline installation path is valid.

string InstaLOD_GetLicenseInfo()
Returns a string containing InstaLOD license information. This method requires the InstaLOD Pipeline path to be setup.

InstaLOD_ResetSettings(int $respawnUI)
Resets all settings to default values. Set $respawnUI to true to automatically recreate the InstaLOD user interface.

int InstaLOD_OptimizeMesh(string $mesh, string $profile, int $allowAsync)
Optimizes the specified $mesh. Optionally, a $profile file path can be specified to load a JSON profile from the disk.
If no $profile is specified, a profile will be built from the option vars.

int InstaLOD_OptimizeMeshes(string[] $meshes, string $profile, int $allowAsync)
Optimizes the specified $meshes. Optionally, a $profile file path can be specified to load a JSON profile from the disk.
If no $profile is specified, a profile will be built from the option vars.

Before an optimization can be started via script, the InstaLOD option vars need to be setup to match the desired operation.
The following MEL example sets the mesh operation type to Optimize and optimizes a mesh with the name pSphere1 to 50% triangles.

optionVar("-stringValue", "INSTALOD_ID_OPTIMIZE_TYPE", "Optimize");
optionVar("-stringValue", "INSTALOD_ID_OP_PERCENTTRIANGLES", "50.0");
InstaLOD_OptimizeMesh("pSphere1", "", false);

Scripting with Python

InstaLOD for Autodesk Maya does not provide a native Python API.
However, invoking the MEL API from Python works as a quality workaround.
The following Python example sets the mesh operation type to Optimize and optimizes two meshes with the name pSphere1 and pSphere2 to 50% triangles.

# querying an optionVar
maya.cmds.optionVar( q='INSTALOD_ID_OP_PERCENTTRIANGLES' );

# reset all settings to their defaults

# setting an optionVar
# set mode to "Optimize"
maya.cmds.optionVar( sv=('INSTALOD_ID_OPTIMIZE_TYPE', "Optimize") ); 
# set Optimize settings
maya.cmds.optionVar( fv=('INSTALOD_ID_OP_PERCENTTRIANGLES', 50.0) );
# execute optimization on object (without async)
# maya.mel.eval("InstaLOD_OptimizeMesh(\"pSphere1\", \"\", false);");

# execute optimization on multiple objects (without async)
maya.mel.eval("InstaLOD_OptimizeMeshes({\"pSphere1\", \"pSphere2\"}, \"\", false);");

Pre- and post-optimization callbacks can be subscribed by invoking Maya’s native Python callback API.

Known Limitations

There are currently no known limitations.


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