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In Maya 2009 New Features, George Maestri demonstrates several breakthrough updates in the latest version of this 3D modeling, rendering, and animation tool. He explores the upgrades to the interface and covers soft selection and other modeling tools. George then delves into more complex new features, including the Asset Manager for organizing objects and nodes within a scene; animation layering to blend, merge, group, reorder, override, and add to preceding layers; Maya Muscle, for creating lifelike skin motion; and nParticles, a new particle system. Exercise files accompany the course.
Now let's take a look at a new feature in Maya and it's called Assets. What Assets does is it allows you to take a complex assembly of objects and boil it down into one simple node. So for example, a character or special effect can be simplified so it's much easier to animate and see within a scene. Now, I already have something that we built using assets and I want to show that too. I have a file here called Jack_in_Box_04.mb. As you can see we have got a fairly complex little assembly here. We have got a box, we have got a key, spring, some joints, we have got a whole bunch of different things here.
But if we look at this in the Outliner, you will see that I really just have two nodes. I have a node called Jack_in _Box and a little transform node and they really allow me to completely control this object without having to dig through all the other things that comprise it. So I can, for example, translate this, I can rotate it, scale it and I have a couple of custom attributes here; one to open and close the box lid, one to rotate the key, one to move that little spring up and down and left and right, and back and forth.
Now with this simple number of attributes I can pretty much animate this Jack_in_Box and I don't have to worry about all of the different things that make it up. So let me show you how to start building these things. We are going to go ahead and open a scene called Jack_in_Box_01.mb and this is the basic Jack in the box. So let's go ahead and take a look at this in the Outliner. You will see we have a node here called JackInBox, which is just a group and this has all of the attributes that we really want to play with.
This is where I have assigned the box lid. I have created some custom attributes here for the lid and all that sort of stuff. This pretty much works the same as the one that we had before, except it's a lot more complex. You notice here we have got a lot of different joints, we have got the lid, the hinge for the lid, the gasket and then the key as a group, with all sorts of different NURBS surfaces in there. So we have got a whole bunch of different objects and you can see how this can get very complex when you go to animate it or distribute it out to a production, it's messy.
Let's go ahead and clean this up by using Assets. Now, we can find Assets; it actually has its own Menu here next to Window and this is where we have all of our options. So let me go ahead and tear this off so I can explain some of these. Now, Assets works by creating what are called Containers and into those Containers basically what we do is we put the Assets of our scene that we want to be in that particular container. So we have tools that add or remove things from the container. Then we also have what's called an Asset Editor, which allows us to publish or unpublish the attributes of those objects in the container. We also have some tools here that will allow us to publish and unpublish without going into the Asset Editor.
Let's go ahead and create a container. I am going to go ahead and bring this down and let's just go ahead and select the Jack_in_Box and the box and just go create Container. Now, if you notice here we have got the container, we also have the JackInBox, we also have Box itself, but if we go further down the hierarchy you will notice that we don't have anything else. So how this works is, what you selected when you created the container is all that gets added. So if you want stuff that's further down in the hierarchy you have got to make sure you select it. Let me show you how this works.
I am going to go ahead and select the JackInBox and the Box and I am going to go ahead and use the tool that removes them from the container. Now if I go into that, you can see I have all these other options. So if I wanted to I could select all of these and then just add them to the container, but of course I need to select the container and go add and then you can see I have got all of these in the container. If I want to I can remove them again, and I can also create multiple containers. If I want to I can delete this container because it's empty. And I can select again my JackInBox and the Box and let's just go back to what we had before.
Now also, I have the Spring, which is actually outside of that hierarchy and I do want to add that in as well. So let's go ahead and Ctrl+Select the container and add in that Spring, so now we have all of these objects in that container. Now, once we have everything in the container we can start editing the Assets to publish and unpublish the attributes that we want to show to the world. So let's go ahead and do that in the next lesson.
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