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In Maya 2011 Essential Training, George Maestri demonstrates the tools and feature set in Maya, as well as the skills necessary to model, texture, animate, and render projects with this deep and robust piece of 3D animation software from Autodesk. This course takes an in-depth tour of Maya's interface, including navigating and manipulating objects in 3D and customizing the workspace. The course also covers object creation and modeling basics, shading and texturing, surface mapping techniques, character rigging, and lastly, rendering and final output. Exercise files accompany the course.
Rendering in Maya, or really any 3D package for that matter, is analogous to photography. So you set up your lights, you put cameras in the scene, and then you render. And rendering is the same as taking a picture. So we've set up lights. Let's go ahead and take a look at cameras. So we can create cameras in Maya either by going to this shelf here, my Rendering shelf and creating a camera, or I can go under Create > Cameras, and I have three options here. I have Camera, which is just a basic camera in the scene, Camera and Aim, and what does is it gives you a point to aim at, and then Camera, Aim and Up and that also gives you a Tilt control so you can tilt left or right with the camera.
Now in addition to this we have Stereo Cameras for stereoscopic 3D work and what's called a Multi Stereo Rig, which allows you to have multiple stereo cameras in the same rig. Let's just go ahead and create a basic camera, and when you create a camera, it creates it at the origin here and I can go ahead and just move that camera anywhere I want. Now if I want I can actually look through that camera by going into Panels > Perspective and just selecting that camera.
And if I want I can navigate the same way I navigate in viewport, so I can right-click to truck in and out. I can orbit. I can pan and so on. Now if I jump out to my 4 view here, I can actually take a look at my camera here. I can frame it here in my viewport and maybe zoom out so you can see I have a physical camera here. And if I actually move that camera physically I can actually move my placement, or if I rotate it I can change my angle, that sort of thing.
Now it works both ways. Moving it physically in the viewport also changes your view here in your Camera view. But if I zoom in, for example, or zoom out, you can see that the camera itself is moving, so I'm literally moving the camera just by navigating in that viewport. Now I'm going to go back into my Camera view here, and let's take a look at some of the attributes that we have for cameras in Maya. So under View I can select my camera, and if I wanted to I could go into my Attribute Editor just by clicking this button, or I can just select this option here, which is Camera Attribute Editor, does the same thing.
So if I go into my Camera Attributes, you can see I have a number of attributes here. First of all, there's Controls. I can switch between each of those three cameras so I can actually add an Aim constraint or an Aim and an Up constraint here. I'm not going to do that. Now the most important thing here is the Focal Length and Angle of View. Now Focal Length is basically the same as your lens size on a 35 millimeter camera, so the lower the number, the shorter the lens, the wider the angle of view. So, for example, if I brought this down to say 12, a very wide angle lens, you'll see that I'm getting a lot more of the scene in the view and if I zoom into him, we'll see that it's actually starting to get kind of like a fish-eye effect.
Well that's because I have a very wide Angle of View. And this Angle of View here actually goes up as the Focal Length goes down. Now if I were to increase the Focal Length, that would mean that I would be zooming in to the scene, so, for example, if I made this 135 lens, hit Return, you'll see that I'm zooming in pretty closely. But I can use my camera controls to truck out, so I'm just right-clicking and kind of trucking out here and I can orbit as well. And also notice how as this is a long lens, 135, medium long, and my Angle of View is less which means I have less perspective. So it kind of flattens out the image.
Now there are some other options that we have here as well. The most important one is called the Clip Plane. Now what this does is it determines how much of your scene you actually view. So the Near Clip Plane says anything closer to the camera than 0.1 you don't see. Far Clip Plane says anything further away that 10,000 you don't see. So, for example, if I were to make this number lower, say, take out a couple of zeros and make it a hundred, you really don't see much of anything.
Add in a zero make it a thousand. It's like, well yeah. I do see it, but if I zoom out you'll notice that the scene starts to disappear. So again I can just add in more zeros to see it. Now a lot of times you'll go into a scene and also things will suddenly disappear. Check you Clip Plane. Typically it defaults to 1000, and if you have scenes that have a large scale to them, you can easily lose things because of that Clipping Plane.
That's probably one of the number one things that you need to learn when things tend to disappear in Maya. Now if you go a little bit further down, we have our Film Backs, which are basically how we're going to shoot this scene, and if you're doing feature films, this is where you'll go to set your camera up so it matches the camera that live action footage was shot through. Now going a little bit further down we have this thing called Environment. Now this is basically the background color of this particular scene.
So when I render this scene, if there is nothing in front of the camera it's black. So basically that's the background behind everything in the scene. So if I turn this up to say white then I will have white behind my objects in the scene. I can change this to any color I want. Now if I wanted to I can also put an Image Plane behind the camera. We can do that either here by hitting this Create button, or I can go into my View > Image Plane > Import Image.
They both do the same thing. So in this case let's go ahead and put a sky image behind my camera. So if I jump out and go into a Perspective view, we can see that oh, there is my camera and there is my image plane. Well, my image plane is just too close to my camera so it's kind of blocking the view. So all I have to do is select that Image Plane, so go back into my camera and go Image Plane > Image Plane Attributes.
And if you scroll down here you'll see, well, there's a number of attributes here. Some to control the color of the image plane, but if you scroll down, you see here under Placement, Depth. Well, again that's very similar to a clipping plane. What I have to do is just push it back so I'm going to add a couple of zeros here and just push it back. So now you can see that my image plane is actually behind my camera. So now I can move my camera, and I will have a sky behind my character.
So those are some of the basics of camera. So go ahead and place the camera in your scene and start working with an understanding how it works.
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