Join George Maestri for an in-depth discussion in this video Customizing the interface, part of Maya 8 Essential Training.
- [Instructor] Maya is a very customizable package. You can pretty much make it look and act however you want. You can get very deep into it. There's a lot of programming tools that you can use. There's a scripting language called MEL Script that you can use to write your own tools. But there're some very simple things you can do to customize the way Maya looks and feels. One of the things you can do is go over to Settings/Preferences and just go to Preferences; brings up a menu that has a lot of different options.
One of the things we can do is we can turn on and off different menu bars. So, for example, if I don't want to use the menu bar, I can always use the hotbox, so I don't need the menu bar. I can turn that off. I can turn on/off my panels and my Viewports, as you can see. I can turn all these things on and off.
Can also turn on and off UI Elements. So if we can go to Interface, we also can go down to UI Elements. We can turn off our Status line. We can turn off Shells, Time Slider. We can turn off the Range slider. A lot of times, people will turn off the Time and Range Slider when they're modeling, because you don't need to work with animation when you're modeling or texturing or doing something like that. Can also turn off the Command line, the Help line, and the Toolbox. Now, what that does is it gives you a lot more space to play with within Maya.
If you're working on limited space or you just need to see things a little bit larger on the screen, you can turn off menu elements in order to maximize your Viewport space. Now, if I go into Settings/Preferences, go back in there, I can turn all those back on. Now, another way to get rid of these is along the side here. You can hide any one of these options by just clicking right here, and that will get rid of them.
Now, sometimes people will, by accident, turn off a UI Element, and they get all freaked out because they don't know how to get it back, and the way that you get it back is just go to Window, Settings/Preferences, Preferences, and then go into UI Elements, and you can turn them all back on. Now, there's some other options here, for Help, for example. This is how it displays help within the package. And then you also have a lot of display options here. Some of these are General Display Preferences.
Do you want Fast interaction? What's the biggest texture that you can display? That will depend on your graphics card. And what else do you want to see? In a Viewport, do you want to see the grid? Do you want to hide the grid, by default? Do you want to see the pivots on objects, and so on and so forth. There's a lot of different options here. And then, as you get into specific functions like Kinematics, Animation, Manipulators, NURBS, Polygons, and so on, there's actual options for what parts of those objects you can see or hide.
There's also a lot of default settings. So, for example, in Maya, it uses the Y axis as its Up axis. 3D Studio Max uses the Z axis. If you're working between those packages, you might want to synchronize those, so you can actually change your Up axis so that it's Z. So notice how that changes. We can also change the units that we're working in. Now, typically, Maya works with centimeters as its unit of measurement, and it measures angles and degrees, but you can change that.
If you want, you can make it meters, inches, foots, yards, whatever you want. Angular, you can do degrees or radians. This is also where you set you time base. Now, this is very important for people who are animating. If you're animating at 24 frames per second for film, that's the way you want it, but a lot of people will animate in PAL or NTSC, so this is where you change that, very important to animate with the proper time base. You can also change the tolerance of your tools. So, if you need a much finer degree of positional control, you can change that right here.
There are also settings for Animation, Cameras, Dynamics, Modeling, a lot of different other options. So, just know that these are here. Now, there's another way of, actually, I need to change that again. Let me go back into that and turn on my UI Elements. Click on UI Elements, and let's turn all those back on, and set us back to normal. So let's go ahead and Save. Now, there's also other options that you can use. If we go into Windows, Settings/Preferences, there are settings for Tools.
There's Performance Settings. This is how Maya will run. If you have a slower machine, you might want to turn some of these options Off. They're all defaulted to On. So, if you're having some performance problems, you might want to turn off things like Trim display or Refresh on Demand, rather than just Refresh whenever you drag, Refresh on Release. So, whenever your mouse releases something, it'll refresh the scene. Another set of options, we have Hotkeys.
We have a Hotkey Editor, so that allows us to basically take any function within Maya and assign it to a hotkey. Now, there's a number of already-assigned hotkeys that you should probably learn, and it just depends on what tool you're using, and typically I don't like going around and changing hotkeys, because if you go on to somebody else's system, they're usually have them set to the default, so it's usually best to learn the defaults, but you can change them if, for example, you want to use the hotkeys from another package that you're more familiar with.
Another Settings and Preferences, we can create our own Shells, which we will get into later. You can also edit your Marking menus, and down here was have Plug-in Manager. Now, this actually is very important to know about, because a lot of Maya's functions aren't turned on by default, so we go to Plug-in Manager, and that allows us to go through a lot of these options and turn them on or off. Now, typically, a lot of these are turned off because they do take up system resources, and if you're not going to use 'em, you don't need to load them.
One of the ones that you probably should be very aware of is mental ray, and as we get into rendering, you'll know that mental ray should be automatically loaded. This is Maya-to-mental-ray. There's also a lot of other plug-ins here. These are different types of shaders, again for rendering. Translators and so on and so forth, for export plug-ins, so if you want to export to IGES. There's another option here called Mayalive, which is camera tracking.
You can turn that on. Shockwave export, and so on. So those are some of the basics for customizing Maya and getting your interface to look a little bit more like the way that you want.