Join George Maestri for an in-depth discussion in this video Starting Maya and the Maya interface , part of Maya 8 Essential Training.
- [Instructor] This first lesson, we're going to learn how to start Maya, and we're also going to do a brief tour of the Maya interface, so you can become familiar with the program. Now, Maya runs on three separate operating systems. It runs on Windows, which is what we're using. It will also run on Apple, Macintosh OS X, and it will run on Linux. Now, once you're in Maya, the differences between the packages are really very, very minor.
The big difference is that the Apple keyboard doesn't have an Alt key, which is used a lot in Maya, so instead of the Alt key you use the Option key on the Apple keyboard. Now system requirements for Maya, Autodesk provides those but just rule of thumb, and recent computer made within the past couple of years should be fine. A gig of RAM is probably the minimum you need, and a nice graphics card is very helpful, especially when it runs OpenGL. And, as with any graphics package, the faster the processor, the more memory you have, the better the graphics card, the better the software will run.
To start Maya, when you install it it will install an icon on the desktop, so all you have to do is just double-click on that, and Maya will start. Now it's got to initialize a few things, load up some plugins, and get everything ready, and it will come up. Now when you first start Maya, when it's fresh out of the box, this little window will come up. And that's just some tutorials that Autodesk provides that will help you through Maya. So if you don't want these, you can just click this here, and say, don't show this at startup, and close that window.
If you ever want to get back to those, go into the Help menu, and just go to Learning Movies, and that's how you can get back to those if you want to see those. Now like any graphics package, Maya has a lot of different options. It does have a standard menu bar that goes along the top, plus it has lots and lots and lots of buttons. And so let me explain a little bit how this is laid out. Along the top we have some of the basic menu options, such as File, where we can open and save scenes, that sort of thing. We have an Edit menu, I'm sure you see that in most packages.
We also have Modify, Create, Display, that's how things are displayed, different windows that we can pull up, and then from here, over, are some menus that are dependent upon what functions we're doing. For example, right now we're doing animation. So if I click here, it brings up what are called menu sets. And these actually change the different types of options we have here, depending upon what we have selected. So for example, if we go to Animation, we have Animate, Deform, Skeleton, and so on.
Tools for actually animating things. Polygons, so those are modelling tools for modelling polygonal objects. Surfaces, those are tools for creating nurbs, surfaces and nurbs curves. Dynamics, those are things for fluid effects, particle systems, that sort of thing. Now some of these options are, such as fluid effects, are only available in Maya Unlimited. So depending upon what version of Maya you have installed, some of these options might not be available.
Another one that's not available would be, for example, Cloth. And that's only available in Maya Unlimited. We also have a rendering menu for things such as lights, textures, and rendering out our scenes to graphics files. And if we want, we can also customize and make our own menu sets as well. Now, over here we also have some options that are available in our menus. We have Create a new scene, Open a scene, Save a scene, those sorts of things. Now, I'm running this package at 1024 by 768.
And that means that my interface is going to be a little bit tighter than what you would probably see on your system. I would recommend that you run Maya at least 1280 by 1024, even higher if you have a bigger screen. But in order to get this onto the lynda.com website and the CDs and all that stuff, we need to run this at 1024. So we're going to be a little bit tight here as we go through these lessons. And there will be some menus here that are collapsed that may not be collapsed in your version of Maya.
So it may look a little bit different. So on the other side of the Open and Close, Save File options, we have what are called Status. So what this allows us to do is select different parts of the scene, such as components or objects, and we'll get into those as we move through the lessons. And here we have what are called, basically, they're filters that allow us to turn on and off different types of objects. So if you only want to select surfaces, or skeletons, you could say, well, I don't want to select skeletons or I don't want to select surfaces, you can turn on or off different types of objects for selection within the viewports.
We also have some other options here for snapping. Now these are really good tools for modelling or animating. There's also a render box here so we can actually render our scene. So over here we have different ways of viewing data within the scene. We have what's called the Channel Box. We have another one called the Attribute Editor. And we have Tools that we're using. We'll get into these as we work through the scene as well. Now below this, we have what are called shelves.
Now shelves are, basically a lot of these shelves come standard with Maya, and we have things like Help, we also have Undo, we have modelling tools, a lot of these tools are available within the main menus, and what you'll find with Maya, there's a lot of different ways to get to the same tool. So how you use Maya is going to be just dependent on what you're comfortable with. So for example, if you want to create a sphere, you can create a sphere here, or you can go to the Create menu and create a sphere there.
So there's different ways of doing the same thing. So you can do the same thing several different ways. Now we have shelves for rendering, for animation, for dynamics, pan effects, and so on. And you can also create your own custom shelves, and you can put your own tools on there and have, you know, a tool kit for the way that you model, or you can also create custom functions yourself using what's called MEL scripting which we're really not going to get into too deeply in this lesson, but just know that it's there.
Now along the side here, we have tools for selecting and moving and rotating objects. So this tool here selects, this is a lasso select, so we can do lasso, we can also move, rotate, scale, there's also manipulators here for different types of objects, so if you want to manipulate some parts of the camera. Now down here, we have different ways of laying out the screen here. Now this is our big perspective view.
We can also do a four-view, so we can have some orthographic views in addition to our perspective view. We can also see a perspective view with, basically, what's called our outliner, which is another way of viewing the objects within our scene. This is for animating, this is our curve editor, and this is for texturing, these are ways to texture the objects. Now also, we have what are called viewports.
Now a viewport also has its own menu, we can view the viewport in different ways. We can select different cameras, we can view things in smooth or wireframe, use different types of lighting, we can turn on or off different types of objects, and we can change the different types of panel, so if you wanted to see orthographic view, you can see the front view, you can see perspective view. There's also, this is actually new in Maya, I think it's Maya 7 or Maya 8.
We have this little glyph here which allows us to just go to our front views or side views or top views, just by clicking here. So that's kind of nice. Now along the bottom we have what's called our time slider. This is when we animate in Maya, we use this to step through our frames. We also have a, very much like the scrub wheel in an audio or video application.
Here we have playback control, so we can play forward, play back, step forward, step back a frame, so on and so forth. And here we have what's called the range slider. And what the range slider does, this allows us to work with just a segment of the time in the scene. So for example, this scene here is 48 frames long. But we're only working with the first 24 frames. If I want to I can slide that over this way, work with the last 24 frames. If we want, we can also click on these boxes here and expand and contract the range.
So if you're working with a really large scene that's a couple hundred frames long, for example, you can scale it down so you're only working with just a fraction of it at a time. Now along here we have what's called the keyframe toggle, we'll get into that when we do animation, that allows us to automatically keyframe objects as we move them. Down here we have what's called the status line. And what this does is it basically displays help for anything that we're working with.
So if we select the tool, it'll kind of tell us how to use the tool, so that's always very handy. Here is an actual text box where we can type in actually commands. So if you know MEL scripting, you can actually type in a command, say, move object from here to here, and so on and so forth, and that allows us to actually use Maya command line if we need to. So those are the basics of the Maya interface. In the next lesson let's go ahead and start loading a scene and working with actual objects.