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By George Maestri | Tuesday, July 7, 2015

First-Time Animators: Maya 2016 Easier to Learn, Use


A stalwart 3D package used in countless movies, games, and TV shows, Maya is an industry standard when it comes to 3D modeling, rendering, and animation. It’s a powerful bit of software, and as such, it can be intimidating to novices.

But with Maya 2016, Autodesk has completely revised and updated the interface of both Maya and its sibling, Maya LT.  And the new interface should go a long way towards making the software easier to use and learn. 

Let’s take a look at some of the more important changes and additions.

By Aaron F. Ross | Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Coolest New Features of Maya 2015

Maya 2015 Texture Deformer

Maya 2015 Texture Deformer

With the release of Maya 2015, Autodesk demonstrates a strong commitment to developing the gold standard in 3D animation and visual effects software. From polygon modeling to liquid simulations, Maya 2015 offers many exciting new features.

Here’s a rundown of the most significant improvements to this powerful software.

By Jason Baskin | Monday, May 5, 2014

Free Maya Character Rig: Mike and Tina

Mike and Tina - a free Maya character rig from Jason Baskin

Looking for a new customizable 3D character rig that includes both male and female options? I’ve got great news: Mike and Tina, my new Maya character rig, is now available for download. Mike and Tina is free for non-commercial use, and packed with options, including:

By Aaron F. Ross | Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Production rendering from the Maya Camera Sequencer

Production rendering with Maya's Camera Sequencer

Maya’s Camera Sequencer is an amazing tool for nonlinear editing and previsualization. It lets you create a cuts-only edit of multiple cameras and shots within a single scene, and render the edited sequence out to a Playblast. There’s just one catch: By default, the framing and aspect ratio of the exported sequence doesn’t match that of the cameras. I wasn’t able to cover this in my recent course Cinematography in Maya but in this article, I’ll describe how to work around the issue.

With the following steps, the Maya Camera Sequencer can render movies and image sequences with the same crop factor as the Batch Renderer. Depending on your needs, you may even be able to render final production animations using Viewport 2.0! Imagine that: You can stage, animate, and edit an entire movie within Maya, basically erasing the distinctions between pre-production, production, and post.

By George Maestri | Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Softimage fades away

Today is a sad day in the 3D community—Autodesk has stopped development on Softimage. They’ll continue to support the software for two years as the Softimage community transitions to Maya or 3ds Max.

The history of Softimage is interwoven with the history of 3D animation. The program goes back to the 1980s, when it became the first go-to software tool for character animation. The dinosaurs in Jurassic Park? Animated in Softimage 3D. In fact, many early CG milestones used Softimage. In the mid-1990s, Microsoft purchased Softimage Co. and ported Softimage 3D to Windows. The software was then purchased by Avid Technology a few years later, where it became Softimage XSI, then sold again to Autodesk. And with every one of those changes, the software lost momentum; it never fully recovered.

By George Maestri | Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Maya Essentials training series is now complete

If you take a look at our list of Maya courses, you’ll see six new Maya Essentials titles designed to introduce the basics of Maya in simple installments. Together, these six courses provide a more flexible approach to learning Maya.

In the series, I cover the nuts and bolts of Maya, from the interface, modeling, and materials, to rendering and animation. This modular series is divided into six courses, each no more than an hour or two long. Start at the first course and work your way to the end, or watch one course that interests you. The Maya Essentials courses are available to watch in any order at any time, so it’s your choice.

We’re also exploring the Essentials format for other large software packages, so let us know what you think of this new format. Your feedback is always appreciated.

All six Maya Essentials courses:Maya Essentials 1: Interface and OrganizationMaya Essentials 2: Polygonal Modeling TechniquesMaya Essentials 3: NURBS Modeling TechniquesMaya Essentials 4: Creating Textures and MaterialsMaya Essentials 5: Animation ToolsMaya Essentials 6: Lights and Rendering

By George Maestri | Friday, March 2, 2012

Character rigging in Maya

Animating characters in Maya can be a lot of fun. Fighting with a difficult character rig, however, can sap the joy out of animating. Character Rigging in Maya is a course designed to help you create character rigs that are both robust and easy to animate.

A deeper, more technical update to the Maya 8.5 Character Rigging course, Character Rigging in Maya covers the basics of Maya’s rigging tools, then goes deep into how these tools are used to create a complete character rig, including skeletons, forward and inverse kinematics switches, and the skinning of characters to skeletons.

Some of the more technical topics covered include expressions and scripts that help automate the rig and make it easier to animate, and the process of creating an advanced facial rig that shows a variety of ways to create sophisticated controls to manage complex facial expressions (which I find particularly useful.)

If you’ve seen the Character Animation Fundamentals with Maya course on lynda.com, you may notice Character Rigging in Maya creates its rig with the same character used in the animation course. It’s not the same old character, though—we’ve have thrown in a few updates to the rig to make the character rigging techniques even more interesting.

We’re very committed to character animation here at lynda.com, so if you’re into animation, stay tuned for more character courses in the coming months.

Interested in more? • All Maya courses on lynda.com • All 3D + animation courses on lynda.com • All by George-Maestri on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:Maya 2011 Essential TrainingMaya 2011: Modeling a CharacterCharacter Animation Fundamentals with MayaGame Character Creation in Maya

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