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Re: Beginner Needing Advice!

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keith mcgregorRe: Beginner Needing Advice!
by on Aug 24, 2012 at 3:44:42 pm

As the 2nd poster notes yes, you'll need a 3 button just to navigate through the workspace and pretty much any will do (but I have a tablet and it is awesome! needed for texturing!). At 4 gig ram you're pretty light, as Maya sucks all the ram once you get quite a few objects and more complex objects with more faces. A second monitor will also be really helpful as your laptop screen is kinda small.
As for learning, spending only an hour every night doesn't give you much time to really learn, as it is a pretty steep learning curve (depending on what you want to specialize in) and I would triple it at the least if I were you.
Purchasing books through amazon, specific to your version mind you, are important tools to have around. I have over 20 books just about maya alone, and I have needed every one of them multiple times, as it's impossible to remember everything that's possible to do and where it's located.
Also, pick a specific area to master. Since CGI is divided into multiple departments you might want to know about your choices to better prepare yourself for finding work. The main areas of discipline are:

modeling- yes, just modeling objects and characters
animation- character and object
rigging- creating skeletal structures and their controllers for objects and characters so the animators can have full control over the model and have a reduced amount of points to control, like in a hand. You wouldn't want the animator to adjust every joint in a hand just to wave or punch
lighting- also mixes with shading and texturing sometimes since they are intertwined
shading- also texturing but more advanced as in you might be writing a shader or troubleshooting a material's shading
texturing- as in taking pics of real objects with your own camera to create a texture library, creating the psd files for game engines, or for enhanced realism and or acceptable performance
effects- as in fire, smoke, water, etc also mixes with dynamics and particles
dynamics- for realistic forces, objects crashing into one another, cloth, and dealing with simulations, both nature and scientific, and some people specialize just in cloth, go figure. also mixes with particles as they can also be controlled by dynamics
rendering- also mixes with shading, lighting, texturing as in you might have to troubleshoot a scene, or more advanced as in improving machine performance and reducing render times, maintaining rendering jobs and renderfarms

There are a lot of people who can get by with just knowing a little about everything (known as a Maya generalist) but remembering where everything is located and what does what is crazy at times.
I am more into texturing, lighting, shading, rendering, effects/dynamics and scene troubleshooting and I can't model worth a spit. I haven't learned enough of scripting in MEL nor do I know Python to really be deep into it, but I can get a heavy scene more efficient at rendering almost every time.
MEL and Python are scripting languages you might already know or should learn, as Maya is said to be infinitely customizable, with in-house script writers creating new tools for their artists and new shaders for their rendering TD's.

I have a friend who just animates, nothing else, and he's really good. He was hired on at Rhythm and Hues and has a few big movies under his belt and then moved on to Disney, and that makes him one step closer to his goal of working at Pixar. And out of the many Maya users I have met nobody has gotten that close, even though the other people are really, really good.

I don't mean to sound discouraging, (hope you take it as just information) as I taught myself over the years, but it is a HUGE program and you can literally do anything your mind can think of. Being good at one thing might just land you work (depending on where in the country you are as I am more situated in a commercial market not a movie market) and being kinda good at everything could land you a teaching job.
I have used Maya since 2004 and I have loved/hated it all the way, as it is one of the coolest programs out there. (actually it's cooler than AE so it IS the coolest)

BTW, you might want to also look into 3DS Max as it is better integrated with V-Ray (so I'm told by those who use it) and architectural visualization jobs are easier to come by.
And don't just limit yourself to v-ray either, there are more renderers out there and each have their strengths and weaknesses depending on your platform. And Mac doesn't support sli yet, (or ever?) windows does, just so you know.
Hope this helps, and welcome to Maya!
-Keith

ps- check the system requirements for the version you are getting, it might not support Leopard.


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