I am becoming familiar with After Effects and have heard lots of suggestions to use Maya. What is Maya? What does it do? What is the learning curve for Maya? How does it's difficulty (or ease) compare to After Effects?
There is a PDF overview of Maya that you can read here.
Maya and AE are two totally different applications, one is a motion graphics/compositing tool and the other is an animation/modeling tool is 3D. At best, After Effects "mimics" 3D functions to a level but it is not a 3D program.
As a user of both, in my opinion, Maya has a considerably steeper learning curve. The Personal Learning Edition was very helpful. With After Effects you can generally get the job done with a basic knowledge of the app. I don't find that to be true with Maya. While I'm not a pro at AE, I'm able to do what I need to do and was able to get up and running a lot sooner. With Maya, I feel as though I haven't scratched the surface after a year. The options and settings lists seem to go on forever.
Having said that, I really like both apps. Like Ron said though, they are not the same animal.
I think 3D in general tends to be like a bicycle with 12 handlebars. You can go anywhere you want to if you can learn to drive it. For me it's needed a level of commitment to stick with it, to continually use it so I can get a feel for how things work, what to do and why. The 3 new alias books (I'll hopefully get the review done soon on those) are terrific and a relatively inexpensive way to get such a complete package of training for such a monsterously wicked of an app. :-)
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