I'm getting some paid 3d animation training and I know next to nothing about the programs out there. I was hoping someone could give me list of (what they see) as the pros and cons of Maya and 3d Studio Max. I know I'm going to have to focus on one but which one?
You might do a search and see what comes up - this is a common topic. Highend3d.com probably has tons of threads devoted to the subject.
As far as my own opinion Maya tends to be better at film / broadcast & character animation whereas 3D Studio tends to be better at game-related projects. There's a lot of bleed over and both of these apps will easily work in entertainment as well as game-related fields (the reason there was so much confusion as to why Autodesk wanted a product so similar to one it had already).
From those I've spoken with 3D studio tends to be a bit easier to pick up but isn't nearly as deep and powerful as Maya. If you're in the entertainment area and are in it for the long haul it'd probably be wise to go Maya. If you're in the gaming industry it's probably wise to lean toward 3D studio. The issue isn't which app is better but which app is more of a standard in the field you're wanting to focus on.