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Reccomendations for an Intro to Maya class

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Scott Mawhiney
Reccomendations for an Intro to Maya class
on Nov 4, 2009 at 10:26:48 pm

I just wanted to pick your collective brains. If you were going to teach an introduction to maya class, which textbook(s) would you use? Also, are they any particular points you would touch on? I'm working with faculty at a fledgling animation department and any and all suggestions/reccomendations are appreciated - thanks!


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Matt Nielsen
Re: Reccomendations for an Intro to Maya class
on Nov 5, 2009 at 12:23:42 am

What are your current ideas? Are you looking to focus on a specific area or is it a brief overview of each section that leads to another course e.g. Intro to Maya then Maya Modeling, Maya Animation etc..
If it is a brief overview here are a couple of thoughts. Keep in mind that you shouldn't overload your students too much in depth content. Maya is very complex and you will only confuse them ;).

Maya interface and context and submenus
Intro to Polygonal, NURBS and Subdiv Modeling
UV Mapping, Materials and Lighting Techniques
Character Rigging and Binding
Key frame Animation
Walk Cycles
Trax Editor Animation


I recently received Mastering Maya 2009 by Eric Keller and its pretty good. It is quite a large book and it addresses all of the tools and utilities found in the Maya Package. Try contacting the publishers and they may send you a evaluation copy. There are a lot of good foundation books around so your bound to pick up something useful. If you post a little more about the expectations of the course e.g. duration, does the class lead into another one or any other facts I'd be more than happy to give you a few more ideas. Good luck




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Scott Mawhiney
Re: Reccomendations for an Intro to Maya class
on Nov 7, 2009 at 9:11:02 pm

Let me explain a little more about the situation here. I'm a student in this curriculum (though it should be noted that I have returned to school with nearly 20 years experience in graphic design and digital media) and am attempting to help the department head and instructors make a better, smoother course, that will create confidence in the students as opposed to frustration. I should note that this is the third “introductory” course in Maya that I have taken and all have been very frustrating, leaving me with little confidence in working with the program.

What the intro course is trying to cover is all the basics - unfortunately there seem to be so many that the class is a whirlwind where little is either covered in depth or with enough time for it to sink it. Basically what you have listed is the curriculum, but one of the problems is organizing it into a logical flow - one that won’t leave the students overwhelmed by everything that is being thrown at them. There are more advanced courses in modeling and animation that will be offered in later semesters, but we're trying to develop a course that will give the students a solid basis for these later classes.

One of the biggest problems is finding a book with solid tutorials. The books that I have experienced, start off simple enough, but make far too huge of leaps for an introductory course. They so often seem to have the classic problem of drawing tutorials: step 1 – drawn and oval, step 2 – complete the drawing. It’s the lack of experience on our parts as students, and the lack of instruction in the tutorial that makes for a huge amount of frustration. Additionally, many of the tutorials are faulty, either because of typos, grammatical errors, or complete errors on the author’s part. Finally, I find the format of the books to generally be too small for the illustrations. Screen captures from Maya are wonderful however; they tend to be overly dark in print and far too small – particularly when you’re trying to decipher a detailed geometry (having been in the print industry most of my career I find this last bit very irritating – I know better than to do something like that).

Hopefully that explains the situation better. I’m looking for a more logical breakdown in the flow of teaching the basics of Maya and a better workbook/book of tutorials to go hand-in-hand with it. Pointing me to good tutorials online (web or video based) will also be a great help.

Thank you for your assistance!


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Matt Nielsen
Re: Reccomendations for an Intro to Maya class
on Nov 9, 2009 at 10:43:56 pm

I fully understand your problem. I have been teaching modeling for a little while now and at first they made me teach from the Learning Maya 7 series. Although in essence they are good books for brief overviews they tended to skip over very important issues and they had the same problem that you described in your message. In all honesty so far the best material I have found is on the Digital Tutor website. Their material is very good and because they complete the tutorials using Quicktime movies with commentary they describe each step as they model, rig etc and they also explain other alternate techniques.

I write my own material for the courses and do all the research myself but I recommend my students purchase the Mastering Maya 2009 book as a reference. I write tutorials for them and if they have any issues or they need some theory behind the tutorials I send them to that text book. My email address is mattnielsen69 at hotmail dot com. If you contact me off list I will be happy to help you out.

Matt..



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