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Beginner Needing Advice!

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Chris Irvin
Beginner Needing Advice!
on Aug 22, 2012 at 11:12:29 am

Hi there im new to all of this 3d stuff. Basically i want to start to get to know the "getting started" of Maya and then be able to render them in Vray (eventually).

I currently have a macbook pro. Mac os x version 10.5.8, processor 2.66ghz, memory 4gb 1067 mhz.

I was wondering if this will be sufficient when it comes to learning the basics of Maya? Then prehaps when i'm slightly more advanced maybe investing in other equipment......or am i better off starting off with the correct equipment?
Also is it worth purchasing a 3-5 button mouse? Or a cheap tablet?
And is there any other products i may not know of that can be of help to me?

Once i've sorted all my equipment out i plan to self teach myself through online tutorials for around an hour every anyones experience how long does it take to become reasonably competent on? I understand and appreciate the time it takes to learn but would love to produce some decent renders within a couple of months?

Any help would be largely appreciated!!! x

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Ben van Hamelen
Re: Beginner Needing Advice!
on Aug 22, 2012 at 8:33:00 pm

Hi there,

I think your Macbook will do for now. I only have slight doubts about the processor. Is it a single or dual core processor? The memory, while not plenty, should suffice for now. 4gb is the minimum, 8gb is good, 16gb is better, 32 gb is just showing off.

For now, all you'll need is a computer and a mouse. As long as it has 3 buttons (or, well, 2 buttons and a wheel) it'll do. I work with a 20 or 30 euro Logitec mouse (the M500, if you want specifics), which works just fine. I think it works great for pretty much anything. Don't buy a tablet, stick to the essentials (also, cheap tablets are no good and buying an expensive one as a beginner would be silly).

Regarding the learning thing: what I found really helpful was setting a solid goal before learning anything. I wrote down what I wanted to make and went to learn from there on out. Step by step, I gathered the knowledge I needed, directly applied it and it all came together, which resulted in this:

(first Maya project I've ever done)

Closing, I recommend the Digital Tutors Introduction to Maya course. I used that to get started and it provides a real good starting point.

Hope that helps,

Ben van H.

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Chris Irvin
Re: Beginner Needing Advice!
on Aug 31, 2012 at 12:10:16 am

Thank you very much for the response your comments have been taken on board. Sorry for the slow response i've been away on holiday.

My Macbook pro is a dual processor, i have a tv screen i can link my mac up to for a larger display would this help? I won't waste my time with a tablet then but i am going to invest in a 3 button mouse.

IF my mac couldn't deal with running Maya sufficiently what would be your advice?

Also how much is the subscription to digital tutors?

Thanks again.

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Ben van Hamelen
Re: Beginner Needing Advice!
on Aug 31, 2012 at 8:08:11 am

A big screen is always nice, but your Macbook screen should do. I like working with multiple monitors, so I put all my tools on one screen so I have the other screen just for my viewports.

If your Mac can't run it properly, which would be surprising, then invest in something that has a proper i5 or i7 processor. A little extra memory is always nice, so go for 8 or 16 gb. So far, the vanilla version of Maya has no GPU based rendering, so your graphics card is fairly irrelevant for Maya (there's always iRay, but it isn't ideal). Get something that roughly meets those requirements and you should be fine. Usually, Maya will probably run smoothly on your current Mac, as long as you don't get crazy polycounts. Your current hardware will only hold back your rendering speed, which doesn't have to be an immediate problem.

And I'm not sure regarding the subscription. There's always a torrent of other possibilities to get your hands on something.

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keith mcgregor
Re: Beginner Needing Advice!
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!

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

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Chris Irvin
Re: Beginner Needing Advice!
on Aug 31, 2012 at 12:02:15 am

Thank you very much for your in-depth response, sorry for the slow reply i've been away on holiday.

In my initial post i should maybe have written what my aim was and what i plan to use Maya for. I realize Maya's main user would be an "animator" looking to create characters and etc. The reason i'd like to become sufficient on Maya is for Architectural and Interior design purposes. One of my ex colleagues uses Maya with Vray to produce some stunning 3d images to recreate the spaces we design.

What would you suggest to learn first things first. Such things as modeling, lightening, shading, texturing, effects and rendering i would imagine would be more appropriate to myself?

Here are some of the images that were created, how professional do you think these look? And how long would you say it would take to get to this level?

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