There have been quite a few 3D applications that have come and gone over the years. Then there are those programs that have not only survived, but have gone on to thrive victoriously throughout the industry as a trusted and well-known toolset. Autodesk Maya is one of those programs. Within this software package an artist is able to model characters, vehicles, environments, etc., rig them to be mobile, and bring them to life through animation. Like most 3D applications, there is a decent learning curve to getting used to working in Maya if you've never touched a 3D program before. So in this article, a general overview of common 3D functionality will be reviewed as it pertains to working in Maya 2011. For those of you that are familiar with Maya and just want to get to the new features, you can skip ahead to find out more.
Autodesk Maya 2011 has a lot of bells and whistles, but is fully customizable to fit your needs.
Maya has been around for several years and used to develop visuals to various different media, most notably movies, TV shows, and video games. Before it was called Maya, its origins can be traced to a combination of three different pieces of software from three different companies, Wavefront's The Advanced Visualizer, Alias' Power Animator, and Thomson Digital Image (TDI). The blended code created Alias Studio and the company took on the name Alias|Wavefront. Sometime later, Maya was developed and evolved its architecture over time to include features like the ability to customize the GUI and workflow, and the inclusion of MEL scripting to allow artists more control. With these changes, Maya quickly became the choice of several prominent studios like Disney and Industrial Light & Magic, and had been used in create breakthrough visuals in movies such as Jurassic Park, Disney's Dinosaur, The Abyss, and Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Today, Maya is being used to create visuals not only for live-action special effects, but also video games, motion graphics, full-CG animated features, 2D/3D animated hybrid, as well as several other possible media. Autodesk Maya has become one of the leading solutions to creating state-of-the-art visuals for a multitude of industries.
To achieve those amazing graphics, a diverse group of disciplines are brought together to make a finished visual product. Specialized work in the entertainment industry for the technical artist can be boiled down to modeling, texture, rigging, animation, lighting, or dynamic special effects. You'll find computer graphic artists that are affluent in a few or all of these areas, but generally, most people hone in on atleast one specialty in order to do their particular niche well. For those of you that are not sure which discipline is most suited for you, Maya contains a vast amount of tools and controls to get the most out of each area and the chance for you to experiment with each one without having to jump another program.