Introduction to Maya

Maya is a culmination of technologies created by some of the most prominent computer graphics developers of the past two decades. It is the largest commercial computer application ever written, with levels of complexity and functionality exceeding other high-end 3D animation packages. .

Since its release, film effects companies such as Weta Digital, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Pixar, Sony Imageworks, and Digital Domain have adopted Maya as their standard application for producing 3D animated effects.

Recognizing its technological superiority to its competitors, Sony and Microsoft have helped to define Maya as the industry standard for video game production as well, with companies such as Electronic Arts and LucasArts developing content for the PlayStation and Xbox platforms.

Web, print, and industrial designers are also poised to adopt Maya as an industry standard for 3D graphics because of the unlimited functionality and price point not offered by any other 3D application on the market today.

In 2003, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognized these achievements and the software’s impact on the movie industry by awarding Alias with an Oscar for Technical Achievement. In 2006, Alias was purchased and is now owned by Autodesk.

Maya comprises a complete, integrated set of practical, easy-to-use tools for creating complicated special effects. These tools enable 3D modeling; animating; texturing, lighting, and rendering capabilities; and dynamics.

Maya’s scripting language, MEL (Maya Embedded Language) allows users the flexibility to create and modify existing toolsets to create their own custom functions and streamline their production processes.

The unique level of integration of Maya’s tools prevents compatibility problems often caused in competing applications that rely on plugin technologies or that require additional software packages to create all elements of an animated 3D scene.

So now that you have Maya installed on your computer, how can you begin realizing your creative potential on the screen in front of you? Before we get into the specifics, it is important that you understand the concepts and processes behind a 3D production.