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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Maya has transformed the computer graphics business, bringing unprecedented power to the desktop while reducing the cost of entry for creating state-of-the-art CG. Recently, with the free “Personal Learning Edition,” it’s become possible to gain Maya expertise without spending a penny. The world’s craving for CG is only increasing: With Maya expertise, you can help satisfy it.
Whether you’re watching The Lord of the Rings, The Mummy, Ice Age, The Matrix, or the latest Blockbuster video commercial -- or a scientific simulation of the evolving universe, or a courtroom accident reconstruction, or the latest EA or LucasArts game -- you’re watching Maya at work. To do all that, however, Maya has become so deep and feature rich that nobody can possibly know it all.
So how do you learn what matters -- and go from bewildered novice to comfortable “old pro” as quickly as possible? Practice, experiment -- and read Inside Maya 5.
Instead of dumping feature data on you, this book walks through Maya’s use in an actual animation project, from start to finish. Along the way, the authors balance practical tool details and background theory, technical issues and aesthetics -- so you learn how to use Maya well, not just “survive.”
These authors have literally decades of experience with CG. Max Sims (yup, that’s his name) has served clients ranging from Industrial Light and Magic to frogdesign and Apple. He worked for Alias in the early days before the Alias/Wavefront merger and even designed one of Maya’s earliest modeling tools. Mark Adams is senior modeler for Pixar (you saw plenty of his work in Finding Nemo). Erick Miller, Technical Director at Digital Domain (X-Men, Armageddon, xXx) is one of the world’s leading experts in developing Maya API Plugins, Mel scripts, and production pipelines for high-budget feature films.
Adams leads off with a top-level overview of what Maya can do, followed by a look at the project you’ll be creating (all the files you need are on CD-ROM). Next, he introduces the digital studio “pipeline”: the stages through which your project and data will pass; the relationships of these stages to each other (and which tasks can be performed concurrently); and the role of Maya’s features within this pipeline.
Then, one step at a time, you’ll walk through project conception, planning, and storyboarding; modeling formats and methods; sets, props, and characters; technical direction; particles and dynamics; character setup and rigging; shading, lighting, and rendering; and a whole lot more. There’s a full chapter on customizing Maya to your personal needs -- from establishing personalized command defaults to creating your own menus. There’s also practical coverage of MEL scripting -- first, in the context of the project, and later, in an appendix that takes you even further.)
The book takes special care to reflect many of Maya 5’s latest features. But at the same time, it stays faithful to the project: the authors won’t show you NURBS surface characters if subdivision surfaces are a better choice. Simply put, if you want to understand Maya in real-world context, you want this book. Bill Camarda
Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks for Dummies, Second Edition.