Overview

Ready to learn from a seasoned visual effects veteran? Then sit down and pay attention! In Maya 5 Killer Tips, effects wizard Eric Hanson lets the genie out of the bottle, revealing all of the Maya tricks, techniques, and shortcuts he's employed to create visual marvels for films like The Day After Tomorrow, Cast Away, Fifth Element, and more. By focusing on concise tips, informative nuggets, and seasoned productivity secrets that are rarely found in other volumes, this book takes you straight to the heart of the...

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Maya 5 Killer Tips

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Overview

Ready to learn from a seasoned visual effects veteran? Then sit down and pay attention! In Maya 5 Killer Tips, effects wizard Eric Hanson lets the genie out of the bottle, revealing all of the Maya tricks, techniques, and shortcuts he's employed to create visual marvels for films like The Day After Tomorrow, Cast Away, Fifth Element, and more. By focusing on concise tips, informative nuggets, and seasoned productivity secrets that are rarely found in other volumes, this book takes you straight to the heart of the matter: the productivity enhancers that you usually only acquire after working with a program in an intensive professional environment. In this case, Eric reveals many of these road-tested Maya secrets: efficient modeling with NURBS and polygons; creating rich rendering results with shader networks; conveying professional camera techniques; using particle systems, dynamics; and more. Along the way he explores Maya 5's new features as well, including improved rendering and character setup options.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780132932660
  • Publisher: Pearson Education
  • Publication date: 12/5/2003
  • Series: Killer Tips
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 208
  • File size: 55 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

Eric Hanson is a visual effects artist specializing in digital environments and effects for feature films. Originally an architect, he established early 3D visualization studios for some of the country's largest architectural firms, including The Callison Partnership in Seattle and Gensler in Los Angeles. An expanding interest in film led to a move into visual effects work, resulting in senior CG artist positions with leading visual effects houses Digital Domain, Sony Imageworks, Dream Quest Images, Walt Disney Feature Animation, and SimEx Digital Studios. His work can be seen in Spider-Man, Cast Away, Hollow Man, Mission to Mars, Bicentennial Man, Fantasia 2000, Atlantis, and The Fifth Element, as well as many large-format special-venue films worldwide.

Eric specializes in 3D work with Maya, RenderMan, and Shake, and is an active teacher of those packages. He has taught for several years, having instructed courses on advanced 3D techniques at SGI's Silicon Studio and Gnomon School of Visual Effects, and is currently leading a curriculum on visual effects at the University of Southern California's School of Cinema-TV. He frequently speaks and holds workshops at various trade shows and schools domestically, as well as in Japan, even though he is not sure what to eat while there.

Eric is a member of ACM/Siggraph and the Visual Effects Society and holds a professional degree in Architecture from the University of Texas at Austin. He is currently contributing to a remarkable upcoming summer blockbuster at Digital Domain in Los Angeles. He wishes he could sleep more.

Eric can be reached at his web site, visuraimaging.com.

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Table of Contents



1. Deciphering the Hieroglyphics: Unearthing the Secrets of the Maya.


Hey, Split It. Use the Fields, Luke. Strawberry Outliner Fields Forever. Trash That Pref. Field Operators Are Standing By. Nudge 'Em. Annotate Away. Outliner Revealed at Last. Get in Line, Lowly Vertices. Scrub It. Tumble Camp. Got Spreadsheets? Panel Hopping. It's the Right Thing to Do. Drag-Drop Fever. Last Action Hero. Last Command Hero. Marquee Zooming. Gestural Transforms. Incremental Saves. Rotation Snapping. Clip It, Clip It Good. Tools Versus Actions. RMB Selection Menus.



2. Taming the Beast Customizing Your Interface.


Start Up Your Own Image. True Gestural Marking Menus. Color My World. Do-It-Yourself Shelving. Shelf Icon Decor. Custom Marking Menus—the Bomb. My Very Own Attributes. Click, Drag, Select! To GUI or Not to GUI? Massive or Tiny Manipulation. Pick Nothing, Nothing at All. Prefs in Your Pocket. Working Your Units. Y-Up Versus X-Up. Smooth Mover. Click Box Size for High-Res Monitors. Top-Priority Clearance. We Don't Need No Stinkin' Dynamics. Don't Lower Yourself to Component Mode. More and More Image Formats.



3. The Glamorous World of Modeling Work Smarter, Not Harder.


Aligned Image Planes. Alpha Onion Skins. Maya Card Tricks. Mapping Versus Modeling. Insert Here While Drawing Curves. Explicit, R-Rated Nurb Tesselation. Tesselation Versus CVs. Linear Versus Cubic Heroics. Constrain Those Unruly Curves. The Revolutions Will Not Be Televised. Bi-Railing the Missing Glass Slipper. Slipper Rebuilding. Shady, Undesirable Elements in Maya. Randomize Those CVs. Junkyard Dumping Simulation. Use of Photoshop as a Modeling Tool. Autotracing for Fun and Profit. Photoshop Paths to Maya Curves. Wrestling with Displacement. Animate Your Modeling. Set Subtleties. Transform Tools Shortcut. Interrogating Points as to Where They Live. Face Propogation Via Shell in Poly Selection Constraints.



4. Embracing the Revolution Lighting Your Way.


Tweaking Lots o' Lights. Reuse Those Depth Maps. Cookies and Gobos. Lighting with Paint. Kill That Ambient! Cubic Point Arrays. Fear of Point Light Shadow Maps. Light Color Mapping Versatility. Poor Man's Global Illumination. HDR GI CGI TLA. Paint Those Shadows. Shadow Platters. Glows, Fogs, and Flares, Oh My! Shadow Map Woes. Use of Thresholded Shader Glows. Dancing Fire Light. Link Those Lights. Shadow Lights. Light Cycles. Spotlight Decay Regions. Consulting Sun Charts. Directional Shadow Maps.



5. Rags to Rendering: Getting a Grip on Shading.


Imperfection Is Your Goal. Procedural Mapping Versus Scanned Files. Multilister Versus Hypershade—Que Es Mas Macho? Baking the Light. Color Offset and Gain—The Key to Shader Networks. The Joy of Ramps. The Underdog of Specular Mapping. Green Screen Playblasting. Heavy Metal Rendering. Embracing Dirt and Grime. Triplanar Projection to the Rescue. Layer It On. Pass That Shadow Please. Striking a Chord Length. Glow Flickering No More. Determining Texture Resolution. Sampler Info Facing Ratio Mania. Render Scripts Rule! Layered Shaders to Go. To Premult or Not to Premult. Getting Wet. Color Remapping.



6. From Home Movies to Hollywood: Camerawork Basics.


Rule of Thirds. Perspective Basics. Perceptual Perspective Correction. Panel View Versus Film Back Versus Resolution. Creating Natural Camera Motion. Professional Camera Animation Setup. Camera Projection Magic. No Auto Anything (Especially Camera Clipping). Simplify, Simplify for Animation. Undos the Views. Film Formats for Newbies. Animated Image Planes Gone Wild. Image Plane Speedup. Wresting Control of Fcheck. Snapping to the Elusive Camera Pivot. Streamlining Depth of Field. Motion Blur Choices. 3d Stereoscopic Rendering.



7. Building Character (Animation That Is) More Than Skin-Deep.


Getting Oriented with Your Joints. FK, IK, OK? Smooth Skinning Hotkeys for Painting Weights. Please Constrain Yourself. Not Your Grandfather's Utility Nodes. Squash and Stretch Expressions. Scripting Your Setup. Bulging Biceps with Sculpt Deformers. Blendshape Facials. Wrap Deformers. Flowing Down the Path. Cycle Those Curves. Free Then Break Your Tangents. Flap Your Wings with Expression. Graph Editor Expressions. Finding Those Reclusive Local Axes. Prompting Multiple Keyframes. Breakdown Your Keys. Driving Miss Driven Key. Time Slider Tricks. Texture Map Your Animation. Recording Your Mouse.



8. Dangerous Effects Animation Things You Can Do at Home.


Dynamic Window Layouts. Use Playblasting to Check Motion. A One-Minute Ocean. Soft Body Rope Tricks. All Soft Bodies Must Rest. Jump That Rope. A Simple Rigid Body Animation. A Simple Expression to Move a Passive Rigid Body. Using Particles to Visualize Noise Versus Random. Randomly Sized Particles. Bigger Particles Fall Faster. Playback Every Frame or Else. Making Particles Collide with a Floor. Particle Looping. Kill Particles When They Go Below a Certain Height. Working On the Chain Gang. Battle Two Turbulence Fields Together. Swarming Bugs or Attaching Fields to Individual Particles. Make a Particle Emit a Trail of Particles. Emit Particles from an Image or Texture. Know Your Field Options. Get Your Turbulence On. Emit More Particles as the Emitter Goes Faster. Particle Replacement. Invasion of the Blob. Cache and Cache Again.



9. Getting Under the Hood Mud Wrestling with MEL.


Huh? Using whatIs and help. Variables and Eval This, Eval That. Acting Conditionally. The Sheer Excitement of Array Variables. Doing the Loop. Writing Custom Procedures. Oops: warning, error, and catch. Using createNode, nodeType, and ls. Adding, Getting, Setting, and Connecting Attributes. Array Attribute or Attribute Array?



10. Real World Production Methods Otherwise Known as Stress.


Taming the RAM Beast. Minimizing Texture Aliasing. Pre and Post MEL. Lock Down Those Shadows. General Speed Improvement. Reducing Motion Blur Artifacts. Check Your Release Notes. Setting Up Mattes. Render Diagnostics. Z Depth Renders. Rendering Larger Than 8K. A Final Render Checklist.

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Preface

IntroductionNot for the Faint of Heart

3D artists have it tough. They have to wade through seemingly endless amounts of technical minutia from dreary manuals, off-the-shelf books thicker than the yellow pages in a grimy Manhattan phone booth, and well-intentioned but often awkward online tutorials. Then they navigate bleary-eyed through the endless layers of cryptic commands in their applications, wrestling such terms as "Directed Acyclic Graph," "Non-Rational Uniform B-Spline," and "Non-Manifold Topology." If you can recite the meaning of these terms without forethought, you have already been there! We endure this toil just to satisfy our implacable creative urges to muster up fascinating imagery out of the deep well of technology. 3D animation and rendering is certainly the high ground of computer graphics, pushing one's capacity for technical concepts and jargon to the limit. And, like your grandfather in his youth, mythically trudging through miles of snow making his way to school, we actually LIKE it that way! So, what better reason than to create a book that assembles concise technical tips to speed understanding of the terms, accelerate your workflow to superhuman speeds, and peer into techniques professionals use daily in the visual effects field? When I learned of Scott Kelby's Killer Tips series, I recognized that it would be an instant fit in the 3D CGI* world, like beer and pretzels, or in our case, hot pockets and programmers.

Why Maya?

Maya has had an interesting ride into the annals of CGI history in the last few years. It has pounded its way like Mike Tyson into the forefront of professional 3D,and is now considered the standard for 3D work at most of the major visual effects facilities, such as Acme Animagraphics and Industrial FX R Us. Seriously though, it has swept the field, and if there is anything good about that, it is that artists can now carry their expertise and well-earned training with them as they drift from project to project, like the best migrant beanfield workers.

Maya began life as three competing products (Alias, Wavefront, and TDI) that Silicon Graphics had the good sense to purchase and then fuse, Frankenstein-like, into the ultimate über-3D software. Think of it as Einstein's Grand Unification Theory applied to 3D. Or dogs and cats happily romping together. Or Steve Jobs and Bill Gates taking a buddy road trip through the southwestern desert together. In any case, it consolidated many of the separately evolved features that 3D artists had grown envious of. It reduced the prevalent 3D application "camp" mentality somewhat and joined the tribes.

But what secured the success of Maya in the high-end world was that it was the first 3D package to "open the hood" for standard users, allowing amateur weekend mechanics (non-programmers) to rummage around in the engine and transmission. So rather than offering an ultimately dead-end tunnel of predetermined GUI* commands, Maya reveals all command structure in text format, allowing clever custom tools to be created (or bumbling stupid ones). Some hardcore Maya users balk at using a GUI at all and type everything. The same crowd would probably prefer punch cards if they were still around, but the option does exist.

Maya also delivers cutting-edge performance in most of the areas it is known for, such as extensive modeling, rich character animation, highly developed dynamic simulation, and a multitude of deformations, as well as offering unique technology like fluid effects, cloth simulation, 3D paint effects, and non-linear animation. Ultimately, Maya has become the "Swiss army knife" of visual effects. Of course, Swiss army knives are not exactly sleek and are fairly cumbersome, and Maya can be seen similarly. Thus, a good understanding is needed to "tame the beast" and coax it into doing your bidding. Alias's early advertising campaign involving a circus lion tamer is not too far off in that regard.

Is This Book for Me?

Absolutely. This book is designed for the advancing intermediate Maya artist, but it will offer gems to all levels. It is amazing how many Maya techniques fall through the cracks for even the most seasoned, jaded 3D guru. The fact is, no one artist can know ALL there is in Maya, so most hunker down into one area or another. Therefore, beginners will find it valuable to clear up some of the arcane mystery of the program, intermediates will use it to add to their growing bevy of techniques, and old dogs will learn a few new tricks to polish off their expertise. Some power users say it is ALL about the tricks and guard them ferociously. So, if you use Maya at all, breathe air, have ten fingers, ten toes, and one head, it probably is a book for you. Not that you HAVE to have those requirements, of course.

Can I Get a Job Working with Steven Spielberg or Jim Cameron After I Read It?

Sure, why not? Stranger things have happened in Hollywood. Steven Spielberg started as a squatter in a studio lot, and Jim Cameron was a truck driver. I would say with that in mind, you could certainly make your mark in Hollywood, armed with the aid of Maya Killer Tips. One of the truly great aspects of the visual effects field is that ultimately it is only about your talent. Well, sure, there are SOME power lunches involved, but mastering a difficult package like Maya is a surefire and road-tested route to contribute to the history of the silver screen, and not a bad 8–5 gig if you ask me. Or there's always the beanfield....

* First "TLA," or three-letter acronym, that 3D artists seem to prefer for basic conversation to each other; in this case, "computer graphics imagery."
* Another TLA; in this case, "graphic user interface," affectionately known as "gooey."


© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

Read More Show Less

Introduction

Introduction

Not for the Faint of Heart

3D artists have it tough. They have to wade through seemingly endless amounts of technical minutia from dreary manuals, off-the-shelf books thicker than the yellow pages in a grimy Manhattan phone booth, and well-intentioned but often awkward online tutorials. Then they navigate bleary-eyed through the endless layers of cryptic commands in their applications, wrestling such terms as "Directed Acyclic Graph," "Non-Rational Uniform B-Spline," and "Non-Manifold Topology." If you can recite the meaning of these terms without forethought, you have already been there! We endure this toil just to satisfy our implacable creative urges to muster up fascinating imagery out of the deep well of technology. 3D animation and rendering is certainly the high ground of computer graphics, pushing one's capacity for technical concepts and jargon to the limit. And, like your grandfather in his youth, mythically trudging through miles of snow making his way to school, we actually LIKE it that way! So, what better reason than to create a book that assembles concise technical tips to speed understanding of the terms, accelerate your workflow to superhuman speeds, and peer into techniques professionals use daily in the visual effects field? When I learned of Scott Kelby's Killer Tips series, I recognized that it would be an instant fit in the 3D CGI* world, like beer and pretzels, or in our case, hot pockets and programmers.

Why Maya?

Maya has had an interesting ride into the annals of CGI history in the last few years. It has pounded its way like Mike Tyson into the forefront of professional 3D, and is now considered the standardfor 3D work at most of the major visual effects facilities, such as Acme Animagraphics and Industrial FX R Us. Seriously though, it has swept the field, and if there is anything good about that, it is that artists can now carry their expertise and well-earned training with them as they drift from project to project, like the best migrant beanfield workers.

Maya began life as three competing products (Alias, Wavefront, and TDI) that Silicon Graphics had the good sense to purchase and then fuse, Frankenstein-like, into the ultimate über-3D software. Think of it as Einstein's Grand Unification Theory applied to 3D. Or dogs and cats happily romping together. Or Steve Jobs and Bill Gates taking a buddy road trip through the southwestern desert together. In any case, it consolidated many of the separately evolved features that 3D artists had grown envious of. It reduced the prevalent 3D application "camp" mentality somewhat and joined the tribes.

But what secured the success of Maya in the high-end world was that it was the first 3D package to "open the hood" for standard users, allowing amateur weekend mechanics (non-programmers) to rummage around in the engine and transmission. So rather than offering an ultimately dead-end tunnel of predetermined GUI* commands, Maya reveals all command structure in text format, allowing clever custom tools to be created (or bumbling stupid ones). Some hardcore Maya users balk at using a GUI at all and type everything. The same crowd would probably prefer punch cards if they were still around, but the option does exist.

Maya also delivers cutting-edge performance in most of the areas it is known for, such as extensive modeling, rich character animation, highly developed dynamic simulation, and a multitude of deformations, as well as offering unique technology like fluid effects, cloth simulation, 3D paint effects, and non-linear animation. Ultimately, Maya has become the "Swiss army knife" of visual effects. Of course, Swiss army knives are not exactly sleek and are fairly cumbersome, and Maya can be seen similarly. Thus, a good understanding is needed to "tame the beast" and coax it into doing your bidding. Alias's early advertising campaign involving a circus lion tamer is not too far off in that regard.

Is This Book for Me?

Absolutely. This book is designed for the advancing intermediate Maya artist, but it will offer gems to all levels. It is amazing how many Maya techniques fall through the cracks for even the most seasoned, jaded 3D guru. The fact is, no one artist can know ALL there is in Maya, so most hunker down into one area or another. Therefore, beginners will find it valuable to clear up some of the arcane mystery of the program, intermediates will use it to add to their growing bevy of techniques, and old dogs will learn a few new tricks to polish off their expertise. Some power users say it is ALL about the tricks and guard them ferociously. So, if you use Maya at all, breathe air, have ten fingers, ten toes, and one head, it probably is a book for you. Not that you HAVE to have those requirements, of course.

Can I Get a Job Working with Steven Spielberg or Jim Cameron After I Read It?

Sure, why not? Stranger things have happened in Hollywood. Steven Spielberg started as a squatter in a studio lot, and Jim Cameron was a truck driver. I would say with that in mind, you could certainly make your mark in Hollywood, armed with the aid of Maya Killer Tips. One of the truly great aspects of the visual effects field is that ultimately it is only about your talent. Well, sure, there are SOME power lunches involved, but mastering a difficult package like Maya is a surefire and road-tested route to contribute to the history of the silver screen, and not a bad 8–5 gig if you ask me. Or there's always the beanfield....


* First "TLA," or three-letter acronym, that 3D artists seem to prefer for basic conversation to each other; in this case, "computer graphics imagery."
* Another TLA; in this case, "graphic user interface," affectionately known as "gooey."


Read More Show Less

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2004

    BOOK REVIEW: 'Maya 5 Killer Tips'

    Book Review ¿Maya 5 Killer Tips!¿ In most books you can find little boxes with Tips and Truces, in my opinion it is the most interesting subtexts available in books. This ¿Killer Tips!¿ (An idea of Scott Kelly) series consists of a little book with around 180-200pages with wide collection of useful tips. ¿Maya 5 Killer Tips!¿ includes tips and trucks for Alias|Wavefront Maya 5. The book is written by Eric Hanson visual effects artist worked on movies like Spider-Man, Hollow Man and Fantasia 2000. The book consists of several chapters who are: 1. Deciphering the Hieroglyphics; 2. Taming the Beast; 3. The Glamorous World Of Modelling; 4. Embracing the Revolution; 5. Rags to Rendering 6. From Home Movies to Hollywood; 7. Building Character (Animation That is) 8. Dangerous Effects Animation; 9. Getting Under the Hood; 10. Real World Production Methods Maya 5 Killer Tips! Is a great book of resources to enhance and pepper up your knowledge about Alias|Wavefront Maya in general, a book from the beginner and the experts. The book includes tips and trucks you might never have found, if you had to find it yourself. It¿s a great resource for saving time when working with Maya 5. Especially the tips about (speeding) rendering and modelling were of big value for me. This book should be on every desk who is serious Maya 5 user. The Killer Tips! Editions for other 3d applications are also in the works for example Lightwave Killer Tips!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2003

    There's GOLD in them there tips!

    Maya 5 Killer Tips, is full of real tips, that can be used for just about any project. I'm an advanced Maya user, and found this book to be very helpful. This book covers it all, and is great for beginners to advanced Maya users alike. I highly recommend this book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2003

    Another Good One from the Killer Tips Series

    Just finished reading Maya 5 Killer Tips. Great book for both newbies and seasoned pro's alike. I've been working with Maya since version 1.0, and gained a lot of knowledge in a very short period of time reading this book. Colorful screen grabs and easy reading text makes getting to the informaion quick and easy. The 'Erics' cover a lot of ground, from interface shortcuts, modeling, lighting, to ik,and effects. A great addition to any Maya library.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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