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Maya is a commonly used piece of software in the Computer Graphics, Film, TV and Games industry. It can do a lot of things. It is primarily used to create 3D objects in a virtual space. It can also be used for animations. Regarded as "the" piece of software to get your head round and master, in order to get on and be successful in the industry.
Every year the software gets rereleased and updated, I'm currently using 2012, but 2013 is already being used and absorbed by users and studios across the world. From what I can gather, updates can be subtle and things could be changed based on user feedback. I've been shown work from 2008 and it looks very, very different to my 2012 edition. So each edition, stands alone.
I've been used Maya for 2 months now (the software is named after the god Maya - creature of creation and beauty), and I'm only just scratching the surface, in finding out what this amazing piece of computer invention can do. I would guarantee that something you've seen on today was created using Maya.
This kit is incredibly advanced and I marvel at the multitude of things it can do. One of the things I've learned is that there are lots of different ways to do the same thing! The software has a lot of hot keys and shortcuts, as well as menus containing the same capabilities, as well as the same method for doing the same thing can be found in another area of the programme. There doesn't seem to be a absolutely correct way to do something, it's really down to the individual and what works for them. Only thing to remember is, always reset your settings for every tool you use.
The downside to Maya is that it crashes a LOT - we're constantly taught the mantra "save save save"... if you don't you stand to lose a lot of hard work, which of course can be devastating. Maya is buggy and can just crash on you, for no rhyme or reason, which is incredibly annoying, but you can easily forgive this downfall because its capabilities are so immense.
There is a lot of support to help users of Maya. Forums galore. As well as the trusty F1 button which will lead you to the interactive help menus. An invaluable resource and I can't imagine anyone would be very adept at using Maya without it. It's near on essential.
The layout and functions, after some getting used, are pretty intuitive. The look of it is rather industrial, lots of blacks and grey (as you may assume from their dragon like, black and grey logo). You might this this is a bit chic and trendy, and somewhat style over substance, but it's incredibly useful - chances are what you are creating uses more than just shades of grey, so your work stands out and can easily see what you are modelling or animating.
To get the most out of Maya, I would imagine you would have to be taught how to use it by an expert, unless you have the patience of a saint and are prepared to put in hours of work and research to teach yourself...which technically you can as there are videos all over the web that will show you tutorials (I have a few links on my blog, if you're keen to do this, link below, might be helpful, might not). The other question of course, is actually getting the software. If you're enrolled at a college learning how to use it, you can get a free student license with Autodesk, otherwise you could look to pay in the region of £3000 for the software (now, when you get over the shock of the price, go and clean your screen after spitting out your tea everywhere).
If you're looking to get into 3D computer graphic modelling and manipulation, this is the software to use. Of course there are plenty of other programmes the industry uses too, but in the world is CG, knowing and being able to use Maya is like being able to use PowerPoint in a regular office. It's not absolutely essentially but it's a definite advantage!
I've been thoroughly impressed so far with how it looks, and more importantly how it works, and would recommend it to any would-be 3D computer graphics professional.
© MarcoG 2012
**Written for the Dooyoo Triathlon competition**
p.s. You can also find my blog, about becoming an animator, and see some of the work I've done on Maya here: http://becominga3danimator.blogspot.co.uk (don't forget to say hi, when you visit)