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Maya 6 Killer Tips

Maya 6 Killer Tips

A Creative COW Book Review

Chad Briggs reviews Maya 6 Killer Tips

Chad Briggs Chad Briggs
www.lastdragonpost.com

©Copyright 2004 Chad Briggs and Creativecow.net. All Rights Reserved

Article Focus:
In this article, CreativeCOW leader Chad Briggs reviews Maya 6 Killer Tips written by Eric Hanson, Kenneth Ibrahim, and Alex Nijmeh, and published by New Riders Press (August 2004),
ISBN: 0321278534, and finds that "reading Maya 6 Killer Tips was a revelation, [it] is an excellent book that presents just the right information you need to take your mastery of the program to the next level."

Maya 6 Killer Tips by Eric HansonBooks about 3D animation and all the various software packages tend to fall into two categories; a basic 3D for dummies book designed to get you used to working a program for the first time, or an ultra comprehensive book that goes through applications of the program so thoroughly you get 1 or 2 useful techniques at best. In a world where most Maya books are shackled by one or both of these constraints, reading Maya 6 Killer Tips was a revelation. Maya 6 Killer Tips is an excellent book that presents just the right information you need to take your mastery of the program to the next level.

Maya 6 Killer Tips, written by Eric Hanson, Kenneth Ibrahim, and Alex Nijmeh, is definitely unlike any other book on the market for Maya. Instead of following the usual formula, the book presents “killer tips” on almost every page from cover to cover. All of the tips are in slick full color illustrations when necessary. The tips are organized by category:

  • How to get the most out of Maya's basic tools.
  • Customizing Maya's UI to your needs
  • Modeling tips
  • Lighting tips
  • Rendering tips
  • Camera manipulation
  • Character setup
  • Effects animation
  • Mel scripting
  • Real world production tips



The tips are very brief, to the point, always effective, and occasionally laced with humor. Readers seem to either love or hate introducing humor in educational/instructional books, but I found it to be fairly balanced without the jokes becoming too incredibly corny. Consequently because the book is almost nothing but tips, it makes it very hard to review without giving away a lot of the tips these guys have worked so hard to organize and give to the world. For the sake of this review, I'm sure they don't mind giving up a few. The most amazing thing about this book is that it addressed a few of the issues yours truly was having in production during the reading.
For example, on a recent project we were importing models from the lead modeler that were built in Lightwave. Upon importing those in Maya there were strange dark faces that no manner of tweaking, normal smoothing or massaging would fix. The models would also crash Maya at the most inopportune times. Low and behold a section in Maya 6 Killer Tips that explains how to unlock vertex normals, under edit polygons ->normals->set vertex normals. This fixed the problem and all was well in the world once again.

One UI trick I picked up was the ctrl-right click feature, that brings up another menu with more options besides the traditional component mode selection just right clicking activates. The book also shows you how to enable “click and drag” transforms that allow you to move objects without having to drag transform handles after selecting it, effectively allowing you to select and drag in a fell swoop. Another tip that was needed to be brought to the limelight was how to build a professional camera “dolly” in Maya by using groups. Many a Maya animator has struggled with translating and rotating cameras to mimic that of the real world, and with real world controls and setup, the job becomes much easier.

The one minor gripe I have with the book is that it would have been nice if it came with a CD, or at least direct links to the mel scripts, projects, and tools that it refers to on various sites throughout the book. Most of the links involve highend3d.com in some fashion, so there shouldn't be that much searching involved.






In Conclusion

No matter how much you use Maya, it's simply impossible to know every trick and shortcut to speed up your workflow. Maya is simply too deep and there are usually several ways to do a particular task to complicate matters further. However, with Maya 6 Killer Tips at your side, a workflow improvement is only a few page flips away. I whole-heartedly recommend all Maya animators to pick this one up. I'll give this puppy the full
5 cows.




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