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Sean Fennell examines Maya 4.5 Savvy

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Sean Fennell examines Maya 4.5 Savvy
A Creative COW "Real World" Book Review



Sean Fennell examines Maya 4.5 Savvy
Sean Fennell
Sean Fennell
Chicago, Illinois USA

©2003 Sean Fennell and CreativeCOW.net. All rights reserved.

Article Focus:
Maya COW leader, Sean Fennell examines
Maya 4.5 Savvy by John Kundert-Gibbs, Peter Lee, John L. Kundert-Gibbs and published by Sybex Books. Sean concludes with, '' Maya 4.5 Savvy will aid beginner through intermediate artist work more comfortably in Maya 4.5.''


Click here to order this book from amazon.comMaya 4.5 Savvy covers a lot of ground. In the first chapter we start off with a broad overview of Maya’s interface and its features. There is plenty of detail in this chapter for anyone who is new to the Maya package, or wants to know the changes in the interface since Maya 4.0. The next chapter gives readers a rough overview of the workflow in Maya by running through all of the production modes in the software. It jumps you right into the package, having you complete a tutorial that takes you through modeling, animation, lighting and rendering, camera work, and even some dynamic effects.

Beyond the first two chapters, Maya 4.5 Savvy gets very detailed. Since their previous Maya title, “Mastering Maya 3,” Sybex has cut out a lot of the fat and given very concise and informative descriptions of the tools and workflow in Maya. It is also very well organized. The next five chapters discuss modeling in all of its forms. Again, they give a simple overview of the different modeling and geometry types in Maya, also some do’s and don'ts; after which they discuss organic and inorganic modeling, NURBS, polygons, and subdivision surfaces. Finally you work on tutorials that model full characters.

After learning modeling the readers learn the animation tools available in Maya 4.5. From animating on paths, through rigging up a character and performing character animation on the rig. There are very detailed tutorials on setting up two different types of characters and animating them. This is one of the few books that I have read that discusses character rigging in the detail that is necessary. Anyone who has rigged characters in Maya understands that there is a lot of information that is never really documented anywhere and must be learned “the hard way.” Maya 4.5 Savvy does a good job of making this learning experience a little easier.

The last chapters of Maya 4.5 Savvy explain Rendering tools and Dynamics tools. This is the one place where I feel the book loses the organization that it had before. Rigid body dynamics and particles are split by a lengthy discussion of lighting, rendering and shading. I feel that the rigid body dynamics discussion would be better suited just before particle effects, when the book is through discussing lighting and rendering.

The Lighting and rendering discussion is a large overview of the toolset in Maya. Unfortunately, aside from a simple lighting example, the book does not discuss much practical theory as it did with modeling and animation. I feel that though the reader gets a good technical explanation of the tools and some concepts, he or she would not feel comfortable with this feature set of Maya. I feel the comparison images in this section are very good examples of what is in the text. Also the tips section is a very helpful guide for those that have not encountered these problems before.

Finally, Maya 4.5 Savvy, discusses advanced tools such as Particle dynamics, MEL scripting, and even Fluid effects (new in Maya 4.5). I feel that this section has the necessary information for the budding technical director. The Mel section is very detailed; much more than previous works. Just about all parts of dynamics are discussed here. You can even find a paintFX demo.



COW Rating:
In summary, I feel that Maya 4.5 Savvy is a very concise and complete work discussing nearly all of Maya in plentiful detail. It is accompanied by a CD that has files to work along with, while reading the book. Maya 4.5 Savvy will aid beginner through intermediate artist work more comfortably in Maya 4.5.

I give it 4.5 COWs.


---Sean Fennell



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